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

Dateline: 12.23.11

Duntov’s Thoughts Pertaining To Youth, Hot Rodders, and Chevrolet

Chevrolet engineer and Duntov co-worker, Gib Hufstader, managed to save one of Duntov's DOHC experimental engines from the scrap heap! It might have been one of the above engines. Too bad they all weren't saved!

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 Duntov actually considered it! (for a very short time)

But ever the “GO-GO!” racer guy, Duntov had gasoline in his veins and was a pretty good writer for an engineer. Below are his thoughts on the then burgeoning aftermarket hot rod industry from a letter he wrote to his boss and inside champion, Ed Cole. Lovers of high performance machines never had a better friend than Duntov! Enjoy! – Scott

Related:
“Kick the hell out of the status quo!” – Ed Cole

Chevrolet announces the 100-millionth Small-Block Chevy engine to be built and installed in a ’12 Corvette in Fall 2011 + Small-Block Chevy Engine Slideshow!

Gib Hufstader Inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame


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

  • I am SO GLAD I signed up for your Corvette Report. Sincere Thanks. This last letter posted from Duntov is the kind of stuff I have wanted to know for YEARS. I’ ve been a Vette NUT since I saw my first 1969 427 tearing down the road to Watkins Glenn with sidepipes making my skin go goose bumped, and my hair stand on end. Sitting on hay bales, watching Cobras and Vettes tear up downtown was amazing, and 20/20 Hind Sight tells me I was watching HISTORY being made…. Reading the “INSIDE” mind set of Zora in that letter, made me also realize the DUNTOV CAM that was available, was a further attempt to get the GM brass to pull their head out. Some people know business, others know PEOPLE and what makes their blood run hot… SPEED! Thanks for the info. Keep up the great work. You have an OUTSTANDING website, art work (i’ve purchased some in the past, especially MAKO SHARK stuff))..and I look forward to a lot more of the same.
    Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very Blessed New YEAR!
    Steve

    Steven M. Kuryla
    Chief Warrant Officer (R)
    U.S.Army Intelligence

    Vettemeister Corvette Restorations

  • Thanks for the nice note Steve. I got the infection from a guy that worked at a local hobby store that owned a ‘67 427/435 Corvette Roadster with side pipes. Those of us kids that were into cars would often ride to the store parking lot around closing time hoping for a chance to see and hear Bruce fire up his machine to go home. I just remember looking and listening to that thundering lumbering beast barking through the side pipes and thinking, “I’ll bet that’s what SEX is like!”

    Today would have been Zora’s 102nd birthday, so we’re making this Zora’s birthday weekend. Check out today’s post. Also, we’ll have a guest blogger that’s a master model builder. Don Theune will be sharing his experiences with Zora and his delightful wife Elfie this week coming up.

    And since you’re into the big-block racers, look for the John Greenwood posts, you’ll like them too. Use the search tool at the top right of the site.

    Many years ago, I had a Porsche friend that was always going on about 911s. This was back in the ‘70s. One day he called me to tell me that over the weekend while running his 914-6 Porsche at Lime Rock, a friend of his with an A/Production 427 Corvettes said, “Hey Joe! Want to take my Vette out for a few laps?” Joe said, “Sure!” But he wasn’t prepared for the torque (you know, that “other horsepower” of an all-out race prepared 427 Chevy engine. Poor Joe was just beside himself! All he could say to me was, “My GAUD! The POWER! Every time I would shift, the car would SLAM me back into the seat! I have a huge bruise on the small of my back! The POWER!” 9,000 RPM from those Porsche motors is cool, but ain’t nothing like big-block horsepower and torque!

    Merry Christmas (yes, we say, “MERRY CHRISTMAS” here!) Steve. Glad you like the site. It’s a blast to drive. – Scott

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