Mid Engine Corvette: The 1986 Corvette Indy Concept

All of the mid-engine Corvettes we’ve covered so far have been fully operational prototypes, often built to prove that a Corvette with the engine behind the drive and in front of the rear axles would both work and be popular with consumers. Unlike the others, the 1986 Corvette Indy Concept was designed solely as a stationary showpiece, but inspired GM to build a prototype of the car and later its most advanced prototype to date, the CERV III.

Chevrolet debuted the Corvette Indy at the 1986 Detroit Auto Show after producing the car to showcase multiple new technologies it had developed. This was when General Motors was in the midst of acquiring Group Lotus, and wanted to show the British automaker’s new Active Suspension technology to American consumers. It also wanted to make light of its 2.65-liter twin-turbo V8 IndyCar engine being developed by Ilmor Engineering and its new four-wheel steering system. All these technologies and more were integrated into the mid-engine Indy Concept.

As with many concepts, the Corvette Indy previewed many technologies that would soon become standard fare on many cars including satellite navigation (this was before global positioning satellites were approved for the civilian market) a CRT instrument display, and an electronic throttle control system. The Indy’s carbon fiber and Kevlar construction also previewed the way many supercars are built today, with a carbon tub, body or other types of carbon fiber components.

Chevrolet built two Corvette Indy prototypes, one which was nonoperational and would make the rounds among the different auto shows and another that would be used for engineering purposes. The race-engine was ditched for a 350 cu.in. V8 engine, which was tuned in part by Lotus and later used in the production Corvette ZR-1 from 1990-1995. A prototype for the car, by now a development project for the upcoming CERV III, recorded a top speed in excess of 180 mph and a 0-60 mph of under five seconds.

The Corvette Indy concept never quite came to fruition, but lived on spiritually in the twin-turbo CERV III. The Indy Concept and the CERV III have to mentioned any time you bring up the subject of a mid-engine Corvette, as they seem to be the most serious efforts from Chevy to produce such a car. They may have to dust the two cars off and display them alongside the C8 Corvette during its debut if it goes mid-engine, like recent rumors are suggesting.


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Sam McEachern: Sam loves to write and has a passion for auto racing, karting and performance driving of all types.

View Comments (2)

  • Anyone else notice how similar this "fourth gen" concept's front fascia is compared to a C6 Corvette's? I'll assume we all remember that "fifth gen" concept that inspired the rear end for the C7 Corvette; it appears to me that the designers like to dust off old ideas (not a criticism, as they're well applied in both instances).

    Wonder if the C8 Corvette will follow its predecessors? Pardon me if this post seemed too obvious or redundant to some.

  • They could steal a little here or there but it is hard to say.

    GM never throws anything away as pointed out in the book Inside the Corvette by Dave McClelland. He pointed out that the Fiero Mid Engine set up with the V6 originated in the GM advanced engineering and was offered to the Corvette team and rejected in the mid 70's. It was offered a couple years later to Pontiac when they were looking for away to lower the cowl of the Fiero. That is why the Mid Engine made it in the Fiero as they wanted a lower cowl than they were getting wit the engine up front.

    Even some of the early big block mid engine proposals had a basic space frame and transverse Big Block in the drawinds not much unlike what the Pontiac used for the V6.

    Even the 4th gen F body was lifted from the still born 1990 Fiero GT styling. They even used the Fiero dash panel in the production car.