General Motors files patents and trademarks on a regular basis. Most are on mundane parts or technology, but their latest one is very significant. Car spotters around the country have spotted a mid-engine “somethings” that are being tested with heavy camouflage. The strange part is that Corvette Stingrays are used as blockers to keep the project away from prying eyes.
We know it has a mid-mounted V8 but many have figured it was Cadillac’s new supercar until today. CorvetteBlogger.com found a post by “Quinten” on MidEngineCorvetteForum.com. He did some digging at the US Patent Office and found GM registered Zora as a trademark. It has also been registered in China, the U.K., European Union, and Australia.
Zora Arkus-Duntov was Corvette’s first Chief Engineer. He and his brother were Russian Jews who barely escaped the Nazis and opened a speed shop in NYC. There they patented an overhead cam conversion kit for Ford’s Flathead V8, doubling its power and torque. When he saw the Corvette prototype in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria, he wrote “The Letter”.
He ripped on the poor build quality and straight-six boat anchor under the hood. Their response was to offer him a job, and he was Corvette’s Chief until he retired in 1975. He invented Chevrolet’s first fuel injection system, independent rear suspension, and built several prototypes with mid-mounted engines. His goal was for Corvette to have over 500 horsepower, All Wheel Drive, and active suspension. But Chevrolet was not in the business of taking on the world.
After designing the Corvette SS for LeMans, he decided to build a mid-engine prototype in 1960. CERV was the Chevrolet Experimental Research Vehicle. It was owned by Mike Yeager of Mid America for years until we found it at the staging lanes of Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2017. A bidding war erupted over this piece of Corvette history, and the winning bid was from Chevrolet….Why would the spend so much money on a car they threatened to crush 50 years ago? Perhaps the Zora will finally be Chevy’s answer to the Ford GT. It wasn’t the only mid-engine prototype.
CERV II was the first Chevrolet with All Wheel Drive. It is also the first car to have torque-vectoring, a feature that has only been reintroduced on recent exotics. It had inboard brakes and fluid couplings that could send torque to any wheel.
Even though he was retired, he oversaw CERV 3 in 1990. It uses the C4 ZR1’s overhead cam V8, mounted east-west like the Lamborghini Miura. It has all wheel drive, all wheel steering and the world’s first active suspension. The twin-turbo V8 made 650 horsepower while meeting clean air regulations, something the Z06 finally achieved in 2015. He trained his successors Dave McLellan, and Dave Hill to always push for a mid-engined model, so its long overdue.
Chief engineer of the C7 is Tadge Juechter, and his ZR1 has pushed Corvette into uncharted territory. GM spent nearly half a billion dollars expanding and re-tooling the Corvette plant, which includes a second production line and performance engine assembly center. Something wicked is coming from the hills of Kentucky, and it will change your perceptions of what GM is capable of. At the bottom is a link to Amazon for Zora’s biography. Even if you hate ‘vettes, the story of his life and achievements makes for a great read. If you like your engine in front of you, we have been the best resource for new & pre-owned Vettes since 1985, click the link below to find your Plastic Fantastic and stay with us for all your Corvette updates.