How the Corvette Was Reinvented
Talking with the people behind the long-awaited mid-engine Corvette
A mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette has been rumored in the automobile industry for decades. Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, who worked on the Corvette for years before his 1996 death, had long hoped for a mid-engine design in the car in question. With the announcement of the 2020 Corvette Stingray, the moment many have anticipated has finally arrived.
In an extensive interview with Road & Track, a group of people who worked on the Corvette, including chief engineer Tadge Juechter and design manager Kirk Bennion, discussed how the new iteration of the Corvette came to be.
Juechter pointed out that the previous Corvette designs had come up against certain limitations, which made the mid-engine approach more appealing from a performance perspective:
The engine gets heavier to be more powerful, and you’re putting more weight on the front axle and, relatively speaking, less weight on the back. We couldn’t hook up. So that was kind of the start of it. Fifty/fifty weight distribution is great when you’re not power-limited. That’s why race cars evolved with the engine in the back. You really want more like 40/60, so you can get the power down.
And Bennion discussed the balance of keeping some traditional elements in place within the new design:
Aspirational cars tend to neck down in the front heel-to-toe area. And we were able to keep the same entry and egress that the current car has. So we have front-engine entry/egress in a mid-engine car.
There’s a whole lot more in the interview, including how the team kept the production of the car secret and what their process was for benchmarking. At one point, product marketing manager Harlan Charles called this new version of the Corvette “the opportunity for this younger generation.” The coming months will see if his prediction is correct. But for now, a moment many in the automotive world thought would never come is here.
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