A Canceled Corvette Project: The Q-Corvette 

Like many other incredible inventions, the Corvette has had its fair share of unproduced prototypes. In this edition, we will be spotlighting the Q-Corvette, a project that was commenced during the C2 era and left its everlasting imprint on future Corvette models. 

Influencers of the Q-Corvette Project

Ed Cole, the General Manager of Chevrolet in 1957, was the mastermind behind the Q-Corvette. He is well-known for his ambition to include advanced technology in Chevrolet products. Cole had a revolutionary vision for Chevrolet in 1957 and presented the “Q-Chevrolet” project which inevitably included the Q-Corvette. He had high expectations for a project of this caliber and wanted it finished by 1960. Some of the standout features Ed Cole had envisioned for this project included combining the transmission and the rear axle for a “transaxle”. Later on, more defining features of the Q-Corvette were introduced by other designers.    

Zora Arkus-Duntov is most famous for being the engineer who brought the Corvette to life, but he also had the biggest impact on the Q-Corvette design. Like Ed Cole, he had high hopes for the project and his designs exhibited that from the start. Over the course of the Q-Corvette project , Zora Arkus-Duntov contributed his valuable intelligence regarding the design of Corvettes by creating two visions that mainly differed regarding the structure of the body and materials used to produce the car. 

Bill Mitchell, a seasoned automobile designer at the time, took over as Vice President of Design at Chevrolet towards the end of the Q-Chevrolet project. Nonetheless, Mitchell had distinct ideas for the project and made changes where he saw fit. Many of these ideas stemmed from cars he had seen on a trip to Italy. Although Bill Mitchell did not create the most important features of the Q-Corvette, he was the one who added characteristics that ensured the project demonstrated the “Corvette look” and ushered the drawings to the clay model production. 

Designing the Q-Corvette 

As mentioned, Ed Cole proposed his plan to create the Q-Chevrolet line in 1957. With his outlook for the prototype clear, Ed passed the project on to the designers at Chevrolet. 

Since Zora Arkus-Duntov was still such an influential part of Corvettes, the main tasks of designing were given to him. So, in early 1957, Zora got to work and began the design process for this highly anticipated project. From the beginning, he was set on a steel platform. Features such as the independent front suspension, a transaxle available in manual or automatic, and a double-disc clutch were also on the initial designs created by Zora Arkus-Duntov. Due to the arrangement of various elements in this design, the interior of this design would have been bigger than previous Corvettes. In order to achieve an exceptional outcome for this project, a great deal of features and parts such as doors that opened up and out, coupe tops, convertible tops, and the complete absence of an A-pillar were considered. Most of these design elements were ultimately decided against for this project, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t brought up during the making of later Corvette models. 

After the first phase of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s designs were completed on the basis of a steel platform, some of the final designing steps done by him were underway. As he looked at it more, Zora’s opinion on a steel platform had slightly changed. He thought that a seperate steel frame instead would allow for easier body changes in the future. He decided to stick with his original idea of using steel because he considered the fiberglass in the body of the past models to be the reason for customer dissatisfaction. Naturally, the more technical components of the Q-Corvette came together in this phase of the design due to the fact that the designers were finally figuring out the exact visual elements they were looking for. As a result, a dry-sump oil system was proposed to help with weight distribution. 

At this point in history, Bill Mitchell was taking over as Vice President of Design at Chevrolet. Therefore, he was able to get his hands on the designs that Arkus-Duntov had completed thus far. As an experienced car designer, Mitchell had some improvements to the designs that he wanted to make, so he did just that. With the help of other Chevrolet design employees, Mitchell made sure that his perception of the “Corvette look” was matched. It is said that Mitchell showed design employees a stuffed Mako shark fish as inspiration for the overall impression of the Q-Corvette. From there, the design employees got to work making individual sketches that would be competing against each other for a place in the fullsize clay model. In the end, the sketch by designer Peter Brock which took elements from the ideas of Zora Arkus-Duntuv and Bill Mitchell was picked. 

Now that the final design was selected, the process of making a clay model was underway. It was only October of 1957, so the project was on schedule according to the timeline given by Ed Cole. When the clay model was finished, the Q-Corvette was shown to management. The model was well received by management because of its sleek look and futuristic feel. But, the timing of the Q-Corvette was less than ideal. The economy in 1958 was facing a recession, and creating a new line of Corvettes could not be financially supported by Chevrolet. As a result, the Q-Corvette project was officially terminated. 

Future Impacts of the Q-Corvette Project

Although the Q-Corvette never made it to production, not all of the hard work was lost. Some of the features introduced in the Q-Corvette may even be featured in your own Corvette.

In 1959, the basic body shape of the Q-Corvette was somewhat modified to create the 1959 Stingray Racer. Then, the 1963 Stingray was derived from the 1959 Stingray Racer with some more modifications which included the fastback roof. Most of the larger design elements weren’t found in Corvettes until much later in 1997, and the dry-oil sump wasn’t even produced until 2006 in the C6 Z06.


The Q-Corvette was a project that introduced many of the classic features that people think of when they see a Corvette, so it’s important that we pay credit where it’s due. If any of the features talked about in the Q-Corvette project caught your attention, it’s very likely that we have a car that will fit your needs.