With a new mid-engine Corvette on the way, Chevrolet may doing some stealth marketing as they prepare for the most radical redesign in Corvette’s 65+ year history.
Although the Corvette C7.Rs didn’t race last weekend at Detroit’s Belle Isle, that doesn’t mean that Corvette fans weren’t there either. The IMSA race did have a Corvette corral and many of the area clubs caravaned to watch the action along the temporary street circuit.
We also learned that Chevrolet brought out several historic Corvette prototypes and concepts from the GM Heritage Center for the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle. Positioned around the great white fountain, were three mid-engine Corvette prototypes, the Aerovette, the Reynolds concept and the Corvette Indy concept. Also on display was the ultra cool 1959 Corvette Stingray Racer.
Youtuber DtRockstar1 captured the Aerovette and Reynolds mid-engine prototypes on video and we get to check them out as they are running, along with the demonstration of several features including the interior, engine compartments, and cargo storage.
The Aerovette was designed in 1973 by Bill Mitchell and his design team as a showcase for GM’s rotary engines. Under the sloping rear glass was an experimental four-rotor engine. The almond-shaped prototype was fitted with bi-fold gullwing doors and was sterling silver with silver leather interior. After GM ended the rotary engine program, the Aerovette was fitted with a small-block Chevy V8.
The Reynolds concept (XP-895) was constructed in 1972 as one of a series of experimental Corvettes designed for testing alternative engine layouts as well as the use of aluminum in car manufacturing. The names comes from the car’s joint development program with Reynolds Aluminum. The Reynolds Concept has a 400 ci Chevy small block V8 mounted transversely behind the driver.
The 1959 Corvette Stingray Racer campaigned in SCCA racing in 1959 and 1960 at the personal expense of GM Design Chief Bill Mitchell with the Flying Dentist, Dr. Dick Thompson doing much of the driving. Following its life on track, the car returned to Detroit where it was freshened up and Mitchell would occasionally be seen behind the wheel.
A radically new Corvette is coming and Corvette enthusiasts can be downright intransigent when it comes to embracing new designs. Remember the controversies about the C6 Corvette utilizing fixed headlights or that the C7 taillights weren’t round so it’s not a real Corvette? With the display of these historic prototypes, Chevrolet could be utilizing them as a way to bridge the gap from the front engine design as well as remind their core customers that such a radical change was even envisioned by the likes of Zora Arkus-Duntov and Bill Mitchell.
Or, it could just a group of really cool old cars hanging out together at the races.