We’ve been expecting to hear this news and finally today it has been confirmed by Chevrolet that the new 2020 Corvette Stingray will be the official Pace Car of the 104th Indianapolis 500. This marks the 17th race that Corvette has served as the official Pace Car, and the 31st Chevrolet to lead the field.
This year’s running of the Indy 500 will take place on Sunday, August 23 with the race being shown live on NBC.
With no fans allowed in attendance this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official pace car driver will be GM President Mark Reuss.
“It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to be behind the wheel of the mid-engine Corvette Pace Car at such a historic race as the Indy 500,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “The 2020 Corvette Stingray is the result of a close collaboration between the Corvette Racing and production engineering teams, setting a new benchmark for supercars around the world.”
The 2020 Corvette Stingray Pace Car is Torch Red and features the high Wing Spoiler and ground effects package. The Z51 Coupe will also wear the 104th Indy 500 livery on the doors. The new 2020 Stingray is capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 194 mph, so it should have no trouble in setting the pace for the IndyCar racers.
“This is a continuation of our outstanding partnership with Chevrolet,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re so grateful for all that Chevrolet has contributed to the success of our events. The Torch Red 2020 Corvette Stingray is a world-class machine rich with speed, performance and excitement, perfectly suited to pace the ‘500′ field.”
Chevrolet has been linked to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with both entities founded in 1911. Company founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet and his brothers Arthur and Gaston raced in the early 500-mile races with Gaston winning the race in 1920. Today, Louis Chevrolet rests in peace in a local Indianapolis cemetery just 15 minutes away from the track.
This afternoon we came across this Facebook post from Corvette Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion sharing these words from fellow GM designer Adam Barry who led the project. The 2020 Corvette Pace Car features a number of items from Genuine Corvette Accessories as discussed:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Many gearheads have a strange affinity to Hot Wheels. Here is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the company, but never asked.
Toy cars can be divided into two categories: Hot Wheels and everybody else. For over 50 years, Mattel has dominated with what is now recognized as the best-selling toy in the world. It’s impossible to count how many car buffs, from mechanics to real race stars to TV personalities, grew up playing with these cars. Whether it was just a few models or massive collections, Hot Wheels has been part of car culture for decades and is never going to stop. Whether it’s a simple model or some fancy licensed vehicle, Hot Wheels simply enthralls.
Yet it’s incredible how some people are unaware of the facts of the company and its history. From its unique origins to how these cars are put together, the story behind Hot Wheels is fascinating. There are also touches from how some of these cars are more expensive than real ones to some unique touches on the culture. Here are 20 amazing facts about Hot Wheels to prove they’re more than just “kids toys.”‘
20/20 Real-Life Hot Wheels Jump Was A World Record
Growing up a massive Hot Wheels fan, racer Tanner Foust decided to honor them in a fun way. At the 2011 Indy 500, Foust talked the management into seeing up a massive orange ramp and raced down it in a rally car.
After 90 feet of track, Foust sailed 332 feet, the longest record for such a move. He topped it by driving through a 66-foot loop in 2012 to live out the dreams of every kid.
19 Technology In Car Building Is Amazing…
Making toys has become a very high-tech business today. Just like real car companies, Hot Wheels has adapted to the 21st century nicely. Computers and 3-D technology are utilized to make sure the designs are perfected before the building begins.
It also helps them keep on top of the latest car trends to ensure that today’s Hot Wheels are sleeker and more natural than the ones of the past.
18 But They’re Still Diecast
There are many toy car lines out there, but Hot Wheels is still the king of the bunch. The key reason is that, for all the advances in technology, every car is still diecast and built mostly by hand.
Even when cheaper materials are available, Mattel knows the diecast is what the fans want. It’s also helped in making customized cars at home for popular models. After 50 years, Mattel doesn’t want to mess with success and do away with diecast.
17 They’ve Worked With NASA
Hot Wheels have done a few astronaut-themed toys over the years. But that’s not the only connection they have with NASA. In 1998, they were able to work with the agency to create an exact replica of the Mars Rover, which landed on the Red Planet that very year.
