A NEW York-based Chevrolet Corvette department manager attending a Vegas-based dealer function has fuelled the mid-engined fire, posting on social media that he’d caught a glimpse of the next-gen coupe that looks “very mid-engined”.
“Caught a glimpse of the next gen Corvette at Chevy’s Find New Roads dealer conference,” Van Bortel Chevrolet employee Nate Chandler posted on Facebook. “It is coming, it looks very mid-engined! The teaser was part of the General Session where phones and recording devices were not permitted. I can’t wait to find out more!”
Not happy with spilling his guts on social media, Chandler posted more details to a Corvette enthusiast blog. “I just left the General Session presentation by GM/Chevy at the “Find New Roads” Dealer’s Conference at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas,” he wrote. “We got a glimpse of the C8 Corvette. It is coming. GM called it a super car. The 2 pictures we saw showed very little, but I’m thrilled to share I caught a glimpse of the production car. It definitely looked mid-engined. The front hood reminded me of a Lotus. Front bumper cover reminded me of the 2019 ZR1. Time to go party at the reception. If I bump into Brian Sweeny, US VP of Chevy, or other GM Execs, I will ask some questions and report back!”
That was enough to light a fire under the internet, which launched into a mid-engined C8 frenzy.
The likelihood of a mid-engined Corvette, and even a version packing a hybrid punch, is Chevrolet’s worst-kept secret. Rumours first started flying in 2015 when spy photographers caught a Holden ute cutting laps of GM’s top-secret Milford proving ground – with the engine located behind the driver.
The supporting evidence hinting at the performance-oriented layout is all there, too. GM has trademarked “Zora”, a direct reference to Zora Arkus-Duntov, who shaped the Corvette into a highly desirable performance coupe and made no secret of his wish to create a mid-engined version of it. And CAD drawings that found their way online showed what was said to be the Corvette's rear subframe, engine, and suspension system.
Adding weight that it will be a global product – including right-hand-drive markets – GM has fought hard in Australia to trademark the Corvette’s twin-flag logo, which was deemed to have ran afoul of the Geneva Convention after assessors said the Chevrolet bowtie one of the flags wore too closely resembled the heavily protected Red Cross symbol.
The Corvette is tipped to be Holden’s long-promised V8-engined, rear-drive hero, offered to the brand's rusted-on fans in the wake of the loss of the V8-engined Commodore.
There’s also last week’s global launch of a new 4.2-litre twin-turbo small-block V8, which will be built inside the same Bowling Green factory as the next-generation Corvette. The V8's New York Motor Show reveal wrapped the 410kW-plus/850Nm dohc powerplant in a rear-drive Cadillac CT6 body, and GM attempted to create a diversion by saying the engine was earmarked exclusively for its luxo sub-brand.
Corvette fans with way too much time on their hands have noticed GM has been very busy expanding its Bowling Green facility about the same time as order books for the last of the current C7 Corvettes closed. Satellite images taken over time show a major expansion of the site’s “paint shop” facilities.
The move to the mid-engined layout gives Chevrolet more wriggle room to ensure the Corvette builds on performance. The car’s chief engineer is on record saying the current C7-based, track-ready Z06, with its 485kW/881Nm supercharged 6.2-litre LT1 V8, is about as far as the front big block-engined, rear-wheel tyre frying concept can be stretched.
Chevrolet is yet to say when it will launch the new Corvette, which is likely to hit showrooms in 2019. The performance coupe has missed both the Detroit and New York motor shows, meaning the earliest we could see it revealed on US home turf is November’s Los Angeles Motor Show. A January 2019 Detroit Motor Show appearance seems more likely.