Corvette Chiefs, Pt. 1 of 5 – Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s Nostradamus

As a young man, Duntov was into boxing, motorcycles, fast cars, and pretty girls. After his formal engineering training in Berlin, Germany, Duntov started racing cars and applying his engineering skills to racecar construction. In 1935 Duntov built his first racecar with help from his racing partner Asia Orley; they called the car, “Arkus”. Their goal was to debut the car at the Grand Prix de Picardie in June 1935. But after a series of mishaps, the car caught fire and never raced. From this point forward, all Duntov wanted to do was build racecars. Read More

Corvette Chassis History Pt. 2: C2/C3 1963-1982

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

Corvette Chassis History Pt. 1: C1 1953-1962

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

Founding Fathers Pt 4 of 6: Corvette Godfather, Zora Arkus-Duntov

One of the definitions of the word, “godfather” is; “one that founds, supports, or inspires”. Of all of the Corvette’s “Founding Fathers” none are more deserving of the term than Zora Arkus-Duntov. It is not an exaggeration to say that were it not for Duntov, the Corvette never would have made it past 1970!

Although the Corvette fit the definition of a “sports car”, when Chevrolet released the car in 1953, they said that the car was, “not a sports car”. But when Zora saw the Corvette at the 1953 GM Motorama in New York City, he said that it was the most beautiful car he had ever seen, and knew instantly that he wanted to be a part of the new Corvette team. Read More


Z06 Corvette History, Pt 1 – The 1963 Z06 Racer Kit

Corvette racers never had a better friend than Zora Arkus-Duntov. After the heavy lifting was completed and the new Sting Ray’s design was basically finished, Duntov and his team set out to create their Racer Kit for the new car. It is not known exactly how the moniker “Z06” was chosen, perhaps by chance, but it sure sounded sexy and no one knew that almost 40 years later there would be a separate performance model with the heart and soul of the Racer Kit, wearing a Z06 badge. Read More

Corvette Timeline Tails: Happy 102nd Birthday Zora Arkus-Duntov

So who was responsible for infusing the Corvette with it’s Mojo? Zora Arkus-Duntov. Zora was, without a doubt, the ultimate automotive corporate misfit to ever work in Detroit. By the time he saw the very first Corvette at the 1953 Motorama, he was 44 years old, a seasoned mechanical engineer, race car driver and builder. he was quoted as saying, “When I saw the Corvette at the Motorama, I thought it was the most beautiful car I’d ever seen.” And Duntov appreciated beauty. Just look at his stunning blond beauty wife and former Bluebell Girls dancer, Elfie Duntov. yes, Zora new a good-looking dame when he saw one and one look at the Corvette and he knew where he wanted to be – in the engineering department of Chevrolet, working on the Corvette. Read More

Zora Arkus-Duntov, Ahead of the Curve in 1953!

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