We’ve gotten used to Corvettes using V8 engines but, had things gone a little different, the ‘Vette could have been a roaring V12-powered beast instead.
In the 1990s, Dodge was building the Viper with a massive V10. Not wanting to be outdone, Chevrolet started investigating the idea of producing a Corvette with a V12 engine. The project got so far that they actually built a running prototype based on the C4 Corvette.
The engine came from Ryan Falconer Industries that builds GM-based marine engines. Its Falconer V12 displaced 10 liters and could only fit into the C4 Corvette after engineers had stretched the car’s chassis by eight inches. The engine was good for 686 hp and 680 lb-ft (921 Nm) of torque, great figures for a naturally aspirated engine, and even more so for a vehicle in the 1990s.
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Jalopnik notes that a handful of magazines had the opportunity to put the prototype through its paces, but the car apparently overheated and wasn’t all that good to drive, likely due to the elongated wheelbase.
Had Chevrolet decided to build the car, known as the Corvette ZR-12, it probably would have cost about $70,000 in 1990 money, roughly $10,000 more than the ZR-1 of the day and almost $40,000 more than the entry-level Corvette. The project simply wasn’t viable.
The one-and-only prototype resides in the National Corvette Museum and was recently shuffled around the facility, providing us with a rare chance to hear what this huge 10-liter V12 sounds like.