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Longtimer 07-31-2016 01:47 AM

1972-1974 Wankels and Aluminum Mid Engine Vettes
OK, you thought the last story was long. Books have been written about the turmoil in the Auto Industry in the '70s (please see a suggested reading list (you've got lots of time, right?) at the bottom of this "story."

So, Cole, President of GM "re-prioritized" the XP-882 from near production to the hacksaw and welders. Like the Mako Shark, the 882 no longer exists.

Bill Mitchell reworked the front and rear fascias, tricked out the doors, providing a more sleek theme to his XP-882. Doing so it became the 4 rotor Corvette:

The other XP-882 was transformed into the Reynold's Aluminum Corvette and IMO, suffered a worse fate than the Wankel bodied car"

Longtimer 07-31-2016 02:37 AM

There were actually two Wankel Corvettes produced. Cole was under pressure to make the $50M investment deliver a cleaner engine for all of GM, so he also commissioned Pininfarina to design a mid rotor vette. Zora had looked at the Wankel design years before and dismissed them due to their very low torque characteristics. Hofstetter confirmed this quickly and doubled his efforts (pun) by combining 2 two rotor engines to power Bill Mitchell's design. The 4 rotor got all the attention at GM.

Unfortunately for the Italians, they didn't know exactly how anemic the 2 rotor Wankel was. While work was progressing on the 4 rotor in Detroit, the Italians were physically working in Germany under an Opel disguise. When both cars were "finished," the engine guys were still working on both the two and four rotor. Motor Trend and Car and Driver were able to get a full set of publicity pics of the two rotor.

The Pininfarina two rotor - no, this is NOT a Monza 2+2, but guess what inspired that car

Shortly after this second pic, GM wrung its hands of the Wankel and killed it. The two rotor was quietly shipped off to England to be destroyed - but wasn't (another long story) and the 4 rotor went to shows. To pour salt on the EP-882 wounds, the leaky, gutless, tempermental, burns-a-quart-of-oil-per-1000 miles Wankel was removed from the 4 rotor and a 4 bbl, highrise, SBC engine was...and is mounted sideways in the car. It still travels to shows and logs time at NCM. I saw it, in fact I sat in it at the Monterey Historic Auto Races at Laguna Seca in 2002 when they were celebrating Vette's 50th Anniv.

That's the 4 rotor on the stand to the right of the rear fender;

THIS is probably how the first rear mid Corvette would have looked if not for GM's wasted Wankel experiment. BTW, there is a fair sized luggage compartment in the rear, mostly vertical.

More tomorrow

The Torch 07-31-2016 08:37 AM

Chrysler's slant six would have fit in there nicely and would have been a lot better than the 4R Wankel.

XQIZT 07-31-2016 01:09 PM

Nice. But how the heck do you in there to service the top of that motor?

Longtimer 07-31-2016 03:39 PM


Originally Posted by XQIZT (Post 3252913)
Nice. But how the heck do you in there to service the top of that motor?

99.9% of Boxster owners have never seen the top of their engine. Access requires the following:
1. Disconnect anchoring cables from the bottom edge of the top during mid rasing of the top.
2. Remove two separate carpeted hard panels (~6 fastners)
3. Remove a "serious" looking hard panel that would frighten Porsche owners I've known.
Not brain surgery by any means. Most of us here would have no problem. However, the end result is more let down than reward.


By comparison, which is likely moot because we know the Porsche is Unibody and Vettes have been designed around Hydro formed rail frames, that XP-882 has a LOT of room around it. Make the rear window easily removable and you could change your plugs.

However, your point is made. Vette lovers want to SEE their engine. They want to touch it. They want to fondle the throttle body .... ok, I went too far. Anyway, we will see if GM keeps in mind that Vetters like to tinker with their engines and we are VERY different from most Porsche owners, so how much of the engine bay can be efficiently and practically made available for our eyes and hearts to feast upon?

Ferrari is notorious for making engine service horribly awkward, yet here is a 360 engine compartment.

Longtimer 07-31-2016 03:54 PM

More pics of the Bill Mitchell modified XP-882, now called the 4 rotor or Mitchell's label "Aerovette." But since it has the SBC in it now, I prefer Zora's label - XP-882. Did I mention I sat in it? Oh yeah, I did. It was cool. :D

Longtimer 12-17-2016 07:55 PM

The Mid Engine Concept histories threads have been locked. If you have a question or comment about them, please start a thread below. Thank you.

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