1973 Reynolds Aluminum Corvette


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The Reynolds Aluminum Corvette came about strictly by happenstance. It was based on a concept called the XP-895, also known as the Four Rotor Corvette. GM had spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing at two rotor Wankel rotary for the Chevy Vega. Zora Duntov turned to engineer Gib Hufstader, who used those components to put together a four rotor Wankel that produced 420 HP. The engine was mounted in one of the two XP-882 chassis that had been made and Henry Haga designed a new body, which was given the designation XP-895. The car was completed as a runner in 1971, with a body fabricated mostly of steel. I know, a steel Corvette sounds like heresy, but XP-895 wasn’t the only Corvette concept made with a metal body. A chance conversation with executives from Reynolds Metals about the XP-895 led to an aluminum version of that steel body being made. With an eye towards possible production, Reynolds built it in a conventional manner, with spot welded panels. For further strength, the seams were bonded with two-part epoxy adhesives, perhaps the first automotive use of “gluing” aluminum parts together, something that’s now used on Jaguars, Teslas, Lotus cars and Aston Martins. The four rotor Wankel was replaced with a V8 but sources disagree as to whether it had a 400 CI or 454 CI V8 engine when the Reynolds Aluminum Corvette was first shown publicly at the New York Auto Show of 1973.

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