Is a Mid-Engine Corvette a Terrible Idea?


Is a Mid-Engine Corvette a Terrible Idea?

Photo Credit: Javier Oquendo Design

That’s the parting words in a recent story headlined “The Mid-Engine Corvette Is a Terrible Idea” by Lawrence Ulrich with, a long-time auto journalist who worries that the rumored mid-engine version in the works for the C8 Corvette might just be the end of America’s favorite sports car.

After all, he wonders, how many people can afford a $150,000, $100,000, or even an $80,000 mid-engine Corvette. Push the price that high, and sales would almost surely plummet from the mid-30,000 range that the current C7 is enjoying.

Indeed, you can get a base 2016 Corvette Stingray, brand new, with the seat wrappers still on, for just around $48,000 right now. While it might not have all the goodies that some folks want, it’s still a very nice – and very practical – sports car.

We have to ask ourselves: Do we really need much more power than the base Stingray or the Z06 is able to provide? The Z06 already goes 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds and handles like a dream; would a mid-engine car really go that much faster and that much better?

We think not.

The Mid-Engined C8 Corvette Zora ZR1 Rendered

Photo Credit: BUZZART

Car and Driver reports that Chevrolet will unveil the eighth-generation Corvette in January 2018 at the Detroit auto show. After a few final “regular” C7s are manufactured, the magazine believes all C8 Corvettes will then go to a mid-engine layout and a hybrid version with front electric motors will even be offered. Ulrich warns that sounds suspiciously like the $200,000 Acura NSX, and how many of them will ever be sold?

“If that all happens,” Ulrich writes, “the sound you hear isn’t an electric motor. It’s a death knell for the Corvette, at least in the (relatively) accessible, aspirational form that made it America’s Sports Car.”

We tend to agree. Having been a Corvette enthusiast for roughly 50 years, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a mid-engine Corvette, mainly because that’s what Zora always wanted to do. After all, who can argue with Zora, other than Bill Mitchell?

But I always thought of the mid-engine car arriving as a supplement to the “old-fashioned” Corvette that ordinary folks like me can actually afford. I’d never be able to buy a $100,000 mid-engine “Zora,” but I’d still be proud of the car to carry the torch high for the Corvette … if Chevy still lets me buy a $55,000 Corvette with the engine still under the hood.

I guess what I’m saying is bragging rights are nice, but let’s not kill the golden goose. Chevrolet is making untold millions off the current Corvette, and deservedly so. It’s a great car.

But don’t get too greedy, Chevy. If some rich enthusiast wants to pay $150,000 or more for a mid-engine Corvette, then I’m happy that they can afford to buy one. Trust me, if I was rich enough, I’d definitely buy one, and maybe two or three if I couldn’t decide my favorite color.

But we ask you, Chevy, as long-time enthusiasts of your car (even when it wasn’t very good in the 1970s), don’t dump our traditional Corvette with the bath water.

The Mid-Engined C8 Corvette Zora ZR1 Rendered

Photo Credit: Road & Track

As Ulrich ended in his story:

“Let the Dodge Viper be the final cautionary tale. Certainly, compared with the Corvette, the Viper was always a more hardcore, low-volume sports car. But when Dodge sent the Viper’s price shooting over $100,000, sales really fell off a cliff and never recovered. Now the Viper is dead.”

Based on the very limited sales success of the $125,000 ZR1 during the C6 run, we just don’t see more than a few thousand folks buying a mid-engine Corvette. We don’t think the mid-engine Corvette is a terrible idea, but we worry if a few thousand “super sales” would be enough for a big corporation like GM to keep the car alive?

We’re afraid the answer would likely be no.

And what a sad day that would be for the Corvette world.


[SPIED] The Mid-Engine Corvette Zora Exists!!!
GM Promising New Approach on Engineering its Vehicles for Right Hand Drive
Car and Driver: Next Generation C8 Corvette to be Mid Engine Only



  1. I read the referenced story and found that Ulrich made some excellent points. However, Corvette Racing is in real need of a mid-engine as the front engine layout has been exploited to the max. I hope that GM will decide to make the Corvette a brand and maintain the current front engine layout along with a high end mid layout in low volume and high bucks. They may also want to consider developing an entry level model along the lines of the former Saturn Sky / Pontiac Solstice to entice a younger demographic.

  2. I agree they well ruin an American Sports car. Why does GM want to ruin an icon? American made don’t follow those foreign cars.

  3. Mid engine corvette is a great idea at the current price point. If the base price is a 100k then sales will fall off. But not for lack of interest but for lack of persons able to purchase. They would have a lot of work to do to only compet in the 100+k market. Stiff compatision, plus breaking through pure prejudice against gm or American cars at that level of car, no matter how much better it is. Look at the the sales of the camaro to the mustang. The camaro is clearly the better car in all catagories yet it is lagging in sales. Will they still sale a lot at over a 100k base. Maybe at lest more then the vipers but no where near the level of corvettes they sale now. And maybe thats the point to create a bigger gap between the camaro and the corvette so there is no cross shopping.

  4. If you put a >= C5 Corvette on scales, you will immediately see that there’s little benefit to a mid-engine car from a weight distribution perspective. GM has done a helluva job balancing the existing Corvettes. Been racing them for over 15 years; GM has a tough job to improve the C7!

  5. I believe that there is room for a mid-engine Corvette provided that GM calls it the “Zora” and limits production to 500 or less. My number of 500 might be low considering the cost of production but you get my drift.
    By all that is holy, keep the front engine/rear drive Corvette for the most of us who can afford it.

  6. All this hub bub about a mid engine Corvette is just crazy. Why cut the hand that feeds you GM?.
    Focus on a cheaper bad to the bone C7 or C8, whatever you want to call it. GM needs younger drivers, not more older ones. Get the Corvette into the mid $40’s and eliminate frills and weight; it can be done. And spend a little on advertising. When have you seen a Corvette ad in the last 18 months?? Lower the cost, it was considered before with the late 90’s fixed roof coupe, then abandoned. You need the next generation, but not by baiting them with mid engine, or even electric Corvettes. Ford does it, Dodge does it. The Camaro can sell itself but the Corvette will very soon need help. GM get your head out of the sand.

  7. I don’t think GM (think:Mary Barra) would “kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” e,g, the C7. Instead, the Corvette team(Bennion/Juecter) will build the “Zora” to compete with the Ford GT and NSX, not the Shelby 350 for example. It would be good for business for GM to have a super car alongside its “halo car,” the C7. Long live the C7 and the Zora!

  8. If you Vette people want the Ferrari to keep kicking your butts at LeMans then stay with the front engined design…Chevy can make both…

  9. If GM wants something to compete with a Ford GT or other mid-engine imports, I have no problem with that. I can’t afford a Ferrari, Lambo, Ford GT or any of the other $100K+ vehicles. The day may come when I upgrade my C4, but with prices like that it sure won’t be anything new. And as others can’t afford new Vettes, it will reduce the number of used vehicles in the used market, strangling that off too. Sometimes good intentions can kill the golden goose, hoping GM doesn’t do something stupid here.

  10. I agree. With most of these guys…build the mid-engine for a fair price for those who want one…but continue building the C7 for the majority of Corvette enthusiasts who can afford a $50,000 car…..Bowling Green can accomodate both builds.

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