Automotive historian Karl Ludvigsen blogs about ZORA’S MID-ENGINE XP-882 CORVETTE on CollierMedia.


Decades before the C8 Corvette, Duntov had created multiple mid-engined Corvette prototypes. The XP-882 was the most developed and the most potential to have spawned a production mid-engined Corvette in the 1970s. It was not to be.

In response to Ford’s “Total Performance” of the 1960s, Zora Duntov, right, and his team produced the XP-882, the most menacing mid-engined Corvette to date. A descendant of CERV II, it had an ingenious and futuristic drivetrain.

Near the end of the 1960s it was an open secret in Detroit that Ford was eager to get into production, somehow, with a modern two-seater sports car. Such a car would capitalize on the publicity earned by Ford’s two successive victories at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. It would also have the potential to offer tough competition to Chevrolet’s Corvette in the marketplace.

Ford designed such a two-seater in parallel with its racing GT Mark IV and showed it, as the Mach 2, during 1967. It was a straightforward mid-engined coupe concept that looked almost production-ready. Ford also announced plans to manufacture a small series of a Mark III road-car version of its famous GT40 sports-racing car. Both Dearborn projects represented major threats to the Corvette, both commercially and in image terms.


Chevrolet had a potential rejoinder to Ford’s exploits on the track. This was the four-wheel-drive CERV II. The thinking invested in CERV II by Zora Arkus-Duntov and his engineering lieutenant Walt Zetye also contributed to the design of a potential mid-engined road-going Corvette in 1968. Their XP-882, known by this Design Staff code name, was intended to make full use of the knowledge gained with CERV II. They aimed to transfer to a mid-engined road car the same potential for ultimate development to extraordinarily high performance that they had given the 1963 Sting Ray.

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