They also worked with them in 2012 for scale models of the Curiosity rover. It’s amazing how the company got access to top-secret plans to make these toys.
16 Collectors Take It Seriously
Some may dismiss Hot Wheels as “just for kids.” But collectors take it more seriously than real automobiles. The 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb (only 16 prototypes were made) is known to go for at least $15,000.
Some rare models can go for a hundred grand, and collectors are always on the lookout for unique mint models. Entire museums are devoted to various cars as some Hot Wheels collections put legit car collectors to shame.
15 Scaling Down The Cars Was Tricky
A key to the company’s success is that they work with scores of real car companies to get looks at plans for their toy models. Yet it’s not so simple as just “make a smaller version.” The biggest challenge is to achieve the proper scale for the toys in a diecast model yet retain the details of the actual car.
That can be complex with some fancy vehicles. That every model has to be sized to fit the same tracks just adds to why it takes as long developing a toy car as a real one.
14 NASCAR Star Has The Record For The Longest Track
Ever since the Hot Wheels tracks were created, fans have been trying to top themselves making the most extended and most complex. A few have achieved great ones, but it’s fitting a NASCAR star holds the record for the longest.
In 2019, Joey Logano unveiled a 1,941-foot long track stretched across his garage. It weaves through his car collection with 1222 boosters before ending in Logano’s own 2018 HW Ford Mustang. Add yet another title to Logano’s list of accolades.
13 They Made A Car Coated In Diamonds
In 2008, Mattel made a big deal of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Hot Wheels line. As a special reward, Mattel had Jasons of Beverly Hills craft the most expensive Hot Wheels car on the planet.
Cast in 18-karat gold, it’s covered with 2700 diamonds and gems totaling nearly $150,000 today. It’s become a rotating exhibit at toy museums for the glitziest Hot Wheels you could see.
12 The Darth Car Is A Speed Machine
While they do stick to toys, the company has been busy creating some real-sized cars for collectors. One of the most notable is based on Darth Vader, with the hood looking like his fearsome helmet and in jet black.
This isn’t just for show as it’s based on a C5 Corvette with a GM LS3 V-8 engine capable of 526 hp and 150 mph. The Dark Lord of the Sith would be proud of this powerful craft.
11 Every Car Is Tested To Make Sure It Can Run A Track
Almost from the beginning, Hot Wheels car fans had to have a track with the cars. They’ve gone from straight lines to elaborate roller-coaster-like loop systems to leave kids entertained for hours.
What few realize is that the track determines if a car makes it as Mattel prides itself on “every car can fit every track.” More than once, a prototype has to be altered when it won’t fit as the track decides a car’s final form.
10 There Are More Hot Wheels Cars Than Real Cars
While it’s tricky to figure out for sure, most sources agree there are at least one billion cars on the planet (give or take a few hundred thousand in auto graveyards). In contrast, since 1968, six billion Hot Wheels cars have been created.
True, many have been trashed and/or recycled, and it’s impossible to count how many have been lost in backyards. But given how 16 cars are produced every second, it’s no shock the toys outnumber the real deals.
9 Several Creators Are Legit Car Designers
The one constant of Hot Wheels is that the cars look just as good as the real deal. There’s an excellent reason for that as scores of the manufacturers are legitimate car designers. Larry Wood was a veteran of Ford before becoming one of the first Hot Wheels designers.
He’s not alone as Jack Ryan was a rocket designer who crafted the bearings that made the cars so great. Scores of the car designers were in real automobiles first, so it’s no wonder the vehicles look so good.
8 The Original Camaro Is Worth A Fortune
Mint conditions of the Original 16 Hot Wheels releases are all pretty collectible items. But one dominates from the pack. While versions of a Camaro were produced, a few had white enamel paint.
They had been meant to discover flaws in a prototype but accidentally released. A mint version of one went for a hundred thousand dollars and made this one of the most expensive toys on the planet
7 They Released A Custom Corvette Before GM Did
An early standout for the company at a custom Corvette in 1968. What made it notable was that the toy was released before GM had their actual Corvette in car dealerships.
