Car magazines were my friends when I was a young teenager in the late ’60s. While I was crazy about Corvettes, there were no road racing tracks, only a drag strip close to where I lived in Collingswood, New Jersey. So, if I wanted some racing action, the drags was it; which was fine by me because tire-burning muscle cars regularly roamed the streets of our town, and were SO COOL.
Hi-Performance CARS, Popular Hot Rodding, Car Craft, Car and Driver, Car Life, and Hot Rod Magazine were my favorite flavors for fun reading. But somehow, the December 1967 issue of Hot Rod got past me, as I did not see that issue until way after eBay sellers started selling them 20 years ago. Recently I picked up a copy to add to my Corvette library.
The BIG SPLASH is the cover! There was Zora on the cover of Hot Rod, in a corporate gray suit, white shirt, a narrow black tie, and all smiles; but then again, Zora never knew a camera he didn’t like. And why wouldn’t he have been a happy guy, sitting there with four exotic experimental Chevrolet engines; single-overhead cam heads, and double-overhead cam heads with fuel injection systems of different configurations. Duntov even pushed to offer a SOHC kit for small-block Chevy engines via the Chevrolet Parts Catalog! Imagine that under the hood of your Vette!
Hot Rod’s editor, Jim McFarland got the plum assignment to go to Detroit with a recorder and interview Duntov about “some” of the experimental engines Chevrolet engineers were playing with. After the sixth paragraph, McFarland turns over the mic to Zora to take it from there. Duntov was very exacting and articulate in explaining everything he was allowed to talk about. Zora may have been the ultimate corporate misfit in his time, but he knew when to stop talking.
The article is a fascinating peek inside the thinking of Chevrolet performance engineers, circa 1967. Enjoy! – Scott
A loving tribute to a brother, a husband, a father, a hero, and the very first production Z06 Corvette Sting Ray racecar
We all have “defining moments” in our life. You know, those rare moments that can happen in an otherwise ordinary day that changes the course and direction of your life. It could be the day the prettiest girl in class “smiles that smile” that makes you forever a softie for blonds. Or, like for me, the day I saw a 1965 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe at a Chevrolet dealership and a salesman gave me a brochure with technical line art that helped set me on my life course.
In late September 1962, 16-year-old Doug MacDonald had such a defining moment. Doug’s big brother was road racing legend and 2014 National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame Inductee, Dave MacDonald. When your brother is eleven years older than you, while you are growing up, your perception is that your sibling is “one of the adults.” In 1960, Dave MacDonald started racing a 1957 Corvette when he was 23 years old and Doug was only 13, so the best Doug could do was hang around on the sidelines, take in as much as he could understand, and do his best to stay out of the way!
Dave MacDonald was one of a group of Southern California guys that were Zora Arkus-Duntov’s favorite people – young men that raced their Corvettes. These were the burgeoning years of the California car culture. What’a time to be a young man with a driver’s license and a knack for mechanics! Dave had a job at Don Steves Chevrolet and formed a friendship with salesman Jim Simpson. Together the young fellows bought a beat-up 1957 Corvette and built a racecar. Simpson helped get a small sponsorship from their employer and the two lads were off to the races.
The Dave MacDonald story is now legendary and I have covered Dave MacDonald’s amazing but short career in the October 2012 issue of Vette Vues. Dave was a natural and taught himself to drive racecars via the school of trial and error. It didn’t take too long before crowds started to notice MacDonald’s “tail out” driving style and quickly nick-named the young man, “The Master of Oversteer.” (Dave would have LOVED modern “Drifting” racing!)
What most of the young fellows that were honing their skills on the SoCal racetracks didn’t know was that important and powerful men in the racing and manufacturing were closely watching the amateur-racing scene, looking for talent. As MacDonald kept racking up an impressive string of wins, two of the most powerful men in manufacturing and racing were following Dave very closely – Zora Arkus-Duntov and Carroll Shelby.
MacDonald’s rookie year was 1960 when he took five 1st place wins out of 18 races – a 27% victory rate! The following year in 1961, Dave drove the Don Steves Corvette to 15, 1st place wins out of 25 races – a 60% victory rate. From January to April 1961 Dave and Jim won the first nine races. For the season, the guys only had three 2nd place finishes and five “DNF” (Did Not Finish), and one “DNS” (Did Not Start) race. One DNF race was with their all-new, Max & Ina Balchowsky purpose-built 1961 Corvette.
The purpose-built Balchowsky Corvette happened because one day at the track, Carroll Shelby told Dave and Jim that to take their racing to the next level, they should get a Balchowsky purpose-built car. “Purpose-built” racecars were hand fabricated, tube chassis cars with hand-made, lightweight fiberglass silhouette replica bodies. Think prehistoric tube frame Trans-Am cars. Balchowsky’s 1959 “Old Yeller II” was already a legend, so Max and his wife Ina were the “go-to” couple for competitive hand-made racecars.
When word got out that MacDonald and Simpson were building a tube frame Corvette, it got the attention of Mr. Duntov because he too was thinking about building a tube frame Corvette, but with the body of the upcoming new 1963 Sting Ray. Yes, we’re talking about the Grand Sport Corvette during its larva stage. One day, when Duntov was in the Los Angeles area, he stopped by MacDonald’s house for a visit and to check out what Dave and Jim were up to!
Doug MacDonald was just 14 years old then and recalled, “Mr. Duntov’s accent was so thick, I couldn’t understand much of what he said. Somehow, Zora and Dave understood each other enough, but I was completely lost.” A bond of racer’s respect was forged and Duntov would later put Dave to work for some interesting “field testing” opportunities. The 1,750-pound purpose-built car, now called the, “1961 Corvette Special”, was powered by a mildly modified 327 Fuelie, and had tremendous potential. Dave and Jim now had two cars they were campaigning on a small budget, despite the Don Steves Chevrolet sponsorship.
From October 1961 to May 1961 Dave and Jim raced the 1961 Corvette Special in eight races, taking four 1st place wins! But a close examination of the points standings showed that Dave and Jim had a better chance of a championship racing with their stock-based Corvette racer. So, the 1961 Corvette Special was sidelined. Both young men were gunning for a championship!
But Duntov’s meeting with MacDonald made a powerful impression on the Corvette chief engineer. By the summer of 1962 when preproduction Corvettes were ready for some promotional track testing, MacDonald and Dr. Dick Thompson were invited to a sampling. From June 29 to July 2, 1962, Chevrolet produced a promotional film with MacDonald and Thomson driving a ‘63 Coupe and Roadster at the GM test track. After a few laps, Mr. Duntov interviewed the drivers. The promotional film is titled, “Biography of a Sports Car” and fortunately is on YouTube. The television commercial for the then-new 1963 Corvette Sting Ray has footage of Dick Thompson and Dave MacDonald driving a coupe and convertible at the test track. This too is on YouTube.com.
A few weeks later, Duntov flew Dave and Sherry, Jerry Grant, and Bob Bondurant out to St. Louis to pick up three of Duntov’s latest “racer kit” Z06 Corvettes. Chevrolet brass decided to give Dave Z06 #1! That’s right, the Don Steves Chevrolet Z06 Corvette racecar is the first “official” Z06 to roll off the assembly line! Jerry Grant drove his Sting Ray out to Washington state, while Dave and Bob drove their cars to California.
Dave and Sherry loaded their suitcases in the back of the Sting Ray and headed west. Dave actually liked his lady driving a hot car. Sherry recounts, “A lot of times if I was driving one of our Corvettes, Dave was always telling me, “Drive faster, drive faster!” Do you think the MacDonalds opened up the Z06 on the way home from St. Louis? Sherry remembers seeing the speedometer pegged at over 140-mph! But the Z06 wasn’t their personal car; it was scheduled to become a racecar. The MacDonald’s would soon purchase a new Sting Ray as their personal car; a Riverside Red 1963 Fuel Injected Sting Ray Coupe with 4.11:1 gears, 4-speed, and power windows. Yes, it was very quick.
Meanwhile, back at home; Doug MacDonald could not have been more stoked! His big brother/hero was being flown around the country with all expenses paid by Duntov and Chevrolet. Dave was track testing preproduction Corvettes for Zora and now was one of four select racers (Dave, Jerry Grant, Bob Bondurant, and Mickey Thompson), personally invited by Duntov himself, to take delivery of what was supposed to be Zora’s secret weapon for his Corvette racer customers, RPO Z06. The all-new Sting Ray with its much-improved frame, structure, chassis, and Fuel Injected 327 was now available with a special suspension and brakes package that was designed for victory.
The long trip home was designed to break in the Z06 so that by the time the cars arrived in California, they could be prepped for the L.A. Times 5th Annual Grand Prix Race at Riverside 3-Hour Enduro in October. Doug’s big brother Dave and sister-in-law Sherry were driving the new Z06 home from St. Louis where the car had just rolled off the assembly line. This was VERY heady stuff for a 15-year-old kid!
Phone calls along the way kept the MacDonald family apprised of the trip home. When Dave and Sherry got off the freeway and called home, what they didn’t know was that they had company. “New Cars” were hyped back then, but not like they are today. Think for a moment what cars looked like in 1962, and then hold in mind the images of a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe. There was NOTHING like it. The new Sting Ray looked like “the automobile from another planet!” Buck Rogers and George Jetson didn’t even have rides this cool!
