Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter delivered the C7 Corvette, the C7 Z06, the C7 Grand Sport, the C7 ZR1, and soon the 2020 mid-engine C8 Corvette.
Dateline 1.29.21, Images: Graphics by the Author, Image from GM Archives – All five Corvette chief engineers contributed mightily and in their own unique ways. But only Tadge Juechter has the distinction of having done hard engineering on five generations of Corvettes. When Juechter went to work in 1993 as chief engineer Dave Hill’s right-hand-man, there were two objectives; keep the then-current C4 fresh and interesting; and design and develop the most revolutionary Corvette to that date, the C5. After Hill’s retirement, Tom Wallace was Vehicle Line Engineer (VLE) and chief engineer for the Corvette. Wallace accessed that because of Juechter’s 15 years of experience, he was the right man for the chief engineer position. Wallace stayed on as VLE and eventually took an early retirement offer.
While Juechter didn’t have the racing background that Hill and Wallace had, he was raised in a Porsche household and liked to tinker around with mechanical things. As a young teenager growing up in Chappaqua, New York in the ‘70s, Juechter built a prehistoric mountain bike with a full front and rear suspension. His folks even gave him their wrecked Cadillac to take apart.
During Juechter’s college years at Stanford, he worked two summers on a GM assembly line, an experience not to his liking. Juechter graduated with degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering and had no intention of working for GM. Then in 1978 a friend asked Juechter to tag along to a GM interview and ended up interviewing as well; and was offered a job. The late ‘70s and ’80 was a challenging time for the American car industry, but at least Juechter had a solid job. In the car business, if your ambition is upper management, an MBA is a must-have degree. Juechter earned his MBA from Stanford GSB in 1986.
By the time Juechter interviewed with Hill for the position of Assistant Chief Engineer, he was aware of the aging Corvette and impressed with the in-the-works C5. The C4’s plastic interior was a major bone of contention with Juechter. Hill was impressed and Juechter got the job. The jump from the early ‘80s designed C4 to the C5 was revolutionary. The creation of the Corvette Racing Team was the beginning of the deliberate merger of Chevrolet engineering and Corvette racecar engineering that was poured into the C5 Z06. Early on, Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins wanted an inexpensive Corvette that would appeal to racers; this became the ’99 Hardtop and the Hardtop became the C5 Z06. While the C6 was an evolved version of the C5, no one was expecting the 505-horsepower 427 Z06 with an aluminum frame and dry-sump oil system.
From 2005 to 2008 sales averaged 36,816 cars per year. In 2006 Tom Wallace was Corvette VLE and chief engineer. While Wallace was a racer, his Corvette experience was a little thin. When Wallace learned that Juechter and his team were working on a mid-engine prototype, he knew that Juechter was the brains behind the Corvette. Juechter was promoted to chief engineer, North American Corvette.
Juechter has said that he was shocked when given orders to make the C6 ZR1; the goal was to build the best possible Corvette for $100,000. A big-block was briefly considered but rejected because of its weight. All-Wheel-Drive was not possible on the C6’s platform. The Z06 was to be the track car and the ZR1 would be GM’s halo, Grand Touring supercar.
Then the economy stalled out and the in-the-works C7 was put on hold indefinitely. Wallace took GM’s early retirement offer, leaving the Corvette all to Juechter. When GM slammed into bankruptcy in June 2009, for a time it looked like it was curtains for GM. But it turned out that the government auditor that was looking into the Corvette was a car enthusiast and knew about the pending C7. Upon examining the books, it was discovered that the Corvette was one the few GM car lines that was making money. Juechter’s team was told to get busy on the C7. The Corvette and the Bowling Green assembly plant were spared.
By the time you read this, the C8 will have made its debut and will be the most revolutionary Corvette ever. Previously, the C5 had that honor because of its all-new engine and drivetrain, and its hydroformed perimeter frame and backbone center section. The C6 and C7 generations are both evolutionary versions of the C5. The C5 and C6 are Hill’s Corvettes; the C7 and C8 are Juechter’s Corvettes. As of this writing, we know the basics of the C8, but none of the hard details. So lets look a Juechter’s C7.