The fact designer Harry Bradley had worked at GM indicates he may have “borrowed” the designs before he left to allow Mattel to beat GM to releasing a Corvette to the masses.
6 The Red Stripes Are Expensive
If you find what looks like an old Hot Wheels car, take a good look at the wheels. If they have red stripes, then you’ve just found a fantastic collector’s item. From 1968 to 1977, designers hand-painted red lines onto the wheels to make the cars look distinctive.
As a cost-cutting measure, they switched to all-black wheels in 1978. Some mint condition red-striped vehicles have been known to go for thousands online.
5 One Of The Original Cars Was Based On A Car With No Doors
The first wave of Hot Wheels was just 16 cars, and any of them can be valuable today. One is notable, the 1965 Dodge Deora. This car boasted no doors but rather a hatch for folks to crawl into.
It was based on a fun design used by Mike and Larry Alexander but in an irony, no real Dodge Deoras were built, to make this a truly unique model
4 A Tie-In Cartoon Got Pulled By The FCC
Today, cartoons based on toy lines are commonplace. But in 1969, Hot Wheels got in trouble when they put out a cartoon series about some teenage car drivers. Despite good messages, the show was hit by complaints about being a “half-hour commercial.”
The FCC agreed, and it was yanked off the air. The company was just ahead of their time with a cartoon tie-in for a hit toy line.
3 There’s A Fight On Where The Name Came From
Much of Hot Wheels is shrouded in myth, and that includes just where the name comes from. The familiar story is that when Eliot Handler saw the first models from designer Fred Adickes, he remarked: “those are some hot wheels you’ve got there.”
Another version is that Handler just blurted the name out in a meeting with a designer. Regardless, it just stuck to become one of the most popular toys on the planet.
2 They’re Number One…Because They Remain So Cheap
In the ranks of the most popular toys on the planet, Hot Wheels dominates. They’re not just the biggest toy vehicle sellers but also the number one selling toy in the entire world. The reason is that in many markets, the cars can still go for only a dollar each.
True, they can be put out in packs, and some nations charging a few bucks more. But many stores do sell the cars for less than a bottle of water, which is the reason they are so dominant.
1 Its Creator Was Married To Barbie’s Creator
Elliott and Ruth Handler were the First Couple of the toy world. The two had founded Mattel as a picture frame company in 1945. While making a dollhouse, Ruth decided to craft a series of dolls she named Barbie.
It was an instant hit to make Mattel a success. Elliott then realized how a toy car line could be great for boys to craft what would become Hot Wheels. The two remained together until Ruth’s death in 2002 (Elliott passed on nine years later) to be icons of their industry.
Sources: Mentalfloss.com, hotwheels.com, hotwheelsmedia.com, thrillist.com
Both cars retail for about $81,000, but one is a lot more accessible.
SPEED PHENOM ON YOUTUBE
If you’ve got $80,000 to spend and want an American high-performance car, now’s a pretty good time to be in the market. In addition to tire-shredding stalwarts like the Camaro ZL1 and Challenger Hellcat, Ford and Chevy have recently launched high-profile, track-ready sports cars. And thanks to a new video by Speed Phenom, we now know how they directly compare on track.
Naturally, we wanted to do this comparison ourselves. But the GT500 wasn’t ready during our Performance Car of the Year competition when we had an early C8 to test. And now that both cars are on sale, stay-at-home orders and track closures mean we’ll have to wait for an opportunity to do a full R&T comparison.
In the meantime, Speed Phenom does a good job of breaking down how they perform. With the caveat that he’s got a base model GT500 without the optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, he notes that the car struggles for grip more often than the similarly-tired Corvette. It’s also less composed through mid-corner bumps, with slower cornering all around. Thanks to its massive horsepower advantage, though, it jets through straightaways.
The C8, meanwhile, benefits from serious mechanical grip. The better-balanced midship car fires through corners and has no problem putting its power down. That makes it more approachable, not surprising given that it’s the tamest version of the C8 while the GT500 is stretching the limits of the S550 platform. We’re sure to see more track-ready Corvettes soon, but for now the Stingray is a surprisingly capable start.
