Grand Sport Corvette
See the original Grand Sports in action at Sebring 1962 and Nassau 1963!
Dateline: 8.13.18 – Photo: GM Archives Last week while finishing up a story about Bill Tower’s Grand Sport #005 Corvette for Vette Magazine, I came across two YouTube videos posted by GM Heritage Center. The videos are silent and were probably shot with an 8mm camera that someone brought along to the events. The film looks like hand-held and amateurish, not at all the same quality of the Jam Handy films from that era. But, you do get to see the Grand Sports in action.
The above film was shot in December 1962 when Zora Arkus-Duntov took Grand Sport #001 to Sebring for testing. Note how “stock” the original batch of Grand Sports, originally called the “Lightweights” looked. Grand Sport Corvettes always suffered from front end lift which was mostly attributed to the shape of the Sting Ray. While the front end design of the Sting Ray indeed let way too much air flow UNDER the car, another big factor in the lift was how the new Corvette’s rear suspension would “squat” down. Continue reading
Question: What’s better than a Grand Sport? Answer: TWO Grand Sports
Special Edition Corvettes are a fun part of the Corvette hobby. Production numbers for this group vary widely from as low as 20, 2009 Competition Edition Z06 cars to a staggering 11,632, 2004 Commemorative Edition coupes, convertibles, and Z06 cars. Chevrolet only made 1,000 1996 Grand Sports – 820 coupes and 180 convertibles, which puts the C4 Grand Sport in the rare zone of special edition Vettes. The Grand Sport convertible (only 180 units) is in the VERY rare category.
John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, owner of the Grand Sport Registry, says their current membership consists of 261 C4 (1996) Grand Sports. But he emphasizes that the GSR caters to all GS generations, be it C2, C4, C6, or C7, and that total membership is close to 800 Grand Sport enthusiasts from across the USA and 12 other countries. So, yes, all Grand Sport Corvettes are indeed special. Corvette product planners have a unique way of surprising the Corvette faithful with special editions. But in 1996, no one dreamed that the Grand Sport would become what it is today.
Hutch and Patti Hutchinson are the proud owners of TWO Grand Sport Corvette convertibles, both obtained Continue reading
The BIG Return of the Grand Sport
Dateline: 1.17.17 – The long-view story of the Grand Sport now has four chapters. The first chapter told the story of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s vision of offering to the public, lightweight, powerful, all-out racing cars that “could” be driven on the street – not unlike what Ferrari was offering – available through Chevrolet dealerships. It was a great idea, but went over like a belch in church with GM’s brass. The plug was pulled immediately and the five pilot Grand Sports were left to go fallow with no factory development or backing.
Part Two of the story happens 33 years later, in 1996. By this time, unless you seriously followed the early days of Corvette racing, you probably never heard of a “Grand Sport.” Continue reading
2017 Grand Sport Corvette #001 Auctions Off at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, for ONLY $170,000
AMAZING! The fully loaded, first C7 Grand Sport Corvette goes for only $170,000!
Dateline – 4-8.16: This is arguably the collectible Corvette buy of the decade.
Here are the details:
Lot #3003 – The winning bidder will receive the first retail production 2017 Corvette Grand Sport Collector Edition VIN #001.
The latest member of the Corvette lineup, the 2017 Grand Sport carries on the racing spirit of the original 1963 model, combining the power of the legendary LT1 6.2-liter engine with a Continue reading
by Mark Vaughn as republished from Autoweek
With the efforts of Superformance, there is no shortage of great Grand Sports
Dateline 01.20.16: Even in the rarified, no-necked, hairy-backed world of ultimate muscle cars and the men who love them, the Corvette Grand Sport is exalted. Rumble and growl all you want about your Cobras, your GT40s and your whatever-the-hell-else you think is the ultimate road brute, but the Corvette Grand Sport just might crush them all. Continue reading
as republished from Showroom.WindingRoad.com
Offered for the first time at public sale the purposed built first GM licensed Grand Sport convertible
Dateline 12.9.15: Location: Jupiter, FL…Offered for the first time at public sale the purposed built first GM licensed Grand Sport convertible. This multiple race winning car was by Alan and Edward and Edward Sevadjian and the team at Duntov motors. It was built as his personal car, and has gone thru rigorous testing. And set up. No expense or short cuts were made. Top notch materials were used throughout the build. Continue reading
by Scott Teeters, Editor of Corvette Report
Sellers disappointed when reserves not met.
