Why Keep the Corvette Engine In Front?

Why Keep the Corvette Engine In Front?
While the mid-engined Zora mockup is eye-catching, there are a few reasons it would not be a big seller.

 

There’s been plenty of talk over the past few years about taking the Corvette’s motor and sticking it behind the driver’s compartment. It’s not a great idea for several reasons: the car is not an exotic, it never will be, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

The fact of the matter is that the Corvette has always been marketed as the blue-collar supercar, and while some of the snobbier automotive enthusiasts would see the car as undeserving of the title “supercar,” its recent performance hikes have established it as such. For the money, there are few cars which can perform on-par with the ‘Vette – especially the hotter versions such as the Z06 and the ZR1. It prides itself on its honesty and its performance, and doesn’t need a silk hat to validate itself.

 

Why Keep the Corvette Engine In Front?
The ‘Vette relies on its performance, not its appearance or prestige.

 

The car doesn’t compete with the Porsches and the Ferraris on looks alone, and it’s alright with that. It’s fair to say that the mid-engined layout goes hand-in-hand with an exotic, high-dollar sports car, and changing the engine placement would be like inviting the ‘Vette to a cocktail party with quiche and white wine. This simply wouldn’t work – it’s a rugged car that wouldn’t be caught dead in an Armani suit, anyways.

The heart of the issue started a decade ago, when Chevy got the message that their cars were derided on the world stage, regardless of how the racing versions performed on the track. Maybe they gave in to the opinions of the lofty Europeans, or simply recognized that the cars of the day were moving the game forward and unless they wanted next generation of Corvette to become a total laughingstock, they’d have to jazz it up a bit.

 

Why Keep the Corvette Engine In Front?
Despite the C5R’s success on-track, its road-going brother was not considered a world-class handler by many.

 

Not in terms of appearance – no. The C6-generation ‘Vettes were far from luxurious on the inside and still had a bit of flimsy-plastic charm. However, where it counted, the generation received a slurry of upgrades that, in aggregate, made up a seriously impressive car. Redesigned suspension, usage of lightweight materials in the engine, drawing the motor back towards the firewall and mounting it lower in the car, enlarging the brakes, and sticking the transmission in the back gave the car enough grip and precision to put it on par, performance-wise, with contemporary supercars. That alone was enough to change perception of it among some of the more discerning critics.

The C7 ‘Vette is even faster, better appointed, more exotic-looking, and yet GM still throws out these rumors of making it a mid-engined car. It simply won’t work, except perhaps merely for branding purposes. A mid-engined car invites all sort of packaging issues which, unless a whole boatload of these cars get sold, will make the build process a bit pricier. Corvette owners are known for being difficult people in body shops, since they spend a lot of their life working hard to afford their baby. Where a Ferrari owner might leave a car at a bodyshop and wait to be called, since they can likely afford another, the ‘Vette owner is said to ring twice a day to check in on their pride and joy. Bumping the price up significantly is not a great idea.

 

Why Keep the Corvette Engine In Front?
While the mid-engined concept looks good, would it have enough room for a weekend trip’s worth of luggage?

 

It also limits the practicality of the car. The ‘Vette needs to be able to carry a set of golf clubs, a shotgun or two, and still seat two comfortably. It’s designed to cruise long distances on a weekend getaway, and by sticking an engine in the back, that cargo compartment would likely be squeezed too much.

The sight lines need to be right, and the proportions shouldn’t be altered too much. Like the Porsche 911’s silhouette and BMW’s kidney grills, the long nose of the Corvette is something the car will be forever associated with. Changing the shape of the car wouldn’t sit well with many.

It looks striking, it performs well, and it’s at a price point that makes sense to both GM and the buyers. Even if the mid-engined ‘Vette were to be wildly faster in corners, who needs that sort of performance, and who could afford it? If the Corvette is to remain the quintessential everyday-supercar, sticking the engine in back will do it as much good as upholstering the seats in velour. Keep it simple, keep it accommodating, and find cost-effective ways to make it blindingly fast. It’s a formula that works, and it does not need to be changed one bit.

About Tommy Parry 102 Articles
Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, Tommy worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school and tried his hand on the race track on his twentieth birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, he began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a trackday instructor and automotive writer since 2012 and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
  • Charlie

    I agree with the basic tenants of this article but let’s get the facts straight. GM upgraded the suspension, moved the motor back and placed the transmission in the back on the C-5 corvette. They changed the frame to aluminum and changed the body style and got rid of the pop up headlights as well as offering a 427ci engine in the C6 Z06. The last C5 was in 2004. in 2005 the Z06 was not available and the C5 Z06 easily spanked the 2005 corvette on the track. In 2006 the C6 Z06 was introduced and the addition 100 hp put the C6 Z06 corvette back in front of the pack.

  • John Songer

    I honestly know a few Vette owners, one of which has a Vette for every year he has been alive. If there was a special/limited edition performance model’s (ZO6,ZR1) that is the one he has for that year (must be good to have parents with deep pockets who give you them as birthday gifts). All of these guys have said straight out, if Vettes go MId engine they will sell theirs as it would be a embarrassment to own a car that gets “sold out” in the name of higher prices. Let’s face it, the only reason GM would consider doing it is to make it more like the Ferrari not just in so called performance, but in looks and price. Look at the “Zora Concept” and tell me that doesn’t mimic a Ferrari 355 or 575M. My dream car has always been a 90s Midnight Purple ZR-1 with a Paxton on it. Corvette ever go MId engine, I’ll just spend the savings on something else. The vette proves itself constantly in my opinion. Maybe wrong, but wasn’t the Corvette the first car to have a HUD to keep your eyes on the road and not on gauges? The 6+1 transmission, love it or hate it, was also a innovation by the stateside superstar correct? Now if they stuffed a SECOND motor in back and set it up as one engine for front wheels and second for rear, that would be a Vette I’d sell the home front to buy. Just my opinion. That and $5.25 will get ya a Starbucks Vanilla Frap.

Copyright © 2005-2017 RacingJunk.com All Rights Reserved.

Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the RacingJunk.com
Terms of Use, Classifieds Disclaimer, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy