History/News/Commentary from K. Scott Teeters

Corvette Timeline Tales

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Corvette Timeline Tales: Happy 65th Birthday to America’s Only True Sports Car, the Corvette! – VIDEOS

On this date in 1953, GM officials never imagined their little fiberglass concept car would one day become a world-class sports car and GM’s technological flagship automobile!

Dateline: 1.17.18 – Story by Mike Waal, Images GM Archives – On this date in Corvette History, Harley Earls prototype Corvette (EX-122) was introduced to the public at the GM Motorama at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in Manhattan, NYC, on January 17, 1953.

I was born and raised in Manhattan. My Dad was working for Cadillac at their show room dealership on 57th Street and Broadway, in Manhattan. Dad had access to all the car shows. While I didn’t attend this event with him, I was about to turn 6, some time between this date and 1955 I attended my first car show with my Dad. What a thrill!

My Mom got me dressed in a suit with a white shirt and tie, and put me on the subway train to meet my Dad, who was waiting for me. This is how I saw, in person, my first Corvette!

Here’s a fun Promotional film for the 1953 Corvette. Continue reading


Dec 25 1909 – Corvette Timeline Tales: Happy Birthday to Corvette Godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov – 2 VIDEOS

December 25th, 1909 – Happy Birthday to Corvette Godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov

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Dateline 12.25.17: (UPDATE! My monthly column in Vette Magazine, “The Illustrated Corvette Series” is in the middle of a six-part series titled, “Corvette’s Founding Fathers”. Part 4, “Corvette Godfather, Zora Arkus Duntov” will be available soon on Super Chevy .com, and will be in the June 2018 issue of Vette that will be out in March 2018.)

Zora used to joke that he had the “birthday-Christmas curse”, which means you won’t get double the number of gifts – which is funny coming from him because he was Jewish. The man had an awesome sense of humor! Regardless, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s part in the Corvette story is just as important as the original design of the car.

When Zora went to work for GM on May 1, 1953, no one inside GM knew anything about serious sports car racing. I Continue reading


Timeline Tales – 11-25-81: A pre-production C4 Corvette runs 1.01 g on skidpad at GM Milford Proving Ground!

When it comes to skid-pad figures, Corvettes have been in “exotic territory” since 1984!

Dateline: 11.29.17 (Photo GM Archives) – Thirty-five years ago the statistical benchmark for performance sports car handling was getting as close to, or over the magical “1 g” mark on the skid pad. So when news broke that a development Corvette had gone past the 1 g mark, the rumor mill kicked things up a few notches, because the only machines that were in the 1 g territory were racecars, and perhaps a few exotic streetcars.

When the new 1984 was finally released into the hands and lead feet of magazine road testers, the numbers weren’t over the magic 1 g level, but here’s what Car and Driver had to say, “The road holding on this new machine is so advanced that we recorded the highest skidpad lateral acceleration — 0.90 g — ever observed with a conventional automobile by this staff. That figure practically trivializes the previous high-water marks, in the 0.82-g range, generated by such exotics as the Porsche 928 and assorted Ferraris.” (Take THAT Germany and Italy!)

Today’s performance benchmark is 0-60 in the 2-second zone. So far only a few modern streetcars are capable of that head-swimming feat. Continue reading


Corvette Timeline Tales: Corvette Racecars ROMP Daytona 200 GTO Class!

November 21, 1971: IMSA’s first Daytona 200 race and Corvettes ROMP the GTO class!

Dateline: 11.21.17We’re not sure how often this has happened, but “not often” is a safe bet. This was the inaugural season of IMSA’s GT Championship racing series. The cars were Grand Tour-style racecars that ran in the GTU and GTO classes. “GTU” class was for cars with engines under 2.5-liters and “GTO” class was for cars with engines over 2.5-liters. At the end of the 200-mile race, Don Yenko and Dave Heinz came in 1st overall and 1st in the GTO class, followed by SEVEN other Corvettes!
 
It was a banner season for Corvettes and Chevrolet in IMSA GTO racing in 1971 with Chevrolet winning the Constructor’s Championship for the year with 51 points and Shelby way back in 2nd place with 13 points.

Here’s how the cars crossed the finish line:

1st in GTO class and 1st overall is the Toye English #57 1969 Corvette L-88 driven by Dave Heinz and Don Yenko. Continue reading


Corvette “Timeline Tales” Nov. 16, 1956: One magnesium-bodied XP-64 (Corvette SS) would be built for the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring race

The 1957 Corvette SS Racer’s exotic body turned out to be the hot ticket to failure!

Image: GM Archives

Dateline: 11.16.17 (VIDEO BELOW!) – This was such a heady time! Corvettes were starting to do well in racing and the Fuelie was about to go into production. Chevy general manager Ed Cole gave Duntov the green light to move forward with the XP-64/Corvette SS racer. The XP-64 was a purpose-built, tube-frame racer that was to be the template for Duntov’s 1957 Le Mans assault team of Corvette SS racecars.

