With the recent rumors that Chevrolet is planning to put the engine behind the driver and in front of the rear wheels with the eighth-generation Corvette, we thought we’d take a look at the first mid-engine Corvette, the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle II”, more commonly referred to as the CERV II.
The CERV II was thought up by the father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus Duntov. It was built in an effort to keep the Corvette program competitive with other mid-engine sports cars of the era from Ferrari and eventually, Ford too. The first CERV was more a little more radical and was built in 1960 with the aim of showcasing a new open-wheel type racing car. It resembled an Indycar and the lessons the team GM engineering team learned during its development inspired them to make a second CERV.
Construction on the CERV II began in late 1961 and was intended “to incorporate all the features necessary to make it a successful contender, not only in sprints but in such long distance events as Le Mans and Sebring,” Duntov is quoted in saying. The team a combined a complex all-wheel drive system with the same 500 horsepower 377 small-block Chevrolet from the CERV I and ended up with a car capable of doing 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds and reaching 212 mph.
Despite its absurd performance figures, Duntov and his team were never able to take the CERV II racing. Duntov ended up convincing GM to let him demonstrate the car at select events to display the company’s engineering prowess, but it was eventually placed into storage in 1970 and has since had a handful of different private owners.
The rumors that we could have the first ever production mid-engined Corvette on our hands within the next decade immediately made us think back to the CERV II. Duntov probably knew the car would not reach production, but if it had actually went racing and turned out to be an overwhelming success like Ford’s GT40, who knows what could have been?
Duntov’s forward way of thinking helped make the Corvette what it is today, which is why if the Corvette takes another big leap in going mid-engine for the C8 generation, we can’t think of a more fitting name than Zora.