17. Chevrolet Astrovette Wankel
The mid-engine layout has been the obsession of Corvette engineers for decades. Between 1960 and 1977, there were around 10 fully functional Corvette prototypes with this drivetrain layout. But there was a more interesting one and that is the 1973 Aerovette Wankel concept. The most important feature of this car was the engine, an advanced four-rotor Wankel unit delivering more than 400 HP from 390 CID. In the early ‘70s, all manufacturers experimented with Wankel rotary engines looking for a more affordable, powerful and efficient alternative to standard piston-type engines.
Chevrolet realized its car retained the power level of those big-block V8 engines with the Wankel unit but in a much lighter, higher-revving package. So, the green light was given for the development of the Wankel Corvette. They presented the functional prototype at the 1973 Paris Motor Show and it received mixed reviews. The styling was attractive and 420 HP was double the power of a regular 454 Corvette. However, the consumers were reluctant to accept the idea of a mid-engine Corvette. Also, the zooming sound of the engine instead of the recognizable V8 rumble threw them off. After Chevrolet realized the costs of introducing such a car, they scrapped the project. But the legend of the Wankel Corvette still lives on among Chevrolet aficionados.