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!
Vette Videos: Larry Shinoda and Peter M. De Lorenzo Talk About Corvette Design Legend, Bill Mitchell
Shinoda shares his Mitchell “fish story” and De Lorenzo shares his “”neighborhood kid on a bike” Mitchell story!
Here’s one for the Kawinkydink Department. I thought we were all done with our look back and the life and career of Larry Shinoda – wrong! This morning while surfing around the net, I found a video about Bill Mitchell. Before I knew it, there’s Larry Shinoda telling stories about his former boss, Bill Mitchell!
Most of us in the Corvette community are very familiar with the unique “shark” paint style used on the Mako Shark-I, Mako Shark-II, and the Manta Ray concept/show cars. Larry shared a wonderful story about how the guys in the painting department perfected that distinctive paint scheme.
Also interviewed in the video is the late David E. Davis, former Campbell-Ewald Advertising man, former editor of Car and Driver, and founder and former editor of Automobile Magazine. Here’s the video…
What A Better Place To Show Off the Mako Shark-I
Lucky for us, GM design chief, Bill Mitchell had a fish fetish. Or should we say, a shark obsession. I once read an amusing story about Mitchell and his “shark thing.” He was talking with someone about the Mako Shark-I show car and he said, (sorry for the paraphrasing) “Look at the open mouth in that grille area. You can just see the blood dripping from the opening!” Yea, he was “into it.”
The story goes that Mitchell caught a big shark off the coast of Bimini and had it stuffed and mounted. It must have been his muse because he obviously picked up on three design elements.
1. The real shark’s side gills. On the car they show up just ahead of the front wheel wells and just behind the rear wheel wells.
2. The real shark’s open mouth snout. Gee Bill, no teeth for the car? I think over the years, a few show car Corvettes have been seen with shark’s teeth.
3. The real shark’s light underbelly and dark blue top. This became the signature “Mako Shark” paint job with lots of variations.
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
It’s too bad Chevy didn’t do this 50 years ago!
The very cool “Chevy Runs Deep” video featuring the C6.R Corvette racers is at the bottom of this post.
Wouldn’t it have been awesome if General Motors had told the AMA to “stuff it” back in 1957? Why should Ford and Chrysler get all the racing glory? Just before the GM enforced the 1957 AMA ban on racing, paperwork had been submitted to take Duntov’s Corvette SS race car to Le Mans. And what might have happened if Zora had been allowed to fully develop the ‘63 Grand Sport. Ah, the stuff of bench racing.
In the early years of the Corvette, Chevrolet and General Motors seemed to almost be shy about their involvement in Corvette racing. While the infamous 1957 AMA ban on corporate involvement in racing was for a very long time, their excuse for not being upfront about racing, there was PLENTY of back door parts and engineering “field testing” going on. Select individuals received special assistance that always kept things a little murky. Names such as Smokey Yunick, Roger Penske, Bill Jenkins, Jim Hall, John Greenwood, and others were often gifted with development parts (at no, or little charge) in exchange for feedback from the race track.
And for the regular customers, there were plenty of go-fast parts that were unofficially referred to as Duntov’s “racer kits.” Not that the parts came in a special box, like an AMT model kit, but they did give a wanna-be Corvette racer the benefit of solid Chevrolet engineered parts for their racing efforts.
Fortunately for every Corvette owner for the last several decades, many race developed parts slowly and subtly made their way into production Corvettes. The tide didn’t really turn in the corporate attitude towards racing until the mid-’80s when Chevrolet began to build specially prepared cars for the Corvette Challenge Series. Plus, there was a lot of help given to the C4 Corvette racers in the Showroom Stock Series. Then there was the GTP Lola/Corvettes and the Morrison Motorsports speed demon C4 ZR1 Corvette that shattered speed records. Continue reading
The old Corvette vs 911 Porsche rivalery heats up!