A big part of Juechter’s job as VLE is to make sure there’s a Corvette for everyone with a variety of price points, and a base car that offers outstanding visual and performance value. Juechter said, “It helps having worked on the C5 and C6 because you know where a lot of the land mines are.” With horsepower ever increasing, it’s critical that the car be made easier to drive. The base C7 has 455-net horsepower; way more than any big-block ever had; yet the C7 is a car that is easy to live with. The 755-horsepower 2019 ZR1 is absolutely astonishing; it can perform on par with exotic sports cars, yet be a comfortable, usable GT machine. Electronic suspension, steering, braking, rev-matching, paddle-shift 8-speed automatic and fuel management are responsible for a balance of extreme power and civility. Imagine trying to drive a Greenwood widebody racer on the street.
When the C7 was unveiled, fans were stunned to learn that the base model had an aluminum frame and that later the Z06 and ZR1 would be available as a coupe or convertible and with an 8-speed manual or automatic transmission. Another first was achieved; the 8-speed automatic was quicker than the manual version.
Corvette interiors have often been a bone of contention with critics and the C6 took big hits for its interior. To get C7’s interior spot-on, Juechter made sure designers had set-of-the-pants experiences of life inside a 1-G cockpit; to know what it feels like having skin pressing on hard objects. He also made surer there were no distracting infotainment systems; just important information for spirited driving. The C7 has received rave reviews for its interior.
Concerning the C7 ZR1, initially there were no plans to make the car, as designers didn’t think they could do more beyond the Z06. But after a few years, plus aero input from the Corvette racing team, a new plan emerged to make the ZR1 the most powerful, stable, advanced front-engine Corvette ever offered. Many speculated that Chevrolet might build the front engine and mid-engine Corvettes side-by-side, but that will not be the case. C7 production will end in summer 2019 and the last C7 will be a black Z06 that will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
While Juechter was an integral part of the C5 and C6, those were Hill’s Corvettes. Even though Juechter guided the C7, the C5, C6, and C7 all have Hill’s Corvette DNA. The C8, on the other hand, is Juechter’s Corvette. People expect more of everything today, and everything is riding on the mid-engine C8. – Scott
This concludes my Corvette Chiefs Series. Below are links to parts 1-to-4. Enjoy
Dateline: 8.22.20 This article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of Vette Vues –UPDATE:Indulge me for two brief paragraphs on the subject of carbon fiber and Corvettes. First, two “known” secrets; 1. There will be a Z06 and a ZR1 version of the C8 Corvette. 2. GM is committed to electric cars, by 2023 they project over 20 all-electric vehicles and by 2030 almost all GM vehicles will be all-electric-powered. We don’t know how the electrical grid will be able to handle the extra load for electricity, lets hope there are some new technology tricks up engineer’s sleeves. The new C8 uses a 48-volt system; that’s a big jump from the previous 12-volt system that has been around since the 1950s.
Why the extra juice? Allow me to speculate.
The C8 ZR1 will have an all-electric, all-wheel-drive drivetrain with a combined electric motor power of 1,000-horsepower and 1,000-lb/ft of torque. Electric motors have their full torque starting at 1-rpm; that’s why diesel-electric locomotives are so powerful. Here’s the carbon fiber leap. Remember how we were stunned when the 2006 Z06 was debuted and we learned that the frame was aluminum. Next, all C7 and C8 Corvette have aluminum frames. To safely handle the tremendous leap on power, I predict that the C8 ZR1 will have a carbon fiber chassis. Think about it. We’ll see. Stepping off soapbox…
Carbon Fiber is without a doubt the hottest trend in automotive materials since the introduction of fiberglass in the early 1950s. Most car enthusiasts understand that racing technology typically precedes production technology. The first structural application of carbon fiber arrived in 1981 when McLaren built their MP4/1 Formula One racecar. McLaren engineer John Barnard built the car’s monocoque chassis/tub completely out of carbon fiber supplied by Hercules Aerospace, in Wilmington, Delaware.
