The Original Mid-Engine Corvette: Zora Arkus-Duntov’s CERV I

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Zora Arkus-Duntov and his CERV I.

Zora Arkus-Duntov and his CERV I.

The rumors of a mid-engine Corvette have been circling for years, but nothing has ever come of them. Then, a few months ago, we saw a new mule stomping around the Chevy proving grounds in Michigan. It was a chimera of sorts, featuring a shortened Holden Commodore front end, a Corvette cabin, and a covered pickup bed for a rear end.

The photos created a firestorm of new rumors, and it seems that those mid-engine rumors may finally becoming true. However, all that mid-engine development, and much of the work and engineering that has gone into generations of actual Corvettes, wouldn’t be anywhere without the engineering derived from the CERV I and Zora Arkus-Duntov.

The CERV I was a test bed, much like the mule mentioned above. Arkus-Duntov was allowed to build the CERV I to use for testing all of his newly engineered parts, and to experiment with new ideas for Chevy. The project began in 1959, and within the year, the CERV I competed in both the Indy 500 and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Through that racing program, and through the countless issues and lessons learned, Arkus-Duntov was able to make adjustments to the engineering behind the C2 Corvette, and other generations as well.

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In fact, the 1963 Corvette Stingray used the same front suspension as the CERV I, as well as the transverse leaf-spring setup that continues to this day. For years though, Arkus-Duntov attempted to convince Chevy that the only practical way of progressing the Corvette was through a mid-engine design like the CERV I, and for years they pushed him aside. Now, with the Corvette at its peak, and without much room left for improvement, it’s finally looking like Arkus-Duntov is getting his wish.

However, that wish wouldn’t have been possible without the CERV I, and luckily, this historic car is coming up for sale. Being sold at this year’s Pebble Beach auction held by RM Auctions, the CERV I is a time capsule that has the potential to be worth quite a bit more if Chevy finally announces they are actually working on a real mid-engine Corvette. Until then, RM is listing the auction estimate at anywhere between $1.3 million and $2 million. But as with auctions, if the right two people are in the room, the car could go for a great deal more.

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

via [RM Auctions]

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