Motor Trend magazine has a neat new TV program titled, “Head 2 Head.” To kick off the series MTs Editor at Large, Angus MacKenzie pits the 2012 Grand Sport Corvette against a 2012 911 Carrera S. The program is a lot of fun to watch. There are vintage clips of both cars from 1963 when the rivalry first started with the arrival of the 911 taking on the new Corvette Sting Ray. Footage of the Sting Ray is from a Chevrolet promotional film featuring race car drivers Dave MacDonald and Dr. Dick Thompson wringing out the new ‘63 Vette at the Chevrolet test track in the Summer of ‘62.
Comparisons of the two cars has always been somewhat of a force fit. In the olden days, the Corvette had the upper hand in power, but the Porsche was smaller and lighter – more expensive too. Fast forward 48 years and now the 911 is a smidge larger than the Corvette and is only 211-pounds lighter than the Corvette. Continue reading
Harley Earl gave us much more than the Corvette. He could have also been called, “The King of the Razzle-Dazzle!”
Three Harley Earl Videos!
Yesterday we shared with you a brief overview of the life and career of General Motors’ first chief of design, Harley Earl. When it comes to Corvettes, it’s easy in retrospect to say that GM should have done this and done that. But it’s essential to remember that when Earl first showed his sports car renderings of what they were calling the “Project Opel,” there were no sports cars being made in Detroit. And no one even knew if there was an American market for the little machines. And on top of that, no one in Detroit really knew “how” to build a true sports car. But, everything has a beginning. And lucky for the Corvette, it skimmed by for a time, just on its good looks.
So much of what Earl pioneered in his career at GM is now commonplace practices in the automobile industry. Two of the best examples of Earl innovations were the “design studio” and “annual model changes.” Today all of the major car companies have their own private facility where ideas and concepts are thrashed out. Before Earl’s Technical Center was officially christened in 1956, there were no such places where ideas could be securely developed in private. Continue reading
Chevrolet goes straight for the heart strings! Before you watch this, get some tissues…
Okay, this isn’t a Corvette video, but it’s close enough! What a sweet story. Dad gave up his 1965 SS-396 Impala Fastback so that his children could go to college. Years later, his youngsters got Dad’s car back! (Hey kids! I had a ‘65 Vette back in ‘75, how about… oh, never mind.)
Never before or since did the big Impala have so much Corvette in its styling. The rear fender humps are straight off the mid-year Sting Ray and the two sets of triple round tail lights is what many felt the Corvette should have had, so they added their own. Chevrolet could have done something special for the hood and the Corvette knock-off wheels would have looked “boss.”
What was once considered pie-in-the-sky and experimental, is now regular production!
Aluminum has been the automotive industry’s magic material for over 60 years. Corvette engineers have been thinking about an all-aluminum engine and drive train for the Vette since the 1957 Q-Corvette proposal. While it took until 1997 to get there, the engineering department seeded aluminum parts whenever they could.
Nearly 40 years ago, Corvette engineering decided to explore an all-aluminum Corvette. Everything but the tires, plastics, wiring, glass, and other essentials was to be aluminum. Working with Reynolds Aluminum Company, the experimental XP-895 was debuted to the automotive press in 1973. The chassis design was the same as the experimental 2-rotor Corvette, but power was supplied by a 400-CID small-block engine. The completed aluminum car weighed 400-pounds less than the steel bodied XP-892 Wankel-powered experimental. While the styling of the aluminum “Corvette” was interesting, the only design element that connected it to anything Corvette was the aft portion of the roof, from the B-pillar back. Overall, it did not scream “CORVETTE!” but then again, the all-aluminum car wasn’t supposed to be a styling exercise for the C4 Corvette, it was a feasibility study.
Fast forward to the 2006 Z06 and its aluminum chassis. One of the biggest challenges with an aluminum chassis is the strength of materials issue. Lightweight aluminum is soft, so there were interesting shape and construction problems that had to be worked out to mass-produce such a chassis. While it is true that the Z06 wasn’t the first car to use an aluminum chassis (many hand-made exotic cars had aluminum chassis) the Z06 was the first “mass produced” car to have an all-aluminum chassis, engine, and suspension. The net result to that the 2012 Z06 weighs about the same as a C2 mid-year Corvette… with nearly double the horsepower as a base model C2. That’s progress for you. Continue reading
Check out the state-of-the-art Bowing Green Corvette factory on “Ultimate Factories.”
