In early 2015, Car and Driver published exclusive images of a curious Holden Commodore ute which it claimed was an early prototype for the mid-engine Chevrolet C8 Corvette. At the time, such an assertion seemed a little bold but, as it turns out, the publication was right on the money.
Prior to last week’s launch of the C8 Corvette with its mid-engined layout, Popular Mechanics was invited by Chevrolet to GM’s proving grounds and had the exclusive opportunity to see the Commodore prototype in the flesh.
Dubbed Blackjack by Chevy’s engineers, it was first put together in 2013. The car manufacturer wanted to test the mid-engined layout for the C8 Corvette in secret and, according to executive chief engineer Tadge Juecther, that meant thinking outside the box.
— Joshua Dowling (@JoshuaDowling) January 8, 2015
“Before, we could disguise development work by tweaking a current car. You can’t do that with mid-engine proportions, so we decided to make it look like a ute,” he explained.
Blackjack was a mismatch of GM parts, with lights and grilles from a Commodore and others, including some interior elements, from the C7 Corvette. Chevrolet even fitted a wing on the back of the prototype, albeit upside down, to produce lift over the rear wheels and to help with suspension development. Incredibly, the frankencar also features an (adapted) PDK transmission from a Porsche!
Once the development of Blackjack had run its course, Chevrolet built a number of other prototypes. One of these was built in 2016 and fitted with the company’s 6.2-liter V8 and the correct, GM-developed eight-speed dual-clutch transmission which is found in the finished item.