Here’s the latest installment from the Illustrated Corvette Series VETTE Magazine Column
It was early last July that Kevin Mackay of Corvette Repair sent me a link to the RM Auctions online version of their Monterey Auction Catalog. Kevin and I have had many conversations about early Corvette race cars, so he knows that I’m a big fan. Any time a Greenwood Corvette goes on the block it’s big news, so I posted a story about the auction right away. For the next 6 weeks or so, the car magazine and Corvette blogs were on fire in anticipation of the auction. RM Auctions broadcasts their auctions online, so I stayed up and watched the coverage and sale of the Greenwood ZL-1. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun. Here’s the post of the auction coverage.
Since the car has so much historical importance, I decided to cover the car in my VETTE Magazine monthly column, “The Illustrated Corvette Series.” The January 2012 issue of VETTE just came out, so I’m sharing the story and art with you below. Enjoy! – Scott
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 175: #49 Greenwood ‘69 427 ZL-1 Racer
“Stars and Stripes On The Block!”
Expectations were high when it was announced that the No. 49 Greenwood BF Goodrich “Stars and Stripes” Corvette was going on the block at the 2011 RM Auction Monterey event. Some estimated that the car would sell for $750,000 to $950,000. In ‘09 the Gulf One ‘63 Z06 Corvette racer went for an astonishing $1.113 Million! So there was quite a buzz in the Corvette community.
John and Burt Greenwood knew all about Duntov’s “racer kits” and like many others, took maximum advantage of the special hardware. The Greenwood boys had another advantage. Sr. Greenwood had been a WW II fighter pilot and worked at the GM Tech Center. Their Dad would sometimes take young John and Burt to work on Saturdays, to let the lads see the experimentals and prototypes. It was better than an invitation to Elvis’ house! Continue reading
Corvette Odd-Ball: A Juicy Story, Indeed, But Some Documentation Would Sure Help!
The Corvette hobby has grown so wide and deep you could spend all day, day-after-day, and probably not be able to keep up with everything. So I didn’t beat myself up for not discovering this sooner. While poking about for some background on another project, I stumbled upon a post talking about a story from Autoweek writer, William Jeanes that addressed the notion that there was a SIXTH Grand Sport Corvette. If you’ve been into the Corvette hobby for a while, you’re familiar with the GS Corvette story: Five lightweight Grand Sport Corvette race cars were secretly built by Zora Arkus-Duntov as a counter punch against the Shelby Cobras. The cars showed potential, but GM’s president, Frederick Donner, order that Chevrolet MUST comply with the official GM policy that “we DO NOT race cars.”
Duntov and Chevrolet’s general manager, Simon “Bunkie” Knudsen, were ordered to stop what they were doing. The cars were not ordered to be destroyed, so Duntov loaned the cars out and eventually, they were sold. From there, the GS Corvettes were raced, hammered on, became outdated, sold, resold, and at one point in the early ‘70s were nearly lost. Eventually, all five cars were found and have been lovingly restored. Today, they are very valuable pieces of Corvette history.
While the prospect of a 6th GS is an intriguing story, it’s got “modern urban legend” smell all over it. Unfortunately, it’s all based on anecdotal stories. Here are the key points:
1. Texas oil man John Mecom claims that he bought 6 GS Corvettes.
2. Road & Track artist and Mecom pal, Bill Neale claims that his friend, John Mecom, had a photo in his trophy room showing 6 GS Corvettes in his shop.
3. Retired GM employee, Jim Champlin worked at the GM Milford proving Grounds claims that he was personally charged with destroying the 6th GS in late ‘64 or early ‘65. He says that after the car was returned from the Bahamas, he was told to “make it disappear.” So, he put two tires in the car, doused it with gasoline and BURNED IT. Champlin also says that his supervisor, Bob Cameron witnessed the destruction. Continue reading
Montgomeryville, PA Corvette enthusiast, Skeets Mariano’s one-of-a-kind, 1984 “Zora 1” Corvette
Back in ‘01, I was talking with a few Corvette club presidents looking for unique production Corvettes in the South Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania area. One club president told me about an area man with a preproduction Corvette with the official model name, “Zora 1.” After a few phone calls, I connected with Corvette racer, collector, and car enthusiast, Skeets Mariano. Continue reading
An Expose-look under the pretty fiberglass of a C1 Fuelie Corvette!
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. A C1 Corvette without a body and interior. Just the engine, drive train, suspension, wheels, tires, and the steering wheel. And not just any C1 Corvette, a Fuelie Corvette!
Up front I must apologize because when I was at the April 2011 Strictly Corvettes and American Muscle Cars Show at the Atlantic City Convention Center, I was also a vendor and had little time to get away from my booth. So I kind of zoomed through and took pictures of what looked interesting. The chassis-only display really caught my eye. You just don’t see this every day. I did the same thing with Kevin McKay’s drivable 1969 427 L-88 drivable chassis-only, Corvette. (see links below) Continue reading
Dateline: 7.13.11 (Our 100th post!)
Circa 1992: Chevy performance R&D guys do some showing off. Oh, WOW!
Click the image for a MUCH larger image.
One of the fun things about running a blog is that you can see what people are searching for. It’s interesting to see topics come and go. Next to searches for C7 Corvettes, another common search is for the Falconer Corvette. I covered this car once before, but found some new info and neat things to share.
