1970s Chevrolet Corvette Concept Cars

Mid/V-6 Chevrolet Corvette Concept Car

It bears mentioning that GM explored one other avenue at the same time as the production Aerovette -- a mid/V-6 Chevrolet Corvette concept car with running gear taken from the planned new 1980 X-body compacts.

It was the same idea later applied to Pontiac's Fiero: a transverse front-drive powertrain plunked behind a two-seat cockpit to drive the rear wheels.

The concept was hardly new, of course. Porsche, Lotus, and Fiat had all used high-volume, off-the-shelf components to create roadgoing middies -- the "corporate kit car" formula that promised similar cost savings here.

The contemplated engine was the now-familiar 60-degree 2.8-liter V-6 then in the works at Chevrolet. Styling was created by the Chevy Three Production Studio under Jerry Palmer, which sculpted clean, somewhat angular lines with Aerovette overtones.

But the mid/V-6 was doomed by the same factors that killed the Aerovette. It had other drawbacks, too.

As Car and Driver later recounted: "A new front-engine/rear-drive Camaro had just been approved with [350-cid] V-8 capacity; there was no way a V-6 Corvette could continue as the flagship of the Chevy fleet without turbocharging and intercooling, and it would be tough to sell such a costly, high-tech alternative to management.

"At the same time, the corporation had yet to develop a transaxle that could withstand the torque such an engine would produce. In addition, GM had big plans for widespread use of its X-car components in future high-volume

cars . . . limiting the availability of parts [for Corvette]." Exit mid/V-6.

With that, work toward a new front-engine design got underway in earnest during 1978. The result appeared five years later, in time for Corvette's 30th birthday. Mitchell later compared its styling to a "grouper."

Tellingly, this sixth-generation Corvette failed to equal the sales performance of the old "Shark," encouraging hopeful types to anticipate yet another fling with mid-engine design. But those hopes were dashed by GM's 1993 announcement that the next-generation Corvette, which debuted in 1996 as a 1997 model -- would continue the familiar front-engine rear-drive configuration.

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