Why didn’t they build it? The CERV II was planned to be a Ford GT40 rival. GM management put the kibosh on that plan, so the engineers changed tactics and said that it was the prototype for a mid-engine Super-vette. The accountants killed that idea, too. Just one was built, but it never competed in a single race and the mid-engined ‘Vette was put on hold.
1968 XP-880 — the Astro II
What was it? The Astro II was Chevy’s first crack at a somewhat production-ready mid-engine Corvette. It was built with production in mind, using off-the-shelf parts. Power came from a mid-mounted 427 cubic-inch V8 with 390 horsepower, and that power was driven through a less-than-stellar two-speed transaxle borrowed from a Pontiac Tempest.
Interestingly, the Astro II carried its radiator in the rear of the car so it wouldn’t have to run long coolant tubes through the passenger cabin to the front. This couldn’t have helped its rearward weight bias. The gorgeous bodywork features no bumpers at all, so some revisions would have needed to be done for series production.
Why didn’t they build it? In 1968, there were very few mid-engine road cars and the ones that did exist were very expensive. Lead engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov pushed hard for it to be the C4 Corvette, but it never happened.