One of the best things about being Mike Yager (other than the awesome hat) is having both the connections and the resources to collect interesting pieces of Corvette history. Officially unveiled today at the 2011 Corvette Funfest, the latest additions to the “MY Collection” are a pair of C5 development cars that shouldn’t even exist any more. The black “alpha” car and white “beta” Corvette represent important milestones in the path to the introduction of the 5th Gen Corvette, and these kinds of mules typically are destroyed after their usefulness to the manufacturer has ended.
The alpha car, one of 14 built, is the rougher of the pair as befits its place in the development timeline, while the beta represents a stage much closer to the final production car. The pair joins the CERV-4b in the collection, which is a 4th gen car outfitted with many ‘experimental’ features that made their way into the later C5 prototypes (and eventually into production cars). Both the alpha and beta C5’s were lucky to receive stays of execution and are valuable references for anyone looking to understand the long and uncertain path that the Corvette took to become what it is today.
The CERV-4b served as a testbed for many features that would make their way into the eventual C5 prototypes. The car was built "under the table" in 1993 as a way to convince GM management to build the next generation of Corvettes.
Alpha C5 interior. Note the instrument panel graphics.
A pop-riveted camouflage panel covers the trademark quad taillights on the alpha C5. The sculpted rear decklid is quite different from the production bodywork.
The alpha cars did not live easy lives...
Note the Genuine Goodwrench overflow tank for the coolant reservoir.
The beta C5 is much more familiar-looking to those familiar with fifth-gen Corvettes.