The Blackjack Prototype Is How The Mid-Engine 2020 Corvette Came To Be32
GM toyed with the idea of building a mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette for decades, with figures like the legendary “Father of the Corvette,” Zora Arkus-Duntov, leading the charge with numerous mid-engine prototypes and concepts. However, when it came time to turn the dream into a reality with the 2020 Corvette C8, the nitty gritty details of developing the car required the creation of something truly unique – the Blackjack prototype, the very first Corvette C8 prototype ever built.
As chronicled by Popular Mechanics, GM started work on the Blackjack prototype back in 2013, roughly around the time the automaker revealed the Corvette C7. Built by hand in a secret garage dubbed The Lair, located at GM’s Advanced Vehicle Integration facility in Warren, Michigan, the Blackjack mule was created as a first-stab effort at making the Corvette a mid-engined vehicle.
First impressions don’t necessarily illuminate the connection between the Blackjack prototype and the new 2020 Corvette. The mule is exceptionally strange, with a Holden Ute front end, Chevrolet Corvette C7 cabin bits, outrageously flared fenders, and squared rear end, also from the Holden Ute, topped by a massive rear wing.
As is tradition for a vehicle created entirely by engineers, the Blackjack’s aesthetic has purpose and function. For example, the long bed area, which was really no bed at all, provides the space needed to cram in a V8 powerplant behind the cabin, while ute styling is used as a means to keep the project hush-hush, given the distinct proportions of a mid-engine sports car.
Indeed, the Blackjack project was one of GM’s most closely-guarded secrets, with its own special room for development and highly-restricted access among employees. But the secrecy proved to be well worth it, as the team learned a great deal about building a mid-engine sports car, all while the rest of the world remained none the wiser.
Through copious trial and error, the Blackjack prototype was used to develop the basic structure and suspension geometry of the 2020 Corvette, which are the basic building blocks for the vehicle’s new mid-engine configuration. The Blackjack was also used to develop the high-pressure die needed to produce the front and rear structure of the 2020 Corvette.
All in all, about a dozen different prototypes were created to get to the production-ready 2020 Corvette we know today. And it all started with the Holden Ute-looking Blackjack, which really was no Ute at all.
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Source & Image Source: Popular Mechanics
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Very cool article. I love stuff like this. It would be nice to see some new photos of “Blackjack”, if it’s still around.
Pretty sure that’s the black car in the cover photo.
One has to wonder whether the styling of the Blackjack was reason why there was so much speculation that GM’s mid-engine car might be a Cadillac especially when it was seen that the mid-engine car prototype used a Cadillac keyfob.
The Cadillac thing was a rumor ignited by wishful thinking. We already explained why C8 mules were using cadillac key fobs here:
I agree as Cadillac made it clear that they would like to do a car but Johann said they could not even entertain the thought before 2025.
Cadillac needs to focus and get their core products right before expecting people to pay six figures for a sports car.
The sports car should be the icing on a great cake not just something to distract from a sub quality cake.
The Cadillac rumors were just delusional thinking.
All they have to do is improve the Pontiac Fierro and look over the 1990s Ferrari supercars for styling flare.
Its amazing that not any difference exterior my hats off to keeping the Vette as ugly as possible ! Entry level mid engine gm, give me a Pontiac ferro V6 twin turbo that just might work.
what do you mean keeping the Vette as ugly as possible? Please explain
It’s not very original in its styling, looks like most of the other mid engine, ZL1 is more true to its heritage a muscle car, its wait and wait for next generation Vette. Not impressive !
Scott you have gotten rather left behind.
I at present own a Fiero. You know the one that Pontiac robbed striking from a Ferrari and Porsche to style.
The same as what you said could have been said in 63 too as parts of the C3 were robbed from some Italian models with the fast back. But if they had thought as you we would have missed that revolution too.
You don’t have to like it but you need to accept this will be a landmark car for the automotive market.
Anyone can make a Million Dollar Supercar in limited numbers that does everything.
Few though can make a sub six figure car that does nearly everything and sell them in high volumes year after year and that is what Chevy will do.
Forget the tesstarosa kit , that takes balls to drive around, lol have a good night.
Or a big v j j ?
»high volumes year after year« that depends on where.
Here in Germany they sold just one Corvette in the whole last year 2018, in the first 8 months of this year the same number.
But 1’089 Camaro last year and 1’370 January to August this year.
