Inside the Chevrolet Aerovette

Aerovette RFThis four-minute film features a rare, close-up look at one of the most intriguing General Motors concept cars ever: the Chevrolet Aerovette. 



With talk of a mid-engine production Corvette once again in the air, we thought it might be fun to review one of the original mid-engine Corvette concepts, the Aerovette. Initially constructed in 1969 as XP-882 (Experimental Project 882), this mid-engined program was shelved—only to be revived a few years later as the XP-895, powered by a four-rotor version of GM’s Wankel rotary engine.

When the GM Wankel engine program dead-ended, a 400 CID small-block Chevy V8 in LT1 trim was dropped into the XP-895’s transverse, mid-ship engine room, and the vehicle was named the Aerovette (a reference to the vehicle’s slick .325 drag coefficient). In this general configuration, the mid-engine Corvette very nearly received the green light for production, it’s said.

But that never came to pass, obviously, and the sole existing Aerovette concept can be found on display at the GM Heritage Collection, along with a sibling concept, the Reynolds Corvette. (Tour the collection here.) In the meantime, here’s a cinematic take on the Aerovette in its Wankel phase, with the focus on the cockpit and driver experience. Interesting stuff, check it out.


4 thoughts on “Inside the Chevrolet Aerovette

  1. Pretty cool!

    Do you know why GM scrapped the Wankel design? I haven’t heard anything about it in years and when it was first introduced it seemed like everybody liked it…

  2. The Wankel has a built in disadvantage in fuel consumption and emissions due to high surface to volume ratio and flawed combustion chamber shape. It does have some nice weight and packaging factors which made it a good racing and high performance engine.

  3. The Wankel is reportedly nearly perfect for hydrogen combustion should we ever reach that point. Mazda keeps toiling away at it but it gets poor fuel mileage and perhaps more importantly consumes oil, which requires motorists to pay more attention to it than is expected today.

    The first “oil crisis” struck in 1973 and poor gas mileage was mostly responsible for killing Mazda’s RX2, RX3, RX4 and RX5. This was about the time that GM intended to introduce the Wankel Corvette. I believe they had plans for a Wankel Vega also, which ultimately became the Cosworth Vega.

    The loss of the Wankel saddled us with 165 hp 350 engines and ironically, the 195hp 1979 model was the best selling Corvette ever. Chevy gets that kind of power from their four cylinders these days.

  4. If you close your eyes and squint real hard, you can just begin to see the 1983 Corvette start to appear. Flatten the nose, move the greenhouse back a bit, move the engine back up front. Use the electronic dash, but do away with the gull wing doors. The Aerovette was definitely a transitional design, you see the pointed lines of the C3 combined with the squarer C4. For sure you can see where the GM styling team was heading a few years down the road, proof that a good idea never gets thrown away.

    Too bad the Wankle was the wrong engine at the wrong time. It was so far ahead of everything, yet it couldn’t be tamed enough to be viable. It would have been interesting if GM could have gotten it to work out with good fuel mileage and low emissions, it would have taken Ford and Chrysler years to catch up. It wasn’t to be though.

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