When it comes to widebody Corvettes, it’s all about BIG tires.
Check out the wide body Corvette prints at the bottom of this post.
On March 16,2012 GMAuthority.com announced that for the 2012 racing season, the C6.R ZR1 Corvette would be wearing a new suit. We’re not talking about the livery, it’s still Competition Yellow with black graphics that seems to change every few races.
No, we’re talking about actual body parts. It was only six years ago that the production widebody C6 Z06 gave the new C6 that big, broad shoulders look that we love so much. It wasn’t long before lots of regular Corvettes were wearing Z06 outfits, and why not? It looks great, almost as if that’s the way the C6 should have looked in ‘05. But things evolve and we go from there. It wasn’t just a fad either. Chevrolet certainly noticed and and in ‘10 dished up the Grand Sport model, wearing Z06 cloths and a new set of front fender vents. The new look struck a chord, because in ‘10 the Grand Sport Corvette made up 49.5% of total sales and in ‘11 Grand Sports accounted for 58.7% of sales! That’s very impressive and the Corvette planners deserve credit for picking up on the widebody trend.
But when ‘12 Corvette Racing season began, the ZR1-based race cars were wearing an even wider, wider body. And just like the original ‘70s widebody Corvettes popularized by John and Burt Greenwood, it was all about tires. Race car tires are a whole other interesting topic. If you go all the way back to the earliest Corvette racers, you can’t miss those painfully skinny tires. These were stock tires that were sometimes shaved a little. When you got into the late ‘60s tire sizes began to grow and L-60 series tires were considered enormous. Continue reading
“Corvettes and Racing” A Wonderful Marriage!
“Corvettes and racing” have been perfect together since 1956. Without the influence of racing, I’m sure that the Corvette would have morphed into something else and been gone long ago. The other day CorvetteBlogger.com posted a story about a 2011 C6.R Le Mans Winning tribute Corvette that’s For Sale. The car looks as if it was just rolled out of the transport and is ready for a few hot laps, but this is a street machine sporting a brand new LS7 crate engine and a host of delicious racing goodies. The car has 52,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is just $55,000. Almost begs the question, “So what’s wrong with the car???”
Seeing the car got me to thinking about earlier Corvette street machines with a powerful visual racing reference. Arguably the most over-the-top race track-influenced Corvettes were the ‘70s wide-body IMSA Corvettes. The wide body design was the last of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s “racer kit” Corvette parts program and first showed up on John Greenwood’s Corvettes around 1974-1975.
Previous Corvette racer body parts were limited to the functional L88 hood and fender flares. The fender flares were pretty big, but as tires got wider and wider, something else had to be done. Corvette stylists came up with a wild-looking and functionally aerodynamic full body kit that not only cover up the Can-Am-size racing tires, but improved the car’s aerodynamics. In full battle regalia, Greenwood’s IMSA Corvette looked like “the future” and was quickly nick named, “The Batmobile.” Continue reading
The second time was the charm as the Corvette Daytona prototype STOMPS the competition in Hotlanta!
Congrats, Kudos, and Three Cheers to the Corvette Daytona prototype team’s first win! When the flag came down it was the electric blue Spirit of Daytona Corvette prototype to took the checkered flag at the Porsche 250 race at the Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama. Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia drove the car 103 laps with a best time of 1:22.245.
The next race will be the Grand Am Rolex Series Grand Prix in Miami on April 27-29. For more info about the team’s first big win, CLICK HERE.
And for AutoWeek’s coverage of the race, CLICK HERE.
NOW Feast your eyes on this beauty!
The Civilized Grand Sport Corvette Replica – Sort of…
Today you can go to your local Chevrolet dealer today and buy a Grand Sport Corvette to your liking. Almost 50 years ago, there were only five Grand Sport Corvettes in existence and they were NOT for sale. “Unrealized potential,” “the ultimate could’a been Corvette” and many other expressions tell the original Grand Sport Corvette story. Unlike today’s C6 Grand Sports, the originals were all-out racing Corvettes, designed to give the Cobras a good run for it.
But GM had a completely different attitude about racing back then that can be nicely described as “backward.” Fortunately, all five original Grand Sports are still around. Along the way, there have been numerous companies that offered Grand Sport replicas – some, better than others. But today there is only one “officially licensed” by GM, Grand Sport replica, and that is the Duntov Motors Grand Sports.