Mack Hogan- Road&Track
Even off the pavement, the new ‘Vette is a rocket ship.
The 2020 C8 Chevy Corvette is a fast car. In base form, it can hit a staggering 194 mph flat-out. Even with the drag-inducing Z51 performance package, the car can still do 184. Hennessey Performance took theirs to 182 mph with ease before they turbocharged it to oblivion. Now, there’s another C8 top-speed run on the internet, and this time, it takes place on a dry lake bed.
Popular YouTube TheStradman took his new Z51-equipped Corvette to a dry lake bed in Utah to test out the top speed of the car. He managed to hit an impressive 173 mph before slowing down—not bad considering the uneven and bumpy surface. It helps that there’s absolutely nothing for miles in either direction. In fact, from inside the cabin, it looks a bit uneventful. Here’s a perspective from outside the car to give you a sense of how fast 173 mph is:
If the base Corvette is this quick right out of the box, we’re curious to see how the upcoming Z06 stacks up. Considering the last-gen car could hit 200 mph, we’re expecting big things.
Source: Brian Silvestro; for RoadandTrack
The Goldilocks zone of Corvette C8 interiors?
By now, you should know that Chevrolet has started deliveries of the mid-engine 2020 Corvette. Lucky owners of the ‘Vette C8 are starting to receive their newest toy and most likely you’ve already seen one on the streets – that’s if the state you’re in is not affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
If you’re among those who are planning to purchase the new Corvette but are undecided with the trim level to choose, this video might be able to help you – especially if you’re particular with a car’s interior.
The Corvette C8 comes with three trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. The differences lie mainly in the features offered on each trim level, which defines that the cabin will look and feel like. That’s pretty important, considering that we spend so much time inside the car rather than staring at our investment from a distance. So, here’s a little guide.
The base 1LT trim isn’t really basic. With the entry-level trim, you already get the GT1 seats wrapped in mulan leather, a customizable 12-inch gauge cluster, push-button ignition and keyless entry, and an 8-inch Chevy MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and 10-speaker Bose sound system. The Corvette 1LT trim is available in three color options: black, gray, or red.
Going up the 2LT trim gives you more interior color options plus features like a rearview camera mirror, a colored head-up display, heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel, advanced blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic warning. The infotainment gets upgraded as well with a wireless charger and a 14-speaker Boss audio system.
Finally, the 3LT trim dials up the ante by adding a premium Nappa leather with suede microfiber accents – all in combination with the GT2 seats that have more bolsters. These seem not a lot but the range-topping trim adds luxury to the sports coupe.
If you’re still undecided, watch the 2LT interior review on top of this page to check whether you need to take it down a notch to 1LT or go all out on the top-level 3LT.
Source: HorsePower Obsessed
The etiquette of doing something you do regularly while staying safe and clean.
- We might need new gas-pumping etiquette rules for the 21st century, both for selfish and altruistic reasons.
- We’ve known since 2011 that gas pump handles can be filthy—they’re worse than ATMs or escalators, even—but there’s no reason to worry if you take the right precautions.
- You can lower your risk by using gloves or paper towels to gas up, using touch-free pay options, and staying as physically separate from others as possible as you refuel.
You may have heard this one before: the best way to avoid catching some sort of communicable disease is to wash your hands well, and often. This advice isn’t exactly new, which hints at how reasonable and responsible it is.
Washing your hands to stay clean was the takeaway lesson from a 2011 study conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional, which found gas pump handles were “the filthiest surface that Americans encounter on the way to work,” according to Reuters. The Los Angeles Times reported back then that the study found 71 percent of gas pump handles the Kimberly-Clark researched tested were considered “‘highly contaminated’ with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness.” Compare that to only 41 percent of ATM buttons and 43 percent of escalator rails.
The Kimberly-Clark Professional tests were done in big cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia) almost a decade ago, but when something like the coronavirus impacts pretty much every corner of the world, it’s a good reminder to take care when gassing up. When it comes to the COVID-19 coronavirus specifically, the National Institutes of Health has issued information that explains that coronavirus can be stable for 24 hours on some surfaces like cardboard and “up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.”
