Corvette 4-Rotor


1973 Chevrolet Corvette "Four-Rotor" Experimental Show Car

I was there...

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Written by Bill Bowman

In the early 1970’s, Ed Cole (GM President) was fascinated by the smoothness and power of the Wankel rotary engine and talked GM into buying a rotary engine license from Curtiss-Wright, the U.S. license holder. The 2-rotor engine GM developed was a fuel and oil hungry engine. GM finished two concept cars, Corvette 2-Rotor and Corvette 4-Rotor and showed them during the 1973 season, even though the company knew it was canceling its entire rotary program.

The Corvette 4-Rotor came along when GM saw that Mercedes-Benz and Mazda both had three and four rotor experimental cars, and GM wanted to show it could match them. The 4-Rotor was built on the chassis of a previous GM show car, the Corvette XP-882, which had a transverse mounted 400 CID V8. The V8 was removed from the chassis and replaced with a pair of RC2-195 GM Research Engineering 2-rotor engines bolted together for a total of 585 CID’s producing 350 horsepower.

Bill Mitchell had his design staff do a completely new body for the "Wankelized" XP-882 chassis with gull winged doors that folded in the middle, vents, louvers, scoops and lots of show car trim. As a result of GM canceling the rotary engine project and the OPEC energy embargo, which began almost simultaneous with the 4-Rotor unveiling, the 4-Rotor was put in cold storage, but would eventually emerge as the Aerovette in 1976.

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