Dateline 11.23.15: The 1996 Grand Sport was the sixth Special Edition Corvette and did more to bring the moniker “Grand Sport” back into the consciousness of the Corvette community than anything else. Prior to 1996, it was mostly Corvette racing fans that knew what a “Grand Sport Corvette” really was – Zora Arkus-Duntov’s lightweight Cobra killer that he envisioned being offered in every Chevrolet dealership in America. It was a noble concept, but even Chevrolet General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen couldn’t get a special exemption from GM’s management to allow the Chevrolet build and sell Corvette race cars. (I know, it’s a bummer, man!)
As the original 1963 Grand Sport racers faded into the collective memory of motorsports, the legend turned into a myth, until slowly but surely, Continue reading
by Staff as originally published in Corvette Online. History by John Heinricy
We recently attended the C4 Gathering at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Aside from the opportunity to check out the Skydome progress and see the great new displays, we had the opportunity to sit in on a few presentations.
One such session was conducted by John Heinricy and Jim Minneker. He also happens to own C4 Grand Sport serial No. 1, but we will touch on that a bit later. Heinricy had some awesome first-hand information, and even told a few stories that few people have ever heard about his experiences working for GM. Continue reading
At the Simeone Automobile Museum in Philadelphia, you can actually see, hear,
and smell the Wintersteen 427 L88 Grand Sport Roadster.
Words and Art by Scott Teeters, written for Vette magazine and republished from SuperChevy.com
The Grand Sport is well storied, so here’s the short version. Zora Arkus-Duntov was a racer/engineer first and foremost. Racing and race cars was always first in his thinking, with production cars a distant second. He essentially used General Motors as his race car shop.
When Duntov learned that Carroll Shelby was building Cobras he tried outflanking Shelby with his own lightweight. Five prototype tube-framed coupes were based on the ’63 Sting Ray wearing Halibrand wheels and side-mounted exhausts. Though Duntov had the backing of Chevrolet general manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen and Ed Cole, on January 5, 1963, GM’s hammer came down and the Grand Sport was officially dead. Continue reading
A Most Excellent Addition To Your Corvette Library
I’ve been collecting car magazines and car books since the mid-’60s. My library has gotten larger than I ever imagined. There’s one book that I accidentally bought three times. I have four different versions of essentially the same book authored by Randy Leffingwell and published by Motorbooks. All four versions are very nice books, loaded with excellent images and well written prose by Leffingwell. But each time I bought the book online, I thought I was getting a different book because the covers and sizes are all different.
So, when I saw that Motorbooks was publishing “Corvette Sixty Years,” I was holding out in hopes of a totally new book and not a shuffled around version of the previous “Corvette Fifty Years” with some updated C5 and C6 material. I was NOT disappointed! Leffingwell and MBI have delivered the goods! The book is, for me, a visual delight. You see, when you have as many books and magazines as I have, you’ve probably seem nearly all of the old vintage photos showing the design and development work on the Corvette. At least, that’s what I thought!
A colorful new addition to Scott Teeters’ collection of Corvette art prints!
Work continues on our new prints enterprise. In April 2012 we partnered with Fine Art America so that our Corvette art print customers could enjoy the many options afforded by FAA. Our latest offering, “Corvette Box of Candies” came as a happy result of working on our horizontal and vertical layouts of the Corvette Special Editions and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars layouts.
After I completed the graphics for the Special Editions and Pace Cars, it occurred to me that if I put them all on one layout, they’d look like a box of brightly colored, pretty, hard candies. You know those bright-colored, sweet, hard candies you often see in the display cases at Hallmark Card shops. Corvettes in the layout include all of the Special Edition Corvettes from the 1978 25 Anniversary Corvette to the 2011 Carbon Edition Z06, and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars from 1978 to 2008. So I ran the idea by the boss and she said, “Make it so, Dude!” So, the Dude, got’r done! Continue reading
It’s time to do your patriotic Corvette duty and CAST YOUR VOTE!
