The year is 1986. A company named the Microsoft Corporation is preparing its IPO at $21.00 a share. A “routine safety test” at some place called the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant goes “wrong,” spewing radioactive debris across almost every nation in the northern hemisphere. During the onset of these life-changing historical events, a man named Tom Peters is preparing to debut the Corvette Indy, a daring, mid-engined concept car featuring a 32-valve racing engine jointly built by GM and Lotus – the original LT5 V8 that was exclusively found in the C4 Corvette ZR1.
Most die-hard Corvette enthusiasts will perk up at the name Tom Peters. Back in ‘86, Peters had already made a name for himself as a designer in GM’s Advanced Design Studio, having worked on the likes of the Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro, and Chevrolet Beretta. The Corvette Indy Concept, however, was the first project Peters was assigned directly by then Vice President of Design, Chuck Jordan. The ultimate goal was to see how much new-fangled technology–such as satellite navigation and electronic throttle control–could be crammed inside of Peters’ futuristic concept car.
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The Corvette Indy Concept proved to be instrumental in the adoption of new technology at not only General Motors but the industry at large. Not only was the carbon fiber and kevlar construction of the Indy widely unheard of, the center-mounted CRT cluster–never used before in an automotive application–displayed the GPS navigation system, a technology that had only been used by the military.
A picture recently popped up on the official General Motors Design Instagram account, featuring none other than Tom Peters standing proudly in front of the Corvette Indy concept while holding a weed whacker powered by, hilariously, the L98 engine used in the C4 Corvette. This was decades before Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond decided to use a Chevy V8 to power a food blender.
Considering Peters is holstering the L98 V8 Corvette engine over his shoulder with a simple strap, the unit is most likely a foam mock up, but we dare you to find a better photo that encapsulates the unhinged imaginations of the General Motors design team.