Yes, you read that right. World’s only front-wheel-drive Corvette that we know of. It’s a home build, done in 1990 by John Jacobi in Long Island. Between starting the Corvette project in 1985 and completion there was a lot of strange stuff that happened. We’ll get to that later.
When Jacobi decided he needed a car able to withstand those Long Island snowy winters he knew he needed front-wheel-drive. Handling and traction are better than a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. But he loved Corvettes. Being an engineer it would not be past his mechanical skills to conjure an FWD Corvette. That’s what he set out to do in 1985.
Rummaging through a local boneyard he found everything he set out to look for. He purchased a 1979m C3 Corvette body and also a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado. From the two names, his Corvette became known as “El Vette.” Now with the two cars and a plan in hand he set out to find a “chassis specialist.”
Now even the Corvette spare tire would be in the correct spot
Once he found the right shop he sent the whole shebang off to be transformed into an FWD Corvette. The Eldo frame was used with 16-inches removed from it. A portion of the rear of the Corvette chassis was utilized. Because of the gas tank and bumper mounts, this was deemed easier than hacking up the Eldo rear. Now even the spare tire would be in the correct spot.
An Oldsmobile 350 ci V8 was bolted up to the Cadillac FWD unit. To pull that off the engine is now 16-inches further forward than a stock 1979 Vette. While not as good as the stock engine location from a handling perspective Jacobi never intended to race it. The extreme forward location means the carburetor sticks up through the roof. That’s the clear plastic cover you spotted.
Once completed Jacobi rushed to the DMV. Unfortunately, Jacobi couldn’t get it registered. When it ran the VIN numbers the DMV found a mismatch for his Corvette body. Later that evening the police came to confiscate the Corvette. With that Jacobi no longer owned his new/old Corvette.
Jacobi attended the auction with the intent to buy back his “El Vette”
Jacobi attended the auction with the intent to buy back his El Vette which he ended up doing. It wasn’t until 1993 that the DMV finally gave him a title so he could register it. He used the El Vette regularly until his passing in April 2018.
After his death, Jacobi’s daughter Tara gave the FWD Corvette to the National Corvette Museum. Now it can be seen by Corvette enthusiasts and also be used as a guide for any future Corvette FWD builds. You can see it there any time it is open.