Your local Corvette polling place is at the bottom of this post
The other day we were talking about the Ron Fellows Spring Mountain Special Edition 2012 Z06 Corvette. After posting the story I was doing some followup reading and found one post that called the car “boring.” Really? What part? Are we becoming a wee bit jaded with Special Edition Corvettes because they aren’t something other than a coordinated package of performance parts? Me thinks so.
This is an aside, but I’ve been reading similar blather on the net about Corvettes in general. I call it “goofy sniping crap.” You know what I’m talking about, the endless complaining that the Corvette isn’t a Nissan or a Porsche, or a world car, or whatever. The car is either too big (it’s about the same size as a 911 Porsche), it’s too heavy (the Nissan GTR is almost 600 pounds MORE than a Z06), it’s too expensive for younger buyers (and the Porsche and Nissan is cheaper?), materials are low grade (they want cheap, expensive materials?), and on and on.
But the fact remains that; 1. We’re in a deep economic recession, and 2. Even the base model (costing sometimes less than $50,000 if you shop around) delivers more performance per dollar than any other “sports car” you can buy. PERIOD! Is the base Corvette the baddest boy on the block? No. But if that’s what you need to feel good, be prepared to pony up three times as much as a Corvette for a top level Porsche. No, modern Vettes are tight, well-engineered performance cars that can give an owner years of dependable automotive performance pleasure for as little as $50K. Sorry for the digression.
So what’s up with all the special edition Corvettes? They’re just that, “special.” perhaps the disconnect for some is how one defines “special.” Former Corvette engineer and race car driver gave a little bit of insight into what it takes for a major manufacturer like Chevrolet to build special editions. John was largely credited with coming up with the concept for the ‘96 Grand Sport. “Monday morning quarterbacking” is for many, a sport un-to-itself. “Well, it’s just this and that, and why didn’t they do this and such, and wouldn’t you think that they could have…” Heinricy revealed that clearing out the assembly line time and pulling all the parts needed to build 1,000 Grand Sports was a major pain in the butt. For a tuner shop, 1,000 of anything would be a big deal. But for a big manufacturer, small numbers of specialty cars is a big headache. 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
This could have been the beginning of a grand adventure for Corvette racing!
This is how we tend to think of the ’63 Grand Sport Corvette, with its aggressive fender flares, scoops, vents, and fat racing wheels and tires. Initial production was supposed to be 100, but Duntov envisioned at least 1,000 Grand Sports!
For those of us who are fans of the early days of the Corvette, the name, “Zora Arkus-Duntov” casts a very long shadow. GM’s chief of styling, Bill Mitchell once referred to Zora as, “Just a lowly engineer on a low-volume production Chevy.” While that may well have been correct, thanks to friends in very high places inside Chevrolet, Duntov got away with some astonishing things. And the Grand Sport wasn’t the first or last bodacious stunt he pulled.
There wasn’t much under the thin fiberglass body. The car had magnesium Hallibrand knock-off wheels, an aluminum bell housing, transmission case, and rear differential, plus a 36-gallon fuel tank. Note how the side pipes came off the stock cast iron exhaust manifolds. FIA rules mandated that the cars carry a spare tire. (GM photo from the book “Corvette Grand Sport” by Lowell C. Paddock)
For this adventure, Duntov’s GM “angel” was Simon “Bunkie” Knudsen. While Bunkie personally never raced cars, he did work on the GM assembly line as a college student in the ‘40s and was passionate about race cars. While general manager at Pontiac from 1956 to 1961, Knudsen was responsible for Continue reading
“Vettes Made Famous On The Track And Screen” by Randy Leffingwell & Photography by Dave Wendt
Let me get this out of the way, up front. I love this book! For Corvette lovers, like us, this book is a visual delight. Veteran automotive writer, Randy Leffingwell and seasoned photographer, Dave Wendt have teamed up to present a visual and literary trip through 18 unique Corvettes.
As you page through the book, keep in mind that the images you see have not been PhotoShopped – they are “photographs.” Now “novel.” Wendt is a master at lighting. This is photographic “art.”
Keep in mind that our criteria for this book is, “Vettes Made Famous On Track And Screen.” After I had that settled in my head, everything was fine. Our visual trip begins at the beginning – the 1953 Corvette. The images draw out the inherent beauty of the car. It was just too good-looking to give up on, by a few very important people. That’s where Leffingwell’s prose lays out the stories. Continue reading