General Motors has tried three times to sell cars with the engine behind the driver.
All are viewed as failures.
Will the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, scheduled to debut late Thursday in Tustin, Calif., break that streak?
It’s a steep engineering challenge to place the engine in the rear of a vehicle. First, there are few off-the-shelf parts from other vehicles that can be repurposed. So the engineering bill is big.
GM’s first production rear-engined car, the 1960-69 Chevrolet Corvair, had a flat-six air-cooled engine that shared no major parts with any other GM engine. The transmission was a two-speed automatic in a unique case. The manual transmission was also specifically made for the car. The suspension was also unique to the Corvair.
Although Chevrolet sold more than a million Corvairs in a variety of body styles, the car’s early handling problems, in which some people were killed, including comedian Ernie Kovacs, earned the car a bad reputation that it never…