Roger Judski’s SUPER RARE 1969 ZL-1 Corvette
Dateline: 10.11.14 – Twenty-three years ago today, October 11, 1991, at of all places, The Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Roger Judski, owner of Judski’s Corvette Center in Maitland, Florida became the owner of what is arguably the rarest of all high performance Corvettes, a 1969 ZL-1 Corvette. When this car was announced to the world in the fall of 1968 as an option on the ’69 Corvette, it became an instant legend for numerous reasons. Judski paid what was then considered a stunningly HUGE amount of money for the ZL-1, $300,000! Roger had been trying to buy the ZL-1 for 12 years. Continue reading
Thanks to Kevin Mackay and his team at Corvette Repair, once piece of lost Corvette history has been found, refurbished, and ready for the show circuit.
Be sure to catch the below slide show!
The entire Q-Chevrolet project quickly fizzled due to cost concerns but several great ideas came out of the project. The unique Peter Brock and Bob Veryzer-designed body eventually was developed into the 1963 Sting Ray. The all-aluminum engine proposal started the ball rolling with aluminum parts gradually seeded into various Corvette engines. While aluminum water pumps, intake manifolds, and bell housings were relatively easy to develop, heads and the block were another story. By the early ‘60s, Duntov began experimenting with aluminum heads, but they proved to be unreliable. The small-block Chevy engine was already a lightweight, but the thought of an even lighter version of the engine was indeed tantalizing.
Corvettes have been powered by all-aluminum engines since the arrival of the LS1 in the all-new C5 1997 Corvette. Of course, today nearly all engines are made with the lightweight metal. These days, the move is on to integrate even lighter magnesium, carbon fiber, and plastic parts wherever possible. But back in 1957, only the exotic cows of the most expensive European sports cars had all-aluminum engines.So in 1957 when new general manager Ed Cole proposed his Q-Chevrolet line of trans-axle cars, including the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov jumped on the chance. No one inside GM was more tuned into the advantage of an all-aluminum engine than Duntov. The proposal Duntov outlined for his vision of the Q-Corvette included the mandatory trans-axle and an all-aluminum, fuel-injected small-block Chevy engine. The Rochester Fuelie had just arrived and the small-block Chevy engine was only in its third year of production. No one in Detroit was making all-aluminum engines, so this was a very outrageous proposal. Continue reading
Subtitle: A Blueprint salute to the power of the Corvette!
Note: Be sure to check out the below slide show of Corvette engines!
If the Corvette used a regular passenger car engine, do you think there’s be much excitement? Of course not! In 59 years of building Corvettes, Chevrolet has only once used a standard production car engine in the Corvette and that was in 1980. Unfortunately for Californians, because of very tight standards, Chevrolet did not certify its 350 engines for sale in that state. So for that year, the only engine available for California Corvettes was the lowly 305 passenger car engine. Fortunately, that was a one-time occurrence.
Aside from that one incident, Corvette engines, even the base engines, have always be a cut above the regular car engines. At the top of the feeding chain, many Corvette engines achieved legendary status. And even though Corvette engines didn’t become truly “exotic” until the introduction of the LS1 in 1997, where it matters them most – who wins the races – small and big-block Corvette engines delivered the goods, regardless of their basic simple design. The slide show is below… Continue reading
Proud of your Corvette’s engine? WEAR IT, with one of our Corvette Engine Tees or Sweats!
Our designs include the following:
Blue Flame Six, 265 V-8, 283 Fuelie, 327 Fuelie, 1965 L78 396, L71 427,
427 ZL-1, 350 LT-1, 454 LS5, 350 L98, ZR-1 350 LT5, C4 LT1,
C5 LS1, C5 LS6, C6 LS2, C6 LS7, C5 LS3, C6 ZR1 LS9
There are many aspects to what makes Corvettes unique. Right from the beginning, Corvettes have been lookers. When Zora Arkus-Duntov saw the Corvette for the first time at the 1953 GM Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria, he was quoted as saying, “It was the most beautiful car I had ever seen!” But good looks will only get you so far. After a challenging start, thanks to Duntov and his team, by ‘57 with the introduction of the 283 Fuel Injection option, Chevy’s little fiberglass sports car finally was getting some respect. Continue reading
December ’69 Motor Trend reports on Chevy’s 10-second, 454 ZL-1 Monster Pumpkin Corvette!
Forty years ago it took a lot to get a car to run 10s in the quarter-mile. You needed a BIG engine, open tuned headers, a giant gas sucking Holley carb, slicks, ear plugs, and a lot of NERVE! Today, it’s no biggie for a performance car to run low 11’s. Lingenfelter Engineering has been able to get a mildly modified ZR1 to run low-to-mid 9s with ALL of the stock creature comforts. All you have to do is HOLD ON!
No, back in the old muscle car dayz, low 11s and high 10s in the quarter-mile was Super Stocker and Modified Production territory. Low 10s and 9s was the realm of Pro Stockers with the likes of Grumpy Jenkins, Sox & Martin, Dick Landy, Dyno Don Nicholson and a few dozen others. In their day, they were the rock stars of drag racing.
When the December 1968 issue of Hot Rod Magazine hit the news stands, with a full-cover shot of the all-aluminum 427 ZL-1 engine, heads spun like Linda Blair in The Exorcist! The headline at the top of the cover read, “A 625-HP LOOK AT: CHEVY’S ALL-ALUMINUM 427.” While today we might say, “There’s no substitute for a supercharger,” back then, the expression was “There’s no substitute for cubic-inches. If there’s enough meat left in the block, just bore it out and insert bigger pistons. Chevy’s 427 had been in production since ‘66, so when the ‘70 models came around, what was Chevrolet to do? Bore, Baby, Bore!