Back in the olden days, you know, pre-Bowling Green, if you wanted to buy a Corvette, you simply went to your friendly local Chevrolet dealer and bought your car. While some Corvette buyers may have been aware that their Corvette was built in St. Louis, most couldn’t have cared less, and were more focused on the experience of owning and driving their Corvette, rather than where it was assembled.
All Corvettes from 1953 to 1980 were built in the old St. Louis assembly plant. If you go back and read early road tests from the ‘60s and ‘70s you’ll see a consistent complaint – spotty to poor builkd quality. Some cars were built very well, most okay, and too many not good at all. It was a time when you didn’t want a “Monday car” for obvious reasons. Owners and magazine writers complained and GM listened. By ‘77 GM started looking for a new Corvette facility. Four location candidates were identified: Waco, texas, Wichita, Kansas, Montgomery, Alabama, and Bowling Green, Kentucky. The little town of Bowling Green, Kentucky won the contest after granting GM some serious tax breaks.
Once the deal was signed, GM had just 15 months to convert the old Chrysler AirTemp plant into a state-of-the-art assembly plant, ONLY for Corvettes. Floor space was enlarged to a million square feet – about 22 football fields. This move on GM’s part put to rest all concerns as to how serious GM was about building Corvettes. On June 1, 1981, Kentucky Governor John Brown drove the very first Bowling Green-built Corvette off the assembly line. (I wonder how much THIS car will go for at auction some day?) This was arguably one of THE most important developments in Corvette history. Continue reading
Chevrolet’s general manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen had some very cool perks. So did Mrs. Knudsen!
Yesterday we told you about Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen’s factory custom ‘64 Blue Fire Mist Corvette Coupe. Well, what a NICE husband Semon must have been! Here’s the ‘64 Corvette Bunkie got for his misses. (I know, what’a guy!) What’s not known is if Mrs. Knudsen said, “Semon, so where’s MY Corvette?” or if he just surprised her one day. I’ll vote that he surprised her one day.
This is another example of what the GM Design Center was capable of creating. In retrospect GM “could” have spun off a little boutique business offering customized luxury V.I.P. versions of their top cars, but that’s just a bench racing fantasy of mine. Florence Knudsen’s Corvette Sting Ray was just dripping with special features and some interesting preproduction features.
This car was once part of former Chevrolet dealer, Bob McDorman’s very large Corvette collection. In November 2010, 150 of McDorman’s collection of Corvettes were auctioned off by Mecum Auctions for a total of $4,599,000. Bunkie Knudsen’s Blue Fire Mist ‘64 Corvette Convertible went for $400,000 and Mrs. Knudsen’s ‘64 Corvette Coupe went for 280,000. A slide show of Jerry Heasley photos and a video are below. Here’s a list of the production options that were on the car, custom features, and hand-made fabricated parts.
Too often, cars such as this are bought and sold over and over to the point of becoming a derelict. This is what happened to the beautiful Bob Wingate FS&O 427 ‘67 Corvette. When the current owner bought the car, it was an abused hulk of what was once an awesome automobile. We’ll be covering the Wingate car tomorrow.
Here are the features of Florence Knudsen’s customized 1964 Corvette.
Factory Production Options:
* AM/FM radio with power antenna.
* Air conditioning.
* Telescope steering column and teak wood steering wheel. Continue reading
Another look at AWD, does it really matter?
(Cast your vote at the bottom of this post.)
The other day I was sharing with you the November 2011 Road & track cover story about the 2-second club – three world-class sports cars capable of 0-to-60 in LESS than 3-seconds. Club members include the Nissan GT-R Premium, the Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. All three cars had AWD and except for the nuts-o 1,183-HP Bugatti, the other two members have LESS horsepower that the ZR1. Plus, the ZR1 Corvette weighs 225-pounds LESS than the Porsche. So, the Corvette with a 106-horsepower advantage isn’t in the club, what’s up with that? “All-wheel-drive” boys and girls.