This was a radical departure from traditional monocoque-type construction that consists of a central “tub” structure that the front frame and suspension, engine, and drivetrain all bolts onto. Formula One competitors were suspicion of the new material and called it, “black plastic” fearing that it would shatter and vaporize in a crash situation. This misperception was dispelled at the 1981 Monza Grand Prix when driver John Watson became carbon fiber’s first “crash test dummy”. Watson’s car spin out and crashed was so violet that people that saw the crash on television cried, thinking the worst. But Watson climbed out of what was once a fine racecar and waved to the crown, unhurt.
Watson said in an interview, “Had I had that accident in a conventional aluminum tub, I suspect I might have been injured because the strength of an aluminum tub is very much less than the carbon tub.” McLaren’s objective with the use of carbon fiber was to reduce weight and increase strength. Watson’s accident proved the point and almost overnight, Formula One car builders switched to carbon fiber tubs.
In 1879 Thomas Edison is credited with inventing carbon fiber in his quest to develop the electric light bulb. Edison formed threads of cotton and bamboo slivers into a specific shape and baked them at high temperatures. Cellulose in cotton and bamboo is a natural polymer, consisting of repeating segments of glucose. The baking process “carbonizes” the material and becomes a carbon copy of the beginning material – a carbon fiber with an exact shape. U.S. Navy ships used the same filaments into the 1960s because they were stronger and more resistant to vibration than tungsten.
Modern carbon fiber was born in 1956 in a Union Carbide lab by physicist Roger Bacon when he was performing experiments with the triple point of graphite. This is where the solid, liquid, and gas are all in thermal equilibrium. Using a device similar to early carbon arc street lamps, Bacon observed that when he decreased the pressure in his device, the carbon would go from the vapor to solid, forming a one-inch long stalagmite-like structure on the lower electrode that he called “whiskers”. These whiskers were 1/10th diameter of a human hair that you could bend and kink, but they weren’t brittle. He called these long filaments the “perfect graphite.”
Further experimentation developed the stiffest, strongest materials by weight that had ever been created. Steel has a tensile strength of 1-2 Gigapascals (GPa); Bacon’s fibers had a tensile strength of 20 GPa. Later development brought the carbon fiber’s strength up to 200 GPa. Bacon’s work eventually developed carbon nanotubes (CNTs); hollow cylinders of graphite with diameters on the order of single molecules. Today, CNTs are used in energy storage, device modeling, boat hulls, water filters, sporting goods, thin-film electronics, antennas, coatings, actuators, electromagnetic shields, and yes, automotive parts. Auto applications include; energy storage applications, batteries and superconductors; printable, thermoformable, capacitive touch sensors used to replace membrane switches in interiors; and polymer composites with mechanical properties, thermal conductivity, and enhanced electrical connectivity.
For performance fans, the use of CNT polymers means second-generation carbon fiber material. Consider the leap from C5 to the C5 Z06 with it’s bolted and bonded hardtop roof that increased structures stiffness by 12-percent, compared to the C6 Z06 with its aluminum frame that was 50-percent stronger in bending resistance; compared the C7’s aluminum frame that is 60-percent stiller than the C6’s steel frame. What levels of structural stiffness might we see with a carbon fiber frame, or better yet a carbon nanotube fiber frame?
Carbon fiber has two major downsides; 1. cost; and 2. recycling. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is working on bringing down the cost of carbon fiber because large carbon fiber parts are an essential element in reducing the cost of space exploration. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space planes are made from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is definitely “space-age” material. Another factor in why the cost of carbon fiber is so high is simple supply and demand. Nearly half of the airframe of the Boeing 787 is made from carbon fiber and offers a weight savings of 20-percent. The 787’s airframe is made of 20-percent aluminum, 15-percent titanium, and 5-percent other. Composite structures require less scheduled maintenance than non-composite structures.
The second big downside of carbon fiber is that it is difficult to recycle. Used material can be ground down, or exposed to very high temperatures and, or chemicals to recover the carbon fiber. Remember, the carbon fiber is embedded in resin. Unfortunately, the carbon fiber can be damaged and the matrix resin materials in the composites can be destroyed. Damaged carbon fibers can never be used again in carbon fiber applications.