The cast iron 454 was a no-brainer, but what about the all-aluminum ZL-1? Just to see what kind of response they’d get from the press (as if they weren’t sure) Chevrolet engineers Tom Langdon and Gib Hufstader built a special 454 version of the ZL-1, coupled it with a Turbo 400 3-speed tranny, a high-stall torque converter, tall gears, and 9-inch slicks. Yes, it was a quasi-Super Stocker and they let the automotive press make passes on a 1/4-mile stretch at the test track!
Forty One Years of Classic Small-Block Chevy Success and Power!
When the Cadillac-derived Small-block Chevy engine first arrived in 1955, I’m certain that Ed Cole and his team of Chevrolet engineers never imagined that their efforts would have such a profound and long lasting impact on the automobile industry. The little 265-cubic-inch engine had just 162-horsepower. By 1970 the 350-cubic-inch LT-1 engine was packing 370 gross horsepower. Beginning in 1973 Gm started rating their engines in “net” figures making it look as if the legs had been cut out from under all of their motors. While it’s true that there were emissions restrictions and reduced compression, the “net” power ratings were in real-world terms, closer to reality. From ‘73 to ‘96 it was a long slow slog, but the last SBC to use the basic original design was the 330-horsepower LT4. So, what would be the ”gross” horsepower rating of a ‘96 LT4? That would be anyone’s guess, but somewhere close to or over 400-horsepower would be a good guess.
Since Spring ‘11 I have been asking the question in my Illustrated Corvette Series VETTE Magazine column, “What’s the best _____?” for each generation Corvette. ICS No. 174 takes a look at the 1996 LT4 Corvette and asks, is this “The Finished Classic SBC?” let’s get into the details. Talk about going out with a roar! Enjoy – Scott
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 174: 1996 LT4 Small-Block Chevy – “The Finished Classic SBC?”
The ‘97 C5 Corvette was introduced to the press in November ‘96 at Road Atlanta Raceway, in Georgia and went on sale at Chevrolet dealers on March 7, 1997. Not only was the body, interior, chassis, and suspension all-new, there was a totally new engine and transaxle. The splash the new C5 created, followed up with roadsters, Pace Cars, hardtops, race cars, and a Le Mans win in ‘01, was so huge that the highlights and achievements of the C4s quickly faded. While the jewel-like LT-5 that powered the exotic ZR-1 still stands as the high watermark of the C4 generation, there was a quieter high watermark that took place. Had the LT4 engine option arrived a few years before, there would have been another Chevy legend.
The C5 program was an on-and-off-and-on again project due to GM’s financial troubles in the early ‘90s. Initial sorties began in ‘88 with the intention of an all-new C5 a ‘93 model. Corvette chief engineer, Dave McLellan was given a budget of $250 million, but that number turned into a roller coaster ride with the C5 being pushed back year after year. GM’s miracle of the ‘90s was that there even was a C5 Corvette. All of this makes the LT4 even more amazing. Continue reading
“Kick the hell out of the status quo!” – Ed Cole
Ed Cole was one of what I call, “The Four Fathers of the Corvette.” The first Father of the Corvette was Harley Earl, the designer and creator of the Corvette. Earl was the “Idea Guy.” Ed Cole was the “Go-to” guy. Ed was already the chief of engineering of Chevrolet in ‘53 and was working on what would become the Small-Block Chevy engine. He was also the man that hired Zora Arkus-Duntov. The third Father of the Corvette was Zora Arkus-Duntov. Were it not for his at times, unbridled passion and insistence that Corvettes were successful at the race track, the car wouldn’t have survived the ‘60s. And the fourth Father of the Corvette was Bill Mitchell. His Sting Ray and Mako Shark II designs forever defined the Corvette “look.”
While Cole was one of the top engineers of his day, he did not start out wanting to be in the car business. When he first started attending Grand Rapids Community College as a lad, he wanted to become a lawyer! But a part-time job in an auto parts supply store hooked him into cars. He enrolled in General Motors Institute and got his engineering degree and a job at GM. Cole and Harry Barr co-headed a team to design and develop the revolutionary 1949 Cadillac V8 engine. It was the Cadillac engine project that set Cole up to be the lead man on the Chevrolet small-block engine project. Just stop and reflect on what an enormous contribution to Chevrolets and racing the all-time classic Small-Block Chevy engine is.
I called Ed Cole the “go-to” guy because of his relationship with Duntov. Zora was quite an anomaly inside of General Motors. The prevailing attitude towards Duntov and Cole was likely, “You hired him, he’s yours!” It turned out that Cole was Duntov’s corporate angel and he always had Ed’s ear.
The book, “Zora Arkus-Duntov – The Legend Behind Corvette” by Jerry Burton is filled with wonderful stories about Cole and Duntov. One amusing story happened in early 1956 just after Cole and Duntov took a modified ‘56 Chevy Belair to Pike’s Peek and broke several records. After the event, while the guys were celebrating over drinks, Zora told Ed, “We should show the world that the Corvette is no longer an underdog. Let’s show how fast the car will really go.” Cole asked, “How fast is that?” To which Duntov just pulled a number out of the air and said, “Oh… maybe… 150 miles per hour.” Cole was interested, but reminded Zora that his main responsibility was the development of the fuel-injected engine. Zora took Cole’s interest as a go-ahead and started working on body modifications that would eventually lead to the speed record run on the sands of Daytona Beach with John Fitch, Betty Skelton, and himself driving modified ‘56 Corvettes. Duntov was a loose cannon, and he was Ed Cole’s loose cannon.
After Cole was made general manager of Chevrolet in ‘56, he embarked on an over-the-top project called the “Q-Chevrolets.” Cole was fascinated with the idea of using a transaxle on all Chevrolet cars (Corvette included) by 1960, with a marketing angle of Continue reading