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Sunday, May 30, 2021

AeroVette as a future-style Corvette figure who failed into production line

So far, the world's car fans knew the Corvette is an American exotic-performing iconic sports car ever made by the GM's subsdiary Chevrolet from early of '50s until today. As quoted from Carbuzz, the sports car figure was first proposed to be developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov (later known as the 'Father of the Corvette'), an engineering genius who had a lifelong passion for cars and motor sports, and it was this enthusiasm that helped him land an engineering job at Chevrolet since 1953.
1976 Chevrolet AeroVette' is formerly mid-engined four-rotor Wankel prototype that replaced with a 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) Chevy V8 engine. (Picture from: ChevroletGallery)
As much as Arkus-Duntov liked the Corvette C1 design, he was not satisfied with the technical specifications, due to he tought besides requiring more power and also should be having the ability to run faster.
1976 Chevrolet 'AeroVette' is featured with gull-wing door-type looks so futuristic. (Picture from: ChevroletGallery)
So since the 1950s, so many concept car models have been made to accommodate Arkus-Duntov's desire to make his beloved Corvette the best sports car ever made. It is understandable that the Corvette was meant by the GM to compete with the greatness of its rivals Ford GT40 sports car which was successful in the worlds of racing.
And into the 1970s, when the Wankel rotary engine looked like the promising wave of the future. With its reduced parts count and almost vibration-free operation, it was a model of engineering elegance, and General Motors is betting big on it. By using a license from the aircraft engine maker Curtiss-Wright, then the company worked on a two-rotor engine and readied it for the new production at Monza in 1975.

Before the Wankel engined model born, actually the GM's Styling studio had launched the mid-engined Corvette 'XP-895' in the 1972. The show car is built based of the Corvette 'XP-882' featured the distinctive wedge-shaped of the '70s. Although has more futuristic and handsome look, the lightweight aluminum bodied model made by the Reynolds Metals Company is apparently too costly in the production rather than the previous fiberglass bodied C3 model, so it's met a dead-end while going to be produced and left.
1972 Chevrolet Reynolds XP-895 prototype built based of the 1970 XP-882 and had a lightweight aluminum body done by Reynolds Metal Company. (Picture from: Corvettes.nl)
In the same time, the company found out and saw that the Mercedes-Benz C111 prototypes and the Mazda 110S Cosmo production cars already running around with Wankels, it made GM feel the need to rush to display its earnestness about the engine. So in 1973, GM is launched two Corvette models at once, ie the two-rotor and mid-mounted four-rotor Wankel engined car prototypes.
1972 Chevrolet Reynolds XP-895 prototype is powered by a 454-cid V8 Chevrolet mid-mounted engine. (Picture from: Corvettes.nl)
At that time they first built the two-rotor engined model (known as the XP-897 GT) looked ready for production. It drawn tightly with a low nose that promised excellent visibility, and uniquely, the one-off two-rotor Wankel engined car prototype was built by the Italian famous coachbuilder, Pininfarina and based on the Porsche 914 chassis. The unique-shaped car turn out does not have enough power to run fast on the roads, because the engine is only capable of spewing out only 180 hp.

This made Arkus-Duntov dissatisfied and made him took out the Chevrolet Reynolds XP-895 of the plant's storages, then made an overhaul ranging from revised the car looks to swap its 454-cid V8 engine with a double 2-rotor Wankel engine. Then the four-rotor prototype named the Corvette Four-Rotor and is launched at the 1973 New York Auto Show.
1973 Chevrolet XP-897 GT two-rotor Wankel Prototype built based of the Porsche 914 chassis. (Picture from: Automobile)
The four rotor engined model's appearance had an almost-symmetrical shape with a pointed prow up front and a sliver of a tail. Its gullwing doors had mid-door hinges, and the four-rotor engine (actually
2 + 2-rotor) sat sideways behind the cockpit. As time goes by that proven the Wankel engine was not the right choice for an exotic sports car like the Corvette.
1973 Chevrolet XP-897 GT two-rotor Wankel Prototype had GM' styling but was built by the famous Italian coachbuilder, Pininfarina. (Picture from: Automobile)
In the 1976, a year before retiring, the GM styling boss Bill Mitchell decided that perhaps a mid-engined Corvette was the way forward. Although he had helped halt several previous Arkus-Duntov mid-engine projects, Mitchell pulled the three-year-old XP-895 mid-engine prototype from storage. Originally designed for GM's licensed 420-hp, four-rotor experimental engine, Mitchell ordered the rotary engine removed and replaced with a 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) Chevy V8 engine, named Chevrolet Aerovette.
This is the 1970 Chevrolet XP-882 prototype is powered by an 400-cid small-block engine coupled with a silent chain-drive to an Olds Toronado Turbo 400 transmission and also known as the forerunner of the Chevrolet Aerovette. (Picture from: SuperChevy)
Actually, the car got the green light for production in 1980 (which would make it the Corvette C4), but apparently a number of obstacles arose. First, other mid-engined cars such as the Nissan 280Z are selling well in the market, while the C3 was stumbling in sales. Second, the senior support team consisting of Zora-Arkus-Duntov, Head of Design Bill Mitchell, and General Manager of Chevrolet Ed Cole all-have retired, so that the production plan came to a halt.
This is the 1970 Chevrolet XP-882 powered by an 400-cid small-block engine coupled with a silent chain-drive to an Olds Toronado Turbo 400 transmission and also known as the forerunner of the Chevrolet Aerovette. (Picture from: SuperChevy)
Not to mention the new Corvette chief at the time Dave McLellan faced tightening funding issues to continue development of the Corvette C4 of 1984 and back as the traditional front-engined sports car. Meanwhile the Aerovette remained as a concept without ever sliding into the production line and currently just sitting on display at the GM Heritage Centre in Sterling Heights, Michigan. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | CARBUZZ | JOURNALCLASSICCARS | AUTOMOBILEMAG | CARANDDRIVER | CARSTYLING.RU | SUPERCHEVY ]
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