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.
The stratosphericly expensive, all-aluminum 427 big-block ZL-1 option cost a whopping $3,000 back in 1969. But wait, there’s more! On top of that, there were four other “required” options that totaled up to $63 LESS that the cost of the base Corvette, tallying up to $4,719. Those other required options were; K66 – transistor ignition, F41 – special front and rear suspension, J56 – heavy duty brakes, and G81 – posi-traction rear.
Not until the arrival of the ’09 ZR1 did an option on a Corvette cost more that the base model. At least with the C6 ZR1, it was a complete package. The C4 ZR-1 comes in second place in the expensive Corvette options race costing $27,016 on the $31,979 ’90 Corvette and later $31,258 on the $36,185 ’94 Corvette. 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
Show us your engines!
I would venture to say that the most common question Corvette owners get is, “What year is your Vette?” Everyone wants to know how new or how old your Corvette happens to be. The second or third most common question owners hear is “What’s under the hood?” Now, we’re getting down to business. Were it not for stout, high-performance engines, Corvettes would have been just another Detroit pretty face. Two aspects of Corvettes that simply CAN NOT be disconnected on are “looks” and “power.”
In October 2010 when I attended the Vettes at Glasstown Corvette Show I took LOTS of pictures of Vette engines. Since most everyone had their hoods up and were saying in Corvette body language, “Hey! Look at my engine!” why not take pictures? When looked at over the span of nearly 60 years, you can clearly see visual phases in under-the-hood appearance.
From ‘53 to ‘66 engines were amazingly simple and 95% of everything was easily accessible. As emissions controls crept in, things got a little busy and by the end of the C3 generation, all kinds of things seemed to be growing under the hood. The first of the C4 engines had a big, honk’n cover over the cross-fire injectors and by ‘85 Vettes were again full-blown, fuel injected machines. The L98 and the LT1 and LT5 engines all had unique-looking fuelie designs. The LT-5 engine that powered the C4 ZR1 was as visually stunning as the old 427/435 big-blocks.
With the arrival of the new LS-series in ‘97, the all-aluminum engines started wearing engine covers. Open the hood of a C5 or C6 Corvette and the biggest and first thing you see is the engine cover. The covers aren’t really needed, but they sure look cool and are now Continue reading
STEP RIGHT UP and see the AMAZING Z06 engine assemble itself in virtual reality!!! AND see the Monster-Motor LS9 built in just 2-minutes and 13-seconds!!!
If you’ve been following us here at CorvetteReport.com you will have noticed that WE LIKE ENGINES here. Being a muscle car, sports car, and drag racing historian, I’m well versed on the great engines of the past. It took a long time for aluminum to work its way into American performance engines. All the way back in 1957 Zora Arkus-Duntov was proposing an all-aluminum engine for the Corvette. It just seemed like an excruciatingly slow process. We got aluminum intake manifolds, water pumps, bell housings, and transmission cases by the early ‘60s, aluminum heads from ‘67 to ‘69, and one minimal attempt at an all-aluminum big-block in ‘69 with the 427 ZL-1. While the ZL-1 was available as a separate purchase for a long time, we had to wait until ‘97 for the arrival of the all-aluminum LS1. Since then, we have been treated to the LS6, LS2, LS7, LS3, and the 638-HP monster LS9.
Machined steel is cool, but there’s something unique about machined aluminum. The LS7 animation is quirky-cool. Not only does the engine float in a blue sky, the crankshaft and entire assembly is animated as the parts come together on their own, the entire engine horizontally rotates. It’s very cool.
The second video is a speeded up assembly of a real LS9 engine at the GM Performance Build Center, in Wixom, Michigan. The new Corvette Engine Build Experience option lets ZR1 and Z06 buyers watch and help build their own engine. How cool is that?! The video is kind of an “over the shoulder” view of the experience – but, REALLY FAST! Continue reading
Chevrolet announces the 100-millionth Small-Block Chevy engine to be built and installed in a ’12 Corvette in Fall 2011
This week Chevrolet announced that the 100-millionth Small-block Chevy engine will be built sometime in Fall 2011 and will most likely be installed in a 2012 Corvette! So three cheers to Chevrolet.
Hip, hip, HOORAY!
Hip, hip, HOORAY!
Hip, hip, HOORAY!
Although the small-block Chevy engine was designed to be an efficient passenger car engine, the design’s simplicity and durability has been providing Chevy fans with some of the fiercest engines ever. SBCs have powered just about every kind of race car from Indy and Le Mans, to drag strips and dirt tracks all over America.
Which SBC will be the magic 100 millionth engine has not yet been announced. It could be the mighty 430-horsepower LS3 engine used as the base engine for the Corvette, or possibly the most powerful production engine ever built in Detroit history, the 638-horsepower supercharged LS9 that powers the C6 ZR1 Corvette rocket ship. I’m sure that Chevrolet will make a BIG media splash about this car.
Enjoy our Small-Block Chevy engine gallery.
The man credited with designing and developing the SBC was former General Motors president, Ed Cole. As a youngster Cole liked to tinker with radio sets and was briefly a field rep for a tractor manufacturer before enrolling in the General Motors Institute where he got his degree in engineering. In 1949, along with GM’s Harry Barr, Cole developed the acclaimed 1949 Cadillac OHV V8 engine. By 1952 Cole was promoted to chief of engineering for Chevrolet. His first major project was the design and development of the replacement for Chevrolet’s tired, old, Stovebolt-Six engine. The finished engine was essentially a simplified, smaller version of the Cadillac OHV engine he’s helped design in ‘49.
When nested between the front fenders of the new ‘55 Chevy, the 265-cubic-inch, 162-horsepower engine looked, well, tiny. It probably only took a few weeks for hot rodders to realize that there was a ton of red meat in the little lightweight engine. The new small-block Chevy quickly developed the nick name “Mouse Motor.” Within a few years, the new SBC completely changed hot rodding and racing. It was, “good-bye Flathead Ford” and “Hello Small-Block Chevy.” Continue reading
Corvette Engines as Art Objects
Everything has a beginning, right. For me, it goes back to 1965 when my Dad bought me “The Visible V8” model kit. What a wonderful way for young boys to understand the basic operational principals of an internal combustion engine. If you carefully put the parts together and didn’t get glue in places you shouldn’t and wired everything right, your got to see the pistons go up and down, rocker arms actuate, the fan spin, the camshaft rotate, AND the red grain-of-wheat lightbulb spark plugs light up at top-dead-center. Of course, it sounded all “WHEEEEEE” Because the battery-opperated starter motor was driving everything. “Sorry kids! No VROOM! VROOM!”
LT-5 art prints available HERE.
But, it was a lot of fun and started my lifelong passion for engines. But engines didn’t become “art” for my until I got into drag racing and those wonderful supercharged hemi engines. And the first Corvette engine that wowed me was the 1967 L71 427/435 big-block. While 3-deuces Continue reading
An Expose-look under the pretty fiberglass of a C1 Fuelie Corvette!
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. A C1 Corvette without a body and interior. Just the engine, drive train, suspension, wheels, tires, and the steering wheel. And not just any C1 Corvette, a Fuelie Corvette!
Up front I must apologize because when I was at the April 2011 Strictly Corvettes and American Muscle Cars Show at the Atlantic City Convention Center, I was also a vendor and had little time to get away from my booth. So I kind of zoomed through and took pictures of what looked interesting. The chassis-only display really caught my eye. You just don’t see this every day. I did the same thing with Kevin McKay’s drivable 1969 427 L-88 drivable chassis-only, Corvette. (see links below) Continue reading