Hoping Doesn’t Make It False: GM Needs the Zora
We have spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about the potential of a mid-engine Corvette. Last month though, Corvette Forum writer Chad Kirchner posted up a piece about how he thinks that the rumor mill is wrong yet again, and that the mythical mid-engined Corvette is not actually going to appear in the next two years. Personally, I think he just bought a one-way ticket to wrong-ville.
If we just take a look at where the Corvette is now, and where it could go, I think a mid-engine platform is GM’s only path forward for success. Thanks to the wonderful existence of physics, there is a finite level to attainable performance in a FR-designed sports car. GM is fast approaching that limit with the current Z06. At 650 horsepower, the Z06 is already having issues with traction and grip, despite having massive slabs of rubber tucked under the rear fenders. Simply adding more power to the Corvette won’t help make it faster. We are well into the land of diminishing returns on that front.
And then we have to think about the simple metric of lap times, which are very important to a lot of people in this segment.
Dodge’s current Viper ACR has proven that you can take a RWD car with an engine stuffed under the nose and set record lap times, but it does so with a barely-legal assortment of aero bits. Beyond the Viper, almost every other ultra-high-end sports car makes use of AWD, mid-engine layouts, or often both. If GM wants to keep competing, it needs to look to those formats.
And then we can’t forget the elephant in the room: the Ford GT. Demand for the GT has far outstripped supply, despite its nearly half-million-dollar asking price. In the competitive land of Detroit automakers, can GM really just sit by and let Ford rake in millions of dollars with a car that is an order of magnitude faster than anything it makes? Hell no it can’t.
Now Chad mentioned that Ford is using a third-party to build the GT’s carbon tub to save money, but I don’t think GM would need to fall to outside companies. GM is already making carbon panels for the Z06 so it has the equipment and training, and it already made clear its plans to start making and offering carbon wheels for performance models. From that point, how much of a stretch is it to start forming rigid tubs? Plus it would give GM a huge technology advantage over its other Detroit rivals as they chase ever lighter and stronger cars.
From where I sit, the Zora doesn’t only seem likely, it seems like a great way for GM to invest heavily in future technologies, raise the cachet of a brand that is gaining popularity worldwide, and defer millions of dollars of expensive R&D onto an impressively wealthy clientele.
If GM wants to make a car that is even more powerful than the current Z06, and faster than the new Ford GT, while also making it faster and more capable on a track, Corvette needs the Zora.
Now, please put down your pitchforks and let me continue. I used the name Zora for a reason.
I honestly don’t believe GM can, or should make the Corvette a mid-engine car. You can’t throw more than six decades of history out the window just to chase a lap time. That is disingenuous to the brand, and a blatant affront to the millions of fans around the world. The Corvette needs to exist as a sleek coupe with that long hood and short rear haunches. But with a Zora badge, GM has free reign to do what it wants.
From that jumping point, it is very easy to make the Zora, a car named for the man who pioneered the Corvette’s racing heritage and its multiple mid-engine prototypes across the years. Even back in the 1960s, Zora Arkus-Duntov knew the secret to higher performance was a mid-engine platform. I think it’s finally time to make his dream come true.