The Mid Engine Corvette of 2017: Discovering the Zora

Rumors of a mid engine Corvette have been circulating for years, but Chevrolet has yet to risk releasing one. In fact, GM has never officially confirmed any plans to build a mid engine Corvette. Speculation about the car has increased in recent months after GM’s head of global product development, Mark Reuss, confirmed that the company has been working on the next Corvette. However, despite many ‘Vette fans hoping that the new C8 will be the mid-engine Corvette that die-hard fans have been anxiously expecting for years, it has not been confirmed that this is the case.

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2016 Mid Engine Corvette Rumors

Recent rumors concerning the Zora ZR1 have surfaced on the corvetteforum.com after people running the website stated that they had spoken with a Corvette insider that confirmed such a car was being built. According to the unnamed insider, the launch of the Zora ZR1 will be announced sometime this year by General Motors representatives.

These rumors have reignited hopes of a mid engine Corvette appearing in showrooms, supposedly by 2017. Putting aside pure speculation, there might be a reason to hope. General Motors trademarked the name Zora last year to honor Zora Arkus Duntov, the engineer that helped innovate and transform the Corvette into the fast and powerful sports car it is today.

When Zora joined the Corvette engineering team in 1955, he began what would be a life-long search for new ways to make Corvettes faster and stronger. He helped fit the sports car with the powerful V-8 engine and constantly worked on improving its performance and speed. Throughout the years he spent working on the cars, he tirelessly researched and created mid engine Corvette prototypes.

It wasn’t just Zora that was interested in building a mid engine Corvette. There have been many prototypes for this kind of design. In fact, most generations of Corvettes have had such an option designed for them. However, Chevrolet has never greenlighted the production of such a car. Now that General Motors has trademarked the Zora name, Chevrolet fans are understandably excited about the possibility of a mid engine Corvette to honor Zora’s passion for this type of build.

If rumors are to be believed, the new car will be given the Zora name in order to distinguish it from the rest of the Corvette family as a separate model. It seems it will debut as an 8th generation Corvette or a C8 model car. Supposedly, engineers will transform the aluminum chassis of the current C7 and adapt it to a mid-engine design. A new and improved version of the supercharged V-8 currently used for the Corvette Z6 is expected to be used on the Zora ZR1.

As far as production costs and pricing are concerned, the estimated starting price for the Zora SR1 is around $150k to $200k. The price tag will be worth the investment if you consider that the Zora is expected to have around 700 HP and reach top speeds over the 200 mph mark. Not only that, if the Corvette Zora gets anywhere near this target price, it will be significantly cheaper than its current competitors.

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The Zora Mid Engine Concept Corvette

Much has been said about the Zora ZR1 and what it might take to turn it into reality. Although a mid engine Corvette could be expensive to build, it is the next important step in the Corvette evolution. Adding more power to the front engine models that Corvette is producing at the moment will not have a significant impact on the speed, acceleration, or braking that the C7 generation has. Creating a mid engine Corvette, on the other hand, could take the game to a whole new level in terms of performance.

Most Corvette enthusiasts agree that the 8th generation models will hang on to the small block V-8 engine because of its cost-efficiency and convenience. Although some alterations and improvements are expected, it is very likely that the Zora will feature a V-8 engine. The transaxles that could work for the Zora have sparked some debate among Corvette fans. It is not clear whether a generic manual transmission would be up for the challenge, or whether a planetary gear automatic would be effective enough. Regardless of what the solution will be, it’s likely that Corvette will outsource the making of a new transaxle rather than work on one in-house. It makes more sense and it’s more cost efficient to rely on a specialized producer to fix the issue.

In terms of the chassis and the structure of the new Zora mid engine Corvette, most speculators agree that it will rely on a modified C7 aluminum chassis and frame. Revised versions of the current C7 composite leaf springs, Brembo breaks, and adjustable magnetic dampers are expected for the new generation of Corvettes, including the Zora. It would also make sense to see the new generation of Corvettes shifting to carbon composite panels that can withstand crashes and are lighter. Choosing carbon fiber over the typical fiberglass for the body would help with the weight and resilience of the Zora ZR1.

We can only dream about what the interior will look like at the moment, but it’s sure to contain a larger central touch screen and control panel for some of the additional secondary functions. Because of the mid engine design, it’s not unlikely that the seating position would be lower.

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Zora ZR1 Mid Engine Corvette Concept: Risks

Skeptics might argue that building a mid engine Corvette is quite a significant risk for General Motors. Not only is it expensive to build, but it also has to be on par in terms of quality in order to tempt potential sports car enthusiasts and deter them from turning to one of its competitors. However, it is expected that the Zora will only be released in a limited production because of its expected price. We can only wait and see if General Motors will announce the launch of the Zora this year. One thing is certain: for die-hard fans, a mid engine Corvette would be a dream come true.

Picture Sources: 1, 2, 3.

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