The midengine C8 Corvette may have been a very, very long time coming, though you can primarily blame General Motors for stoking the fire. Decades and decades of design exercises, show cars and racing prototypes explored the possibility of such a vehicle, all while the company shied away from committing to it.
Central to that was the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle series of concepts, beginning with the open-wheel CERV-I in 1959. Three more followed over the next four decades, some more ambitious than others. (The CERV-IV, for example, was essentially just a test mule for a C5 Corvette in the body of a C4.)
The CERV name has been dormant for the past 24 years, though Brian Geiszler, who holds the dual job titles of lead interior designer for GMC trucks and creative designer for GM performance cars, recently envisioned what a CERV-V would look like if GM were still interested in creating wildly experimental concept sports cars.
This sketch, labeled CERV 5, actually dates back to 2017 but was published for the first time on GM Design’s Instagram last week. Geiszler’s idea returns to the genesis of the CERV project with an open-wheel design. Looking at it, I can’t help but draw parallels to the 1996 Ford Indigo.
Like the Indigo, the CERV 5 resembles a more refined, roadworthy approach to an open-wheel car — or at least one as close to legal as you might expect to see on the road today. Because there’s only one illustration provided, we don’t have theoretical specifications or anything of that nature. Yet the proportions make it clear that Geiszler’s CERV 5 would have differed from most of its predecessors in one critical way — it would have been front-engined.
Or, maybe it would have been an EV. In any case, the only other CERV prototype with the motor ahead of the driver was the aforementioned CERV-IV C5 Corvette mule. This is somewhat ironic, considering the focus of the CERV project was largely on midengine sports cars, spurred by GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov’s belief that the realization of such a design was the Corvette’s destiny.
It always astounds me to think how long ago Duntov and the Corvette team flirted with this idea, and that it still didn’t happen until two years ago. That’s a real shame, looking at some of the concepts that came and went over that 60-year journey. The 1970 XP-882 was a stunner; so too was the 1986 Corvette Indy, although that was mostly a visual mockup and not fully intended to run. I’ve never been much of a ’Vette dude, but I probably would be today had either of those pitches been greenlighted.
Although we have our midengine Corvette today, and the impetus of the CERV project is no longer a dream, it’s encouraging to see sketches like Geiszler’s carry on GM tradition.