That wasn’t even close!
Can the C6 Corvette ZR1 keep up with a brand new Lamborghini supercar? Well to find out the team at Track Day headed out to Pocono Speedway in Pennsylvania to run some roll races and find out. The Chevy Corvette is known for its ability to punch above its weight class, but can the highest performance Corvette from 14 years ago match a contemporary modern Italian exotic?
The ZR1 trim level has signified the highest performance levels of Corvettes for decades and the C6 ZR1 was a game-changer when it first debuted in 2006. Powered by a supercharged 638 horsepower 6.2-liter LS9 V8 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the C6 ZR1 elevated the Corvette’s performance into the league for supercars. In 2006 638 horsepower (475kW) was a shocking figure and was enough to embarrass almost any car on the road.
The C6 Corvette ZR1 was far more than a powerful engine and benefitted from a Magnaride suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, and extensive use of carbon fiber. The ZR1 was a showcase of the best engineering General Motors could offer consumers. Although many critics mocked interior build quality, the C6 ZR1 has a cult following today thanks to its level of performance while still offering an analog driving experience.
Chris Okula for Motor1
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
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
All-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is now on sale, and buyers are lining up
With deliveries of the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette beginning this month we know there are a lot of very excited Corvette buyers out there who are just now getting familiar with Chevrolet’s newest sports car. What drove those shoppers to the new eighth generation Corvette C8, and what are they likely discovering as their ownership experience begins?
We’ve been fortunate to drive the new Corvette on multiple occasions, on both public roads and at a closed course race facility. This has given us sufficient seat time to understand the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette’s upgraded design cues and capabilities. We could make a nearly endless list of why people want the new Corvette, but here are the top 10 reasons we think new, and prospective, Corvette buyers are lining up to sample Chevrolet’s latest supercar.
- Zero-to-60 Performance: The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette’s “base” 6.2-liter V8 engine makes 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough power and twisting force to catapult the Corvette to 60 mph in 3 second flat. Spring for the $5,000 Z51 performance package, with 495 hp and 470 lb-ft, plus more effective engine cooling, more advanced brake and suspension components, stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, along with aerodynamic enhancements, and the Corvette can hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.
- Exceptional Value: The 2020 Corvette starts at a meager $59,995, including delivery charges. Once again, that price includes a zero-to-60 time of 3 seconds flat, making the new Corvette not only one of the quickest street-legal cars you can buy, but one of only a very few cars capable of hitting those numbers for less than $100,000. The Corvette has always offered exceptional “bang-for-the-buck” performance specs. The C8 takes this longstanding Corvette tradition to new dimension.
- Top Speed=194 MPH: Not that we endorse going almost 200 mph in any vehicle, and certainly never on a public road. But – IF you have a safe, closed course facility to do it – the Corvette can indeed hit 194 mph. That’s in base form, at the $59,995 starting price. Pro tip: ordering the Z51 performance package actually reduces the car’s top speed even at it improves the Corvette’s zero-to-60 time. The Z51’s aggressive aerodynamics increase downforce, but the added drag reduces top speed to “just” 184 mph.
- 8-Speed Dual Clutch Transmission: Unlike a traditional manual transmission (which is not offered on the new Chevrolet Corvette), a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) has the benefit of keeping the rear wheels connected to the engine, even while shifting The “dual” in dual clutch means the incoming gear is engaged even before the outgoing gear is disengaged. This makes for shifts in under 100 milliseconds, far quicker than a human. The transmission’s design and placement also lowers the Corvette’s center of gravity.
- Magnetic Selective Ride Control: General Motors perfected this advanced active suspension technology years ago. How perfect? Ferrari licenses the use of this tech from GM for its own cars. When buyers equip the new Corvette with the FE4 $1,895 option they’ll have multiple driving modes, including Tour, Sport and Track. This enables a smooth, comfortable ride during relaxed driving conditions or track-ready stiffness when driving a 2020 Corvette on a closed course. It’s the definition of the “best of both worlds”.
- Cargo Capacity: A sports car with functional cargo capacity is relatively rare, and a 3-second sports car with 13 cubic feet of cargo capacity is unheard of…until now. The new Corvette has adequate space behind the engine to fit two full sets of golf clubs, while a front trunk, under the hood, can swallow a large carry-on bag with room leftover. We’re not sure how often Corvette owners actually pick up a buddy to hit the links, but for those that do, the 2020 Corvette is ready and willing, with cargo space to spare.