If you’re not already carrying disinfecting wipes in the car with you, this is a good time to start, assuming you have some available, and wipe off the pump handle and touchscreen, or any other surfaces you plan to touch, before your hands make contact. Even better, it might be a good idea to search out a station that accepts contactless payment at the pump, so you won’t need to come into physical contact with the touchscreen or anything else other than the pump handle. Two easy solutions to this issue are to either wear gloves or to use the paper towels commonly provided for window cleaning as a guard between your hands and the screen, buttons, and pump handle. Keeping gloves in the car is a good idea, but they shouldn’t be the disposable sterile gloves that hospitals can use when there’s a need for them there. If you don’t have gloves, keep some hand sanitizer in the car to use on your hands after filling up.
As for social distancing, it’s convenient that gas pumps are relatively far apart from one another, contagion-wise, but even so, choosing to fill up your tank at an off-peak time can be safer. If there are other people getting gas at the same time, keeping at least six feet between you and them is a good idea for everyone involved. And it should go without saying that you shouldn’t go into the store unless there’s a reasonable need to do so if there’s still a rapidly spreading disease going around.
The actual chance that you will catch a transmittable viruses at the gas station is low. As the Illinois TV station ABC-20 reported based on answers from a medical expert, the sequence of events that have to happen to get the virus from someone who has it (someone coughing onto the pump handle or touching the touchscreen with virus on their hands, and then you touching it and then your face) can be interrupted in any number of ways. Even so, there’s no harm in being extra careful in these potentially dangerous times.
Sebastian Blanco- Car and Driver
It took 30 hours for Hennessey Performance Engineering to tear apart a new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, install twin-turbo setup, and put it back together.
It’s no surprise, then, that the twin-turbo C8 Corvette isn’t ready to be sold to customers. The engine lacks intercoolers and Hennessey hasn’t cracked the code of GM’s new electrical architecture to reprogram the ECU.
“This is just the beginning, our own car, doing R&D,” company founder and CEO John Hennessey told Motor Authority.
On Monday, the engine made 643 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque at the wheels on a Dynojet dyno while running just 5 psi of boost. That compares to baseline testing HPE performed on the stock car which revealed 466 hp and 451 lb-ft of torque. HPE plans to offer a 1,200-hp version of the C8, which Hennessey said could make 18-20 psi of boost.
Hennessey took delivery of an orange C8 Corvette in Detroit on March 13. He and his daughter, Emma, drove back to the performance outfitter’s Texas headquarters and performed baseline testing before the Hennessey team tore apart the car.
The orange C8 fired back to life on Friday with twin 62-mm Precision Turbos and twin blow-off valves connected to the throttle body mounted behind the catalytic converters. Both turbos are oil-cooled with twin scavenge pumps that feed back into the motor.
The system is not intercooled. Instead, there’s a methanol injection setup to keep things from getting too hot. HPE is considering where to put intercoolers. The current packaging has limited space for intercoolers without cutting into trunk space, which Hennessey does not want to do. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray undergoes twin-turbo conversion at Hennessey
Hennessey told Motor Authority his team currently can’t tune the factory ECU, but it is looking at aftermarket solutions for the engine management system. He noted it took a year for solutions to come to market for the C7 and added, “hopefully, it won’t take a year.”
Hennessey said when the turbocharged C8 was first started it didn’t throw any codes, errors, or a check engine light. “The computer seems happy with the turbos,” Hennessey noted. A check engine light did appear when the front wheel speed sensors were disconnected to put the car on the dyno, Hennessey said.
The orange C8 will used for R&D of upcoming modifications. Hennessey said he doesn’t expect to deliver modified customer C8s for at least six months, and all will have intercoolers and full plumbing.
Joel Feder for Motor Authority
Did you see the two race on YouTube? We’ve tested them, too; here’s why the results were no surprise.
- We have tested both the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette (11.2 seconds at 122 mph) and the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (11.4 seconds at 132 mph) in the quarter-mile.
- A video on YouTube, however, shows flipped results: 11.5 seconds at 120 mph for the Corvette and 10.8 seconds at 132 mph for the GT500.
