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The words iconic and legendary are hackneyed to the point of meaninglessness but the Corvette concept cars at the GM Heritage Center are indeed Corvette icons and the stuff of legends. In addition, there are a number of Corvair concepts from the early 60s that had a strong influence on Corvette styling. Here are some of the cars featured:
Larry Shinoda’s 1959 StingRay concept, the concept that established the shape of the most treasured Vettes. The 1961 Mako Shark, the UrVette for the C3 generation, not to mention the Opel GT. The 1965 Manta Ray, which was made out of the Mako Shark II. Along the same general styling lines are the ’62 Corvair Monza GT and it’s open top sibling, the ’63 Monza SS, and the ’67 Astro I. Though not in the same styling vein, there’s also the Astro III, which was so radical, even for a concept car, that GM tagged it with “Experimental”.
Legends aren’t always true so in that regard the many mid-engine Corvette concepts that have graced the covers of car magazines are also legendary. There are a number of mid-engine Corvette concepts at the GMHC, including the 1973 AeroVette, the 1975 Reynolds Aluminum Corvette (probably the only car to wear the Corvette brand with a metal body), and the 1986 Corvette Indy, with all wheel drive, four wheel steering, and a twin turbo motor built by Lotus, which GM owned at the time. 1990’s CERV III rounds out the list, along with the concept car for the current ZR1, legendary and true.
Update from Marty Densch:
Corvette CERV III
At about 50 seconds into the video a pretty, medium blue concept Corvette comes into view. It is the 1990 CERV III, third in a series of rear- or mid-engined experimentals. Depending on the source consulted, CERV stands for Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle, Chevrolet Engineering Racing Vehicle or Corporate Engineering Research Vehicle. Take your pick.
CERV I was the 1959 brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov and was designed by Larry Shinoda. It was developed, in part, to test the independent suspension set-up that was later used on the 1963 Corvettes. At various times during testing, the CERV I was powered by seven different engines, everything from stock 283 cid V-8 to a 283 aluminum block, a twin turbo 286, two different 327s and finally a special 377 cid all-aluminum V-8. With the 377 engine, the CERV I was clocked at 204 mph at the Milford, Mich., test track.
The CERV II was also conceived by Arkus-Duntov and developed under his direction between 1963-64. He envisioned developing it into a separate line of racing Corvettes but that idea was nixed by GM bosses.
CERV III made its public appearance at the 1990 Detroit auto show. Powered by a twin turbo 5.7-liter V-8 cranking out 650 horsepower, the CERV III was capable of speeds up to 225 mph. The body was designed by Jerry Palmer and constructed of carbon fiber reinforced with aluminum. The mid-engined car had both four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. The CERV III was featured in the 1990 video game Test Drive III: The Passion.