History/News/Commentary from K. Scott Teeters

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Corvette History

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Corvette Timeline Tales: July 22 2004 – A Commemorative Edition Coupe is the last C5 – VIDEO

We just love “firsts & lasts” of any important performance car. Why? Because there are only ever two – the first and the last ones to roll off the assembly line.

Dateline: 7.22.17 – The First C1 and C2 Corvettes are not known, however, the Last C1, a black 1962 model sold for $150,000 at the 2014 Mecum Seattle Auction. We covered the Last Sting Ray, HERE. But today, we honor the “Last C5 Corvette”, which if you are looking to add an important Corvette to your stable of Vettes, just happens to be For Sale at BuyAVette.net! More about where you can pick up this piece of unique Corvette history for only, $1,000,000. (Karen, call the Credit Union!)

But for now, lets step into the CorvetteReport.com Time Machine and dial it back 13 years to 2004. To celebrate the success of the C5-R Corvettes winning Le Mans in ’01, ’02 and ‘03, Chevrolet dished up the 2004 Commemorative Edition option. This was an intense option to put into the production schedule because it was an open option on all three models of 2004 Corvettes – coupes, convertibles, and Z06s. On top of that, plant managers knew that as soon as the Last C5 was rolling through its journey of assembly, the production line was disassembled.
“Special Edition” Corvettes are always a tedious enterprise because all of the unique parts of a package have to be on hand. For Limited Edition Corvettes, at least it is known ahead of time that X-number of parts will be needed. However, with “open production” Special Edition Corvettes, the marketplace determines how much resources will be needed. From a sourcing and production position, it is a difficult task. Continue reading


The Story of the C3, C4, C6, and C7 ZR-1/ZR1 Corvette: Part 1 of 4

From “Racer Kit,” to World Class Sports Car: Waiting for the C7 ZR1 & Looking Back at Past ZR1s

Dateline: 7/7/17 (This story was first published in the Sept 2016 issue of Vette Vues Magazine

Suddenly… its 2009 again! Is it “Déjà vu” all over again? It kind’a seems that way. In the summer of 2008, as the presidential election was heating up, Wall Street and the economy was shaking and quaking until finally in October 2008 the stock market crashed so badly that the candidates had to suspend their campaigns for a few days to vote on the big, bank bailout bill.

What followed was another deep recession that hammered the already stressed auto industry. 2009 was pretty ugly and the Mighty Wurlitzer, called “the Internet” was starting to get cranked up over C7 Generation Corvette speculation.
In 2007 Chevrolet sold 40,561 Corvettes – the best sales year since 1984 when 51,547 Corvettes were sold. Then in 2008 they sold 35,310 Corvettes. Yes, sales slipped, but that’s still an impressive sales figure. Then in 2009 the bottom fell out with only 16,956 Corvettes sold – that is a 48-percent drop! Continue reading


1963 Fuelie Corvette vs 1967 L71 427/435 Corvette – Videos

Performance Bookends of the Shortest Generation Corvette, the C2 Mid-Year
Dateline: 6.23.17 – The difference between a 1962 and 1963 Corvette is staggering. In 1963, the new Sting Ray looks like the sports car from another planet! The only carryover components used for the new Corvette were the base and optional engines. Everything else (body, interior, suspension, and frame) was all-new. The C1’s basic structure was created in 1952, and over the years was given slight tweaks, such that by the late 1950s, the Corvette was holding on against the European cars. But the new Sting Ray was a game-changer.
We’re going to look back at the first and last “performance” Corvettes – the 1963 Fuelie and the 1967 L71 427/435. The Sting Ray had an all-new parameter frame that would ultimately serve as the foundation of the Corvette up to 1982! The new C2 frame allowed the passenger seats to be located “down and inside” the frame rails, unlike the C1’s frame that located the seats “on top” of the frame, thus allowing the overall design to be lower and more slender. Although the shape looked “aerodynamic, it suffered from severe “lift” at high speeds. The lift issue was a combination of the body shape, and the rear suspension “squat” upon hard acceleration – and was never really solved, just dealt with.
The independent rear suspension and updated front suspension made the 1963 Corvette the only American car with four-wheel, independent suspension. This was a very BIG deal then. The new interior was just beautiful. The dash had double-arches with a perfectly laid out array of the proper sports car gauges. From 1953 to 1962, the Corvette was a convertible with an optional bolt-on hardtop. The new Sting Ray was a production of Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Stingray Racer – a beautiful car with big aerodynamic problems. Instead of a convertible-only version, there was a coupe version with the now classic “stinger” design. The hidden headlights were show-car-like, and rotated horizontally along the front leading edge when the lights were turned on.