Doug was waiting outside of his parent’s home when Dave and Sherry turned the corner of their street. Doug recalls, “I could not believe what I saw. The bright white Sting Ray was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life! But as the car turned the corner of our street, a dozen or more other cars were following Dave and Sherry – and we didn’t live on a busy street. These people followed Dave and Sherry off the freeway and to our house because they wanted to see this stunning new Corvette! I’ll never forget it. We were all stunned!” The scene was forever burned into Doug’s memory and 54-plus years later, Doug MacDonald would be driving his own white Corvette Stingray, with a special purpose in mind.
With less than three weeks before the L.A. Times 5th Annual Grand Prix 3-Hour Enduro race, Dave and Bill Thomas (Mr. Cheetah) got as much done to prep the car as they could. Modifications were limited to rebuilding the engine, installing side exhaust, adding a roll bar, and removal of the bumpers. The Sting Ray’s fender humps and hood bulge were painted blue with red pin striping and “Don Steves Chevrolet” and MacDonald’s “00” lettering was added.
Anything can go wrong in an endurance race, even the simplest things. The biggest challenge to the new Corvettes was Shelby’s new Cobra that weighed 1,100-pounds less than the 3,100-pound Corvettes. In the first hour of the race, hard-charging MacDonald fought Billy Krause, driving the Cobra. Just before the end of the first hour, within minutes of one another, the driver’s side rear wheel of MacDonald’s Z06 came off (likely due to one or more loose lug nuts), then Krauss’ Cobra broke a rear axle. Later in the second hour, the engines in the Bondurant and Grant cars let go, leaving Doug Hooper, driving the Thompson Z06 to win the race.
Thompson, ever the showman, proclaimed, “I don’t think its ever been done before! A new production car winning the first time out.” While a “win is a win,” it was a default win because Corvettes would be chasing after Cobras until Duntov’s L88 arrived in 1967. Ironically this was the last time MacDonald ever professionally raced a Corvette. By the end of 1962, Carroll Shelby offered Dave a golden opportunity as a full-time driver. The Don Steves Corvette was raced a little, but nothing serious. The car has since been beautifully restored and is currently owned by Jim and Nancy Jaeger.
Life often offers up pivotal moments where a single decision can make profound changes. Dave MacDonald’s decision to take Shelby’s offer to professionally drive Cobras took Dave away from the world of Corvettes and into Shelby’s world of beasty Cobras – which Dave loved driving. Not only was MacDonald driving Cobras, he was helping to develop the cars. Dave was also deeply involved in the development of the fastback Cobra Daytona. He was also given the opportunity to race NASCAR stock cars. But back then, just as it is today, the big prize in American racing it to drive and win the Indy 500.
Mickey Thompson was called, “The King of Speed” because he was into anything fast on four wheels and “Sir Mick” wanted an Indy 500 win for his record. Thompson developed a radical, mid-engine Indy racer that was extra low to the ground thanks to its tiny 12-inch tires. The car debuted at the 1963 Indy 500 with mixed results, but after the race, Thompson hired MacDonald to drive for him the following year. But a month later, USAC officials mandated all cars run on 15-inch wheels for future 500s. This was devastating news to Thompson, as the change raised the car’s center of gravity, negated the unique design advantage, and caused the car to lift at speed.
Many of the top drivers of the day track-tested Thompson’s car but passed on driving for Thompson in the 1964 Indy race. However, MacDonald would stay loyal to his friend and not abandon him. Dave also viewed the Indy 500 as a big opportunity and that if he backed out, he’d never be invited back. (probably not so, but it looked that way to Dave) Many drivers questioned his decision. Racing legend Jimmy Clark was track practicing and following MacDonald on Carb Day when Clark pulled off the track after Dave and told him, “Get out of that carmate! Just walk away!” Later, Dave reiterated to Sherry that if he walked away, he’d be branded a “candy-ass”. Even Carroll Shelby tried to get MacDonald to change his mind with the promise of a ride in a really good car for 1965. But Dave’s “word” was his word”.
When the race started, MacDonald, ever the hard-charger, did what he’d always done on a racetrack – charged hard, passing everywhere he could. Racer Johnny Rutherford later reported that MacDonald’s car seemed to be handling badly and he thought, “He’s either gonna win this thing or crash!” At the beginning of the second lap, the Sears-Allstate Special went out of control and crashed, taking the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs.
Life for the MacDonald family would never be the same. Doug MacDonald was so overcome with grief and anger that he burned all of the memorabilia he’d collected about his brother’s racing career and he didn’t drive a car for several years. Sherry MacDonald raised their children; Rich and Vicki. After a long investigation, the Indy officials concluded that the crash was caused by the car’s design and there was, “No driver error!” In retrospect, one has to wonder why the car was approved to race in the first place.
But time heals most wounds – sort of.
Doug MacDonald eventually did some racing on his own and for a few years was a driving instructor at the Bob Bondurant Racing School. Over the years, Doug had a few stout Camaros and Corvettes. But for Doug, two things never changed; his passion for Corvettes and the memory of Dave and Sherry driving down his street in that brand new, white 1963 Z06 Corvette Sting Ray. Then in 2009, Doug made the leap into what was then, Chevy’s closest thing to an all-out racing Corvette, the C6 Z06. Doug’s Z06 was Atomic Orange and he added the rear spoiler and aftermarket hood.
In 2012 Doug had the opportunity to get a previously owned D&D Grand Sport replica. The car was a blast to drive but has its own unique ownership challenges. Grand Sport and Cobra replica cars show us just how rough and brutish the originals truly were. These are not cars that owners tend to drive a lot. They are loud, harsh, and garish. No one takes long trips in them, as they’re not especially comfortable. You can’t go to the store in one because; A. There’s no storage space, and B. You wouldn’t want to leave the car parked without an armed Blackwater Security guard or a big nasty dog! And C. they are cop-bait! Drivers often get pulled over so that law officers can get a good “look-see”. The limitations and routine can get old after a while.
In 2016 when Chevrolet debuted the C7 Grand Sport, Doug saw the possibility of fulfilling a dream of building a modern tribute to the Corvette he still couldn’t stop thinking about, the Don Steves “00” 1963 Z06 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe. When Dave and Bill Thomas prepared the 1963 Z06 for the L.A. Times 5th Annual Grand Prix Race at Riverside, they didn’t have a lot of time or much budget, so the prepped racecar had stock black steel wheels. When Doug MacDonald saw that he could get a white Grand Sport with black wheels with blue center stripes, his tribute Corvette plan clicked into place. Combining his two passions into one, Doug sold his 1963 Grand Sport replica, and his C6 Z06, and bought his 2017 Grand Sport Corvette from Nate Chandler of Van Bortel Chevrolet in Macedon, New York because they advertised, “We can beat any deal!”
Doug ordered his Grand Sport with the following options; 3LT Adrenaline Red interior (top of the line), Competition seats, black wheels (just like Dave’s 1963 Corvette) with red calipers, blue center stripes, Heritage Package with red fender hash marks, the Phase II rear spoiler, and the Corvette Museum Delivery. The optional interior plaque reads, “In Memory of Dave MacDonald”. Doug later added the front aero winglettes and rear spoiler wickerbill. He also changed the car’s red taillight to clear taillights.
Doug’s Museum Delivery was also special. Doug and his lady, Sherry Sablan, dealership salesman Nate Chandler and his wife, all attended the Museum Delivery. All of the proper photos and certifications were fulfilled, the event was documented and posted on Facebook and lastly, Doug and Sherry drove the car home to California, just like Dave and Sherry MacDonald had done in September 1962!
It took Doug months of living with the car and looking at it to come up with a plan to complete his tribute. Doug wanted to replicate the 1963 racecar’s “white with blue stripes and trim” look on a very different body shape. Doug started with the basic Grand Sport center stripe and had the stripe extended forward, past the hood air extractor, and onto the front bumper cover to better match the look on the 1963 car. Doug’s fender stripes hit the mark perfectly by starting at the inside line of the headlights and flowing back, intersecting perfectly with the red fender hash marks, then flowing and thinning back towards the A-pillar. The rear fender strips just kiss the tops of the rear fender creases, splitting the space between the edge of the fender crease and the rear fender scoops, and flowing back. And at the back edge of the rear glass in white lettering, it says, “IN LOVING MEMORY OF 2014 CORVETTE HALL OF FAME LEGEND DAVE MACDONALD WWW.DAVEMACDONALD.NET”.
Doug MacDonald is absolutely delighted with his C7 Grand Sport Corvette tribute car. “I love everything about the car! The car’s looks, stance, the interior is gorgeous, the Competition Seats are excellent and I even like the automatic transmission, it shifts hard and quick. I’m sure Dave would love this car!”
I’m sure that Doug isn’t completely done with his tribute car. There’s a possibility he might have “stick on/peal off” vinyl “DON STEVES CHEVROLET” AND “00” in a round blue meatball made for the doors and hood, for when he displays the car at shows. But mostly, Doug and Sherry’s plans are to get into their 2017 Grand Sport and drive, drive, drive, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy – just the way Dr. Duntov wanted all of his Corvette customers to do. – Scott
Dateline: 3-19-21 – You can download the PDF E-Booklet HERE –I have a good-sized collection of Corvette books, sales brochures, magazines, and saved Corvette articles. I also have a set of fourteen reprinted Corvette road tests by Road & Track that run from June 1954-to-June 1969. I am scanning these old articles and making e-booklets out of them, free of charge. It is the easiest, simplest way of sharing this timeless Corvette information. You can access the collection by going to… http://www.corvettereport.com/corvette-e-booklettes/
There will be many more to come.
Back in the days of the Old Republic, there were no “Corvette-only” magazines, except for “Corvette News”, but you have to buy a Corvette to get those. The best we could get was occasional road tests and feature stories highlighting the latest custom Corvettes, some Corvette race cars, Corvette Styling Department, and Engineering Department cars. When it came to showing off Chevrolet’s latest, greatest “go-fast” hardware, Zora Arkus-Duntov was always the ring-leader; a genuine PT Barnum, with a thick Russian accent. Zora loved the attention and the magazine and racer guys loved him, too.
“Car Life” magazine went out of publication by the end of the 1960s. The July 1969 issue screamed “CORVETTE!” with the cover story, “Wildest CORVETTE Test Yet – Every Body Style, Every Engine, Every Transmission, Every Rear Ratio, Every Major Accessory”. The cover story was a 16-page; mother-load of 1969 Corvette information covering everything from the ZQ3 350/300 small-block to the mighty ZL-1 all-aluminum 427 that powered Zora’s latest mule Corvette for suspension, drive-train, and brakes “testing”.
I was in the 9th grade then and this was an absolute feast for me! Enjoy a heap’n, help’n! – Scott
Lyn Adam’s 27th and 28th Corvettes; 2015 Z06 & 1964 Wintersteen Grand Sport Corvette Replica
Dateline: 2-24-21 – This story was first published in the April 2018 issue of Vette Vues Magazine –Owning lots of Corvettes is typically something mostly guys do. But Lyn Adams of Litchfield Park, Arizona is no ordinary Corvette lover. Lyn is actually a transplant from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1967 Lyn’s father bought her a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, a pretty cool car for a young lady back in the day. But it wasn’t what she really wanted. Lyn wanted a Corvette! She quickly traded in the Mustang at a local Chevy dealer and got what she really wanted; a 1967 327/300 Corvette convertible. That was Corvette 1-of-28!
Lyn truly has an eclectic taste for Corvettes. While her first Vette was bone stock small-block (those 327/300 engines had 380 lb/ft of torque, more than an L84 327 Fuelie!), her affection for Corvettes runs the gamut from mild-to-wild. Many of Lyn’s 28 Corvettes were just drivers, but most were personalized to some degree; some mild, some wild. Except for the Z06 Corvettes, all of her Corvettes have been convertibles.
We’re showing a few of Lyn’s previous Corvettes that include; her 2009 GT1 Championship Special Edition Z06 (number 24 of 38 yellow versions that were built), this is the car she traded in to get her 2015 Z06), a red 2005 Corvette with black & white checker trim, a Millennium Yellow with black & yellow checker stripes and red stripes (this car had a nitrous system that her husband Jody installed), a white 1996 Corvette with black & white checker trim, a red 1976 Corvette with a supercharged 350 and Hooker Header side pipes, and a custom-bodied 1966 Corvette that Lyn’s husband Jody built, packed with a 427 big block with dual quads on a Pro Stock-style tunnel-ram intake manifold, and an L88 cam.
Not shown is Lyn’s first 1967 327/300, a 1966 with a 350 built to a 365 (this car was stolen and then sold), another 1967 Corvette, a 1979 Corvette with Corvette Light Blue paint and a oyster-white interior, a red 1990 Corvette, and another 1967 Corvette painted with the pearl white paint on the “belly of the shark” blended up into purple.
For a period of Lyn’s Corvette ownership experience, she had three Corvettes at a time for 10 years in a row!
Lyn’s current stable of Corvettes (only two) consists of two cars that couldn’t be much more different. The 2015 Z06 was purchased new and is a modern electronic supercar with all the creature comforts one could want. This is a car that if driven with discipline can be a daily driver or a grand touring car.
The 1964 Wintersteen Grand Sport Replica is a throwback to the old mechanical performance cars.
The Grand Sport replica was built by Lou Dussia; owner of Dreamboat Marina in Warren, Pennsylvania. In 1997 Lou found a 1964 Corvette convertible owned by local resident, Charlie McKinsey. The car was under blue tarps and had been sitting in Charlie’s front yard for eight years. The car was complete enough for a project car, so Lou bought it for $5,000.
The car is a “looks-like” tribute car and is based on a production 1964 Corvette convertible, so there’s no tube frame, lightweight suspension components, and all-out racing hardware on the car. However, this is an impressive and stout street rod Corvette, but not a daily driver or anything you’d want to take a long trip in. Lynn and her husband won’t be driving this car to Bowling Green. Let’s look at the details of the 1964 Wintersteen Grand Sport No. 12 replica first.
When Mr. Dussia found the bare bones of this 1964 Corvette in a junkyard in Pennsylvania sometime in the 1990s, it was probably a few years away from total disintegration. The year-round damp climate in Pennsylvania eats old, unprotected cars alive. After Lou disassembled the car, the frame was cleaned, repaired where needed, and most of the suspension parts and drum brakes were replaced and rebuilt to basically stock. The wheel flares, hood, dash, and front and rear panels were manufactured by Wrangler Boats of Akron, Ohio.
The view under the hood is close to period correct and mighty impressive. The 400-cubic-inch small-block Chevy was bored to 406-cubic-inches. The heads are aluminum with a mild 10.0:1 compression and there’s an MSD Ignition. What looks like a set of classic Weber Carbs are actually Dellorto Carbs with short air stacks. This setup might be replaced soon.
There’s no chrome on the engine, as everything is polished. The exhaust headers are ceramic-coated and the side-pipes are fabricated. Lyn is considering replacing the current header/side pipe set up with a set of Hooker Header side pipes. The transmission is a 4-speed Muncie with a Hurst Shifter. Dan Ruhlman, of Dans Auto and Speed in Youngsville, Pennsylvania, performed all of the engine work.
The dash panel of the car imitates the real Grand Sport Roadster racecar. The interior is nicely finished with racecar flavor, trimmed in rich blue carpeting, refinished white door panels, and white OBX Racing Seats. Lyn replaced the factory-original steering wheel with a smaller-diameter steering wheel from Summit Racing for additional legroom between the seats and wheel. Steering effort isn’t a problem thanks to power-assist steering.
She also plans to soon get a convertible top for the car and clear headlight covers so that the car can be driven at night and on not-so-warm Arizona days. Lyn recently added the 18-inch American Racing Heritage Series Wheels, shod with Nitto Tires; 295×35 ZR18 on the rear and 255×35 ZR18 on the front. Tires and wheels were purchased from Big-O Tires, in Surprise, Arizona. These are the style wheels that were typically used on the 289 and 427 Shelby Cobras in the 1960s. Lyn chose them as an “in-your-eye” poke at the Cobras form when the real Grand Sports beat the pants off the Cobras at the Nassau in 1963.
In 2008 builder Lou Dussia needed quick extra cash to help complete a land purchase and sold the car to Mike Terry of Indiana in July of 2016 for $25,000. Terry did not drive the car very much and quickly sold the car. Owner number three added the Wintersteen livery and put the car up for sale. You can tell from just the small sampling of Lyn’s previous Corvettes, she likes her Vettes on the wild side. When Lyn bought the car in November 2017 for $42,000, it only had 390 miles on the new odometer. Typically, street rods don’t rack up a lot of miles.
After taking delivery of the car, Lyn and her husband Jody discovered numerous minor problems, which Jody took care of. As of this writing in the end of January 2018, the odometer now reads 468 miles. Since street rods are almost always “works-in-progress” cars, more changes and upgrades are in store.
Now let’s move on to Lyn’s modern supercar, her 2015 Z06 Corvette. Unlike her 1964 Grand Sport Replica, the C7 Z06 is not only loaded with 650-horsepower and 650-lb/ft of torque, it has creature comforts and goodies never imagined in a 1960s performance car. It is truly a night-and-day comparison! Chevrolet packs so much into the basic Z06, the only real options are; coupe or convertible, manual or automatic transmissions, interior appointments, stripes and trim, and the Z07 Performance Package that takes the car to “track car” level.
Lyn chose Velocity Yellow Tintcoat paint with a black hood stripe, the taller rear wing, and black wheels with thin yellow pinstriping around the edge of the rims. She really wanted the 8-speed manual transmission, but there was an availability issue with Bowling Green, so she took RPO MSU 8-Speed Paddle Shift Automatic Transmission option; which makes the Z06 a few ticks quicker.
Lyn wanted an all-black interior, so she went with the 2LZ Equipment Group that includes; Bose 10-speaker stereo system, cargo net, and shade, head-up display, memory package, auto-dimming inside and outside mirrors, heated and vented seats, power seat bolster/lumbar, advanced theft deterrent, and universal home remote. So far, Lyn added a Jake hood graphic to the black hood strips that are gloss black on one side and matt black on the other one side, and had a clear bra installed that runs from the front to the back of doors.
Lyn Adams and her Corvettes are no strangers to Vette Vues, Her 1966 Corvette with the big-block 427 and tunnel ram was in the January 2002 issue and her 2009 GT1 Championship Edition Z06 was in the December 2013 issue. Her husband, chief mechanic, and best friend Jody says he doesn’t mind cleaning and wrenching on Lyn’s Corvettes, but the Grand Sport will probably get some changes soon. It won’t be long before they’ll start to hit the local car shows, and no doubt, more trophies will be coming home. So what lies ahead for Lyn Adam’s Corvette experience? More Corvettes, I’m sure. – Scott
PS – Since this story was first published in the April 2018 issue of Vette Vues, Lynn’s Grand Sport has been given some sweet upgrades. I will be updating this story soon.
How did Zora Arkus Duntov’s tube-frame 1963 Grand Sport stack up against a 1989 tube-frame Trans-Am Corvette?
Dateline 2.16.21, Story by Paul Van Valkenburgh, Photos by Mark Harmer – To download the free PDF E-book, CLICK HERE – Of all of the five original 1963 Grand Sport Corvettes, GS #002, known today as the “Wintersteen Grand Sport” is the only Grand Sport to have big-block, 427 L88 power. Sports car racing was evolving so fast that by 1965/1966 the Grand Sport was obsolete, despite copious amounts of horsepower and torque. Like all of the Grand Sport Corvettes, after George Wintersteen was done racing the car, it was bought and sold many times.
Today, the car resides at The Simeone Museum, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Occasionally the car is brought out into Simeone’s two-acre courtyard for their monthly Saturday “Demonstration Days”. If you are in the Philly area, check Simeone’s schedule to see when you can see, hear, and smell a classic American beast race car.
Late in 1989 Corvette Quarterly (formerly “Corvette News”) arranged a special event. Grand Sport #002 was brought together at Sebring International Raceway for a side-by-side comparison test with the then “state-of-the-art” tube chassis Trans-Am C4 Corvette. Twenty-six-years separate the two cars, they are both tube-frame cars with replica bodies and powered by Chevrolet engines. But that’s where the similarity ends, and the difference is startling.
The Grand Sport’s lap time was 1.34.22 and the Trans-Am Corvette’s lap time was 1.22.45. Technologies across the board all added up to a much-improved race car. Enjoy the comparison. – Scott
Here are the PDF download links to all 3 of the Duntov Files…
Is Racing “Entertainment”? Or, is it a Study in Automotive Engineering, Time Management, and Human Endeavor?
Dateline 12.11.20 – Mike Waal has gasoline in his veins when it comes to Corvettes and Corvette Racing. Mike follows the Corvette Racing Team and e-mail publishes qualifying results and hourly race reports. Mike and I have spent hours talking/griping about the arbitrary nature of IMSA’s BoP system and how it is the antithesis of what IMSA racing was in the 1970s when if a team had a better, faster car, you just had to work harder. The odd 2020 racing season is over and BRAVO to the Corvette Racing Team, another Championship, and achieved with a new car! Mike has some interesting thoughts about what is being passed off as “racing” today. Hit the gas, Mike! – Scott
Good morning Corvette racing fans and enthusiasts, in actual fact ….. fans and enthusiasts of all automotive racing types. Trust this correspondence finds everyone well and safe.
Everyone appreciates the immense efforts by the Pratt&Miller C8.R Corvette and the Callaway Competition C7 GT3 Corvette Racing Teams. Albeit, it was a strange and challenging year in many ways for IMSA & ADAC organization management as well. We express our sincere Congratulations to both teams and organizations. And, we all look forward to a less stressful 2021 season for all.
Since we just experienced the 2020 season’s ending races in IMSA and ADAC, a few of you have sent Thank You notes for the Race Updates; truly not necessary. In truth, I thank you for putting up with my numerous Race Update emails. I truly enjoy sharing the Corvette racing experience.
Some, especially in racing organization management, look at racing as ‘entertainment.’ I do not. Never have. If I/we want entertainment we go to the movies, or, nowadays, watch a movie at home. I believe, truly, we fans and enthusiasts of racing look at racing as a ‘study in automotive engineering, time management, and human endeavor.’ Especially the enduro races; Daytona/LeMans-24s, Sebring-12, Rd Atl Petite LeMans-10, and Watkins Glen-6.
Who among us doesn’t think about all of the rotating parts and pieces of a race car when we watch a race; the constantly changing engine revs, the numbers of transmission shifts, the glow of brake rotors, and the strategies playing out? Especially when we watch thru the eye of the In-Car-Cam, seeing what drivers see and experience, albeit with the lack of accelerating, braking, and centripetal forces acting upon us.
Just a thought, but I believe true race fans and enthusiasts, like us, understand what is going on in every race. We try to figure out race strategies, calculate time, or laps, between or until the next pit stop, and we think about ‘can they make it to the end!’ Entertainment? I think not. We are ‘engaged’ racing fans and enthusiasts.
I talk about the technical aspects of racing during some of my Race Report presentations at club meetings. Not computer technology, but the mechanical technology. Ya know, 6000RPMs expressed in seconds is 100Revs/Second. Wrap your head around that for a ….. second! 1 rotation of a crankshaft in 1/100 of a second. During that 1 rotation, 1/100 of a second, 4 explosions have taken place in 4 cylinders, creating kinetic energy that motivates a car; 400 explosions in a second. I’m amazed at NASCAR engines that now rev to 9000RPMs, 150 Rev/Second, 600 explosions/second. I remember when 7000RPM was cutting edge.
A lot going on in that small-block racing engine that the mind’s eye can and does create images of, in addition to that crankshaft turning; camshaft spinning, push rods pushing, rocker arms rocking, valves opening/closing, springs compressing, so much can, and sometimes does, go wrong, in nanoseconds.
During an enduro race, like the Watkins Glen 6hr, just as an example, with 14 turns, and let’s just say on-average 2-downshifts then 2 up-shifts per corner, that tranny will see over 10,000 shifts in a race at a stressing race-competitive-pace. The design, engineering, metallurgy that goes into racing engines, transmissions, and transaxles, wheel bearing and spindles, shocks and springs, suspension components. Oh. Yea. And tires, being the retired tire and rubber guy. The average tire rotates at 13 rev/sec at 60 mph, that’s 26r/s @ 120mph, 39 @ 180, 45+ @ 210. Holy Kryptonite! Well, it’s all mechanically fascinating, isn’t it. Doesn’t sound or look like ‘entertainment’, does it?
Looking forward to a successful 2021 racing season for Callaway and Pratt&Miller in ADAC and IMSA, with hopefully more competitors in GTLM, although it doesn’t look promising, and my best wishes expressed for all to enjoy Thankful Thanksgiving, Blessed Christmas, and Joyous New Year Celebrations.
Former race car driver, Tom Wallace takes the helm as the new Corvette Chief of Engineering
Dateline: 11-5-20 –During Corvette’s early years, as a result of his racing at Le Mans,Zora Arkus-Duntov got the lion’s share of media attention. Credit also goes to three-time Indy 500 winner and automotive engineer Mauri Rose who helped develop the first Corvette chassis on the shop floor as they were being hand-built in Flint, Michigan. Rose and Duntov were friends but Rose wasn’t impressed with Duntov’s driving and used to say, “Zora couldn’t drive a nail with a hammer.” But by the late 1950s, Duntov was the face of Corvette racing.
We have pointed out that Duntov’s successor, Dave McLellan owned and appreciated sports cars and that Dave Hill raced a Lotus Super 7 in SCCA competition. What most Corvette fans don’t know is that while Tom Wallace had the shortest tenure of all of the Corvette chiefs (2 years and 10 months), he raced SCCA A/Sedan class cars in the early ‘70s and was professionally racing IMSA cars in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Wallace raced the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and won at Talladega. Why didn’t Wallace continue professional racing? Because it was interfering with his day job at Buick.
Wallace was a typical car-crazy kid growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. His Dad had an Opel Cadet that he kept running with help from a parts donor car. Before Wallace had his driver’s license, he bought a ’55 Chevy, replaced the stock 3-speed transmission with a 4-speed, rebuilt the engine, and added dual quads. After getting his license, he had the quickest car in high school and rarely lost a drag race.
Thanks to his excellent grades, Wallace went to General Motors Institute after securing a sponsor to become an automotive engineer. Wallace wanted to get into Chevrolet, but there were no openings, so he opted for Buick. One of his first projects was the design and development of the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve that siphons off a small amount of exhaust gas and returns it back into the intake charge. This results in lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
Wallace graduated in 1970 just as the muscle car era peaked and was ending. Performance was being phased out and emissions, fuel mileage, and safety were Detroit’s new mission. Lloyd Reuss, Buick’s chief engineer was aware of Wallace’s interest in racing and asked him to research adding a turbocharger to their old V6 engine. Wallace’s reported that it could be done and Reuss instructed him to install a turbo on a Buick Century to pace the 1976 Indy 500. As part of a three-man team, Wallace was the engineman, the others did the suspension and brakes. In total Wallace produced six Indy 500 pace cars. Wallace’s turbo Buick V6 project eventually lead to the Buick Grand National, Turbo-T, T-Type, and the frightful GNX series cars that ran from 1982 to 1987.
Wallace enjoyed engineering and racing, but he knew that if he was to rise up in the ranks in GM, he needed to curtail his racing and get more education. In the early ‘80s Wallace got his Masters in Business at Stanford and over the next twenty years had a variety of chief positions with Buick, Olds, Cadillac, and Chevrolet groups. When GM started its Vehicle Line Engineer (VLE) management structure, managers were in charge of everything from design-to-production, sales, and service. Wallace ran the Trail Blazer, Envoy, Bravada, Saab 9-7, Colorado/Canyon pickups, and the Hummer H3 lines.
Dave Hill was the VLE of Performance Car that included Corvette, Cadillac XLR, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, Opel GT. One day during a group vehicle-program review meeting with Bob Lutz; Wallace heard Hill outlining the Z06 with 505-horsepower and a dry-sump oil system, he said to himself, “What the!” Wallace said to Lutz, “My goodness, this is unbelievable. Do you know what Dave is about to do?” Wallace said that some of the VLEs had no idea what Hill was talking about. When Wallace expressed real concern about selling 505-horsepower cars to novice customers, it was explained to him that only select dealers get Z06s. These dealers understand performance and coach customers to have respect for the car and help get them into a driver’s school.
Late in 2005 Wallace got the surprise of his career. After a VLE meeting, Lutz told Wallace that Hill was retiring on January 1 and that he wanted him to take the position of VLE and Chief Engineer for Corvette. Wallace was stunned and fully aware that he was inheriting a great team with Tadge Juechter as his lead engineer. But unforeseen circumstances would make this a short-lived position – only two years and ten months.
When Wallace took over the Corvette program, the C6 ZR1 was a concept on paper and was deemed too expensive. Wallace and his team worked out the cost, got the project approved, and started the ZR1’s development. It wasn’t long before rumors of a super Vette surfaced with names such as “Blue Devil” and “SS”. Then someone inside GM posted a photo of a development ZR1 as it was being shipped to Germany for testing. The Corvette world knew for sure when a cell phone video was posted of a disguised Corvette with the unmistakable sound of a supercharged engine. WOW, a supercharged Corvette!
When the ZR1 was released to the press in late 2007, Wallace explained, “We want to push the technology envelope into the supercar realm. We want a Corvette that can take on any production car in the world.” While Corvette fans were feasting, GM was heading for bankruptcy. Corvettes had a history of platforms running too long. Hill said that the planned six-year duration might even be too long. Wallace and his team started work on the C7 in April 2006. As things got worse for GM, it was discovered that the only full-size trucks and Corvettes were moneymakers. Regardless, future plans had to be stopped.
In October Lutz informed Wallace that the board of directors did not approve funding for the C7, he would have to proceed with paint and decals for the foreseeable future. Also, to preserve cash, top-level executives were offered early retirement to reduce headcount. For a car guy/racer, babysitting the Corvette was not how Wallace wanted to end his GM career, so he retired on November 1, 2008.
Wallace didn’t get to do as much with the Corvette as he wanted, but he did several things that made a difference. He knew that it would be very beneficial for his engineers to get track training at the National Corvette Museum’s and to talk with customers about what they like, don’t like, and want for future Corvettes. As Wallace had expressed concerns over selling powerful Corvettes, included in the price of the ZR1 was high-performance driver training. And with his racing background, Wallace was the perfect lead engineer to work with Pratt & Miller on issues with their C6.R cars. This intense relationship caused more racecar to be built into the C7. While Wallace wasn’t able to usher in the C7, his efforts set up the program for the capable hands of Tadge Juechter. – Scott
PS – Be sure to catch all 5 parts of my Corvette Chiefs Series
Dateline: 8.22.20 This article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of Vette Vues –UPDATE:Indulge me for two brief paragraphs on the subject of carbon fiber and Corvettes. First, two “known” secrets; 1. There will be a Z06 and a ZR1 version of the C8 Corvette. 2. GM is committed to electric cars, by 2023 they project over 20 all-electric vehicles and by 2030 almost all GM vehicles will be all-electric-powered. We don’t know how the electrical grid will be able to handle the extra load for electricity, lets hope there are some new technology tricks up engineer’s sleeves. The new C8 uses a 48-volt system; that’s a big jump from the previous 12-volt system that has been around since the 1950s.
Why the extra juice? Allow me to speculate.
The C8 ZR1 will have an all-electric, all-wheel-drive drivetrain with a combined electric motor power of 1,000-horsepower and 1,000-lb/ft of torque. Electric motors have their full torque starting at 1-rpm; that’s why diesel-electric locomotives are so powerful. Here’s the carbon fiber leap. Remember how we were stunned when the 2006 Z06 was debuted and we learned that the frame was aluminum. Next, all C7 and C8 Corvette have aluminum frames. To safely handle the tremendous leap on power, I predict that the C8 ZR1 will have a carbon fiber chassis. Think about it. We’ll see. Stepping off soapbox…
Carbon Fiber is without a doubt the hottest trend in automotive materials since the introduction of fiberglass in the early 1950s. Most car enthusiasts understand that racing technology typically precedes production technology. The first structural application of carbon fiber arrived in 1981 when McLaren built their MP4/1 Formula One racecar. McLaren engineer John Barnard built the car’s monocoque chassis/tub completely out of carbon fiber supplied by Hercules Aerospace, in Wilmington, Delaware.
This was a radical departure from traditional monocoque-type construction that consists of a central “tub” structure that the front frame and suspension, engine, and drivetrain all bolts onto. Formula One competitors were suspicion of the new material and called it, “black plastic” fearing that it would shatter and vaporize in a crash situation. This misperception was dispelled at the 1981 Monza Grand Prix when driver John Watson became carbon fiber’s first “crash test dummy”. Watson’s car spin out and crashed was so violet that people that saw the crash on television cried, thinking the worst. But Watson climbed out of what was once a fine racecar and waved to the crown, unhurt.
Watson said in an interview, “Had I had that accident in a conventional aluminum tub, I suspect I might have been injured because the strength of an aluminum tub is very much less than the carbon tub.” McLaren’s objective with the use of carbon fiber was to reduce weight and increase strength. Watson’s accident proved the point and almost overnight, Formula One car builders switched to carbon fiber tubs.
In 1879 Thomas Edison is credited with inventing carbon fiber in his quest to develop the electric light bulb. Edison formed threads of cotton and bamboo slivers into a specific shape and baked them at high temperatures. Cellulose in cotton and bamboo is a natural polymer, consisting of repeating segments of glucose. The baking process “carbonizes” the material and becomes a carbon copy of the beginning material – a carbon fiber with an exact shape. U.S. Navy ships used the same filaments into the 1960s because they were stronger and more resistant to vibration than tungsten.
Modern carbon fiber was born in 1956 in a Union Carbide lab by physicist Roger Bacon when he was performing experiments with the triple point of graphite. This is where the solid, liquid, and gas are all in thermal equilibrium. Using a device similar to early carbon arc street lamps, Bacon observed that when he decreased the pressure in his device, the carbon would go from the vapor to solid, forming a one-inch long stalagmite-like structure on the lower electrode that he called “whiskers”. These whiskers were 1/10th diameter of a human hair that you could bend and kink, but they weren’t brittle. He called these long filaments the “perfect graphite.”
Further experimentation developed the stiffest, strongest materials by weight that had ever been created. Steel has a tensile strength of 1-2 Gigapascals (GPa); Bacon’s fibers had a tensile strength of 20 GPa. Later development brought the carbon fiber’s strength up to 200 GPa. Bacon’s work eventually developed carbon nanotubes (CNTs); hollow cylinders of graphite with diameters on the order of single molecules. Today, CNTs are used in energy storage, device modeling, boat hulls, water filters, sporting goods, thin-film electronics, antennas, coatings, actuators, electromagnetic shields, and yes, automotive parts. Auto applications include; energy storage applications, batteries and superconductors; printable, thermoformable, capacitive touch sensors used to replace membrane switches in interiors; and polymer composites with mechanical properties, thermal conductivity, and enhanced electrical connectivity.
For performance fans, the use of CNT polymers means second-generation carbon fiber material. Consider the leap from C5 to the C5 Z06 with it’s bolted and bonded hardtop roof that increased structures stiffness by 12-percent, compared to the C6 Z06 with its aluminum frame that was 50-percent stronger in bending resistance; compared the C7’s aluminum frame that is 60-percent stiller than the C6’s steel frame. What levels of structural stiffness might we see with a carbon fiber frame, or better yet a carbon nanotube fiber frame?
Carbon fiber has two major downsides; 1. cost; and 2. recycling. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is working on bringing down the cost of carbon fiber because large carbon fiber parts are an essential element in reducing the cost of space exploration. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space planes are made from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is definitely “space-age” material. Another factor in why the cost of carbon fiber is so high is simple supply and demand. Nearly half of the airframe of the Boeing 787 is made from carbon fiber and offers a weight savings of 20-percent. The 787’s airframe is made of 20-percent aluminum, 15-percent titanium, and 5-percent other. Composite structures require less scheduled maintenance than non-composite structures.
The second big downside of carbon fiber is that it is difficult to recycle. Used material can be ground down, or exposed to very high temperatures and, or chemicals to recover the carbon fiber. Remember, the carbon fiber is embedded in resin. Unfortunately, the carbon fiber can be damaged and the matrix resin materials in the composites can be destroyed. Damaged carbon fibers can never be used again in carbon fiber applications.
In 2017 researchers from Washington State University developed a new recycling method using mild acids as catalysts in low-temperature ethanol to break down thermosets. To break down the cured material, researchers raised the material temperature to allow the catalyst-containing liquid to penetrate the composite and break down the complete structure; basically dissolving the material. This allowed the researchers to recover the carbon fibers and the resin material. The researchers have filed for a patent and are developing a commercial process to take to the marketplace.
So, there have been numerous reasons why it has taken so long for carbon fiber parts to integrate into Corvettes. The 1992 Stingray III concept car had a carbon-fiber tub as the central part of the car’s chassis. In 2004 the swansong Corvette special edition option was the Commemorative Edition. This was a beautiful option group with special trim, stripes, and dedicated paint that cost $3,700 for the coupe and convertible. The option was available on the Z06, but with one big difference; the Z06 version had a carbon fiber hood that weighed only 20.5-pounds, compared to 31.1-pounds for the stock hood; a savings of 10.6-pounds. The Z06 Commemorative Edition cost $635 and the carbon fiber hood was only available on the Z06 Commemorative Edition option.
When the 2006 Z06 came out, everyone was agog over the new LS7 427 engine with its dry-sump oil system; widebody; new wheels and suspension; aluminum frame; and magnesium engine cradle and roof section. It was easy to miss the carbon fiber body panels staring you in the face. The Z06’s front fenders, front wheelhouses, and rear fenders were carbon fiber and the interior floor was a carbon fiber and balsa wood sandwich. The carbon fiber components certainly added to the $65,800 price of the 2006 Z06 – $21,200 more than the base model coupe.
The 2009 LS9-powered, supercharged ZR1 was the Corvette no one was anticipating that caught everyone by surprise. From 2009 to 2015 the C6 ZR1 was the most powerful Corvette ever offered. But the ZR1 wasn’t just about power. The new ZR1 had more carbon fiber than any previous Corvette ever had. The ZR1 featured a carbon fiber raised hood with a clear polycarbonate window that showed off the LS9’s intercooler; the dedicated front fenders were painted carbon fiber; and the front fascia splitter; roof bow; fixed roof panel; and the side rockers were clear-coated carbon fiber.
From 2010 to 2013 Chevrolet played mix’n-match with parts, making specialty parts from the ZR1 and Z06 available on the very popular Grand Sport; making buying a new Corvette a boutique experience. In 2011 Chevrolet introduced the $90,960 Carbon Edition Z06. RPO CFZ Carbon Fiber Package for the Z06 was a $3,995 option that added black carbon fiber splitter, side rockers, roof panel, and a body-colored ZR1 rear spoiler.
Carbon fiber integration continued with the C7, but mostly as options. RPO C2M, the $2,995 Carbon Fiber Dual Roof Package, and the $1,995 RPO C2Z Visible Carbon Fiber Roof were available on all coupes from 2014 to 2019. From 2015 to 2019 RPO CFV, the $3,995 Carbon Fiber Ground Effects was available. And from 2014 to 2019 RPO FAY, the $995 Carbon Fiber Interior Appearance Package dressed up the C7’s interior.
The 2015 Z06 blew everyone away with a 145-horsepower raise from the C6 Z06. Carbon fiber parts included the dedicated raised hood and the removable carbon-fiber roof panel. Previous Z06 Corvettes had a fixed roof panel for additional rigidity. And all optional carbon fiber ground effects were available painted and unpainted.
In 2018 Chevrolet celebrated Corvette’s 65th Anniversary with the Carbon 65 Edition. Only 650 cars were offered on the Grand Sport 3LT and Z06 LZ models. The $15,000 package was dripping with special features. New to the lineup of carbon fiber features was the new rear spoiler and quarter ducts. Carbon fiber ground effects and the hood was also included in the package. And lastly, the $122,095 2019 ZR1 has a carbon-fiber halo hood and engine cover; adjustable high rear wing; front splitter and end caps; and steering wheel rim.
Carbon fiber will only become more ubiquitous in the future. What might we expect to see soon? The C8 structure may well use some form of a carbon-fiber tub, or perhaps carbon fiber side rails and other frame and chassis components. Carbon fiber wheels and perhaps some suspension parts might also be in Corvette’s future. Check out the cars in the Daytona Prototype International class at any IMSA race this year, that’s where you’ll find the clues as to what to expect.
Yes, the mat weave of carbon fiber is a look that has taken over the modern automotive and motorcycle hobby. Today you can get nearly anything either made with carbon fiber or with the carbon fiber look. As the price of carbon fiber comes down it will probably become the preferred material for performance cars. Several companies are today making and offering carbon fiber wheels. Carbon fiber 3D printers are also on the marketplace, as well as carbon fiber vinyl wrap material. Indeed, carbon fiber has become the “look” of our time. – Scott
This story was originally published in the May 2019 issue of Vette Vues.
Dave McLellan, Heir to Duntov’s Engineering Throne
(Dateline: 7-3-20 – This story was originally published in the now-defunct Vette magazine, July 2019 issue. Story, Illustrations & Graphics by K. Scott Teeters) – When Dave McLellan took over as Corvette’s new chief engineer on January 1, 1975, it was a whole new world. The prevailing trends went from performance cars to safer cars with reduced emissions. Not even Duntov could have made a difference in the ‘70s. But as performance went down, Corvette sales went way up! The sales department was happy, but the Corvette was really getting old. Dave McLellan was an unknown to the Corvette community and many wondered what he would bring to the brand. It turned out; he brought a lot!
McLellan was a car guy. He rebuilt his family’s Frazer and entered the Fisher Body Craftsmen’s Guild Model Contest. Upon graduation from Wayne State University in Detroit with a degree in mechanical engineering, GM hired Hill on July 1, 1959. Thought the ‘60s Hill worked at the Milford Proving Ground on noise and acoustics issues with GM tank treads, Buick brakes, and tuned resonators for mufflers. Hill was also going to night school to get his Master’s Degree in engineering mechanics. In 1967 Hill was part of the group that planned and operated the 67-acre Black Lake where ride, handling, and crashworthiness tests are performed.
Chevrolet engineering brought in Hill to work on the 1970-1/2 Camaro and Z28. Hill wanted to move into management so he took a yearlong sabbatical and attended MIT Alfred. P. Sloan School of Management. The school emphasizes innovation in practice and research. In July 1974 Hill was Zora Arkus-Duntov’s part-time assistant, training for taking over the position in 1975.
While Hill didn’t have Duntov’s racing experience, he owned several Porsches and understood racing sports cars. As Duntov was leaving, he told Hill, “Dave, you must do mid-engine Corvette.” Little did they know that it would finally happen forty-five years later.
When Duntov took control of Corvette engineering in 1956, he had to boost sales and make the Corvette a performance car and a capable racecar. When Hill took control, Corvettes were never selling better, but the platform design was nearly fifteen-years-old. Hill had to keep the car fresh, hit the new requirements, and maintain performance; all with a limited budget.
Management figured that the Corvette had a captive audience, so they didn’t have to spend money to change anything. Fortunately, that lame notion was overruled. The 1978 glass fastback and the 1980 front and rear bumper covers were excellent updates. Another major issue was quality control. The St. Louis assembly plant made three other cars and often workers were unfamiliar with the specialties of the Corvette. This issue didn’t get fixed until the plant was moved to the Corvette-only Bowling Green facility.
McLellan knew that the C3 needed to be replaced, as the chassis was designed around 1960! For a brief period, it looked like the mid-engine Aerovette would become the C4, but Chevrolet decided to abandon all mid-engine programs. The all-new C4 began to take shape in Jerry Palmer’s Chevrolet Studio Three in 1978. When the C4 debuted in December 1982, it received rave reviews, despite the fact that suspension engineers later admitted that they over-did-it with the stiff suspension. By 1985 the suspension was softened and the 150-mph Corvette won Car and Driver’s “Fastest Car in America” award and began the total domination of Corvettes in the SCCA Escort Showroom Stock racing series from 1985-to-1987. Porsche bought a Corvette to take apart to find why the car was unbeatable. By the end of 1987, SCCA kicked out all of the Corvettes for being too fast! McLellan followed up with the Corvette Challenge factory-build racecars.
McLellan’s personal style was more suited to the intricacies of modern electronic computer-controlled performance cars than Duntov’s. Where Duntov’s enthusiasm was effervescent, McLellan was laid-back, approachable, but not shy with the automotive press. After the successful rollout of the C4, McLellan took on four very serious performance projects for the Corvette; The Callaway Twin Turbo option, the ZR-1 performance model, the LT-5 Lotus/Mercury Marine performance engine, and the mid-engine CERV-III. Let’s look at all four projects.
“Supercars” were the rage and by 1985 Porsche had their 959 and Ferrari was about to unleash their F40. To have something to offer while McLellan was starting his ZR-1 project, a deal was made with Reeves Callaway to build brand-new Corvettes with a Callaway Twin Turbo package. The cars had 345-horsepower (stock Corvettes had 240) and from 1987-to-1991 RPO B2K was the only non-installed official RPO Corvette option ever offered.
The ZR-1 super-Vette had two components. The first was its Lotus-engineered, all-aluminum, double-overhead-cam engine built by Mercury Marine. McLellan’s engineers set down the size parameters and horsepower objective; Lotus did the rest. McLellan turned to the best manufacturer of all-aluminum, performance marine engines in the country, Mercury marine. The end result was the beautiful jewel-like LT-5, an engine that is still respected today. The second component was the widening of the ZR-1’s body to cover the enormous P315/35ZR17 rear tires and beef up the car’s drivetrain and suspension.
The 1990 CERV-III Corvette was McLellan’s vision of Duntov’s mid-engine Corvette, with electronic steroids. The car had a carbon fiber Lotus-style backbone chassis, four-wheel steering, active suspension, a transverse, 650-horsepower twin-turbocharged LT-5 ZR-1 engine and a dry-sump oil system, and a four-speed transaxle. This was the final design that started out as the Indy Corvette in 1986 and had a top speed of 225-mph. And lastly, the CERV-III was designed to be manufactured.
When McLellan was part of the 1992 “Decision Makers” three-man internal Chevrolet design group, gathered to evaluate the direction of the C5, McLellan chose the CERV-III concept over the front-engine “Momentum Architecture” and the stiffer/lighter restyled C4. But the CERV-III was deemed too expensive for the market. The “Momentum Architecture” with its backbone structure, a transaxle, and an all-aluminum engine with design elements from the LT-5, lives on today in the C7.
McLellan oversaw the three-year, 1990-to-1992 mid-cycle refresh. The process started in 1990 with an all-new dash; 1991 saw new front and rear bumper covers; and in 1992 the 245-horsepower L98 was replaced with the 300-horsepower LT1.
In 1990 McLellan won the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation. In 1991 GM was offering early retirement packages, allowing 53-year old employees to receive the same benefits as those retiring at 62. McLellan took the offer and stayed on as a consultant while GM looked for a suitable replacement. McLellan was fortunate enough to be in his consulting position on July 2, 1992, when he was on hand to see the one-millionth Corvette roll off the Bowling Green assembly line. What a thrill for a car that McLellan had given so much to and a car that was so often on the line for its survival.
Finally, on November 18, 1992, the new chief of Corvette engineering was Dave Hill. Since then, McLellan has been a much sought after automotive consultant, he wrote and illustrated “Corvette From the Inside” and he’s a frequent and revered guest of honor at all of the top Corvette events. In 1999 McLellan was inducted into the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame. McLellan goes down in the Corvette history books as the second of the five great Corvette chief engineers. – Scott
PS – Be sure to catch all 5 parts of my Corvette Chiefs Series
Dateline: 2.25.20 – On December 6, 2019 I received an email from Vette magazine editor Brian Brennan. The title of the email said it all; “Vette is Terminated”. I wasn’t surprised, as I’d been hearing rumblings that the magazine was on thin ice for well over ten years.
Just the same, it was a sad day for me. Instantly I was back in the summer of 1976 when one hot steamy day in southern New Jersey at my local newsstand at the Cherry Hill News Stop at the corner of Haddonfield Rd. and Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; I saw a new magazine that stopped me in my tracks. There among the rest of the familiar car magazines was a new title; “Vette Quarterly”.
I had been haunting the local magazine stands for car magazines since 1965 and I was always on the lookout for Corvette special editions, but this was better than any special edition I’d ever seen. Vette Quarterly was “Corvettes-only” and I wanted to be part of this new publication. My favorite car magazine then was “Hi-Performance CARS”; a great east coast publication filled with the kinds of cars I saw on the local street scene and at the Atco Raceway and Cecil County Drag-O-Way where I’d been working as one of the weekend track announcers since 1972.
The icing on the cake was when I saw that Martyn “Marty” L. Schorr was the editor of Vette Quarterly. I was very familiar with Marty’s writing and leadership as the editor of CARS, so I knew Vette Quarterly was going to something special.
I’d been drawing for several car magazines for two years, so I made copies of my best illustrations and wrote a letter asking if I could be a contributing illustrator for Vette Quarterly. A week later, I got a call from Marty. As soon as I heard Marty’s voice, his Big Apple accent told me who was on the phone. Marty said, “Scott, I got your samples, very nice. What would you like to do?” That was it, I was in!
What I didn’t know was that that was the beginning of a 43-year long relationship with the publication. Vette Quarterly went bi-monthly in a few years and then by the early 1980s was a full-fledged monthly, Corvette-only magazine and I was part of it.
In the early ’80s Marty moved on to start his successful marketing and PR business, “PMPR, Inc, Public Relations & Marketing Agency”. As the decades rolled on Vette magazine was sold and bought by numerous publishers and somehow I managed to stay on as a contributing artist and writer.
In the spring of 1997 I pitched then editor, Richard Lentinello a concept I called, “The Illustrated Corvette Series” as a monthly column. Lentinello liked the idea but didn’t have an open page for another columnist, so it was, “Thanks, but no thanks”. A week later Lentinello called me to ask if I still wanted to do a column, as one of his other columnists informed him that he could no longer do his column. Of course, I said, “Yes!” My plan was to cover every year Corvette in chronological order; so maybe I’d have 50 installments. When Vette magazine was shuttered last December I had completed 275 installments and got a book deal from Car-Tech Books in 2010.
So, when I learned that Vette magazine was finished it was a sad day, as I never dreamed that my association with that one specialty publication would last so long. Along the way, in addition to my monthly column, I did a lot of feature stories. All of my feature stories and many of my monthly columns were published on www.SuperChevy.com. To check them out,, just use the search tool at the top of SuperChevy.com’s website.
In 2008 Vette published an interview with Marty Schorr where he shared with our readers how he got into the magazine biz and how and why he launched Vette Quarterly. Then in 2016 I wrote “Happy 40th Birthday Vette Magazine”.
Below are links to the two mentioned stories, as well as the transcript of when I interviewed Marty and Joel Rosen on my “Far Out Radio” show where they shared how they created their Baldwin-Motion Phase-III Supercars.
Will Vette magazine ever be resurrected? The paper publishing world is rapidly shrinking, even for mainstream magazines, so it is doubtful that we’ll ever see Vette magazine on the newsstands again. But, you know that old saying, “Never say never”. Anything could happen. We’ll see. – Scott
Marty Schorr interview for Vette magazine, Pt 1 – CLICK HERE.
Marty Schorr interview for Vette magazine, Pt 2 – CLICK HERE.
Dateline: 1-20-20, Illustrations & graphics by K. Scott Teeters – The C6 Corvette was a much-improved C5 and was well-received upon release. Fans liked the crisp new look, the new interior (for a while), and the extra grunt. Since the successful arrival of the performance Z06 model in 2001, every new generation Corvette is expected to have a Z06. Within minutes of the C6’s debut, the next question was, “Where’s the Z06?” The following year when the C6 Z06 was unleashed, there was an unanticipated surprise; an aluminum chassis.
This wasn’t on anyone’s wish list and was a total surprise. It wasn’t even on Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Christmas list! Weighing in at just 3,132-pounds, you have to go back to 1964 to find a lighter Corvette (3,125-pounds). Powered by the mighty 427 LS7 engine with 505 net-horsepower, with C5-R suspension technology, the C6 Z06 was better suited for the track, although many learned how to drive the new beast successfully on the street. The C6 Z06’s aluminum chassis had no trouble handling 638-horsepower in the ZR1 configuration. Bravo Corvette chassis engineers!
When Tadge Juechter’s C7 Corvette debuted, fans were stunned to learn that the base model C7 was built an even better version of the Z06’s aluminum chassis. But wait, there’s more! The same new aluminum chassis would be used for the coupe AND convertible Corvette. This was a major breakthrough and bespeaks of advanced engineering. Here’s how Juechter’s team did it.
Juechter’s objective was to build a modern performance car that delivered enhanced driving experience, more efficiency that yielded more performance. Every element had to contribute to the overall performance and there would be nothing fake. That explains everything that we see on the C7 Corvette, but what’s unseen is even more amazing.
As we learned from the C5 with its hydroformed side rails, stiffness matters. Juechter is on record stating that while hydroforming was an engineering game-changer, the downside is that parts have a uniform thickness; even in areas where it isn’t needed. Hydroformed parts cannot be tailored for areas that need greater or less strength. Enter the Genesis Software Program.
This is almost computer magic. Engineers first determine the overall block space they want; length, width, and height. Then they determine where they want to place the major components; engine, transmission, suspension assemblies, cabin parts, etc. This creates negative spaces where the structure needs to be to hold everything together. The Genesis Program then synthesizes an optimum structure so that engineers can then take the load design and break it down into parts that can be fabricated and joined together. Afterward, dynamic stress and crash testing is performed and parts modified to meet predetermined objectives.
The C7’s hydroformed aluminum frame rails were optimized for the best the aluminum industry could offer, in terms of tensile strength, lightweight, and materials-joining technology. New aluminum metallurgy and aluminum fastening technologies allow engineers to augment the hydroformed frame with 7000-Series aluminum extrusions designed for specific areas; such as engine/front suspension assembly, transaxle/rear suspension assembly mounting points and frontal collision areas.
Careful consideration to the placement of major components was also critical. Juechter’s team felt that the C6 was slightly nose-heavy. Components were adjusted so that the C7 is now rear-biased, allowing more load on the rear wheels for better traction at launch; like a racecar. The front wheels were moved forward 1-inch making the wheelbase 106.7-inches. This is the longest wheelbase Corvette ever made. The shortest was the C4, measuring 96.2-inches. Moving the wheels forward also allowed for more space under the hood for the new LT1 engine and various auxiliary systems. This also preserved “crash space” in the front.