- Fuel Efficiency: Yet another longstanding Corvette character trait that continues in the new Corvette. Between the car’s slippery shape, torque-laden engine and 8-speed transmission there’s the potential for very little energy expenditure while cruising at a steady highway speed…assuming the driver’s goes light on the throttle. If he does, the new Corvette can deliver between 25 and 30 mpg.
- Driver-Focused Cabin: Everything from the squared-off steering wheel to the 12-inch, reconfigurable gauge cluster to the driver-angled 8-inch touchscreen confirms the Corvette’s performance-oriented purpose. The smaller front-end provides excellent forward visibility, which adds to driver confidence when navigating corners, and all three seats options provide excellent lateral support while remaining comfortable for long drives. The days of disappointing Corvette cabins are finally in the rearview mirror.
- Open Air Cruising: The new Corvette comes as a coupe or convertible, but even in coupe form the Corvette’s roof panel is easily removed and securely stored in the rear cargo area. The convertible uses a retractable hardtop design, the first in Corvette history, that folds away in 16 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. Powered by electric motors, the Corvette convertible offers the same coefficient of drag as the coupe, with two cool nacelles behind each seat to smooth airflow at higher speeds.
- So Many Options: Almost as exciting as the new Corvette’s performance and value is the car’s range of personalization. The option list long, and can’t be remotely covered in this top 10 list. So head over to the Corvette Configurator and play with exterior colors, interior colors, stripe designs, seat designs, wheel designs, performance upgrades and exterior accents to your heart’s desire. But be prepared to spend quite a long time there. And don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Karl Brauer for Forbes
Mike Stapley, KSL.com Contributor
By Mike Stapley, KSL.com Contributor | Posted – Mar. 4, 2020 at 2:32 p.m.
AMERICAN FORK — The Chevrolet Corvette had humble beginnings.
In 1953, only 300 were produced with fewer than 200 sold. With only 150 horsepower, the car failed to move fans of more lively British roadsters and refined American sedans.
A couple of years later, the original V-6 engine gave way to a more powerful V-8, and the Corvette began to find its way. The 1956 model brought styling changes and additional horsepower that laid the groundwork for what would become America’s sports car.
The second-generation car, dubbed C2, debuted in 1963 and offered a coupe option for the first time. That same year, the Sting Ray moniker made its mark, and Chevy began offering its first production racing model Z06 with 360 horsepower.
In 1965, Chevy made its big-block 425 horsepower V-8 available in the Corvette. The C3 (called the Sharknado for its unique design) was released just a few years later. According to true aficionados, the modern Corvette originates with the C3, since Chevy eliminated any true rear storage area and debuted a Targa-style removable roof panel.
In 2020, the Corvette will experience its most stunning transformation to date and become a mid-engine supercar, sharing a powertrain layout with European competitors for the first time ever.
Despite its rich history and reputation for power, the Corvette has been subjected to a messy, mixed reputation among car enthusiasts. America’s sports car is often viewed as a value offering for middle-aged drivers, and stories abound of Corvette engineers feeling limited in their offerings.
With the new car entering production, there is no better time to pay homage to the outgoing C7, which changed the Corvette’s reputation for the better. The 2019 Grand Sport model combines the power and value of the Sting Ray with Z06 styling.
“The Grand Sport has long been the best value in the sports car world. You simply can’t match what’s available, dollar for dollar, anywhere in the world,” said Zach Madsen, fleet sales manager for Ken Garff Chevrolet in American Fork.
The Grand Sport model offers the body kit and downforce stylings of the top-end Z06, and the car is stunning from almost every angle. The fastback-style roofline meets massive rear fenders that blend and create a rear end that makes the Corvette seem much larger than it is. When parked next to other cars, the ‘Vette’s true size becomes quickly apparent.
There is no mistaking this car for another from behind. The traditional quad lens taillights flank the huge Corvette emblem on the rear, and all four exhaust outlets are located at the center of the rear bumper rather than split among each side.
The Z06 rear deck spoiler is tall enough to require an opening in the center so the driver can see behind. The rear fenders are squared off more than prior generations, but the front fenders still provide a sweeping arc that screams Corvette. Large front fender air vents provide color contrast and sport the Grand Sport logo.