The rear glass had a split down the middle so that the crease that started at the front edge of the roof could run uninterrupted back to the end of the car. This was the infamous “split-window” that was a love-it, or hate-it detail and was Bill Mitchell’s pet design element. The split-window was gone after 1963 – making the 1963 coupes a rarity. 1963 convertibles outsold coupes, 10,919 to 10,594. Some coupe owners replaced their split-window with a 1964-1967-style rear glass! Continue reading


Vintage 1959 Corvette Sports Car Equipment Guide – PDF Download!

Mr. Duntov took care of “his customers” that wanted to go racing!

Dateline: 5-27-17 (Download link is at the bottom of this story)  – Before the ax fell in 1957 thanks to the AMA Factory Racing Ban, Zora Arkus-Duntov was planning to take a team of his 1957 Corvette SS Racers to Le Mans. The completed SS Racer was an embarrassment at it’s 1957 Sebring debut and in fact, the Corvette SS mule car showed more promise. The car was rushed in its construction and was actually being finished inside the transported on route from Detroit to Sebring, Florida. Management seemed to be more interested in having the car look good than a developed racecar. In retrospect, the car was terribly underdeveloped. Then, right after the race, GM signed on with the AMA Racing Ban and as Duntov liked to say, the program came to, “… a screeching halt!”

But two major elements from the Corvette SS project survived and eventually made a significant impact on Corvette racing. The finished Corvette SS Racer with its magnesium body was converted into a show car and went on tour with a jet age bubble top. The rough mule car was stripped of it’s cobbled together fiberglass body and the chassis went into storage, only later in 1958/59, to be bought for a nominal fee by then-new GM VP of Styling, Bill Mitchell so that Wild Bill could go racing. His racing effort could in no way look like it was a GM-sponsored enterprise. Mitchell’s racing indulgence became the Stingray Racer, which was the public face of what would eventually become the 1963 Sting Ray. Continue reading


Morrison 1990 ZR-1 Speed Record: Aver 24-Hour 174.885-MPH! – VIDEO

Race-prepared, stock 1990 ZR-1 Shatters a 50 Year 24-Hour Speed Record

Illustration by: K. Scott Teeters

Dateline: 5.22.17 (This story first appeared in the May 2017 issue of “Vette Vues”) – Racing Corvettes used to have a long history of durability issues. There are many reasons why Corvette racecars had durability issues, but one of the biggest is easy horsepower. It’s always been relatively easy to get a lot of power out of a small-block or big-block Chevrolet engine. If a builder is more oriented towards drag racing, the temptation for an extra 50-horsepower is just too tempting for many builders. That’s fine for drag racing where a car is stressed to the max for a matter a seconds. But in endurance racing, you have to finish to win.

From the perspective of the mid-1980s, the new C4 Corvette was light years ahead of the previous two-generation Corvettes. In the mid-1980s Corvettes were so fierce in SCCA Showroom Stock racing that after two years they were kicked out for being too fast! So, the factory-built Corvette racecars duked it out in their own series, The Corvette Challenge. Breakage with the C4 cars wasn’t much of an issue thanks to the much-improved structure and suspension, plus the cars weren’t powered by massive, torque-monster big-blocks. Continue reading


1953 NASCAR Corvette Racer

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by K.Scott Teeters as written for Vette Magazine and republished from SuperChevy.com
Illustrated Corvette Series No 226: The First Factory-Built Corvette Racer

Dateline 2.5.16:  There isn’t another car in Detroit history that has been so consistently involved in racing as the Corvette. Today, the base model C7 is more racecar than ever. But it all had to start somewhere and the generally accepted break-out racing event for the Corvette was Sebring 1956 when a factory-prepared 265 4-speed Corvette won 1st place in the Sports 8000 Class at the 12-hour race event. Chevrolet marketing ran print ads declaring the Corvette as “The Real McCoy.” But, we have to roll the clock back to 1955 to get to the very first factory-built Corvette racecar, and it wasn’t a road racer, it was a NASCAR racer. A “NASCAR”, Corvette? Yes! Continue reading


1971 – Owens-Corning L88 Corvettte #11 Wins Daytona

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Corvette Milestones: January 30, 1971 – Owens Corning Fiberglass L88 Corvette #11 wins at Daytona – Finishing 1st in GT+2000 class and 4th overall, driven by Jerry Thompson and John Mahler

Dateline February 2016: The Owens Corning 1968 L88 Corvettes raced by Jerry Thompson and Tony DeLorenzo have the distinction of being the winningest L88 Corvette racers. While racing in two series, the team won 22 races in a row, with car #12 winning 11 times from 1969 to 1971. Continue reading


1979 – Dave McLellan Redesigns the Corvette

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Corvette Milestones: January 22, 1979 – Dave McLellan receives approval for a complete redesign of the Corvette

Dateline February 2016: By 1974 it was becoming painfully obvious that the Corvette was in serious need of an overhaul. Between the increased weight due to energy absorbing bumper systems, side door guard beams, and reduced horsepower thanks to increases in emission standards, the Corvette was showing its age. Continue reading


1953 – Corvette Concept Car Debuts at GM Motorama, NYC

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
January 17, 1953 – Happy Birthday, Corvette! Chevrolet’s concept car, the Corvette, makes its debut at the GM Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Dateline February 2016: While it is not generally known exactly when Harley Earl first sketched, perhaps on a napkin, his idea of an American Sportscar, built by Chevrolet – we do know when the Corvette made its grand debut to the automotive world. January 17, 1953 should be considered the Corvette’s birthday. Continue reading


1966 – L88 66 Corvette Built for Roger Penske, Daytona & Sebring Racing

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Corvette Milestones: January 14, 1966 – A pre-production L88 1966 Corvette is built at the St. Louis assembly plant, destined for the Roger Penske’s shop in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, then Daytona, and Sebring

Dateline February 2016: For 1966 the new Mark IV “big-block” was offered as it was designed to be, a 427 cubic-inch beast. Duntov’s next step was to offer an all-out racing version of the Mark IV with aluminum heads, as part of what would become his legendary L88 “racer kit” package. Continue reading


1999: Winning Corvette Race Team Tests Two C5-R Race Cars at Daytona

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Corvette Milestones: January 10, 1999 – At the Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona, Florida, the Corvette Racing group tests its two Corvette C5-R racecars

Dateline January 2016: All we can say is that it was about time GM and Chevrolet got behind a factory-supported Corvette racing effort! While Pratt & Miller built the cars, Corvette engineers were right there assisting and observing what worked and what didn’t, then applying their finding to what would become the Z06, the ZR1, the C7, and the C7 Z06. Continue reading


1963: Corvette’s Bunkie Knudsen Produces All New Mark IV Big Block Design

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Views
January 4, 1963 – GM President and Chief Operating Officer, Jack Gordon gives Chevrolet General Manager, Bunkie Knudsen approval to proceed with an all-new big-block engine to replace the W-Series 409/427 engine

Dateline January 2016: When you think of “big-block” Chevy engines, the Mark IV, aka “Porcupine,” Rat Motor” usually first comes to mind. But the first Chevrolet “big-block” was the W-Series engine that was in production from 1958 to 1965 – only eight model years! Continue reading


1983 – Production begins on the First C4 – 1984 model Corvette

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By Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
January 3, 1983 – Production begins on the 1984 model Corvette, the all-new C4 Corvette.

Dateline January 2016: Chevrolet had a lot riding on the all-new C4 Corvette – expectations were very high since the C3 had been riding on the C2 chassis that was designed in 1960! Even though the new C4 used the 1982 Cross Fire Injection, rated at 205-hp, the new structure, modern suspension and brakes, and huge tires made the new Vette handle better than ever. Continue reading


1953 – Production of the 1954 Corvette begins in the St. Louis plant

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Timeline Tales: December 28th,1953 – Production of the 1954
Corvette begins in the St. Louis plant

December 2015 Dateline: As Corvettes got better and better in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, new Corvette enthusiasts weren’t aware that the first batch of 300 Corvettes were built in a make-shift assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, that was previously a large garage. While the St. Louis plant was a big improvement, it left a lot to be desired. Built in 1920, the early days of big American industry, the plant was described in Mike Mueler’s 2009 book, “The Corvette Factories” as, “… not only archaic, it was also lacking in size and scope. Expansion was out of the question, as was modernization…” Continue reading


Dec 25 1909 – Happy Birthday to Corvette Godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov

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by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Timeline Tales: December 25th, 1909 – Happy Birthday to Corvette Godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov

December 2015 Dateline:  Zora used to joke that he had the birthday-Christmas curse, which means you won’t get double the number of gifts – which is funny coming from him because he was Jewish. Regardless, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s part in the Corvette story is just as important as the original design of the car. Continue reading

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