Corvette Crystal Ball – Mid-Engined, Twin-Turbo V6 ZR1 Coming?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s a lot of speculation regarding the future of the Corvette – especially given the huge investment and expansion of Corvette Final Assembly in Bowling Green, Kentucky. There’s been a great deal of crystal-ball-gazing, “leaks” bouncing around the internet and a dizzying back-and-forth between the media, forum members and GM representatives. Just keeping up with all the commotion has been a challenge, so we put together a comprehensive recap to help get everybody get on the same page.

Over the last few months, things have been relatively quiet regarding the mid-engine Corvette, but we’ve recently been hit with another revelation – and this one that ought to really stir the pot.

Over on the Corvette Forum, member “OhMyC7” started a thread to get the word out on what they believe is further verification of a mid-engine Corvette. According to OhMyC7, the owner of a local Chevrolet dealership confirmed a mid-engined ZR1 model will be introduced as a range topper to the C7 line in the 2017 or 2018 model year. It was also murmured that it will have a list price of around $180,000 and mimic the Ford GT by running a twin-turbo V6.

This C8 “Zora” rendering has been one of the more popular.

Yes, you read that right – a ZR1 with a V6. The scuttlebutt is that the dealer was at the 2016 NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Convention in Las Vegas about a month ago and claims the information was mentioned there. Whether or not there’s any truth to this rumor is unclear, but it’s sure got tongues wagging.

After all, we have a lot of reason to believe that the General has some sort of radical halo-car in the oven. Despite Tadge Juechter’s denial (which, let’s face it, should be taken with a grain of salt – he has a history of denying all of the General’s big secrets), Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen made comments on the viability of a mid-engine performance model from GM, even hinting at the possibility that there’s one in the works. Add that to a Holden-faced, test-mule sighting that rocked everyone’s worlds last year, and you end up with a pretty compelling case for the introduction of this mythical, mid-engined machine.

Supposed mid-engine C8 test mule, photographed by Car and Driver at the beginning of last year.

However, the idea of a V6 (twin-turbo or not) powering a Corvette made our hearts sink. Deviation from the Corvette’s tried-and-true, eight-cylinder power plant after 63 years of consistency – and in the name of the ZR1, at that – is, in our opinion, a bit deflating. But, for those of us who prefer a V8 mill in our Corvettes, the good news is that the C7 has been such a smash hit that any proposal to fiddle with the current, decades-old formula will not be taken lightly.

This is one of the most subtle, tolerable mid-engine renderings we’ve encountered.

1973 Aerovette concept.

1973 Aerovette concept.

However, the hard truth is that with gas mileage standards looming, the Corvette will not be immune to the idea of a smaller displacement motor. We think the Corvette as a brand (i.e. a multiple model lineup, similar to how Porsche nurtures the 911) would be a great way to keep our beloved front-engined, RWD, V8 powered model alive while also making way for a supercar with every possible technological advancement thrown in.

This rendering from Car and Driver is one of the more realistic and well-received.

This rendering from Car and Driver is one of the more realistic and well-received.

Over the years a “secret mid-engined Corvette” has been the holy grail for 2-seater Chevy fans. We would err towards a V8 and all the glorious tradition that would entail, but have faith that Tadge Juechter and the mega-talented Corvette engineering team will do the right thing. After all, they certainly hit a home run with the C7.

Meanwhile, this mythical, mid-engine ZR1 will remain little more than a myth until we have hard evidence. Said evidence should come to us by the end of this year, as it’s predicted to be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November.

But what do you think? Will GM will really let loose a mid-engine ZR1 in the next couple of years? If so, how would you feel about a twin-turbo V6? Let us know what you think in the comments below.071015_13b

About the author

Joshua Phillips

Josh has always been captivated by cars, from legendary classics and late-model American muscle to European supercars.
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