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The 91-Year-Old Automotive Legend Tells A Tale In Latest Interview

You should still listen to AM radio. Because if you did, you’d catch the latest conversation with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne and Bob Lutz, a man who needs no introduction. On the 100th recording of Car Radio with Henry Payne on 910 AM Superstation, Lutz dropped a couple of behind-the-scenes nuggets that GM enthusiasts would love. Among them was the mention of a mid-engined Cadillac supercar program that was in the works just before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

You can imagine why the inconvenient timing of things may have affected this product from turning up.

Here were the details that Lutz was willing to share with Payne and the listeners: GM was working on a mid-engine Corvette program back in 2007 that would have debuted around the 2011 or 2012 model year, following the conclusion of the C6 life cycle. This program also had a Cadillac derivative, which would have been powered by a supercharged Northstar engine – a DOHC V8 that pre-dated the 4.2L LTA “Blackwing” V8 engine in the Cadillac CT6-V by several years, and the current 5.5L LT6 DOHC V8 in the C8 Corvette Z06 by even longer.

Mid-Engine Cadillac Supercar Cien

Mid-Engine Cadillac Supercar Cien Interior
Image via Cadillac.

Presumably, the engine powering this mid-engine Cadillac supercar would have been based on the LC3 – a 4.4L supercharged DOHC V8 that was exclusively found in the Cadillac XLR-V and STS-V from the 2006-2009 model years. In the more powerful XLR-V, the engine was good for 469 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. Effectively, this mid-engine Cadillac supercar would have been the production version of the iconic Cien Concept, which featured a longitudinally mounted 60-degree, 7.5L V12 producing 750 hp.

Between the two mid-engine supercars, the differences in characteristics had the Cadillac aiming to be “more gentlemanly and more refined,” according to Maximum Bob, while the Corvette was going to be “a little bit noisier, a little bit harsher to drive.” The older mid-engine Corvette design would have also looked more curvaceous than today’s car, similar to a “McLaren or Ferrari,” said Lutz.

In all, the original mid-engine Corvette and mid-engine Cadillac program from 2007 carried a $900 million budget, according to Lutz. That’s over $1.27 billion in today’s inflated dollars. Instead the development commencing, GM ran out of money, the bailouts happened, bankruptcy happened, and the supercar program was sent to the junkyard. In its place was the C7 Corvette program as we know it, described as a “placeholder” program, and carried a reduced budget of just $270 million USD. Finally, we arrive to the C8 Corvette we know today, but with no Cadillac equivalent to speak of.

Oh, what could have been. At least the world got some mid-engine, DOHC V8 Cadillac race cars. Right?

You can re-listen to the entire 100th episode of Car Radio with Henry Payne on Spotify. The show focuses almost entirely on the C8 Corvette E-Ray. Along with Bob Lutz, the episode features an interviews and conversations with C8 Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, former Corvette Racing director Doug Fehan, Corvette Registry Director Jake Drennan, and yours truly.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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