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1970s Chevrolet Corvette Concept Cars


Chevrolet Corvette Two-Rotor Concept Car
Built by Pininfarina to a GM design, the XP-897GT Two-Rotor concept car appeared in 1973 as a showcase for GM's then-imminent Wankel-type rotary engine.
Built by Pininfarina to a GM design, the XP-897GT Two-Rotor concept car appeared in 1973 as a showcase for GM's then-imminent Wankel-type rotary engine.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Having secured a manufacturing agreement at the behest of General Motors president Ed Cole, the legendary Chevy engineer who had lately become an ardent rotary advocate, GM was working feverishly on its own rendition of the rotary-piston engine devised by Dr. Felix Wankel at Germany's NSU -- the Chevrolet Corvette Two-Rotor concept car.

Along with a Wankel-powered version of Chevy's small Vega, which would never materialize, Cole ordered up a sports car designed around the developing two-rotor GMRCE (General Motors Rotary Combustion Engine) then being eyed for production.

Coded XP-897GT, this handsome little coupe had GM styling but was built by the famed Pininfarina works in Italy. When displayed during 1973 with the prosaic title "Two-Rotor Car," "buff books" again hailed the advent of the mid-engine Corvette. Like the original XP-882, it was widely believed to be a precursor of the next-generation Corvette.

The previous year, DeLorean had authorized further work on the XP-882 chassis, as well as a new body from the corporate Design Staff under William L. Mitchell. Sufficiently changed to warrant a new project code, XP-895, this ended up looking a bit like the Two-Rotor from the sides but carried a deeply inset "sugar scoop" rear window instead of flush glass.

By early 1972, a chance discussion with officials at Reynolds Metals Company prompted construction of a near-identical body in aluminum alloy, and in which form the XP-895 became the "Reynolds Aluminum Car." It, too, garnered lots of ink as the presumed next Corvette -- and because its big-block 454 V-8 promised super performance against a svelte curb weight of around 3,000 pounds.

As if all this weren't enough, the remaining XP-882 chassis was stripped of its V-8 and given a pair of Vega Wankels bolted together into a four-rotor, 420-horsepower super-rotary. To make sure no one missed the change, Duntov persuaded Mitchell and staff to design yet another all-new body for what was called . . . the "Four-Rotor Car."

Learn more about this concept car on the next page.

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