Image: K. Scott Teeters – The Corvette SS Racer is owned by the Indy 500 Museum. This photo was taken at Bill Tower’s 2016 “60 Years of Corvette Racing” seminar at the 2016 12 Hours of Sebring event.

“Lightweight” was sports car exotica in those days and the only thing lighter than fiberglass or aluminum was magnesium, so the XP-64 was to have an exotic magnesium body.   Continue reading


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

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

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

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


Corvette Timeline Tales: July 12, 1967 – The Last C2 Sting Ray Rolls Off the St. Louis Assembly Line – VIDEO

Photo: Proteam Corvette, Napoleon, Illinois, www.ProteamCorvette.com

The restored “Last Sting Ray” 1967 427/390 Corvette Coupe sells for a whopping, $660,000!

Dateline: 7-12-17 – Obviously there’s a first-and-last of every Corvette ever built. Unfortunately, there was no pause for celebration on July 12, 1967 when the very last C2 Corvette Sting Ray rolled off the St. Louis Assembly line. Not even a moment for a snap shot! Too bad! But forty years and three months later there was PLENTY of celebrating at the October 2007 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction.

Up until the last C3 rolled off the St. Louis assembly line, no one paid attention to these cars. The VIN number indicates that this was the last C2 Sting Ray to ever be built, Terry Michaelis, owner of ProTeam Corvette, in Napoleon, Illinois bought the rough Corvette Continue reading


Corvette Timeline Tales: July 8, 1955 – One of Five 1954 Corvette Nomad Show Cars BURNED!

One of the five 1954 Corvette Nomad show cars that would today be worth over 1,000,000 was ordered destroyed by a bureaucrat!

Dateline: 7-8-17 – Norm Brown got a new job at Chevrolet, but little did he know that he’d be helping to send one of the five Corvette Nomad show cars built for the 1954 Motorama to the crusher. According to Mario van Ginnekin’s  ***  “Remarkable Corvettes” webpage, three of the five Nomads are known to still exist. “Why” one of the Nomads was sent to the crusher is not known. However, even though the ’56 Corvette with its updated body was about to go into production, the Corvette was not generally liked inside GM.

Photo: GM Archives

Also, by the end of the 1955 production cycle, Chevrolet had only sold 4,640 units from ’53 through ’55, which was NOTHING for a GM car. Continue reading


Corvette Timeline Tales: June 26, 1958 – A 1958 Corvette becomes the 39,000,000th Chevrolet built!

A little known Chevrolet/Corvette milestone, a 1958 Corvette marks the 39 Millionth Chevrolet!

Dateline: 6.26.17 – In the early days of the Corvette’s existence, GM had an odd relationship with the car. Power-players such as Harley Earl, Ed Cole, and Bill Mitchell went to bat for the struggling sports car many times. And then there was the wild Russian engineer with the funny name, Zora Arkus-Duntov that pushed to make the car a successful racecar. But GM is all about sales and Chevy wasn’t selling many Corvettes. By the end of 1957 Chevy sold 14,446 Corvettes in total from 1953. In 1957 alone, Chevrolet sold 254,331 4-door Bel Air Sedans!
No, Corvette sales weren’t even a blip on the GM profit margin. So it is peculiar that GM would have chosen a 1958 Corvette to officially be the “39th Million Chevrolet. But bean-counting aside, the Corvette indeed had a special place in GM. No other car was using what was then, a new high-tech composite material
Continue reading


Corvette Timeline Tales: June 21, 1996, Mike Yager’s Last C4

June 21, 1996 – Mike Yager helped build and take delivery of “The Last C4 Corvette”

Dateline: 6.21.17 – “First and Last” Corvettes have become a niche specialty in the Corvette hobby. Year-by-year, the “first and last” Corvette is only marginally interesting. They’re cool to own or set aside, but not nearly as unique as the “first or last” of a generation.

Mike Yager of Mid America Motorworks came up with a novel idea. While most collectors think of ” special editions” and “firsts,” Mike thought of the “last” C4 Corvette off the production line. No one had ever considered that before. When GM announced in mid-’95 that the ’96 model would be the last of the C4 Corvettes, Yager launched his plan. Mike leveraged his relationship with Chevrolet with a unique proposal. Yager’s request was to be permitted to buy the very last Corvette to roll off the production line, on the condition that the he would retain ownership of the car and display it at his “MY Garage” (Mike Yager Garage). GM liked the proposal, had nothing to lose, and a lot of publicity to gain.

Mike decided that the Last C4 should be visually unique. In honor of the first Corvette, he chose polo white as the body color. From there he added the Grand Sport rear fender flares, white ZR-1 wheels, red Grand Sport front fender hash marks, special embroidery for the seats, and special “Last C4” decals for the front fenders and the windshield. Under the hood was a (See Videos) Continue reading


1971 – Owens-Corning L88 Corvettte #11 Wins Daytona

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

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


1979 – Dave McLellan Redesigns the Corvette

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

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


1953 – Corvette Concept Car Debuts at GM Motorama, NYC

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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