From the front, the hoodline rakes down sharply, stretching elongated headlight housings on either side. A black hood vent down the center and a three-tiered front splitter provide color contrast and make it seem like the car is floating just barely above the ground.
The ‘Vette’s best attribute, and my most pleasant surprise, is the handling. The beefier body and chassis of the Z06 is present on the Grand Sport, and buyers can choose the even beefier Z07 suspension package.
The word “compromise” has always been part of Corvette lore, and I didn’t anticipate a car that felt confident on nearly every road I threw at it. The C7 is a capable track car and most track-capable cars don’t make the transition well to the mean, uneven, pothole-filled streets of America.
I’ve been disappointed by some of the best cars in the world, where even the seams of an elevated canyon road can throw them every which way. The C7 Grand Sport, in my humble opinion, is only bested in this area by the Porsche 911. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it.
The lore of “compromise” is true inside the Corvette, though. It isn’t fair, of course, to compare the interior of a sub $80,000 car to those of cars costing three and four times as much. It’s difficult not to, though, when Corvette competes for buyers with those cars from Italy and Germany.
There’s no doubt the interior is much improved over the prior C6 generation: nothing about the fit, finish and quality of the materials stands out as subpar. At the same time, nothing stood out as exceptional or distinctive from any Cadillac or Denali on the road. In a car like this, something should.
The two-tone dash layout is nice, and the cockpit-like feel of the driver’s seat is unrivaled. The entire center console pushes out toward the driver and ends on the lower passenger side with a grab handle for wary riders. The passengers will also find their separate climate and heated/cooled seat controls built into the passenger vent itself — a nice and convenient touch.
But Corvette tech is a mixed bag.
The heads-up display is excellent and adjustable to provide a wide range of information, and the center touch screen reveals a James Bond-like secret storage bin when lowered mechanically.
GM has an excellent MyLink infotainment system, but the Corvette seems to have been given a lesser model — though, the Bose sound system is superb. Perhaps the intent was to “enhance” the display so it would stand out from Chevy’s other offerings, but the result is a mess of poor layout and overlapping controls.
Fortunately, both Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available to rescue it.
I might lose some Corvette fans by saying this, but hear me out. The powertrain is excellent but left me wanting more.
While the Grand Sport borrows from the upper-end Z06 in terms of appearance and handling, it also borrows the engine and transmission from the base model Sting Ray. The 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 provides 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque and moves the ‘Vette from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds with the smooth eight-speed automatic.
It’s quick, it’s gloriously loud at startup, and yet, it left me feeling like the experience was less than spectacular. Perhaps the C7 is a bit too refined for its own good. Perhaps Corvette engineers have favored the stereotypical mid-life buyer a little too much.
The glorious sound loses some luster at highway speeds. The G-forces are clearly there when moving that quickly, but they aren’t felt the way one would expect. The engine lacks initial “oompf” but makes up for it while the transmission spins through the gears in a way that seems impossible. The paddle shifters added some fun, and I’m curious whether the seven-speed manual transmission would “un-tame” the beast in the way I would want.
Don’t get me wrong, I prefer the Corvette to the wonky, jolting shift pattern of an Aston, and the handling more than makes up for any ethereal shortcomings. Best of all, it’s the first sports car I’ve brought home that my wife actually enjoyed riding in. She paid it high praise one evening with the light Targa top removed and actually said she could get used to this one.
In the end, the Corvette left me very impressed and quelled the mythical shortcomings that preceded it.
I doubt many potential Corvette buyers care, but the EPA fuel economy comes in at 19 combined mpg, aided by a less than 3,300-pound weight. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for this car, as tested, was $77,840.
Source: Mike Stapley; KSL
Oh ZR1, how quickly we have forgotten you and moved on to the C8. But then comes along a video like this that reminds us that even with an engine upfront, you are still one of our favorites!
All kidding aside, the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is one of our favorite Corvettes of all time particularly because of the things it could do, like shooting down a former Space Shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral at nearly 200 MPH!
Typically we see these high speed runs with a ZR1 that has the ZTK’s High Wing. This Long Beach Red Corvette ZR1 has the low wing for less drag and it seems to definitely show off its speed in this standing mile run in which the Corvette reached a top speed of 191.16 MPH.
Two views are shown including the in-car with telemetry overlay on the screen. We see the car was still accelerating past the mile and we’re excited as they tell us that two more videos coming that show the ZR1 also running 2.3 miles and 2.7 miles down the runway.
