Mid-engined — right stuff

by Andy Bryenton

Long ago, in the early days of the Chevrolet Corvette, designer Zora Arkus-Duntov posed a simple question. What if his working man’s blue-collared muscle car took up the design strategy of the era’s Le Mans racers, and put the engine in the middle?

At the time, Ferrari was still putting the engine in the front of its 250GT, and Lamborghini had but recently given up making tractors. The conventional Corvette rolled on, but the idea never really died. Now it’s finally come to fruition, with the advent of the mid-engined, supremely powerful, arrow-shaped road missile, which is the C8 iteration of Kentucky’s finest.

With close to 500 horsepower from its new LT2 powerplant, the mandatory eight cylinders and, for the first time, no option for a stick shift, the Corvette’s latest evolution looks set to take on the likes of Porsche and AMG.

Further aspirations swaps and the possibility of hybrid electric acceleration could see this all-American good ‘ol boy taking 1000hp to the competition.

That’s McLaren and Ferrari territory, for a machine which, like Ford’s GT40 before, it punches well above its pay grade.

Since this is not a million-dollar highly-strung boutique confection, the price will be considerably smaller than that of Italy and Germany’s offerings. Holden has confirmed that a right-hand drive model will come to New Zealand and sit on forecourts where once the big Commodore used to prowl. That might be thanks to the success of Ford’s Mustang but expect a very different beast. Moreover, the mid-engined layout screams’ supercar’; heck, even Toyota’s late lamented MR2 felt special thanks to its midship layout, and that packed the two-litre mill from a RAV4. More than six litres of responsive V8 behind the driver’s seat will make a mess of your eardrums, but it will also certainly put a smile on your face. We reckon Zora, ‘father of the ‘vette’ would love it too.