- As always, the driver and track conditions are critical, and our two-run average is far more repeatable than any one-off run at a drag strip.
When we tested Ford’s new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 against the top-dog 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Mustang came out on top on the drag strip. But how does the front-engine Shelby stack up against the other, now mid-engine, threat from Chevy?
Greg PajoCar and Driver
During our testing, the GT500 hurtled through the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 132 mph. But that was on a regular street-like surface, not a sticky, prepped drag strip. We struggled mightily with traction at launch, and our best run was with the launch control set to the lowest rpm allowed (1200 rpm) to prevent igniting a rear-tire fire. However, no surprise: with more traction far, better numbers are possible, and we’ve seen numbers below 11 seconds at drag strips, including this kid, who ran a 10.665 shortly after he acquired the car.’Murica Which Ultimate Pony Car Is the 1/4-Mile King?This Kid Ran a 10.66 Quarter Mile In His GT500
On the other hand, the 2020 Corvette has far fewer launch struggles, as it benefits from its newly acquired mid-engine layout and rear weight bias. Moving the weight distribution rearward improves launch traction, helping it jump off the line much quicker. During our testing, and despite far less horsepower, the mid-engine Vette outaccelerated the GT500 through the quarter-mile by two tenths of a second, reaching it in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
We’re starting to see other people’s numbers from both of these cars, though, as customers are starting to take deliveries of their C8 Corvettes and GT500s. Contrary to our test results, there’s a video circulating on YouTube that shows the new GT500 beating the C8 Corvette through the quarter-mile by seven-tenths of a second. It raced to the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds while the Corvette reached it in 11.5 seconds.
Keep in mind that the driver and conditions are huge factors in quarter-mile and acceleration results. We suspect that here, the Corvette likely got bogged down on the high-grip surface, as the launch control isn’t optimized for those conditions, and the 760-hp Mustang benefited from the extra traction on the track.
Connor Hoffman for CarandDriver
From an acclaimed concept car John DeLorean reportedly dismissed because he wanted something “smaller and more European,” to the design that ended a feud between a pair of GM giants — but may have set the Corvette back decades — a trove of unique documents, sketches and models tells a secret history of the 60-year quest to build a mid engine Chevrolet Corvette.
The story begins in the late 1950s with legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and came to fruition when the first mid engine 2020 Corvette Stingray sold for $3 million at auction in January.
Titled “The Vision Realized: 60 Years of Mid engine Corvette Design” and created by GM Design Archive & Collections, the exhibit included 19 original sketches by designers including Larry Shinoda and Tom Peters, the massive 4-Rotor rotary engine from the 1973 Aerovette engineering, a wood wind-tunnel model, even letters from Arkus-Duntov’s personal files.
“The story of the mid engine Corvette is incredibly complicated, full of fits and starts,” said Christo Datini, manager of the GM Design Archive & Collections.
Cristo Datini at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
A mid engine Corvette was a dream shared by GM designers and engineers. The layout, in which the engine is behind the passenger compartment and immediately over the rear wheels, improves acceleration and handling. It’s been a mainstay at Ferrari for decades, and inspired repeated design and engineering projects at GM. None of them made it to production till now, largely because the Corvette’s original front-engine layout was so successful.
“Why would we change the Corvette?” GM chairman and CEO Richard Gerstenberg said to Arkus-Duntov before both men retired in the mid-1970s. “We sell every one we can make.”
‘Design without limit’
A generation of GM designers and engineers had already fought that attitude toward the sports car that debuted in 1953 model, and a couple more would before the midengine eighth-generation C8 Corvette Stingray debuted last year.
The exhibition included dozens of sketches, models, photos and documents.
“Our mission is to preserve the heritage of GM Design and educate our designers on GM’s prominence in the world of design,” Datini said. The archive also is working with the Detroit Institute of Arts on a massive exhibition dedicated to automotive design that opens this summer.
The Corvette exhibition closed at the end of January, but elements of it are likely to be displayed at other events and locations, possibly including the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which provided materials for the collection.