In 2017 researchers from Washington State University developed a new recycling method using mild acids as catalysts in low-temperature ethanol to break down thermosets. To break down the cured material, researchers raised the material temperature to allow the catalyst-containing liquid to penetrate the composite and break down the complete structure; basically dissolving the material. This allowed the researchers to recover the carbon fibers and the resin material. The researchers have filed for a patent and are developing a commercial process to take to the marketplace.
So, there have been numerous reasons why it has taken so long for carbon fiber parts to integrate into Corvettes. The 1992 Stingray III concept car had a carbon-fiber tub as the central part of the car’s chassis. In 2004 the swansong Corvette special edition option was the Commemorative Edition. This was a beautiful option group with special trim, stripes, and dedicated paint that cost $3,700 for the coupe and convertible. The option was available on the Z06, but with one big difference; the Z06 version had a carbon fiber hood that weighed only 20.5-pounds, compared to 31.1-pounds for the stock hood; a savings of 10.6-pounds. The Z06 Commemorative Edition cost $635 and the carbon fiber hood was only available on the Z06 Commemorative Edition option.
When the 2006 Z06 came out, everyone was agog over the new LS7 427 engine with its dry-sump oil system; widebody; new wheels and suspension; aluminum frame; and magnesium engine cradle and roof section. It was easy to miss the carbon fiber body panels staring you in the face. The Z06’s front fenders, front wheelhouses, and rear fenders were carbon fiber and the interior floor was a carbon fiber and balsa wood sandwich. The carbon fiber components certainly added to the $65,800 price of the 2006 Z06 – $21,200 more than the base model coupe.
The 2009 LS9-powered, supercharged ZR1 was the Corvette no one was anticipating that caught everyone by surprise. From 2009 to 2015 the C6 ZR1 was the most powerful Corvette ever offered. But the ZR1 wasn’t just about power. The new ZR1 had more carbon fiber than any previous Corvette ever had. The ZR1 featured a carbon fiber raised hood with a clear polycarbonate window that showed off the LS9’s intercooler; the dedicated front fenders were painted carbon fiber; and the front fascia splitter; roof bow; fixed roof panel; and the side rockers were clear-coated carbon fiber.
From 2010 to 2013 Chevrolet played mix’n-match with parts, making specialty parts from the ZR1 and Z06 available on the very popular Grand Sport; making buying a new Corvette a boutique experience. In 2011 Chevrolet introduced the $90,960 Carbon Edition Z06. RPO CFZ Carbon Fiber Package for the Z06 was a $3,995 option that added black carbon fiber splitter, side rockers, roof panel, and a body-colored ZR1 rear spoiler.
Carbon fiber integration continued with the C7, but mostly as options. RPO C2M, the $2,995 Carbon Fiber Dual Roof Package, and the $1,995 RPO C2Z Visible Carbon Fiber Roof were available on all coupes from 2014 to 2019. From 2015 to 2019 RPO CFV, the $3,995 Carbon Fiber Ground Effects was available. And from 2014 to 2019 RPO FAY, the $995 Carbon Fiber Interior Appearance Package dressed up the C7’s interior.
The 2015 Z06 blew everyone away with a 145-horsepower raise from the C6 Z06. Carbon fiber parts included the dedicated raised hood and the removable carbon-fiber roof panel. Previous Z06 Corvettes had a fixed roof panel for additional rigidity. And all optional carbon fiber ground effects were available painted and unpainted.
In 2018 Chevrolet celebrated Corvette’s 65th Anniversary with the Carbon 65 Edition. Only 650 cars were offered on the Grand Sport 3LT and Z06 LZ models. The $15,000 package was dripping with special features. New to the lineup of carbon fiber features was the new rear spoiler and quarter ducts. Carbon fiber ground effects and the hood was also included in the package. And lastly, the $122,095 2019 ZR1 has a carbon-fiber halo hood and engine cover; adjustable high rear wing; front splitter and end caps; and steering wheel rim.
