Corvette Stingray: The Mid-Engine Revolution | Book Review

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The idea of an all-wheel-drive Corvette isn’t something recently dreamed up for the latest iteration. It fulfills a 1957 wish by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the model’s original engineer. “Corvette Stingray: The Mid-Engine Revolution” chronicles that journey from the ’50s through today’s supercar.

The mid-engine Corvette story starts with CERV I: Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle I. This famous single-seater served as a test bed designed to showcase, as author Mark Reuss explains, “the best race car theory of the late 1950s in terms of powertrain, aerodynamics and using lightweight materials.” CERV I resembled a Formula 1 racer yet received power from an aluminum-block Chevy V8.

CERV II followed in the early ’60s. This mid-engine special wore full bodywork as it showcased a possible Le Mans run. CERV II added more cutting-edge technology: four-wheel drive.

But the early mid-engine Corvette story wasn’t limited to race cars. By the early ’70s, Reuss continues, Arkus-Duntov faced mandatory retirement. And his proposals for mid-engine Corvettes had been voided in 1963 and 1968. He had time for one last attempt, he figured.

So he created XP-882. Sleek lines that recalled the C3 Corvette covered a V8 fitted transversely in the middle of the chassis–more exotic stuff at the time. Production costs, however, kept it from going to market.

Corvette Stingray: The Mid-Engine Revolution” covers follow-up visions of a mid-engine Corvette, including ones powered by both two- and four-rotor powerplants, along with Corvette Indy, a 1986 show car, and 1990’s CERV III.

The book then dives into development of the C8 Corvette, the one that finally made it to market. “How do you create a mid-engine Corvette when none existed before?” asks Reuss. “That’s the question GM engineers had to answer when they began development of the 2020 Corvette Stingray.” And then, in great detail, Reuss answers that very question.

 

Corvette Stingray: The Mid-Engine Revolution”
Published by Motorbooks
208 pages
$45

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