Well don’t despair Corvette fans, not all AWD supercars are in the 2-second club. The Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV could only to the 0-to-60 scoot in 3.0-seconds, so no club membership card for the Lambo either. The June ‘09 Car & Driver Lambo test car was packing 661-HP, 487 LB/FT of torque, weighed 3,850-pounds, and has a top speed of 209 to 213-mph. All that for only $457,500 – enough to buy three ZR1s and a Z06! But we won’t beat them up over a few hundred grand.
Autocar Magazine created the below video comparison between the top gun Corvette and Lamborghini cars. The Lambo has the horsepower edge plus AWD and the ZR1 has the weight advantage. So who wins on a road course? (The video is on the next page –>>) Continue reading
Champion Corvette Driver Ron Fellows Tests the Chops of a C6 Grand Sport Corvette On the Race Track & Gives a Mini-Tour of His Driving School
Ron Fellows Day continues with two FUN videos. About the only criticism I’ve ever heard about the Grand Sport is that it doesn’t have any more grunt that the base Corvette. True, true, but look at what you do get.
The 430-horsepower Corvette scoots to 60-mph in just a tick under 4-seconds, 1G lateral on the skid pad, AND gets an EPA estimated 26-MPG. I’ve heard anecdotal stories of drivers feather footing a modern Corvette at 55-MPH and getting in the low 30-plus MPG. The GS is available with the Dual-Mode exhaust (okay, it’s only an extra 6-HP, but we’ll take it) the Magnetic Selective Ride Control option and a few other goodies.
So, what’s this kind of capability like when driven by a world-class champion race car driver? The first video is a walk through with Ron of the key features of the Grand Sport. Ron says, “Now it’s time to have some fun!”.
The second video was filmed at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch, the home of the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School. Continue reading
Were it not for this, there’d have been no sports cars and no Corvettes!
The other night I had the extreme pleasure of watching another of the series of outstanding documentaries from Project XX. The “XX” doesn’t stand for 2/3s of a XXX rating, it refers to the Roman numerals “XX” for the number “20” as in 20th century. As a baby boomer that doesn’t remember a time when there was no television, I vividly remember a certain fascination with the “20th century.” It was a nice, round, even number. It seemed modern, advanced, exotic. After all, it was the beginning of the space age, and we had electricity, telephones, jet airplanes, submarines, indoor plumbing (what’a relief!), computers (the government had a few), and cars – LOTS of fast cars!
While I never saw any of the Project XX programs when they aired, it was probably a matter of I just didn’t happen to see them. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, TV programs tended to run only once. Towards the late ‘60s, “summer reruns” became the norm, so you had a second chance if you missed a show. But if you still missed a show, you were out of luck, as video recording didn’t arrive until the late ‘70s. But when video tape and later DVDs came along, there was a rush to get as much old TV programming back into the marketplace. And today, with the internet and online services, such as Netflix, most of the Project XX series is available to watch any time. Continue reading
But on the street, it’s grump, Grump, GRUMP!
Jeremy Clarkson from the TV program, “Top Gear” arguably has the best car-guy job on the planet! All he has to do is drive, burn rubber, and critique. And his critiques are usually, ah, I’ll be a lot nicer that the comments people leave on YouTube, and describe them as “crabby.”
Clarkson starts off flogging the pants off the 505-horsepower C6 Z06 at Willow Springs Raceway and is just about besides himself! He loves what the car will do on the track and has WAY too much fun rear-wheel-drifting the “Zed-Oh-Six” as he calls the car. (He’s a Brit, so we’ll cut him a little slack!) Everything is sweetness, light, and adrenaline… COOL!
Then, it’s out on to real roads – that’s when the “Clarkson grumping” begins! It’s no surprise that the C6 Z06 is closer to a track car than a GT street machine. And with 505 “net” horsepower, the overall package is more like a Continue reading