The CERV in CERV III stood for "Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle" and that is exactly what the 1990 Corvette concept car proved to be. Never before had so much gone into one test vehicle and as GM had done in the past with concept Vettes, this prototype pushed all known limits.
The Cerv III made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in 1990 and unlike many other concepts that GM had produced over the years, this one was fully functional and did just suggest innovation, but rather oozed it. From the outside to the inside, this Corvette was an unreal Corvette.
The engine was a 5.7 V-8 Lotus engineered prototype that would eventually go into all ZR1 production Vettes. The engine was mounted on the chassis in a sideways manner and the transaxle was a six speed automatic. The engine was paired with twin turbos and the end result was a concept Corvette that would push out 650 horse power.
The CERV III was made all-wheel drive and the computer would determine how much torque went to the front and the rear of the vehicle. To stop this speed demon the engineers at GM used dual disc brakes on all four corners to give the concept Corvette amazing stopping power. However with the addition of the dual disc brakes, the addition of unwanted weight was felt as well.
To compensate for added weight, the engineers at GM gave this concept an all new body composition. The body itself was made up of a mixture of carbon fiber, Nomex, Kevlar, and an aluminum honeycomb. The backbone of the CERV III was comprised of only carbon fiber and weighed in at a scant 38 pounds.
The wheels of the CERV III were cast magnesium and the suspension was made "active." That meant that the Vette was designed so that it would stay flat at all times even in a sharp turn. This was accomplished with the computer automatically sensing and adjusting to even the slightest of bumps.
Even the styling of this Corvette concept was high class. To compliment the fact that it had a very low drag coefficient, the CERV III featured Lamborghini-style doors. Everything about the concept was elegant and the car went over extremely well with Corvette lovers and critics alike. However maybe due to the fact that the car was a mid-engine design or maybe due to the fact that it would have cost too much to produce, the CERV III never made it to more than concept status.
The CERV III did show though that the minds of GM were in fact churning and when the next Corvette did come out it would be special. The Corvette faithful would have to wait until 1997 to get their C5 wish, but it would not disappoint. Though it looked nothing like the CERV III it was a success nonetheless.
As for the CERV III, it really did accomplish what it was made for. As the name implies it was only a "research vehicle" and plenty of ideas, both implementable and non-implementable came out of the 1990 Corvette concept.