The video comes the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds on Merritt Island Florida. Previously we have seen the Genovation GXE Electric Corvette run on the same track and in fact, it might be interesting to compare the two cars after the ZR1 shares the two final runs
From Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds via YouTube:
As we continue to digest all the new information that came out of last week’s First Drive Event with the 2020 Corvette Stingrays in Las Vegas, there is a new “Mode” to discuss that most Corvette enthusiasts have never heard of.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray has several “modes” that help drivers get the most out of their cars. We are already familiar with the regular driving modes that feature settings for Weather, Touring, Sport and Track, as well as the two customizable modes called MyMode and Z-Mode. But what you may not be aware of is that the 2020 Corvette Stingray’s equipped with Magnetic Ride Control also features a “Flying Car” mode.
Well, it is the 21st century after all!
Corvette’s Vehicle Performance Manager Alex MacDonald is responsible for the chassis tuning of the new Corvette and he was tasked with explaining much of the on-track performance capabilities of the new Corvette to those at Spring Mountain last week.
For the C8 Corvette, engineers have rolled out version 4.0 of Magnetic Ride Control with the biggest change to the system is the use of accelerometers rather than position sensors that measured wheel height. Here is the slide that was offered on the new Mag Ride for the C8 Corvette:
The Magnetic Ride Control is tied into the Corvette’s Performance Traction Management system and that’s where the Flying Car Mode comes into play.
When your crest an incline and the Corvette’s wheels are off the ground, they will spin faster like they are on ice or another slippery surface because there is no resistance. The performance traction control senses that and sends commands to slow the wheels. But that’s not the best reaction when on the track. The system now senses when the car’s front wheels leave the ground (and assumes that the rears will be leaving as well), and the system tells the performance traction control to ignore it because it knows that it’s temporary and that all four wheels will be back on the ground momentarily.
Here is Alex talking about the Flying Car Mode:
“The other interesting note about MR is that it communicates with the performance traction system and it tells that performance traction system that if the front wheels have just gone over a big crest that we know that one wheel-base later the rear is about to go over that same crest, we can adapt the traction control to work in that situation and we call that Flying Car Mode, which is a cool name for it, because it does detect when the car is airborne and we can alter the chassis controls to deal what happens when the car lands.”
Video by Keith Cornett
With the highest performance versions of the seventh generation Corvette, customers were forced to make a choice. Did they want their car to have the highest possible top speed, or did they want to sacrifice some of that by bolting a slew of aerodynamic aids to their car for maximum cornering ability?
We would love for Chevrolet to take that decision out of the ordering equation for buyers of the upcoming Z models and the Grand Sport. They could give buyers the best of both worlds with the incorporation of Active Aerodynamics.
Active Aerodynamics can take many forms, from grille vents that close at high speeds to streamline a car, to suspension that lowers at speed to reduce lift. We know that the Corvette team would build a fully functional system that integrates several of these technologies into a cohesive package, just like they did on the C7 ZR1’s chassis-mounted wing and innovative balancing front underwing, but what we mostly want to focus on here is the most visible piece of such a system, the rear wing.
This unit would elevate both the performance and even the prestige of GM’s looming halo car. There are several benefits of an active rear wing that accompany their off-the-charts cool factor.
1. An active rear wing can be lowered, causing it, for all intents and purposes, to disappear, along with any drag that it was creating. Top-end General Motors Products have become so fast that the most track-worthy editions have suffered at the dragstrip because of massive fixed wings. The effects of the C7 Z06/Z07’s wickerbill spoiler have been well documented. Chevrolet officially listed the top speed of ZR1’s with the “big-wing” ZTK package as 10 MPH lower than their stock counterparts, and the Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package has proven slower than the car it is based on, even in distances as short as a quarter-mile. Allowing these serious track performers to retract their wing, and the ZTK/Z07/1LE models become the best version of their respective model-line with no excuses or asterisks, which is what buyers that dole out more funds expect.
Photo Credit: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz
2. Just as these wings can retract to reduce drag and improve top speed, they can be “actively” placed in full “attack mode” for maximum downforce in the corners. This increases cornering speed, stability, and driver confidence which can lead to drastically lower lap times.
3. Upon hard braking, an active wing can also go vertical, transforming into an air brake. This assists the actual brakes, resulting in shorter stopping distances. It also keeps more weight in the rear of the car, again helping with stability and, especially in a rear-wheel drive car, improved corner exit speeds.
