GM unveiled the mid-engine Corvette C8 for the 2020 model year, making a giant leap in terms of performance and engineering for the iconic sports car nameplate. However, according to former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz, The General had actually approved the development of a production-spec mid-engine Corvette as far back as 2007.
In a recent interview with The Detroit News and “Car Radio with Henry Payne,” Lutz discusses GM’s earlier intentions to move the Corvette’s engine behind the cabin.
According to Lutz, the idea centered around whether or not GM “had the money.” The former GM exec states that, at the time, the mid-engine Corvette design was “smoother” and more “angular” than the current mid-engine Corvette C8, something akin to a Ferrari or McLaren. However, Lutz says the program was canned “because it was an all-new architecture, came up to around $900 million. Well, when bankruptcy was imminent, chapter 11 was imminent, a lot of programs had to be stricken, and that was one of them.”
As a result GM, opted to reduce the Corvette capital investment budget to basically “zero” and continue to produce the C6 Corvette for “quite a while longer.” Lutz continues by saying that once additional funds were available to once again develop the Corvette, the C7 came out with a longer wheelbase “for better balance.” Lutz calls the C7 a “similar, but much more-capable car than the C6.”
Following the traditional pattern of model releases for the C7 Corvette, from the base model, to the Z06, to the Grand Sport, to the ZR1, GM finally got around to releasing the mid-engine Corvette C8. However, if funding didn’t dry up, Lutz estimates that a mid-engine Corvette may have been released as early as 2011 or 2012.
Of course, it bears mentioning that the essential idea of mid-engine Corvette is certainly much older than all of this, with decades of history to point to, all the way back to the “Father of the Corvette,” Zora Arkus-Duntov. Even so, it’s interesting to think about what may have been had GM escaped bankruptcy.