One Man’s Need for a Winter Car Inspires a Home Engineered Front-Wheel Drive Corvette


This story involves the only known front-wheel-drive 1979 C3 Corvette, a possible stolen car, the National Corvette Museum, and a father who could “fix anything.” Meet the El Vette, a 1979 C3 Corvette with a secret under its fiberglass body. 

The only hint people get is a smoked plexiglass hood scoop covering the intake air cleaner. A trained eye will notice the intake is sitting nearly at the nose-end of the car. That’s because this Corvette body sits on a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado chassis, hence the name. John “JJ” Jacobi engineered this car, and the story of its origins was written in a submission letter by his daughter, Tara Cobi, when she donated El Vette to the National Corvette Museum in January of 2019.

In the letter posted on the National Corvette Museum website, Tara describes her father as the kind of guy who never bought anything that he couldn’t build himself. Mr. Jacobi was an engineer by trade, and at the time, the El Vette idea came about the Jacobi family was living in Long Island, where the winters can be especially brutal. Mr. Jacobi found himself in need of a winter car. This car needed to be front-wheel drive for better traction, have a fiberglass body because he was tired of dealing with rust repair, and handle well.

At this point, I should mention one of Mr. Jacobi’s favorite cars was the Corvette, and so he decided to build a Corvette with a FWD traction advantage. Maybe not as easy as just buying a cheap Honda or something, but much more interesting.

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