Dateline: 3.2.12 -
A Timeless Corvette Beauty
Every so often a car design comes along that is “perfect.” It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you end up stopped dead in your tracks. You find yourself almost unable to STOP looking at the car’s shape. For me, the 1959 Stingray Racer is such a car. The 1959 Stingray Racer was an outgrowth of the dead-on-arrival 1957 Q-Corvette, which never made it past the full-size clay model stage. But the pint-sized concept had a nuclear-powered punch because it set in motion a design process that is still with us today. Consider the lineage…
Q-Corvette leads to…
1959 Stingray Racer leads to…
Mako Shark I show car leads to…
1963-1967 Sting Ray leads to…
Mako Shark-II-inspired C3 “shark” Corvette… that leads to…
C6 Corvette (look closely at the front and rear fenders of the C6 – there’s a C2 Sting Ray in there).
Back to the timeless ‘59 Stingray. Clearly, Bill Mitchell wasn’t done with the design of the proposed Q-Corvette. So, with a borrowed chassis from the aborted ‘57 Corvette SS racer (1957 was a VERY GOOD year for the Corvette!), Mitchell designed a roadster version of the interesting Q-Corvette around the small, lightweight birdcage tube chassis from the mule version of the Corvette SS project. Continue reading
While Zora never got a custom Corvette, he still had some very cool Corvette toys!
Zora Arkus-Duntov Birthday Weekend continues here at CorvetteReport.com. Over the last few months we told you about several of the customized Corvettes that were built for Chevrolet executives. But to the best of my knowing, the man that found the Corvette’s Mojo never got a full-out Chevrolet styling department customized Corvette. He did buy a ‘74 Corvette coupe upon his retirement and by all accounts it didn’t have any performance enhancements, but it did get a unique stripe paint job.
So, Why didn’t Duntov get a custom Corvette? Maybe he wasn’t high enough up on in the GM corporate food chain. We’ll probably never know. Not that Zora didn’t have his toys. Zora’s Corvette toys were often all-out racing optioned Corvettes. Along the way of developing his various “racer kit” packages,he built an interesting array of mule Corvettes. These were cobbled together cars that were never taken out of the Chevrolet R&D center or test track.
I covered Duntov’s mules in a two-part story in my VETTE Magazine Continue reading
The Most Affordable C6.R Corvettes!
Last September I took you through a behind the scene look at the delightful “You Build Your Ride” toy line of cars from RideMakerz, plus my personal experience of working on the body styling of many of the first wave of RideMakerz cars. Unfortunately for me, by the time RideMakerz secured the license for the C6.R body shape from General Motors, my art director and designer friend at Scrambled Eggz Productions in Medford, New Jersey, Don Amadio, had the time to do the styling on the C6.R Corvette himself.
The toy concept was essentially Build-A-Bears meets Cars and Trucks. Each toy was available either online or at specific RideMakerz stores where Dad and Junior could go, pick out their favorite body, body color, chassis type (static or R/C), then trick out their ride with a dazzling selection of ala’ carte options including wheels, tires, engines, wings, side pipes, nurf bars, wheelie bars, and graphics – just like a real car. And if all that wasn’t enough, each car had lights that turned on, engine sounds, pealout sounds, plus a tool box-styled cardboard case. It was a very cool concept! Continue reading
Mega Horsepower! Racing on Street Tires! And Blazing Stars & Stripes!
Here’s a sweet little bench racing, Corvette day dream for ya! Imagine if you have a Corvette restoration shop and you had ALL THREE Greenwood BF Goodrich Corvette race cars in for restoration work. Yes, I know – open headered, old-school, hard-ass Corvette racing machines. Could you stand it? Well, Kevin Mackay and the Corvette Repair team could and it was no bench racing fantasy.
Mackay’s Valley Stream, New York shop has been doing top level C1, C2, and C3 Corvette restoration work on production Corvettes for over 25 years and has developed a nitch for Corvette race car restoration work. Kevin and his team of craftsmen have brought back to life some of the most famous early model Corvette race cars and Chevrolet Engineering experimentals to ever wear a set of Corvette cross flags. It’s not uncommon for race cars to be thoroughly beat when a team decides to unload a machine. Once gone, most teams rarely if ever keep track of the car’s new owners. So, part of what makes Corvette Repair’s work so interesting is the car’s back story of what happened after a high-profile team sold the old war horse off. Some are well maintained and enjoyed on the track. Some are even converted BACK to street cars, such as the Cunningham Le Mans class-winning 1960 Corvette. And others aren’t so fortunate and are pretty much are one hoof away from the glue factory. Continue reading
Dateline: 12.2.11 zzz
A Look Back at the Last Time Chevy Went Prototype Racing With a Corvette
It’s been well over 20 years since Chevrolet got into prototype racing, but it’s good to see them back. The Daytona Prototype Corvette is nicely dressed in exotic material with some very stylish styling points that are very “C6.” I’m surprised they didn’t name the car “Grand Sport,” after all, the front fenders ARE wearing C6 Grand Sport fender vents. But, let’s not pick. The Corvette community wishes them the best and we’ll all enjoy watching the latest round of Corvette racing history in the making.