My wife is always saying to me, “Dude, you sure have the car magazines.” I don’t know how many there are (not 1,000s) but “enough.” Sometimes I even forget what I have. That’s why I was so pleased to find the below May 1992 issue of Motor Trend, with the cover story, “TOP SECRET CHEVYS!” Featuring something AWESOME-LOOKING on the cover. Oh, that’s “Conan the Corvette” AKA the Falconer V-12 Corvette, a 610-cubic-inch, 686-HP, 680-ft/lb of torque monster! In 1992 is was OH! MY! GAUD!!! Continue reading
Step Into My Sting Ray Spaceship
Over the weekend I was looking a photos online of ‘63 Split-Window Coupe Corvettes. I especially like the GM studio shots. Not only are they uniquely lit and posed, sometimes little clues are there if you look closely. Any way, they’re a lot of fun to look at.
The above picture caught my eye because the father of the production ‘63 Sting Ray, Bill Mitchell’s Stingray Racer, is in the background lit with blue light on its silver paint.
The red roadster and coupe have no fender vents, but substantial scoops that go into the doors with two horizontal spears. The roadster has side rocker panels that almost look like the side-pipe covers that would arrive in ‘65. And it appears that the gas filler cap is located on the driver’s side rear fender.
The silver split-window coupe has little shark gill decorations going on that awkwardly cut behind the bumpers. This looks like one of Bill Mitchell’s frills he liked adding on the show cars. “Elements of Discovery” was the idea. But with an overall outstanding design shape, do-dads aren’t needed. Continue reading
Happy Birthday to an Essential Part of Your Corvette’s History!
To see the larger version of this classic 1958 Corvette MSRP window sticker, click the image.
Fifty three years ago, on July 7, 1958 a federal law was passed requiring car makers to put window stickers on all new cars. New car window stickers have been around for so long, I thought that they’d been around since the beginning. Actually, I never really thought, “Gee, I wonder when window stickers began?”
Of course, back in ‘58 no one probably ever thought that the factory window sticker would one day be an important part of the documentation of cars. Of course, it’s a pretty good guess that Continue reading
Here’s What’s Under All the Pretty Fiberglass of a Typical 1997 – 2004 C5 Corvette
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. While researching my next Illustrated Corvette Series story for VETTE Magazine about the 1996 LT4 Corvette engine, I happened upon this interesting item for sale on eBay by F•Parts. The listing is not an auction, it’s a Buy Now or Make Offer offer.
If you’re looking for a complete engine, drivetrain, suspension, chassis, wheels, brakes, and tires for some kind of street rod project, for just $5,999.00 or better, you can be off to a good start. Continue reading
This is NOT your grandfather’s 12-MPG Vette
“High performance” can be measures in many ways. While a “Corvette vs Prius” match up is truly apples and oranges for many obvious reasons rather silly, this competition is strictly a fuel efficiency contest.
(BOTH hands on the steering wheel, Prius “driver!”)
The video presents no background info on the two cars, so we don’t know the age of the Prius and since we never see anything other than the very front and rear of the C5, it could be anywhere from a 7-to-15-year old Corvette. After traveling 42.7 miles, the Corvette used just 1.402 gallons of gasoline, netting out 30.4 mph. The Prius drank only 1.083 gallons, netting out an impressive 39.4 mpg. Continue reading
Drivable Corvette Art
I consider Kevin Mackay to be a “Corvette artist.” Some of us use paint, markers, pen & ink, etc. You know, “artsey” stuff. Some artists work in other mediums – such as metal and fiberglass. Kevin Mackay’s “Corvette Repair” doesn’t just perform world-class restoration work on classic C1, C2, and C3 Corvette race cars and regular Corvettes, Kevin is also a mechanical, educational artist.
It’s always a pleasure to see Kevin at the shows. Last weekend we were vendors at the Strictly Corvettes and American Muscle Cars Show in Atlantic City. When you love Vettes, what’s there to not like about a Corvette show? We saw lots of smiles and had many interesting conversations. Kevin Mackay was on hand for the third year in a row with a delightful stable of customer cars, as well as several of his beauties. Continue reading
Corvette “Urban Legend” or FACT? What do you think?
Called by some, “The Original American Idol.” The rear split-window was one of chief of GM styling, Bill Mitchell’s pet design elements. And NOT to be messed with by a lowly engineer!
I have been writing about Corvettes and illustrating them since the mid-’70s. During that time and before then, I have read dozens of books and hundreds of articles about Corvettes. Somewhere, way, way back (I really do not recall when or in what book or article) I remember the following story about the ‘63 Split-Window Coupe Corvette Sting Ray… Continue reading
Ocean City, New Jersey Lifetime Resident, Dewey Powell’s 4WD, 392 Hemi Powered Corvette to the Rescue!
When you live close to the shore, like I do, it’s not uncommon to see 4WD vehicles with surf fishing racks on the front bumper. The formula is this; fishing racks + beach = 4WD vehicle, usually a truck. That’s what threw me when I first saw Dewey Powell’s menacingly cool-looking ‘81-bodied Corvette at the Strictly Corvettes Show, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The first thing I noticed was the stylized fishing pole rack and the way it was angled back from the middle to match the car’s pointed nose. Then the tall tires and L88 wheel flares got me. “WOW! What’s this?” When I looked under the hood and saw a dual-quad 392 Hemi, I said, “Who built this?!”
Dewey was completely relaxed in a lawn chair, wearing jeans, black cowboy boots, a black t-shirt, and his wrap-around shades. I could tell that he was “the guy.” I asked him, “I’ll bet that this is your car and you built it, right?” “Yea, that’s right, and I drove it here today. You should have seen it yesterday, it was covered with sand.” I had just met Ocean City’s local legend, Dewey Powell. Continue reading