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How the Holden ute helped create the Chevrolet Corvette 2020

Holden's VE Commodore ute was used as a test mule for the new mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette. Source: Popular Mechanics

That was the codename given to the Corvette test mule that was hidden inside the highly modified body of a Holden ute. Years after this Frankenstein vehicle was first spotted by US media flying drones over General Motors’ proving grounds, the team behind the Corvette has revealed all the details around this Holden-inspired prototype.

Speaking to Popular Mechanics, Corvette executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter explained the reason for Blackjack’s existence and how it helped develop the C8 Stingray. In order to keep the project as secret as possible (despite years of rumours and speculation the Corvette was making the mid-engine switch) Juechter and his team tried to throw spy photographers off the scent by using the Holden bodywork. 

Blackjack featured the distinctive front-end of the VE Holden ute, grafted onto a C7 Corvette cabin with the V8 engine hidden beneath what looked like a covered Holden ute rear end.

Those aren’t the only modifications, with wider wheelarches, front and rear, to better simulate the track of the new mid-engine supercar. There was also a rear wing, which was deliberately designed to generate lift to help develop the suspension. 

“If you look at the wing,” Juechter told Popular Mechanics, “it’s on upside down. That’s because aerodynamics come into play on suspension development at relatively low speeds, and this front end had a ton of lift. So to get the pitch right, we inverted the wing to add lift to the rear.”

Beneath the bodywork there was also some German assistance for Chevrolet, with a Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission mated to the V8 engine. That’s because the engineering team knew they wanted to make the switch to the faster shifting gearbox but they had to design and engineer one first; a lengthy process.

But proudly adorning the front-end of this crucial Corvette prototype is a Holden lion badge, a little piece of Australian help for the car that will soon be available in local dealerships for the first time in its history.

Are you excited about the arrival of the new Corvette in Australia? Let us know what you think in the comments below?