Camaro ZL1 is a monster , C8 not so much , it looks like every other euro mid engine , Germans rather have a Camaro ! That says a little bit ?
The Germans would also rather have the C7 and the C8, too. They would rather have any car they can’t get over there, Camaro and Corvette both included.
The problem is GM’s brand politic in the past decades, which made the Corvette and Camaro virtual unknowns. There very few dealers who can service or sell them. BTW, the 10 top sellers which I mentioned in my reply to C8.R are 3 Porsche, 3 Mercedes, then one each of Audi TT, Ford Mustang, Jaguar F-Type and the Camaro.
Next year the 3 years of competition protection which prohibited sales of GM cars beyond these few very upmarket products will end, and then we migh see a resurgence of Chevrolet in Europe. But the dealers for the mini and compact Chevrolets may not be the right place to present those exclusive cars, and may not even want to put one in their show room. We’ll see.
The Le Mans 24 Hours are a show room, but the racing there is operated by Corvette Racing company from the US which is, I guess, not so well connected with the press in Europe.
Here is the http://www.chevroleteurope.com/ where they currenly show only the Corvette and the Camaro.
I don’t know the sales prices of Corvette and Camaro in Germany, but I would think that the Camaro is way cheaper. And both are not so well known here. GM did not much to push them, while they operated thru their Opel subsidiary, different from Ford who a couple of decades ago brought the Mustang to Europe, and a few years revived the Mustang again (same brand as the compact cars). The Mustang was the 4th best selling model in the category “sports cars” in the statistic of the automobile authority, after Porsche 911, Mercedes class E coupé, and Audi TT. Camaro ranked 10th.
Fro those who are interested and can cope with a little German, the monthly statistics of new car registrations by the automobile authority “Kraftfahrtbundesamt” (KBA) can be found here:
They all also show the year-to-day numbers, i.e. in each December edition this means the full year.
Camaro more expensive…
This article kind of misses a big thing.
That isn’t a Holden front end, that’s a Holden Ute, straight up, as in the entire car. They put the engine in the box and out a topper over that and gave it a wide body.
I don’t mean to sound like a jerk about it, but an gm authority automotive journalist should be on top of that.
What are you talking about? This is a mule. It’s not a Holden Ute and not a C8 but close to the C8 than to the Ute.
What was a Holden Ute was gutted front and back to make room for the mid-engine layout and everything else that goes along with it. The goal was to disguise mid engine development efforts.
This was also a top-secret thing so nobody even knew about it except for a handful of people that worked on it. Journalists weren’t supposed to know about it either no matter if they write for GM authority or anyone else.
The only thing Holden here is the nose hood and tail lamps as the rest is fabricated or it is a Corvette. The mid section is C8 with what ended up being a factory wind shield and A and B pillar. 80% of this car is fabricated panels.
What I would like to hear about is the white Malibu that was driven around with a V8 in the back seat with transaxle. Also it used C8 wheel in the back and emblem complimented by a Pair of Ferrari tail lamps.
It appeared before this car and looked like it was a power train mule that also was an Easter egg by the Corvette group.
Wonder what they will do with the blackjack, cool stuff. Maybe a private collector or the crusher, should let the NCM have it as a part of history.
NCM has enough junk in it now.
Well it was no secret. The Black Jack was photographed by a drone while testing on the streets of Michigan and immediately its two occupants ran out and threw a cover over it. It was then the C8s cat was let out of the bag.
The secrecy is – of course – relative, but one would be hard-pressed to show an example of another GM project in the past two decades as secretive as the C8. Using a faux-Holden Ute as a mule is obvious evidence of the desire to keep it secret.
That’s one ugly mule !!!
Say what you will about the C-8, but a mid engine sports car for 60 grand? GM’s pickups sticker for more than that. The C-8 has winner written all over it.. now if they can keep up with demand.. and quality.
Still entry level C8’s at that point. GM will make up for lost revenue on the next sucker comes around and want an entry level American mid engine, American mid engine just doesn’t sound right ? That my opinion ! 427 belongs in a Corvette , manual trans, etc. Maybe I’m just old ?
Got hot dog written all over it, or someone shot a big load on it ! Or took a load on it ? Lol it’s just a kids game, play nice.
I really like new design! Yet someone please let me get my hands on that prototype.
I think GM did a wonderful job on the c8, I just hope they don’t screw it up like they’ve done in the past with other projects.
Has anyone been to The Digital Cig? 😉