Image Gallery: Concept Cars
Image Gallery: Concept Cars

Image Gallery: Concept Cars The XP-882 concept car of 1970 looked production-ready, thus fueling hope the next new Corvette would have a similar midengine design. See more concept car pictures.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Upon examining the 1970s Chevrolet Corvette concept cars, it seems that for one brief shining moment, General Motors honestly intended to build a midengine Corvette for public sale. The moment came in late 1977, just as "America's only true sports car" was about to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Regrettably, the decade-old "Shark" model had to carry the birthday banner, because the midships Corvette wasn't slated until 1980.

But enthusiasts wouldn't have minded the wait, for the car in question was a virtual clone of the stunning Aerovette, perhaps the most widely admired of the many mid-engine experiments with which GM had been teasing Corvette lovers since the late 1950s.

Those tantalizing exercises were owed to Zora Arkus-Duntov, fabled as chief Corvette engineer almost since the car's 1953 inception. After conjuring the open-wheel CERV I single-seater and envelope-bodied CERV II (the letters stood for Corvette Engineering Research Vehicle), Duntov turned to more passenger-oriented designs, beginning with the Astro II of 1968.

Like the previous year's Corvair-based Astro I, this was a curvy, ground-sniffing two-seat coupe with a lift-up rear engine cover/cockpit canopy. It was also a remnant of project XP-880, a mid-engine effort that Duntov hoped would appear in showrooms for 1968.

Artful detailing and balanced proportions are some of the highlights of the breathtaking 1976 Aerovette

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

But GM decided to stick with traditional front-engine design and a little-changed 1963-1967 Sting Ray chassis for that year's new "Shark" generation, thus rendering Astro II a dead end.

There was still hope, however. Go to the next page to learn about project XP-882.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: