One of the C3’s endearing features was the T-top roof. The design wasn’t just for aesthetics; the T-bar connected the A-pillar windshield frame to the B-pillar frame “roll bar” and provided significant structural stiffness. The initial design of the C4 had a T-bar connecting the A and B-pillars, but with a one-piece, roof panel. It wasn’t until the first prototype was built in 1981, when Chevrolet general manager Lloyd Reuss made the decision to eliminate the T-bar to open up the cockpit. This single decision impacted the C4 design such that the biggest complaint about C4s is the tall side frame sills that make ingress and egress challenging. To compensate for the lack of the important T-bar, the side frame sills had to be made extra tall. As the years rolled by, C4s, especially the convertibles, took heat for not being as stiff as their competitors. Those two elements, plus the fact that progressive Corvettes kept getting better and better, are part of the reason why C4s are today the least desirable of all Corvettes. Read More
Larry Shinoda was Mitchell’s preferred, go-to stylist guy and seemed to be the best at pulling Bill’s ideas into reality. According to Peter Brock (National Corvette Museum 2017 Hall of Fame inductee), Mitchell was just as tough as Earl, but more jovial and at times profane. Bill just wanted to be “one of the guys”, but he knew what he wanted. (Brock’s book, “Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon” is a MUST READ for all second generation Corvette fans.) Since Larry Shinoda worked out the translation of Brock’s Q-Corvette design into the Stingray Racer, Larry was tasked to do the XP-755, “Mako Shark”. Larry was also working on the XP-720, the 1963 Sting Ray, in its development phase. Read More
However, this situation does create an interesting condition for Corvette enthusiasts looking for a donor car. Early C4 Corvettes can be had for as little as little as $4,000. But for Tommy Storino of Chicago, Illinois, his 1986 Corvette deal was bitter sweet.
Tommy’s Uncle Pete was a Lincoln Towncar man because he was a very big man; 6’-4” and 350-pounds. So the family was surprised when he bought a 1986 Corvette, and wondered if he was playing a joke on them. No one knew why he would ever buy a Corvette. Two months later, he died suddenly.
After the funeral proceedings were completed, Tommy’s cousin invited him to stop by the house to look at the mystery Corvette. Tommy’s cousin is a Jeep guy and wanted to restore the Corvette, but he just didn’t have the time. The car pretty much needed everything, except for the interior, which was in very good condition. But everything else; paint, tires, engine, transmission, you name it, was shot. And the car was leaking fluids.
When Tommy’s cousin handed him the keys, he thought his cousin wanted help getting the car out of the garage. Actually he did. Then his cousin said, “Take it, it’s all yours!” The car was drivable, but obviously needed a lot. Now Tommy had the beginnings of a project car, and he didn’t have to spend $4,000 for a donor car. Read More
The genius of Duntov’s chassis was how much lower the center of gravity was. Chevrolet engineer Maurice Olley was a production car chassis and suspension expert when he designed the C1 chassis. As a racing expert, Duntov knew he had to get the center of gravity much lower. The C1’s chassis had a parameter frame with x-bracing in the center for rigidity. The car’s occupants sat on top of the frame. Everything measured from there; the cowl height, engine height, and everything else. Read More
The waiting is finally over! The “pie-in-the-sky” dream of Zora Arkus-Duntov of a mid-engine high-performance sports car wearing a Corvette badge has arrived. The journey to the mid-engine C8 was long, very long.
The C7 Corvette debuted on January 13, 2013 and by the end of April 2013, Chevrolet announced pricing and hard details. By the third quarter of 2013 C7 deliveries began. Then on August 14, 2014, less than a year after C7 production began, Motor Trend announced online, “SCOOP! Mid-Engine Chevrolet Corvette is a Go”.
I said, “HUH?!?!? The C7 just came out. Come on, quit it with the mid-engine tease! Read More
But the unkindest insult leveled against the C1 Corvette was that it was a clumsy attempt by Chevrolet to build a “parts bin sports car.” As if to say that Harley Earl, Ed Cole, Maurice Olley, and Mauri Rose slap-dashed together car and presented it as “America’s sports car.” I will dispel this myth once and for all. Although it was Harley Earl that came up with the concept and directed the shape of the first Corvette, it was Chevrolet’s new chief of engineering and soon to become general manager, Ed Cole that was the corporate driving force behind the project. Cole was part of the generation of WW-II era men with a “Let’s get it done, now!” attitude. Cole loved being a corporate rebel. His motto was, “Kick the hell out of the status quo!” Cole liked to “shake things up” so he created his Dream Team to create his Chevrolet sports car. Read More
The XP-700 was built on a 1958 283 Fuelie Corvette. In 1950s excess style, everything is “bigger and better”. The front was pure “custom car design” with an elongated, elliptical nose and a scoop under it. Mitchell wanted to break away from the Earl driven, big toothy grille, towards something slim and lightweight. The now-classic Dayton Knock-Off Wire Wheels were part of the effort to make the car look lighter. The Lucas spotlight headlights are moved forward and also had scoops under them. The recessed hood vents showed up on the 1963 Corvette, but with fake grille inserts, and the 1964 Corvette, sans the grilles. The front fender scoops were shorter versions of the production 1956-1957 fender scoops. Read More
In February 2017 Dan and Sue bought what we have to call, their “first” 2015 C7 Z06. We use the word, “first” because in October 2017 the car was totaled! A rear end collision caused severe damage to the frame, to the tune of $70,000 worth of damage! Needless to say, the insurance company totaled the Z06 Corvette. We hate to see any Corvette totaled, but it happens. Dan immediately started searching for a replacement Z06 and found the perfect car in Orlando, Florida, but this one was better. Read More
Peter Brock: The Man Who Penned the Sting Ray Dateline: 2-28-19 – Images: GM Archives; Graphics & by K. Scott Teeters Of the six men in our “Corvette’s Founding Fathers” series, Peter Brock had the shortest career at GM, but his contribution was enormous. Like all of the Founding Fathers, Brock had “gasoline in his… Read More
Larry Shinoda was the perfect designer/stylist for GM VP of Styling Bill Mitchell. In the same way that Mitchell fit with Harley Earl, Shinoda clearly understood what Mitchell wanted. As VP of Design, Mitchell’s job was to hold the vision for what he knew would be new and fresh, then lead his designers and stylists to bring his vision into reality. Corvettes were always Mitchell’s pet projects and he was famous for saying, “Don’t get cocky, kid! I design Corvettes around here!” Mitchell’s Corvettes were about design, speed, power, and performance. And for that, he needed a designer/stylist equal to Duntov’s engineering/racing prowess. Larry Shinoda was his man. Read More
The Mark IV big-block engine was intended to be a replacement engine for the W-Series 348/407/427 truck engine. But very quickly in the development phase it was discovered that the engine was a torque monster.
When released in spring of 1965 in the Corvette as the 396/425 L78 for only $292, it was obvious that it was easier to make big horsepower and torque with the new big-block to the more exotic and expensive ($538) L84 Fuelie. The rest is history. Read More
Milestone dates only happen once. In September 2018 I was talking with former Corvette development engineers Bill Tower and said to him, “Bill, do you realize that this December it will be 40 years since you bought your Grand Sport?” Bill sputtered a little and said, “Oh man, now you’re really making me feel old!” I said, “Ain’t we all, Bill!” and we both had a good laugh. Then I said, “You should have a party, or something, Bill.”
Bill thought about it and contacted his friend, Steve Hurley, owner of Stingray Chevrolet (a GREAT name for a Chevy dealership!), and Steve said, “Let’s do it here at the dealership. The 25-foot Christmas tree will be up and we’ll make it great!” Read More