Zora Arkus-Duntov started working at General Motors on May 1, 1953. His first few months were a little bumpy, plowing through some junky assignments, such as sorting out why a prototype car with a heavy rear end wouldn’t handle right and solving a driveline vibration on a GM bus. A few weeks after Zora started, his immediate supervisor, the very capable senior engineer Maurice Olley, suggested that Duntov quit because he didn’t like Zora’s non-engineering solution to the prototype’s handling problem. And he actually considered it! (for a very short time) Read More
Lets listen in on what was the last public interview with the Godfather of high-performance Corvettes, Zora Arkus-Duntov. Enjoy this presentation from the 1991 Superflow Advanced Engine Technology Conference. Zora suffered a stroke in 1969 that made his already hard to comprehend Russian accent even more challenging to understand – but it’s not too bad. Duntov was 82-years old and although he sometimes has trouble finding and forming his words, the man’s mind was still sharp. Read More
Yesterday we shared with you the Facebook page for Zora Arkus-Duntov. I don’t know if GM still has this policy, but back in Duntov’s day, GM had a manditory retirement age of 65. So on January 13, 1975 Zora had his official GM Retirement Dinner. Aside from a few minor consulting projects, Duntov has was out of the Corvette picture. It’s almost hard to believe that he’s been out for over 36 years now. In retrospect, he was only involved with the Corvette for 22 years but obviously made a tremendous and lasting impact. In part 1, Jerry talks about his involvement with Chevrolet and the Corvette team.
In part 2, Jerry talks about possible technologies that might be used in the Corvette as a means of complying with the ever increasing fuel efficiency standards that all new cars will be required to meet. Read More
The other day while I was looking for the Wikipedia link for “Zora Arkus-Duntov” in Google, I noticed an interesting link. I said to myself, out loud, “What? Zora’s on Facebook???” Obviously Zora didn’t create his own Facebook page, Bentley Publishing, the publishers of his biography, “Zora Arkus-Duntov – The Legend Behind Corvette” by Jerry Burton created the page. If you’re a Duntov fan, this is a delight! The Facebook page is lots or comments, compliments, and photos – LOTS of photos that I’ve never seen before and I’ve been following this man for a long time.
If you haven’t read Jerry Burton’s Duntov book, READ IT! You’re in for a treat. Some people really are larger than Life. People such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Elvis Presley, and many others, just seemed to shine brighter than most. They’re just “people” with the same foibles and shortcomings as the rest of us. They just do extraordinary things and have an unusual exuberance for Life that shines through their life’s work. Read More
The genius of Duntov’s chassis was how much lower the center of gravity was. Chevrolet engineer Maurice Olley was a production car chassis and suspension expert when he designed the C1 chassis. As a racing expert, Duntov knew he had to get the center of gravity much lower. The C1’s chassis had a parameter frame with x-bracing in the center for rigidity. The car’s occupants sat on top of the frame. Everything measured from there; the cowl height, engine height, and everything else. Read More
The waiting is finally over! The “pie-in-the-sky” dream of Zora Arkus-Duntov of a mid-engine high-performance sports car wearing a Corvette badge has arrived. The journey to the mid-engine C8 was long, very long.
The C7 Corvette debuted on January 13, 2013 and by the end of April 2013, Chevrolet announced pricing and hard details. By the third quarter of 2013 C7 deliveries began. Then on August 14, 2014, less than a year after C7 production began, Motor Trend announced online, “SCOOP! Mid-Engine Chevrolet Corvette is a Go”.
I said, “HUH?!?!? The C7 just came out. Come on, quit it with the mid-engine tease! Read More
But the unkindest insult leveled against the C1 Corvette was that it was a clumsy attempt by Chevrolet to build a “parts bin sports car.” As if to say that Harley Earl, Ed Cole, Maurice Olley, and Mauri Rose slap-dashed together car and presented it as “America’s sports car.” I will dispel this myth once and for all. Although it was Harley Earl that came up with the concept and directed the shape of the first Corvette, it was Chevrolet’s new chief of engineering and soon to become general manager, Ed Cole that was the corporate driving force behind the project. Cole was part of the generation of WW-II era men with a “Let’s get it done, now!” attitude. Cole loved being a corporate rebel. His motto was, “Kick the hell out of the status quo!” Cole liked to “shake things up” so he created his Dream Team to create his Chevrolet sports car. Read More
Peter Brock: The Man Who Penned the Sting Ray Dateline: 2-28-19 – Images: GM Archives; Graphics & by K. Scott Teeters Of the six men in our “Corvette’s Founding Fathers” series, Peter Brock had the shortest career at GM, but his contribution was enormous. Like all of the Founding Fathers, Brock had “gasoline in his… Read More
Larry Shinoda was the perfect designer/stylist for GM VP of Styling Bill Mitchell. In the same way that Mitchell fit with Harley Earl, Shinoda clearly understood what Mitchell wanted. As VP of Design, Mitchell’s job was to hold the vision for what he knew would be new and fresh, then lead his designers and stylists to bring his vision into reality. Corvettes were always Mitchell’s pet projects and he was famous for saying, “Don’t get cocky, kid! I design Corvettes around here!” Mitchell’s Corvettes were about design, speed, power, and performance. And for that, he needed a designer/stylist equal to Duntov’s engineering/racing prowess. Larry Shinoda was his man. Read More
The Mark IV big-block engine was intended to be a replacement engine for the W-Series 348/407/427 truck engine. But very quickly in the development phase it was discovered that the engine was a torque monster.
When released in spring of 1965 in the Corvette as the 396/425 L78 for only $292, it was obvious that it was easier to make big horsepower and torque with the new big-block to the more exotic and expensive ($538) L84 Fuelie. The rest is history. Read More
Milestone dates only happen once. In September 2018 I was talking with former Corvette development engineers Bill Tower and said to him, “Bill, do you realize that this December it will be 40 years since you bought your Grand Sport?” Bill sputtered a little and said, “Oh man, now you’re really making me feel old!” I said, “Ain’t we all, Bill!” and we both had a good laugh. Then I said, “You should have a party, or something, Bill.”
Bill thought about it and contacted his friend, Steve Hurley, owner of Stingray Chevrolet (a GREAT name for a Chevy dealership!), and Steve said, “Let’s do it here at the dealership. The 25-foot Christmas tree will be up and we’ll make it great!” Read More
Since C8 mule cars have been seen for months now on public roads wearing camo wraps and photos are getting clearer and clearer, a January 2019 debut as a 2020 model seems likely. Last July very clear images of a development C8.R (racing) Corvette was seen, indicating that the Corvette Racing Team will probably race a mid-engine Corvette for the 2019 season.
Today Motor1.com published five very well done digital renderings of the C8 mid-engine Corvette, based on the numerous photos we’ve been seeing on the net. I am certain that the C8 will be a wundercar, chock full of gee-wiz goodies.
A mid-engine Corvette has been the ultimate pie-in-the-sky Vette since the 1960s when mid-engine was the best layout for balance and the state-of-the-art of tires back in the day. But we’ve come a long way, baby, since the days of 100-percent mechanical supercars. Between electronics, computers, vastly superior materials, and tires with more sticky than rubber cement; does the mid-engine layout still make sense? Read More