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1986 Corvette Indy

It's 1985 and the 4th generation of Corvette has been on the market for a couple of years. The new chassis has, understandably, proven to be a significant step up from the C2/C3 chassis that was designed more than 20 years earlier by Zora. Chevy even took journalists and C4s to Europe to let them experience the C4 on European mountain roads. Corvette was making a global name for itself. It was also winning races and getting a LOT of positive, inexpensive publicity.

Chevy decides it's time to get serious about racing. They partner with Lotus's consulting engineering group to build a 2.6 liter DOHC V8 that is aimed at the Indycar Series. Chevy needs to showcase the motor and build anticipation for its introduction. At the same time, they want to showcase other state of the art capabilities / features. But time is short.

The design studio turns out the Corvette Indy in time for the 1986 Show circuit. It's a non-running show car that presents a great looking frame for the Ilmor. Not intended for production, the seating and general ergonomics would be very awkward and uncomfortable as a daily driver. The official description is says the car featured 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering, active suspension, rear view camera with in dash view screen, drive by wire system and traction control. The body was made of carbon fiber/Nomex composite with scissor style doors. The Corvette Indy stood only 42 inches tall and was expected to reach a top speed of 180 mph and reach 60 mph in less than five seconds.









 

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1990 CERV III (Cheverolet Engineering Research Vehicle)

The CERV III was truely an engineering project that was conceived to combine and refine (to some degree) all of the then-current hi-tech automotive features GM had been developing or experimenting with. It was also hoped that the GM BOD would see the potential of a mid engine Corvette GM Halo car. Obviously, the CERV III design was heavily inspired by the 1986 Corvette Indy. Even 4 years later, it was more stunning (IMO). Unlike the Indy, a human could actually get seated comfortably in, see out and drive the CERV III.

Again, like all of the CERVs as you read the features, you should keep reminding yourself of the build date of the car - 1989 in this case; 27 years ago.
  1. Twin Turbocharged, 5.7L, DOHC, all Aluminum, transverse mounted, 650 HP - they started with a prototype of the then upcoming ZR1 LT-5.
  2. Six speed Automatic Transmission(s): not as efficient as the later production 6 or 8 speeds, the CERV III used a three-speed Hydramatic unit linked to a custom two-speed Auto transmission resulting in six gears. With this setup shifting is done automatically by computer control (and likely programmed to shift well below the limits of the trannys for the show car.
  3. All wheel drive, with two centrally located bevel gear sets distributing power to the drive shafts. Front to rear torque split was determined by a computer- controlled hydrostatic device that worked in conjunction with the center differential.
  4. 38 pound carbon fiber backbone. CF was also used for the driveshaft (to the front), the 8 brake rotors, and brake pads. The calipers were inside each rotor. The body used a combination of CF, Nomex, Kevlar and Aluminum Honeycomb and achieved an exceptionally low drag at 0.277 Cd.
  5. Computer controlled rear wheel steering was utilized to stabilize a cornering maneuver, compensate for a cross wind and tighten the turning circle at low driving speeds.
  6. Active suspension kept body flat and level during braking and cornering at the limit of adhesion. When the computer sensed a bump, the car could even lift a wheel and tire over a bump in a road. This predated today's MSRC and weighed MUCH more than the option on today's Vettes.
  7. Magnesium cast wheels were 9.5 x 17-inch front and 11.2 x 17-inch rears.
  8. Lamborghini type "scissors" doors were utilized.
  9. Both door sills held a fuel cell for a total of 23.3 gal capacity
  10. The interior included a flatscreen monitor and a data screen showing, Navigation, detail diagnostics of all of the systems .
Not confirmed; I couldn't find this documented anywhere, but at the time I think they said the brake and accelerator pedals were power adjustable - like on the Cad SRX.

Dispite all of the hi-tech materials, the numerous gadgets and features contributed mightily to a 3400 curb weight.

Clearly the car was a VERY expensive show runner, so it was never really pushed fully to its limits. For this reason, it significantly deviated from the prior two CERVs that were pushed hard by Zora and others. The top speed was estimated at 225 mph with 0-60 (not likely a best possible time brutal start) around 3.9 sec.

Some time in 1992, the GM BOD killed the possibility of a rear-mid engine production chassis. Times were Dark for GM and the BOD would not approve the capital investments required to re-tool a low volume factory for a completely new Corvette chassis. More about this in the CERV IV thread coming up.



















CERV III:
Non-narated promo video showing features:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=CERV+III

CERV III start and drive next to CERV I at Fun Fest:
https://youtu.be/2AnCdfwuOmg
 

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That car was SO far ahead of anything else of the day. It's my favourite of all the Corvette mid-engined concepts, with the Reynolds car coming in at a very close 2nd.

The CERV III was also conceived to be a road legal version of the Indy showcar. I remember a Road & Track article saying that it would have stickered at $300,000 if it were to be produced. In 1990!!! But at least the Europeans would have been scrambling to catch up. :cheers:
 

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I certainly loved the design of the CERV III. Some of the tech was a little pie in the sky and probably could have been eliminated for a less pricey production car.

The dual discs at each wheel would have been heavy and hurt handling. Today's larger tires and wheels allow single larger discs that probably would have stopped the car as well.

That was also a showcase for their first active suspension. It's cost and weight led to today's Magnetic suspension.

Imagine the CERV III sitting in your garage today, with today's tech in it. WOW.
 

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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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