Carbon fiber will only become more ubiquitous in the future. What might we expect to see soon? The C8 structure may well use some form of a carbon-fiber tub, or perhaps carbon fiber side rails and other frame and chassis components. Carbon fiber wheels and perhaps some suspension parts might also be in Corvette’s future. Check out the cars in the Daytona Prototype International class at any IMSA race this year, that’s where you’ll find the clues as to what to expect.
Yes, the mat weave of carbon fiber is a look that has taken over the modern automotive and motorcycle hobby. Today you can get nearly anything either made with carbon fiber or with the carbon fiber look. As the price of carbon fiber comes down it will probably become the preferred material for performance cars. Several companies are today making and offering carbon fiber wheels. Carbon fiber 3D printers are also on the marketplace, as well as carbon fiber vinyl wrap material. Indeed, carbon fiber has become the “look” of our time. – Scott
This story was originally published in the May 2019 issue of Vette Vues.
The long and winding road to the mid-engine C8 Corvette
Dateline 7.18.19 –The waiting is finally over! The “pie-in-the-sky” dream of Zora Arkus-Duntov of a mid-engine high-performance sports car wearing a Corvette badge has arrived. The journey to the mid-engine C8 was long, very long.
The C7 Corvette debuted on January 13, 2013 and by the end of April 2013, Chevrolet announced pricing and hard details. By the third quarter of 2013 C7 deliveries began. Then on August 14, 2014, less than a year after C7 production began, Motor Trend announced online, “SCOOP! Mid-Engine Chevrolet Corvette is a Go”.
I said, “HUH?!?!? The C7 just came out. Come on, quit it with the mid-engine tease!
That was almost five years ago and Corvette fans were tortured mercilessly with rumors, spy images, and 3D renderings. It seemed like “The Never-ending C8 Mid-Engine Corvette Story”. Oh, sure! And now, here we are. The journey to the C8 mid-engine Corvette has become epic.
Duntov passed on in 1996, so we can’t ask him exactly when did he first want a mid-engine Corvette. Duntov knew all about mid-engine sports racing cars dating back to the late 1930s. He built the mid-engine CERV-I in 1959/1960 and the mid-engine, all-wheel-drive CERV-II in 1963/1964.
There were numerous mid-engine cars built at the GM Tech Center in the 1960s that were not specifically Duntov’s cars. The first running, “Duntov” mid-engine vehicle that wore the classic Corvette cross-flags was the 1970 XP-882. This car seriously looked like a Corvette. The 1968 Astro-II looked like a Corvette, but that was R&D chief engineer Frank Winchell’s car. But Duntov got to carry the mid-engine torch.
When Duntov retired and handed over the reins to new chief Corvette engineer Dave McLellan, he told the new chief, “Dave, you must do mid-engine.” Although Duntov was a corporate anomaly during his 21-1/2 years at Chevrolet and many didn’t miss him, he definitely had the hearts of legions of Corvette fans and many GM and Chevrolet insiders.
In 1992 Corvette engineers and managers put three unique proposals on the table for consideration for the C5 Corvette. The three concepts included; the mid-engine CERV-III, a stiffer, lighter, restyled version of the C4, and the “Momentum Architecture”. The CERV-III was too expensive and no one wanted the “stiffer-lighter” concept. The Momentum Architecture design won the contest and became the C5. The C6 and C7 designes are advanced, improved designs of the basic C5 structure.
Jim Perkins was the general manager of Chevrolet in the early ’90s and out of respect for Duntov, he invited the great man to see Dave Hill’s presentation to GM leaders to review past, current, and potential future Corvette designs. Zora didn’t say much.
“Two or three days later, he called and said [imitating Duntov’s Eastern European accent], “Jim, I look at new Corvette architecture, and I am surprised. No mid-engine.” I said, “No, no mid-engine.” He asked, “Why? Why you make decision no mid-engine? You should fight for mid-engine.”
I said, “Zora, I might as well be fighting the wind. I’m not going to win that one. We’ve got the program, we’re going to go forward with it, we have a great architecture that we’re pretty well settled on.” He said, “No, Jim, you must raise issue of mid-engine.”I said, “OK, fine.”
