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1970s Chevrolet Corvette Concept Cars


Chevrolet Project XP-882 Concept Car
The XP-882 would have stayed under wraps but was shown to counter Ford's announced sale of 1971 Italian-built DeTomaso Panteras.
The XP-882 would have stayed under wraps but was shown to counter Ford's announced sale of 1971 Italian-built DeTomaso Panteras.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

After GM passed on the Astro II, Zora Arkus-Duntov quickly turned to what would be the genesis of the Aerovette -- the Chevrolet project XP-882 concept car. It definitely looked like a Corvette, with overtones of the 1968-vintage "Shark" model in its low vee'd nose and four-lamp tail treatment.

Because Duntov's previous mid-engine proposals carried Chevy V-8s in longitudinal fashion, they required a costly, purpose-designed transaxle that not even vast Chevrolet could justify for a low-volume sports car. Here, Duntov tackled the problem by turning the engine 90 degrees and putting a stock GM Turbo Hydra-matic "end on" to it.

The transmission for this concept car was driven by chain from the crankshaft and connected to a stock Corvette differential via a short driveshaft turning a right-angle at the front. Because the driveshaft had to pass through the sump, it was encased in a tube. If not an elegant solution, it was at least affordable.

Duntov's engineers built two XP-882s during 1969, an identical pair of swoopy fastbacks with an unfortunately blunt front but a dramatic louvered boattail, as on the experimental Mako Shark II of four years before.

Yet almost on the day they were finished, John Z. DeLorean became Chevy general manager and canceled the program as impractical and costly. His decision stood only a year.

When Ford announced plans to sell the Italian-built mid-engine DeTomaso Pantera through Lincoln-Mercury dealers, DeLorean ordered one XP-882 cleaned up for display at the 1970 New York Auto Show. But though car magazines were quick to proclaim that the mid-engine Corvette had finally arrived, GM never said anything about production.

See how the story of 1970s Corvette concept cars continues in the next section.

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