Rumors of a midengined Corvette date back to the early years of the American sports-car legend -- which happens to be celebrating its 63rd birthday today -- but several recent developments suggest that we're closer than ever to a 'Vette with this layout.
The latest batch of spy photos clearly shows something midengined polishing at GM's Milford, Mich., proving grounds in the company of a C7 Corvette and a Cadillac sedan. The photos purport to show a prototype with a long tail wearing some C7 Corvette body panels, sans the rear glass cover. The visible proportions, of course, suggest that this prototype keeps its engine just ahead of the rear axle, with the glass panel removed during testing to help cool the engine.
The last time anyone not working on that specific GM project saw a midengined mule was over a year ago, when a peculiar car with Holden Commodore body panels and something in its long trunk was spotted by spy photographers. Even back then, the mule was suspected of testing components for a midengined sports car, with the list of candidate nameplates within GM's lineup being short.
A couple publications have noted that the mystery midengined machine could also be a Cadillac, though circumstantial evidence does not favor this possibility.
General Motors recently announced a $290 million technology investment for its Bowling Green, Ky., Corvette plant aimed at enhancing manufacturing processes. The automaker invested another $439 million last year for a new paint shop at the same facility.
This, of course, does not eliminate the possibility that the mystery coupe could spawn a Cadillac version -- there is precedent for that -- though Cadillac is not believed to be working on a standalone midengined coupe that would not be shared with other GM brands. Cadillac's next performance car, in fact, will be an all-new 2017 presidential limo.
The rumor mill has the next Corvette debuting at the 2018 Detroit auto show, packing an evolution of the current pushrod V-8 engine. The C7 Corvette will reach a ripe old age of 5 when it will be replaced by the C8, which is expected to be offered for the 2018 or 2019 model year with a starting price of $80,000.
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News, and has been with the magazine since 2013.