He said, “I would like to come see you.” I said, “Well, I’m pretty busy, but my secretary will try to find a time.” I thought he was going to come in just to talk, but when he walked in that morning, he had a role of stuff under his arm. He said, “I am here to talk about mid-engine car.” I said. “OK, but I don’t know what there is to talk about.”
He rolled out these plans that he had done himself, and started talking about this mid-engine architecture. I said, “Zora, I’d like to sit here and talk with you about this, but I’m very busy, I have other things I need to do. Nothing has changed. We are not going to do a mid-engine.”
He said, “You are not going to fight for mid-engine?” I said, “No, sir. I am not. It’s a waste of time and effort. There is just no point in trying to do it. I know you’re passionate about it, and you’re probably right, but we just cannot do it.”He said, “OK.” And he rolled up his plans, put them under his arm and said, “You are not going to build mid-engine. I will raise the money, and I will build the son-of-a-bitch myself.”And he walked out of the office.”
After decades of jaw, jaw, jaw about a factory production mid-engine Corvette, it is finally here. Some time this summer the last front-engine Corvette will roll off the Bowling Green assembly line, closing the long chapter on front-engine Corvettes. Wherever Duntov’s spirit is in The Multiverse or out there in the Either, we all hope that he is happy that his production mid-engine Corvette is finally a reality. – Scott
The C8 Mid-Engine Corvette will be an awesome machine, but does this “look” like a “Corvette”? What would Bill Mitchell think?
Dateline: 11.16.18 – Main Photo Credit: www.Motor1.com, except where noted, Image Credit: GM Archives –As reported on November 8, 2018 by Motor1.com, rumor clouds are gathering and indicating that the C8 mid-engine Corvette will debut at the NAIAS Show in Detroit in January 2019. That seems likely since the C8 did not debut at the Dubai International Motor Show.
A mid-engine Corvette has been the ultimate pie-in-the-sky Vette since the 1960s when mid-engine was the best layout for balance and the state-of-the-art of tires back in the day. A mid-engine Corvette was Zora Arkus-Duntov’sultimate dream Corvette. There’s a good chance that the C8 will be called “Zora”.
But we’ve come a long way, baby, since the days of 100-percent mechanical supercars. Between electronics, computers, vastly superior materials, and tires with more sticky than rubber cement; does the mid-engine layout still make sense?
I would submit that the success of the C7.R argues the case that a mid-engine layout is no longer needed. The Corvette Racing Team won the 2018 Championship without scoring a single class win. It’s all about consistency and the points race. Then, factor in the disadvantage put upon the C7.R Corvettes, thanks to IMSA’s BoP rules, and clearly, the front mid-engine C7.R Corvette was the superior car in the series.
Over the past sixty-five years the Corvette has had many contenders, has vanquished them all, and is truly a world-class champion race car and “America’s Sports Car” This begs the question; is a mid-engine Corvette relevant in today’s world of electro-mechanical performance cars?
The Corvette mystique has many factors; performance, affordability, durability, utility, unique good looks, history, and more. For the most part, a Corvette is a car that you can live with as a daily driver, especially since the arrival of the 1984 C4 with its functional hatchback roof. You can do light grocery shopping, go golfing, and take a trip with a Corvette, thanks to the generous amount of storage area in the back (as sports cars go).
This kind of utility will not be part of the mid-engine Corvette. This is a packaging issue and is common with all mid-engine sports cars. Remember the Pontiac Fiero? That was a very cool, affordable mid-engine sports car, but all you could store in the “trunk” in the back was two slim brief cases.
Probably a year from now we will be seeing lots of C8 mid-engine Corvettes on the road. But this will not be a GT (Grand Touring) car. No one will be taking long trips in a C8, unless they have a support car following along with their gear. And I doubt that any C8 owner will be attaching a tow hitch for a motorcycle trailer, either.And lastly I want to address the C8’s looks. I have had a love affair with Corvettes since 1965 when I didn’t even know what I was looking at, other than it was the most beautiful car I’d ever seen in my young life. I am probably committing sacrilege, but I have to be honest. While subtle surface details are nearly impossible to make out on the camoed C8 mule cars, the overall shape and proportion of the C8 is obvious. Twenty years ago, we depended on gifted automotive artists, such as Mark Stehrenberger, to provide magazines with renderings of upcoming Corvettes in the months before official debuts. But today there are numerous very talented digital artists that create “renderings” that can pass as actual photographs. Okay, so here the “sacrilege” part.
