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Next Corvette ZR1 Could Be Mid Engine - Again

According to reliable inside sources who spoke with the folks at Motor Trend, the next Corvette ZR1 could be unique from the current C7 lineup thanks to a mid engine design – and this could be the car which wears the Zora name that was trademarked earlier this year.
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I know – the discussion of a mid engine Corvette has been a popular one over the past decade or so, but nothing has ever come of those rumors. However, the folks at Motor Trend have learned from what they consider to be a reliable source that General Motors is working on a new mid engine Corvette ZR1 that could be the first to wear the Zora name. Again, this discussion could go the same direction as past mid engine Corvette talks, but the direction of the performance industry as a whole could make this the right time for GM to finally roll out a Corvette with the engine behind the seats – one which could truly take on and take down the best supercars in the world.

Why the Mid Engine Corvette ZR1 Makes Sense Now
As far back as the early 1960s, there were talks of a Chevrolet Corvette that relied on a mid engine design to better compete with the European competitors. A mid engine design generally offers a much better front to rear weight balance, thus making a mid engine car superior over a comparable front engine model in terms of handling…which is why many of the fastest road race cars in the world (F1, Indy Cars, LeMans Prototype) use the midship design. However, the Corvette has never gone this route due to the fact that the cost would be very high and, frankly – because the Corvette beats most of its competitors so handily that the company hasn’t needed to go with a mid engine design. Having the engine up front has made the Corvette one of the most respected performance cars in the world so why change what works?

Well, in the ever changing world of ultra high performance supercars, General Motors could need something new to help get the Corvette even with the best from Ferrari and Lamborghini. Although the 2015 Corvette Z06 – which is slated as the most track capable Corvette ever – will likely provide a true challenger to Europe’s best supercars, there is a chance that it will fall short of beating the best from Italy and Germany. One way that GM could resolve this issue is to come up with a new Corvette ZR1 that uses a mid engine design to not only offer better performance than the new Z06, but also anything else sold in the USA.

The key issue with a mid engine Corvette is (and always has been) the cost of development. However, if GM is looking at making the ZR1 a mid engine design rather than the entire lineup (for now) and their goal is to knock off a bunch of million dollar European exotics – cost really shouldn’t be much of an issue. I certainly don’t expect to see a million dollar Corvette in Chevy dealerships, but with the competition costing so much, GM would have far more wiggle room in pricing a mid engine Corvette ZR1 in a way that would allow them to not lose money.

This Could Be the Zora
Back in the early 1960s, Zora Arkus-Duntov envisioned a mid engine Corvette that would dominate the performance market on a global scale. Unfortunately, General Motors’ beancounters wouldn’t let a project that costly see the light of day back in the 1960s. However, things have obviously changed a tremendous amount since then and with a combination of the direction of the high performance world and the ever increasing sticker prices of new supercars would allow the designers to make a much stronger business case for a mid engine ZR1.

We should remind you all that a while back, General Motors trademarked the name “Zora” and we speculated that it could be the next super Corvette. Zora’s vision was for a mid engine Corvette that would beat just about anything in the world and while Duntov passed away more than 18 years ago, there is a chance that his vision could finally become a reality – and it could even wear his name.

A Corvette Like No Other
Should the new ZR1/Zora indeed arrive within the next few years with a mid engine design, it might sport the Corvette name but we shouldn’t expect it to be very similar to the current C7 lineup. Obviously, the mid engine design would be the most unique aspect, but it would likely have differing proportions from the Corvettes that we know today. I would expect to see a basic front and rear end design that looks similar to the current models (provided that the Zora arrives during the current C7 generation), but there would likely be a slightly longer area behind the cockpit to make room for the high performance V8 engine and a shorter front end…somewhat similar to the Corvette Daytona Prototype racecar shown above.

Chevrolet Corvette Galleries:
The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype
The Debut of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The debut of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with a collection of previous models

While a mid engine Corvette ZR1/Zora would presumably look a little different, it would likely also cost more than any General Motors product ever sold to the public for road use. Considering that it would be targeting cars that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions of dollars), GM would likely price this monster well above the $125k price of the C6 ZR1. This clearly wouldn’t be a Corvette for everyone – but it could be a Corvette that beats everyone in the world…no matter what they are driving.

Source: Motor Trend


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