IT’S the worst kept secret in the automotive world and Chevrolet is remaining staunch about any details of its imminent Corvette, but if the C8 has its engine in the front then we will eat our hats and a number of other accessories.
CAD drawings leaked last week appear to be indisputable evidence that the new-generation of the world’s longest continuously produced sportscar will have its engine mid-mounted, but the big news will be in Holden showrooms.
Regardless of where the Corvette’s oily bits are bolted, the iconic high-performance model will be coming to Australia. Chevrolet’s Corvette will be the halo rear-drive V8 sportscar Holden has been speaking of since petrolheads began lamenting the passing of the same drivetrain recipe that died with the locally made Commodore.
While the car had been initially chalked for an LA reveal last month, it is now almost certain the C8 will make its debut at the Detroit show in January, where the American car maker will pull the sheets in front of a largely unsurprised crowd.
Despite the car maker’s persistent silence, Australian muscle-car fans have much to look forward to.
The leaked images of the C8’s engine, gearbox and subframe are the most recent morsels to emerge from GM’s information blackout and confirm that at least one engine appears to be naturally aspirated.
The enigmatic donk is likely to be either an updated version of the LT1 6.2-litre engine of the current C7 Corvette, but a number of other engines are reportedly in the works, all of which would add some serious zing to the ‘Vette.
A small-block naturally aspirated V8, displacing 5.5-litres, is said to be destined for a new Camaro Z/28, codenamed LT6 and packs a massive 522kW, while a second LT7 engine is apparently in the pipeline based on the LT6 but fitted with a pair of turbos – think ZR1.
A separate image leaked with the CAD drawings and entitled Gen6 LT7 appears to add fuel to that theory with what appears to be a turbocharger partly obscured by other components – though the device could be a high-flow liquid pump to deliver coolant or other vital fluids.
The mysterious engine is adorned with multiple ancillaries some of which are identifiable and others not. No oil reservoir/de-foaming tank is shown but it’s possible one of the pulleys drives a dry-sump lubrication scavenge pump. A low-profile oil pan is conducive of the theory.
If the engine is a significant rethink on previous LT1 designs, a flat-plane crank is another possibility, as a rival to Ford’s Voodoo engine that powers the Shelby Mustang GT350 specials. That would add a dimension of sound that the Corvette has not bellowed in its 60 years.
Other information that can be gleaned from the images includes the adoption of rear coil-spring suspension – another first for the model – and what appears to be a sophisticated adaptive damper system.
The image does not conclusively reveal if the Corvette will be manual, auto or perhaps offered as both, but Wheels understands the transmission will be sequential unit manufactured by Tremec.
Suspicions that Chevrolet may be toying with the idea of a mid-engined model were raised when the car maker was seen testing a prototype that borrowed Australia’s own VE Commodore ute as the basis. Instead of a concrete mixer and a Kelpie, Chevrolet had loaded up the tray with a V8 and plumbed it into the rear wheels.
More questions were asked when the popular Corvette plant tours were postponed for 18 months, prompting more speculation that the Bowling Green factory was up to something it wanted to keep very secret and away from the prying eyes of the public.
The Corvette’s platform has also been engineered to accommodate electrified drivetrains, although there’s no obvious evidence in the CAD drawings. Expect that development further down the line following the more traditional combustion options.
As for local pricing when the Corvette makes its Down Under debut, Holden is being as coy on local information as GM is about the model’s existence, but the C8 is touted to walk out of showrooms following about US$100,000 changing hands, which equates to about A$200,000 by the time you add import costs.
Interestingly, while the Corvette will be sold as a Chevy in Australia, it won’t wear a badge like anything else in the world. According to IP Australia, the classic stylised flag motif looks too much like the protected Australian Red Cross organisation’s identity and Australian cars will be finished with a unique design on their bonnets and tails.
Until the Camaro arrives, Ford has Holden over a sportscar barrel with its strong-selling Mustang, but it’s hard to imagine how the Blue Oval will counter this massive mid-engined punch when the Corvette arrives, likely in 2019.
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