So, I thought it would be fun to look back at the last time Chevrolet went prototype racing with a Corvette. I covered the 1989 GTP Corvette back in October ‘03 in The Illustrated Corvette Series. The short article and illustrations are below. I see some feature “comparison” stories coming up. It’ll be fun to examine 20-plus years of prototype development. Below is the story, “GTP Corvette Racer – Unrealized Potential.” Continue reading
Dick Smothers – The 200-MPH Comedian
(Check out the fun videos at the bottom of this post!)
How many comedians can claim that they drove a 427 Corvette over 200-MPH at Le Mans? Probably none, except for Dick Smothers. If you are a baby boomer and were watching TV in the ‘60s, hardly a week went by when you didn’t see Tom and Dick Smothers on the tube. In the early ‘60s with the advent of 33-1/3 LP records (long-play vinyl records with five or six tracks on each side) nearly all comedians had comedy records. Some people (myself included) had collections of comedy albums that were fun to play at parties.
But the Smothers Brothers were a little different. While the comedy team format was common (Hope & Crosby, Burns & Allen, Martin & Lewis, Burns & Carlin (George), what made The Smothers Brothers different was that they were also folk singers, aka ‘Folkies.” Tom played guitar, Dick played a full-size bass, and they were dressed in matching suits with skinny ties. And when they weren’t jabbing at one another and just sang, that were quite nice and covered the standard folkie songs of the day. Their 1962 album “The Two Sides of the Smothers brothers” featured sweet songs, such as “Stella’s Got a New Dress Today” (see below video) on one side and comedy bits including as “I Fell In A Vat of Chocolate.” (see below video)
But it was their late ‘60s TV show, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” that polarized them to mainstream Americans because of their jabs and pokes at President Nixon and the Vietnam War. Their comedy program is available on NetFlix and in retrospect, compared to modern comics, such as Jon Steward and Bill Maher, Tommy and Dicky were VERY tame.
Hemmings Motor News old sister publication takes a look back at the first special-built Corvette race car, the SS Corvette
(Be sure to check out the SS Corvette video at the bottom of this post!)
Back in the early ‘80s there was a new trend in the car magazine biz – specialty publications. Marty Schorr’s VETTE Magazine was ahead of the curve when it came out in ‘76. VETTE was the first “Corvette-only” news stand magazine ever published. By the early ‘80s there was a specialty publication for most brand cars. Hemmings Motor News branched out with a unique magazine called, “SIA – Special Interest Automobiles.” While I remember seeing the magazine on the news stands it wasn’t something I was interested in back then, as it featured many pre-WW II “classic” cars, and I was interested in other things at the time.
Fast forward to today and the wonderful world of blogging, Hemmings has one of my favorite car blogs. It’s the preverbal “box of chocolates” because “you never know what you’re going to get.” (thank you Forrest Gump!) Recently at http://blog.hemmings.com/ they posted an interesting and detailed story about the 1957 SS Corvette race car from the October 1988 issue of SIA magazine.
Don’t let the rather scathing introduction put you off, “…the SS was little more than a poorly executed and slapdash affair, deserving of its failure at Sebring and merely spared the pain of further embarrassment… “ The actual article from SIA is very good with lots of pictures, statistics, and some nice technical illustrations of the SS Corvette.
This is just my opinion, but I think that the introduction was a little unjust for the following reasons. While it is true that Duntov and his team copied the Mercedes 300SL race car’s birdcage frame and chassis, so did many other cars. The design was the standard road racing layout of the day. General Motors of the mid-’50s was arguably the least prepared auto company to even take on such a project, as they had NO experience what-so-ever in building race cars. The only part of the car Chevrolet engineers were familiar with was the 283 Fuelie engine. Plus, the small-block was only in its third year of production and F.I. unit was brand new. Continue reading
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
It’s Build-A-Bears Meets Hot Rods at the RideMakerz Toy Stores
There’s a new toy car maker on the scene called RIDEMAKERZ, that offers a unique toy car experience for today’s fathers and sons with a driving passion for cars and Corvettes. The expression, “the difference between the men and the boys, is the price of the toys” has been around long before Corvettes arrived in ‘53. Sure, Corvettes are a blast to drive, but they aren’t terribly “useful” automobiles and fall closer to “toy” status. It wasn’t long after Chevy’s “plastic” sports car arrived that the toy versions starting showing up in stores. At first they were mostly crude die-cast, cast iron, and tin metal replicas – a far cry from the hot-looking RIDEMAKERZ toy cars of today.
