THE Holden Commodore may be headed for extinction but it’s playing a key role in a major development project for Chevrolet in the United States – reportedly the next generation Corvette.
Pictures have emerged of a radical prototype disguised as a VE Commodore ute with a radical mid-engine layout shoehorned into its load tray, which has the space to take an engine where the load usually sit.
While the lights, bonnet and proportions are instantly recognisable as a Holden, it’s also clear the test mule has undergone major modifications.
The wheel arches are wider to accommodate a broader track while the huge wing mounted on a modified hard lid tray looks set to generate some serious rear downforce, but is likely a cosmetic distraction. Even the roof has been replaced with a slimmer version from the Corvette Stingray, which tapers in at the rear.
US magazine Car and Driver posted the exclusive images and claims the radically modified Commodore ute is a test mule for a high performance version of the 2017 Corvette, which would break cover late in 2016.
Gleaned from inside information and with these pictures as backup the magazine says the flagship version of the C8 Corvette – which could be called Zora ZR1 – would make a radical departure from the traditional front-engine, rear-drive layout used by one of America’s most famous muscle cars.
Instead it would use a more supercar-esque mid-engine layout, better transmitting the expected extra dose of V8 power and making for sharper, more focused handling.
Engines would likely be smaller V8s in line with other manufacturers’ moves to smaller, lighter engine architectures.
While it would initially sell alongside the Stingray that broke cover early in 2013 before going on sale later that year, the mid-engine layout could ultimately form the underpinnings of all future Corvettes.
It’s understood Holden has nothing to do with the top secret project, but the company refused to comment, other than to say “it looks like an interesting project out of North America”.
Asked whether Holden was involved in the development or had supplied any components, spokesman George Svigos said: “We’re not able to comment on future product at all.”