Offering an aluminum frame for the coupe and convertible was a big challenge for the team. But because the basic frame structure is so strong, it didn’t need additional roof structure via a fixed roof. The net result is that not only can the Z06 and ZR1 have lift-off rood panels, but both can also be offered as a convertible. This was unimaginable for the C5 Z06, C6 Z06, and the C6 ZR1. According to Ed Moss, the C7 structural engineer group manager, his engineering team tailored sixteen different thicknesses of various grades of aluminum from 11-mm to 2-mm. The completed C7 aluminum frame is 100-pounds lighter than the C6’s steel frame and is 60-percent stiffer. Juechter said that engineers consider the C7’s aluminum chassis to be the most beautiful part of the C7. Perhaps someday Chevrolet will offer a transparent carbon fiber body option.
The C7 frame was also designed for aerodynamic efficiency. In the past, engineers tended to only consider how air passed over and under a performance car. The C7 literally breathes. Spaces under the car’s skin and in between the chassis structure were designed for the internal ducting for engine cooling, brakes, transmission, and differential cooling, and venting. Other spaces allowed for electrical and plumbing fixtures for coolant, fuel, and air conditioning ducting.
The C7 design team worked closely with the Corvette Racing Team on airflow management because even racecars are concerned about fuel consumption, as well as top speed dynamics and stability. Two of the most obvious ducting and venting features is the air extractor on the hood, and the NACA ducts on the top of the rear fenders.
Taking a lesson from the C6.R Corvette racecars, the C7’s radiator is tilted forward. One-third of the air that passes through the radiator is vented out of the hood. The hood louvers are angled so that the exiting air flows tightly over the car creating additional downforce to the nose of the car; thus eliminating the dreaded nose lift.
Heat exchangers (radiators) for the transmission were placed in the back, close to the transaxle with air ducted through the NACA duct feeding into the heat exchangers and then vented out through vents next to the taillights. This is just another example of how every element on the C7 has a defined purpose.
All of the foundational work that went into the C7’s chassis laid down a structure what was easily adaptable to the $2,780 Z51 suspension option that included; performance brakes with slotted rotors; dry-sump oil system; suspension upgrades; special wheels and tires; electronic limited-slip differential with a cooler, performance gearing, and an aero package. The Z51 was for drivers that wanted to use more of the C7 460-horsepower and explore the pleasures of the C7’s superior structure.
The 2015 Z06 with its supercharged 650-horsepower LT4 engine, wide-body, suspension, and tire enhancements work wonderfully with the C7’s basic structure. The same can be said for the 755-horsepower ZR1; the basic structure is up to the task. Arguably, the most interesting use of available C7 components is the Grand Sport. It has the aggressive-looking Z06 body and suspension parts that take using the base model’s 460-horsepower to a whole new level.
I will now go out on a limb. At the C7 ZR1 debut in 2018, Juechter said that his engineers had taken the C7 as far as they could with the ZR1. Are they working on a C9 Corvette to sell alongside the mid-engine C8? If so, will it be built on a carbon fiber chassis? When it comes to Corvettes, things always evolve upward. – Scott
The C5 Corvette’s Momemtim Chassis took the Corvette to a whole new level and paved the way for the C5-R Corvette
Dateline: 1-16-20 – Graphics by K. Scott Teeters, Images from GM archives:Structure is everything. Lessons learned from the C5, C6, and C7 Corvettes is that the stiffer the chassis, the better the suspension can be tuned for improved handling. The C1 to C4 chassis’ were fine for their day, but compared to the modern Corvettes, they leave a lot to be desired, especially if bigger tires and more horsepower is applied. The issue of structure is not new; look at what the Greenwood brothers were doing with the chassis of their widebody IMSA Corvettes in the 1970s. The NASCAR cars of the 1970s had fortress-like cages welded to their frames; but you can’t live with structures like that for streetcars. The arrival of the C5 was a quantum leap in terms of structure.
Joe Spielman ran GM’s Midsize Car Division in 1992 and was responsible for forty-percent of the engineering and manufacturing of GM’s auto production. It was a bad time for GM and despite the Corvette’s iconic status; its future was in jeopardy. Spielman created the “Decision Makers” that included himself, Carlisle Davis, John Cafaro, and Dave McLellan. Three possible formats for the C5 Corvette were created. The first format was the “Momentum Architecture” that featured a stiff backbone, front-engine, rear transmission, and an evolutionary body style. The second format was the “Mid-Engine”, favored by McLellan and GM President Jack Smith. The 1990 CERV III wasn’t just a dream car, it was built with manufacturing in mind, but was going to be complex and expensive. The third format was “Stiffer and Lighter”. This would be the least expensive and was a stiffer, lighter version of the C4. Fortunately, the team went with the “Momentum Architecture”.
The problem was money. When Dave Hill took over, as Corvette chief engineer in November 1992, his 1993 development budget was just $12 million. The estimated total cost to design and develop the C5 was originally $250 million and was cut back to $150 million; GM was in financial trouble and was cutting everything. But Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins saved the Corvette by juggling an extra $1.2 million so that Hill could build a demonstration car. Another consideration Perkins wanted to see was a “Billy Bob” no-frills concept. Hill’s demonstration Corvette would become the CERV IV, with a manual transmission. Later Hill build an automatic version called the CERV IVb. The “Billy Bob” concept wasn’t developed until 1998 and became the 1999 Hardtop, that later became the now-legendary Z06.
The CERV IV was a true stealth development car. The chassis had the backbone structure of the proposed “Momentum Architecture” plan, but was clothed in a C4 body so that Hill and his team could drive the car on public roads, as well as the Proving Grounds in Michigan and Arizona. To the public it was just another C4 Corvette. Hill’s objectives for the CERV IV were to; prove to GM’s president Jack Smith that his team could reinvent the car, as well as the building process. When Hill took people for test-drives, they said, “This is like no Corvette we ever felt!” Hill’s plan worked, he got his C5 development budget up to $241 million, and set his team to work.
Hill wanted the C5 to be able to do everything as well as, or better than the C4. The C4 had a 350-mile range; Hill wanted 370 for the C5. The solution to the fuel range was a blessing because instead of one tank mounted on top of the rear of the frame, the C5 has two tank placed low on each side of the transaxle. This also helped lower the C5’s center of gravity. Hill wanted a coefficient of drag of .29, the lowest of any production car at that time, so he had to lean on designer John Carfaro.
But the piece de resistance of the C5’s new structure was its hydroformed frame. The first mass-produced automotive application of Hydroforming was for the instrument panel support beam in a 1990 Chrysler mini van. The 1997 C5 Corvette was the first mass-produced automobile to use this manufacturing technique on a major structural component. The frames of all pervious Corvettes were made from sheet steel, bent to form a box section. The box sections were then welded together to form the side rails and cross members. Hydroforming creates complex shapes that are stronger, lighter, and more rigid. After engineers designed the shape of the C5’s frame rails, sheet steel was rolled into a tube, laser-welded, and bent into the basic shape of the frame rail. The shaped tube was then placed inside a form and sealed. Water was then pumped into the tube at 7,000 psi that inflated the steel into the shape. The finished side rail was one, 13-foot long piece, instead of many boxed pieces all welded together. The crossmembers and attachment brackets, (36 pieces in total) were welded by robotic and human welders. Convertibles have 33 parts, one extra for the tonneau cover latch.
The second major structural component on the new C5 was the longitudinal center tunnel backbone. This kind of construction had then only been seen on exotic supercars and racecars. The center backbone creates the driveshaft tunnel and locks the front and rear of the frame together. The C4 designers had a long driveline support torque bar that bolted to the end of the transmission and the rear differential, whereas the designers of the C5 created an enclosed torque tube that bolted to the back of the bellhousing and the front of the transaxle, with a lightweight Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) driveshaft. The torque tube that connects the engine with the transaxle, was then bolted to the frame. Combined with the center backbone, the C5’s chassis structure is four times as stiff as the C4. This was an amazing accomplishment for a mass-produced sportscar.
With the strongest structure ever created for a Corvette, Hill’s suspension engineers were better able to design components to fine tune wheel control. Now the suspension didn’t have to compensate for a flexing structure. The selection of springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and bushings can be more accurate. The C4 suspension was very good and is today used often on street rods. The C5 went to the next level with double A-arms on all four corners of the independent suspension. The new aluminum suspension components are made using the then-new process of casting-and-forging to create lighter, stronger parts.
The C5 came with three levels of suspension. The standard FE1 was for basic driving and used specifically selected fiberglass composite leaf springs, shocks, sway bars, and bushings. The $350 optional Z51 suspension had stiffer springs, shocks, and larger-diameter sway bars. Active suspension options had been around since 1989; the new C5 offered the latest version of the F45 Selective Real Time Damping for $1,695. The C5’s basic dimensions tell us a lot. The C5 is 179.4-inches, 1.1-inches longer than the C4; 73.6-inches wide, 2.9-inches wider than the C4; 47.8-inches in height, 1.5-inches taller than the C4; 104.5-inch wheelbase, 8.3-inches longer than the C4; and 3,221-pounds, 77-pounds lighter than the C4. Wider, lighter, stiffer, with an all-aluminum engine, transaxle, and over 1,200 fewer parts, the C5 was the most revolutionary Corvette to date. – Scott