I am not liking what I’m seeing. To my artist’s eye, the car looks stubby and bulky; a collection of add-on design elements. The styling appears to be engineering-driven. A beautiful car should hit you immediately. You shouldn’t have to think about it; there should be an immediate, visceral response; a “WOW!”
In October when Motor1.com showed the upcoming McLaren Speedtail, it got a “WOW! WOW! WOW!” from me. I mentioned to Marty Schorr from CarGuyChronicles.com and founder of Vette Magazine, that if the Speedtail body was the C8 Corvette, I’m be a “Happy Corvetter”! Marty concurred.
The C5 Corvette was almost a mid-engine car. The 1990 CERV III was a serious contender for the C5 but was deemed too expensive. The CERV III was a “WOW!” Corvette for me. Prior mid-engine prototypes were almost all gorgeous cars that screamed “CORVETTE!!!” That’s why I have added images of past mid-engine Corvettes in this post. I can not imagine that VP of GM Styling Bill Mitchell would be happy with the C8. Zora would be THRILLED! But then again, Duntov and Mitchell often and famously butted horns.
Believe me, my highest hope at this point is that I’m dead wrong. We’ll see soon. – Scott
C8 Mid-engine test driver flogging the pants off a C8 mule Corvette and having too much fun!
It will not be long! I speculate that the mid-engine Zora Corvette will debut either this November at the Dubai (the exact date has not yet been set, for more info, CLICK HERE), or at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2019. I say this because the recent batch of photos and videos are very clear. Some of the surface details might be what they call “holder pieces”, but we now clearly know the C8’s overall shape. The debut can not be far off.
The video also provides another big hint as to what’s under the hood.Watch and listen for yourself. All I’ll say is that the car sounds very tame.
Special thanks to Jalopnik.com for the excellent video. Jalopnik.com offers more commentary HERE. – Scott
Yes, these C8 Mid-Engine Corvette mules are wearing camo, but at least the vinyl pads are off!
It’s getting close. Mid-engine Corvette mules have been seen on public roads wearing that crazy camo wrap, but at least we can see the basic shapes. The headlights taillights, front grille openings and engine cover are probably “holder” pieces, as they look too awkward to be the finished details.
All of the major car magazines and blogs are all over this showing the same images. Check them out from Motor1.com, HERE.
Our friend Chris Draper, star of the YouTube channel, “My Corvette Life” has different images that he got from his friend Rick Conti.
Shades of the 1963 Grand Sport, the Corvette Daytona Prototype is now racing in the Historic Sportscar Racing series!
Dateline: 8.24.18 – Illustrations by K. Scott Teeters – Time flies when you are having fun racing and winning. But five years can be an eternity in prototype sports car racing. I was shocked to see a report on Jalopnik.com that the five year old Corvette Daytona Prototype is now relegated to vintage historic racing events.
The story points out that just two years ago in 2016, the Whelen Engineering Action Express Chevrolet Corvette Coyote Daytona Prototype took the Driver’s Championship with Eric Curran and Dane Cameron in the driver’s seat.
The above 3-minute 20-second in-car video gives you a sense of what an awesome machine the Daytona Prototype Corvette is. GM Racing’s only involvement was with the basic body design. Pratt & Miller, along with Riley Technologies, Dallara, and Coyote designed and built the Daytona Prototype’s chassis. Power comes from a racing version of the C6 Z06’s LS7 engine. Continue reading “
The C8.R is shaping up to look like a real bad-ass racing Corvette. Watch out Ferrari!
Dateline: 8-10-18 – Image Credit: Motor1.com– As a commercial artist and graphic designer, I’ve been trained to go with my immediate, flash, gut impression of a design. Upon seeing the latest batch of clear C8.R images, I got an immediate, “WOW!” And yes, I understand that the C8.R is the extreme version of the C8.