Photo Credit: Car Magazine (UK)
All three of these traits brought to the table by an active wing radically assist the driver and make the car faster in all aspects. The coolest thing is that, with the right programming, the wing does all three automatically with seamless transitions, and, did we mention how awesome they also look?
There has been speculation about Active Aero coming to the Corvette for several years now. These rumors were fueled by GM’s own patent filings which showed a sketch of a C7 fitted with advanced aerodynamic trickery. We think the top dog mid-engine offerings are the perfect place for the General to finally deploy this technology that can already be found on the majority of the world’s supercars.
For the last two days we’ve been in Corvette Heaven as we were invited by Chevrolet to come out to Las Vegas and test drive the 2020 Corvette Stingray. The test consisted of two parts that included a route through the Valley of Fire state park and then today we drove the new mid-engine sports cars at Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club.
Today’s driving session culminated with the very talented instructors from the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offering hot laps around the track. Each driver gave their passenger a demonstration of the capabilities of the new Corvette and those two fast laps started with engaging launch control as each car took to the track.
With 60% of the weight of the 2020 Corvette residing over the back wheels, the Launch Control demonstration shows just how quick these cars are able to put power to the pavement as those Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires quickly hook up to send the car on the track.
We will be traveling from Las Vegas to home in Tampa on Wednesday, but keep checking back as we got a lot of great photos and videos from our 2020 Corvette drive on deck!
Video by Keith Cornett
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
When you’re Chevrolet and you have access to five-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin, it’s a smart idea to shove him behind the wheel of a new C8 Corvette with the Z51 performance package and point him out for a flying lap of the Nordschleife. These lap times are largely irrelevant as they absolutely do not correlate to driving enjoyment or real-world usable performance, but it’s a slightly abstract way to compare the relative abilities of sports cars.
With ideal conditions and an incredibly capable driver, Chevrolet managed a lap time of 7 minutes and 29.9 seconds. That’s quicker than a recent independent test Porsche 992 time, and Chevrolet’s own high-powered Camaro ZL1. That said, it’s 16 seconds off the pace of the C7-generation Corvette Z06. Interesting? Maybe.
Chevrolet confirmed to RoadShow that this was the lap time, as hidden (below) in a teaser video for its upcoming documentary on the development of the C8.
Are you and I capable of this lap time? Hell no. But the car is capable of it in the right hands, and I guess that has bragging rights of some kind.
Obviously this is still just the base model Corvette with its 495 horsepower V8 mounted in the middle. The Z51 pack adds aero bits, better tires, better suspension, and better cooling for the entire car. There will be more powerful, better, and faster Corvettes coming, but for now you can rest assured knowing a C8 Corvette is slightly faster around the ‘ring than the big bad supercharged Camaro. That is, unless the ZL1 was of the 1LE variety (which ran a 7:16.04).
Bradley Brownell for Jalopnik
Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat of one of these 36 beautifully restored ‘Vettes.
Way back in 1989, when VH1 was still airing music videos, the cable network held a promotional sweepstakes in which one contestant could win a collection of 36 Chevrolet Corvettes, one from each the storied American sports car’s first 36 model years.
Long Island, N.Y. carpenter Dennis Amodeo won the sweepstakes, but then sold his coveted prize to famed German pop artist Peter Max, who intended to use each car as a canvas, but never followed through, as USA Today notes.
The vintage ‘Vettes ended up deteriorating in New York City garages for nearly a quarter century, out of the public’s eye. Fortunately, the restoration specialists at Corvette Heroes bought the entire collection from Max and are bringing the so-called “Lost Corvettes” back to life for a new sweepstakes, proceeds from which will go to the National Guard Educational Foundation.
Additionally, six of the rarest and most iconic Lost Corvettes are being shown at the Chicago Auto Show from February 8-17:
- ’55, one of 700 built and the first year a V8 engine appeared in a Corvette
- ’56, one of 290 in the rare color of Cascade Green; this car was driven by Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jimmy Fallon
- ’57, featuring its original 283/245 horsepower engine with dual-quads
- ’66 coupe featuring its original colors of Nassau Blue with a stunning White interior
- ’67 convertible, a replica of the world-famous Ko-Motion Corvette
- ’69 coupe, a replica of the rarest production Corvette ever built: the 1969 ZL1
Source: Maxim Staff