Original magazines with drawings of what Corvettes could have looked like on display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle I, Also called SERV I and XP-708, was the beginning. A running model that debuted in 1960, the car had the looks of an Indy car and a chassis that tested what a midengine layout could do. It was “a design without limit” and an “admirable tool” to help Chevy figure out “what to put in Corvette,” said Duntov, himself a former driver in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
CERV I was used as a test vehicle for years. Larry Shinoda, who would go on to be known as the father of the ’63 Corvette Stingray and the Mako Shark concept car, tweaked its design repeatedly as engineers tested it with seven different power trains.
GM eventually retired CERV I, selling it to the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum for $1. When the museum failed in the 1980s, GM bought it back for “somewhat more,” Datini said.
A model of the 1968 Chevrolet mid-engine Corvette Roadster that is one of many items for General Motors workers to see at the Corvette design display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Corvettes the world never saw
Shortly thereafter, Duntov heard rumors Ford was developing a Le Mans racer to challenge Ferrari and launched work on CERV II. GM decided not to race, Ford and Carroll Shelby built the GT40 that inspired “Ford vs. Ferrari,” and the CERV II was used as an engineering test bed at secret proving grounds and never seen by the public during its active lifetime. Built in 1964, CERV II had a 500-horsepower V8, 210-mph top speed and 2.8-second 0-60 mph time.
A picture of the CERV II Corvette. The sports car never went into production but it was influential in the design of the C5 production Corvette. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
“By that time, engineers and designers knew a midengine chassis was necessary” to get maximum performance from the ‘Vette, Datini said. Putting the engine behind the passenger compartment puts the car’s weight over the rear wheels to put down more power without spinning. Shifting balance from the production ‘Vette’s nose-heavy weight distribution would also improve handling.
Also in 1964, the XP-819 experimental car was being tested. Designed by Shinoda, it bore a strong resemblance to 1970 Corvettes, but Duntov hated it, calling it an “ugly duckling” at least in part because he wished his engineering team got some of the budget allotted to designing the car. It had a 327 cubic-inch V8 and pop-up headlights.
Like many concept and engineering vehicles, XP-819 was destroyed, chopped up. Years later, the pieces were found in NASCAR designer and mechanic Smokey Yunick’s garage.
Half Corvette, half Porsche
With a name GM would later recycle on a minivan, the Astro II XP-880 was never publicly identified as a Corvette, but it was one, intended for production in 1970, but never got there. It debuted at the New York auto show, featuring a nose, front fenders and Firefrost Blue paint that that foreshadowed 1970s production cars.
DeLorean, then Chevrolet general manager, asked for a rush program to create a different midengine design to match the midengine Pantera Ford was developing with Italian sports car maker De Tomaso to debut at the 1970 New York auto show. The XP-882 had a tapering body with dramatic fender flares and a louvered rear window like the Mako Shark II concept car. Like so many midengine ‘Vettes before and after, GM brass decided to stick with the tried and true front-engine layout.
Also in the 1970s GM president Ed Cole — another legendary engineer who led the development of the small block V8 and catalytic converter, among other achievements — became enamored with the Wankel rotary engine. Duntov built two midengine experimental ‘Vettes with rotary engines, glad for Cole’s support despite not sharing his enthusiasm for the engine.
Sketching and notes about the Corvette, one of the many originals on display for workers to see at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
The 1973 Corvette 2-Rotor XP-987GT was a smaller, European-scale sports car with a rotary engine. The body was all Corvette, but its chassis came from a Porsche 914. Italian design house Pininfarina built its body. GM displayed the 2-Rotor at auto shows in Frankfurt and Paris before the car disappeared, probably sold to a collector.
Bill Mitchell’s most beautiful car
At the same time, Duntov wanted to develop a bigger midengine Corvette. He and Cole hadn’t been on speaking terms since Duntov refused an annual bonus he thought was insultingly small. They made up, at least in part because Duntov wanted a budget to develop what would become the Corvette 4-Rotor Aerovette, an iconic, gull wing design. Duntov believed it was the most beautiful vehicle GM design chief Bill Mitchell oversaw in a career that included the ’57 Chevy Bel Air and ’66 Buick Riviera.
