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Chevy’s Tru 140S could have been an affordable, attractive alternative to pricier sports cars. But it was never built.

Chevy Tru 140S Lead Chevy Tru 140S Lead

The Camaro is dead, which means so too are any dreams of an affordable sports car within the Chevy lineup (for now). But in the early 2010s, the Camaro nearly spawned a more affordable little brother.

The Tru 140S concept debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in 2012 and previewed a sporty two-door positioned beneath the Camaro. It would have cost $20,000, well undercutting its big brother, and at the time, joined the likes of the Mazda Miata, the Volkswagen GTI, and the then-new Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ.

And the Tru 140S concept was more than just a clay shell. It had a working turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that made somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 horsepower and up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Although, Chevy certainly would have been able to extract more power; the punchiest production version of that engine had 175 hp.

Granted, we are using the term “sports car” pretty loosely here. More accurately, the Tru 140S would have been closer in definition to a “sport compact.” It had a front-engine layout, front-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission—although a manual option likely would have happened—sharing its bones with the Chevrolet Cruze. Not exactly a Miata.

Regardless, it certainly looked pretty. The car was designed by Nick David, who went on to become the Senior Design Director at Karma Automotive. The front end featured the familiar Chevy split grille and the same dual-headlight treatment found on other Chevy models. But the svelte profile was unique, and the 21-inch wheels gave it an aggressive stance.

At the time, David dubbed the Tru 140S—and its equally awesome Code 130R sibling—an “affordable exotic,” and the duo the newest members of Chevrolet’s “passion portfolio,” complete with the Corvette’s signature cross-flag emblem on the exterior body panels. But that passion never made it to production.

“Young customers tell us they want functionality with coupe-like aesthetics. Both the Code and Tru body styles resonated with this audience,” Frank Saucedo, director of the GM North America Advanced Design studio in Los Angeles, told MotorTrend in an interview. 

While the 130R did inspire some of the now-defunct Camaro’s exterior elements, the Tru 140S never inspired any production model within the Chevrolet portfolio—even though it did have shades of the Cruze in its DNA.

But the Tru 140S was beloved, so much so that it motivated a fan named Matt Teske to create a fake website about the production-intent “Jolt EV” (the Tru 140S). Teske hoped that enough interest would convince Chevy to put the car into production. At its peak, more than 20,000 people visited the website per day.

“I was curious to see how consumers would respond to a traditional auto manufacturer releasing a sporty, long-range EV supported by a robust charging network through dealerships in the United States,” Matt Teske says on the spoof website he created, which is still active today.

But not even Teske’s elaborate hoax would convince Chevy to build the Tru 140S. And now with the Camaro gone, enthusiasts who want an affordable GM sports car have zero options.

Where Is It Now?

The Tru 140S concept is likely tucked away in GM’s headquarters somewhere, forgotten by most. But for a short time, the concept was displayed in an unlikely place: Disney’s Epcot theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Chevrolet was—and still is—the title sponsor for the ride Test Track, and for a short time after it debuted, guests walking through the queue could see the original Tru 140S on display. It has since been replaced by another Chevy concept, the Mi-Ray, alongside another Chevy concept, the EN-V 2.0.

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