CorvetteBoyz posted an excellent spy video on the C8.R. Check it out…
Motor1.com posted a written report with lots of photos, check it outHERE…
Concerning the mid-engine platform,that IS the direction the high-end sports cars are going. The whole “mid-engine Corvette” notion is an old Continue reading “
FINALLY! Clear images of the new C8.R mid-Engine Corvette – VIDEO” →
The 57-Year Saga to the C8 Mid-Engine Corvette – The Old Mid-Engine Advantage & the 1960 CERV I
Dateline: 8.13.17 – Images: GM Archives & Mecum.com – Introduction: Honestly, I didn’t believe it at first. It seemed like the floodlights from the debut of the C7 Corvette weren’t even cool yet when the automotive press and the Internet started chattering about the C8 Corvette being a mid-engine design. GM then added fuel to the fire when it was announced that they had trademarked the word “Zora” which ignited the speculation of a mid-engine Corvettes.
Part of Corvette-lore is that Zora Arkus-Duntov unsuccessfully tried many times to make the Corvette a mid-engine car, because in Zora’s day, it made perfect sense.The trouble was that Chevrolet was selling enough Corvettes to make the argument that, “the Corvette wasn’t broken, so don’t fit it!” The mid-engine Corvette concept lost its champion after Duntov retired in 1975. Dave McLellan’s team tried to recycle the body design of the mid-engine Four-Rotor Corvette, powered by a transverse-mounted small-block Chevy engine. That idea was actually “approved” briefly, but died a quick death. The mid-engine Corvette concept came back again as a development program that started with the Corvette Indy (a full-size static model), the Running Corvette Indy (a functional, drivable version), and finally the CERV III. This CERV III was an almost completely flushed out car, meaning that it “could” have been put into production, had GM not been embroiled in a financial crisis in the early ‘90s. The crisis was so bad that once again, the Corvette was on the chopping block! Perhaps by sheer luck, the C5 plan eked through and turned out so good, that the mid-engine concept then seemed antiquated. Then suddenly, shortly after the C7 came out, the Mighty Wurlitzer Rumor Organ got cranked up and once again, we are in mid-engine mania. But does the mid-engine make sense? Is this what the Corvette community really wants? I’ve had my head plugged into the world of Corvettes since 1965 and followed all of the mid-engine Corvette concept cars. Most were engineering studies and not real, drivable, serviceable, safe cars – a few were close to production-ready.
The “story” of the Corvette is long and rich with colorful characters, loud and awesome machines, and two, BIG, “Could’a been so cool!” chapters – The Grand Sport and the mid-engine Corvette. While it was wonderful that Chevrolet used the Grand Sport moniker for one of the two special-edition 1996 C4 swan song Corvettes, and then as a separate model Corvette starting in 2010, these were not Duntov’s original vision. Continue reading “
The Run-Up to the C8 Corvette – The History of Mid-Engine Corvettes, Part 1 – 1960 CERV-I” →
Published GM U.S. Patent Confirms New “Active” Aero System for the Corvette
Chevrolet has been extremely tight-lipped about the C7 ZR1, such that we have to look for other sources to glean info. Several months ago, published U.S. Patent documents indicated that GM is working on a new DOHC engine called the “LT5.” The conclusion is that the C7 ZR1 will have a double overhead cam version of the Z06’s LT4. Guestimations are that the LT5-powered ZR1 is pushing 750-horsepower – maybe more! The April issue of Car and Driver showed artist renderings depicting the ZR1 sporting a very aggressive front splitter, big air intakes, an elaborate new hood, and a very angular rear wing with winglettes. Killer-looking stuff! But wait! There’s more!
On March 23, 2017 AutoGuide.com reported that on May 24, 2016, GM Global Technology Operations LLC filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office, Patent Application number 20170080770, titled, “VEHICLE RIDE-HEIGHT DETERMINATION FOR CONTROL OF VEHICLE AERODYNAMICS”. The “Abstract, Claims, and Description” are on the US Patent & Trademark Office – Patent Application Full Text and Image Database website. CLICK HERE to read the actual US Patent. Continue reading “
From Spoilers to Active Aero, What WE Might See on the C7 ZR1 & Mid-Engine C8 Corvette” →