As plastics caught on in the ‘50s, model kit companies flooded the market with styrene plastic kits of model airplanes, boats, ships, and yes, cars. The model kit companies formed a close relationship with car makers and by the mid-’60s, some car kits were released along with new cars. While Matchbox was making vintage and European cars, Hot Wheels began to popularize muscle cars, race cars, and Corvettes in die-cast.
Two developments in the toy industry occurred in the late ‘80s that are still being felt today. As tool and die manufacturers in China started to gain proficiency, we saw $100-plus, pre-assembled die-cast cars with details that rivaled the more difficult plastic kits. Second, was the introduction of toy-grade radio controlled cars and trucks from Taiyo, Tyco, Nikko, and others, with prices under $100. These advances can be directly seen in the RIDEMAKERZ toy line, as you’ll see later in this story.
Then a new player arrived that had a profound effect on boy’s toy cars. Build-A-Bear Workshop took the traditional teddy bear to a new level in 1997. CEO and founder Maxine Clark created a chain of stores that invited girls to come in and create their own customized teddy bear. Original ideas are very hard to come by in the toy business. It wasn’t long before Clark was swamped with all sorts of “build-a” toy ideas. She had even outlined her own “build-a-car” line, but was busy making teddy bears. Continue reading
The Briggs “Swift” Cunningham 1960 Fuel Injected Corvette is Now a Movie Star! “The Quest” DVD – Available Now
After years in the making, “The Quest” DVD can be yours for just $20 Bucks!
The 1960 Fuel Injected Corvette famously known as the “Cunningham Le Mans Assault” car is now a movie star! It seems that for most of us, there’s a Time/Date stamp on our affection for Corvettes that coincides with that first moment we laid eyes upon the machine. For me, it was ‘66 to ‘69 big block Corvettes. For Chip Miller, it may well have been this car, the 1960 Briggs “Swift” Cunningham 1960 Fuel Injected Corvette. it’s not hard to “get” the passion. When you look at the machine, it screams “RACE CAR!” And while that is definitely correct, a closer examination of the car reveals how astonishingly close the car is to a stock ‘60 Fuelie Corvette.
For an excellent look under the pretty fiberglass, check out THIS PAGE from the Corvette restoration masters at Corvette Repair. Kevin MacKay and his team are arguably the masters at vintage Corvette racer resto work. Thanks to Corvette Repair’s work, this car has won the NCRS American Heritage Award.
Here was the deal for this Le Mans-winning Corvette. The car started life as a new Fuel Injection optioned 1960 Corvette. Cunningham’s team was well seasoned at preparing a car for endurance racing and took maximum advantage of Duntov’s “racer kit” options. RPO-579D got you the then top-of-the-line 283/290-HP Fuelie engine. RPO-685 mated the 4-speed manual transmission to the Fuelie. RPO-687 added the heavy duty brakes and special steering. And RPO 1625A added the oversized 24-gallon fuel tank. That’s essentially all that was needed from the factory to build a race car upon. This configuration was the 1960 equal to a 2012 Z06. From there, the Cunningham team removed items that race cars don’t need, such as front bumpers, and fancy interior door panels, and added safety and go-fast parts, including racing lights, louvers on the hood for additional cooling, headlight covers, side-mounted exhausts, Halibrand lightweight racing wheels, a quick-fill gas cap, and miscellaneous other touches. The car was AMAZINGLY stock. This will be obvious when you check out Corvette Repair’s Portfolio Page.
The rest is history. With John Fitch and Bob Grossman doing the driving, the Cunningham Corvette took first place in the GT 5000 class and finished in 8th place overall. Pretty damn impressive for a machine so close to a production car from St. Louis! Continue reading
We’ve made it “easy as pie” for ya!
Ever since we dropped a ZR1 LS9 engine into our blog site, we’ve been posting at least once a day, sometimes more. At first, I thought, “How in the world am I going to find interesting Corvette material to post every day?” HA! Silly me! With nearly 60 years of Corvettes to talk about, I’ve concluded that I could do this for another 100 years and not run out of material to cover! The topic is so broad and deep, there’s ALWAYS something fun and interesting to talk and write about in the world of Corvettes!
So, to make it fall-off-a-log easy for you to keep up with us, we’ve created the above handy-dandy, sign up form. It’s not a “newsletter,” just a brief email announcement letting you know that there’s a new post at CorvetteReport.com. The email you will receive will look like this… Continue reading