Duntov recycled the XP-882’s chassis for the Aerovette, which featured silver leather interior trim.
A picture of the Aerovette featuring bi-fold gulping doors in the sports car that was never made. It is one of many photographs, drawings and sketches on display on all things Corvette design inside the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Despite the car’s striking appearance, Duntov would come to believe his agreement to use a rotary engine was a nail in the midengine ‘Vette’s coffin.
Despite that, another midengine engineering car arrived in 1974. The XP-895 began its life with a steel body. Intrigued by the idea of lightweight materials, DeLorean asked Reynolds Aluminum to create an aluminum body. That cut the car’s weight by nearly 40%, but DeLorean pulled the plug on the project because he wanted a smaller, more European design.
That never happened, and design work on midengine ‘Vettes came to a halt for more than a decade, as GM struggled meeting the challenge of higher fuel prices.
Closing the deal
By 1986, the quest for a midengine Corvette was ready to create another giant figure, and it got one when a young designer named Tom Peters began work on the Corvette Indy concept car. Peters went on to become the chief designer of the sixth- and seventh-generation C6 and C7 Corvettes and play a key role in starting work on the 2020 C8.
With a radically short hood compared to production ‘Vettes and cutting-edge technologies including four-wheel steering, traction control and active suspension, the Indy — so named because it used a 2.65L V8 Chevy developed for Indy Car racing — kept dreams of the midengine ‘Vette alive
The 1990 CERV III — this time the C stood for “Corporate,” not Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle — was the next step. Datini’s research convinced him it was an attempt at a production version of the Indy.
CERV III had scissors doors and was built of Kevlar, carbon fiber and aluminum. With a 650-hp twin-turbo 5.7L V8, GM predicted a top speed of 225 mph. It debuted at the 1990 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
After that, work on the midengine Corvette went undercover for two decades. Photos of disguised prototypes at test tracks surfaced from time to time, but the car seemed to be as much myth as metal. There are whispers the Great Recession halted work on one, setting development back years.
A display of Zora Arkus-Duntov known as “The Godfather of the Corvette” at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Development of the 2020 Corvette Stingray began around eight years ago, a long time for most projects, but the blink of an eye when it’s the last chapter of a 60-year story.
Mark Phelan for Detroit Free Press
There’s A New Engine In The C8.R Corvette, And It Sounds Nothing Like Its Predecessor.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although that’s true, it can also be in the ear of the listener.
Since the Corvette first hit the streets back in the 1950s, it was imbued with the beautiful and nearly magical sound of V-8 performance. It was a deep, bass-filled rumble that just oozed a feeling of power. Over the years, the sound emanating from Corvettes, both on the street and at the track, had a distinctive note that became synonymous with the car. When the Corvette moved to the LS1 in 1997, the firing order was tweaked a bit, and although the sound did change, it still had that deep rumble that we all love.
But the only thing constant in the world is change. For the C8.R, Chevrolet Racing really changed things up with its new mid-engine marvel, but it wasn’t the engine placement that ended the car’s iconic sound signature. It was the engine itself. Gone is the deep baritone exhaust note, replaced instead with a high-pitched Ferrari-like sound. Think puberty in reverse. And although we love the sound of a wound-out Ferrari or other Italian supercars, having that pitch emanate from the back of a Corvette is something that will be hard to get used to. We’re not saying the sound is bad—it’s actually pretty badass—but it’s not even close to the sound signature we’ve come to associate with Corvettes.
The real culprit here isn’t the new 5.5L DOHC V-8 that Chevrolet moved to. Instead, it was the choice to go with a high-revving flat-plane crank. This drastically changed the firing order of the engine and eliminated the classic American V-8 sound that’s typical with the firing sequence of a traditional cross-plane crank. But we know what you’re thinking: “Well, this is just the race car, so I’m going to be able to get my V-8 rumble fix from the production car!” Well, yeah, for now. You see, for Chevrolet Racing to run this new DOHC flat-plane crank mill in the C8.R, it has to, according to the rules, run a similar engine in at least 300 production cars. So does this mean that an eventual C8 Z06 variant will lose its iconic exhaust note?
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