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Three Former Corvette Engineers on Why the C8 Took So Long

Interview of a Lifetime

There isn’t a single better person to ask about past and future Corvette engineering than the folks that actually worked on the car. Recently, Hagerty had the opportunity to sit down with some of the historical members of this great American sports car crew. In light of the upcoming mid-engine Corvette, it only makes sense to pick the minds of the past to better understand the future.

The Three Gentlemen

The mid-engine Corvette has been on the minds of GM engineers since Zora Arkus-Duntov brought the Corvette fully to life way back when. But, why did it take so long to finally see the light of day? Dave McLellan, Dave Hill, and Tom Wallace answer all of the questions we all have had, along with some of them that we didn’t.  

Dave McLellan

Dave McLellan replaced Zora Arkus-Duntov as chief engineer of the Corvette in 1975, needless to say, he had some large shoes to fill. When Arkus-Duntov left, he reportedly said to McLellan, “Dave, you must build the mid-engine Corvette!” McLellan says this essential what he said to him, but the support throughout Chevrolet was simply not there. He also states that despite the press pushing interest into a mid-engine layout, he has been consistently surprised by the general public’s resistance to veering from the traditional layout, noting the switch from chrome bumpers was difficult enough for many customers. Zora famously worked well beneath the eyes of GM upper management, knowing well they would be scared off by many of the projects and technologies they were developing. After taking over for Zora, McLellan learned the truth of this.

Dave McLellan on the Future

“So what’s the difference now?” Hagerty asked. McLellan commented that the major investments in the Bowling Green plant with the advanced paint booth and configurable assembly line show GM’s commitment to the brand financially. He also feels that having both the C7 and C8 available together will make the most sense and is likely what will happen. The spy shots show a lot of the C7 design going into the new car, keeping continuity across the brand. He feels the C8 has to come in on the “top of the heap” In the mid-engine segment. Battling the top performers in this modern world with the use of a hybrid powertrain, all-wheel drive, and a potent V-8.

  • Dave Reed says...

    Dave McLellan, Dave Hill and Tom Wallace I worked with all of them over the years – plastic fuel tanks, painted bumper covers, composite leaf springs, improved body finishes, etc. All really good guys, all great Chief Engineers and true Corvette enthusiasts. Each gen has set the benchmark on performance per dollar. By a series of odd coincidences I may have helped delay the long awaited mid engine Corvette but the timing is right for the C8. The C8 will flabbergast sports car enthusiasts and the competition everywhere. Wish I could find your interviews with Dave Hill and Tom Wallace. (GM retired after 45 great years.)

    On December 05, 2018

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