Bob Lutz has been writing interesting, thought-provoking editorial pieces for Road & Track recently, but the perhaps most compelling of all is his new article “Making The Case For the Mid Engine Corvette.” In it Lutz reveals a mid-engine Corvette was actually in the works in 2003, but the project was shelved amidst General Motors’ financial woes.
It started when Tadge Juechter, lead engineer for the Corvette program, put together a PowerPoint presentation explaining how the C6 ZR1 represented the maximum amount of performance they could extract from front-engine Corvette. Then GM CEO Rick Wagoner wasn’t on board at first, but Juechter convinced him, and work started on mid-engine Corvette and XLR clay models in 2004.
By 2008, it was obvious the Corvette team wasn’t going to have enough money to produce mid-engine car, being given $250 million to work with rather than the ideal $900 million. Rather than go mid-engine, they lengthened the C7 chassis by 1-inchs and pushed the engine back 2-inches for optimal front-engine balance.
Rather than make another front-engine car, “you’d do the Corvette in a mid-engine version. You’d price that at about $120,000, half that of the European stuff, and then suck the doors off everybody,” Lutz writes. “And that would not be a $1 billion project; minus an XLR replacement, I think you’d probably be talking $500 million to $600 million.” It seems doable, and according to him, the chances of a mid-engine ‘Vette arriving are “better than 50 percent.”