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Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford
Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford
Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car.

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 2: Henry Ford demonstrats the strength of a plastic trunk lid.

Introduction � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
Introduction �
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  • 1 Americans Discover Sports Cars � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 2 The nature of the sports car—early and late American examples—Kurtis, Cunningham, Nash-Healey and Crosley—Edwards and Darrin using the new body material fiberglass.

  • 2 Henry Ford’s plastic-bodied cars—creation of glass-fiber and its uses—postwar pioneers Stout and Darrin—enter Eric Irwin, Bill Tritt and Earle Ebers—Glasspar and Life magazine of February 1952—Woodill Wildfire.

Plastic Fantastic

12

  • 3 Styled by Harley Earl � � �

24

Harley Earl and GM Styling—1951’s LeSabre and Buick XP-300—Watkins Glen 1951 and General LeMay’s influence—Alembic I in Detroit—studio in Fisher Body Plant 8—arrival of Ed Cole at Chevrolet and his enthusiastic support for a sports- car design.

  • 4 GM and GRP � �

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GM engineers learn about glass-reinforced plastic (GRP)—Parts Fab and its early

experiments—GM’s GRP bodies for some 1953 Motorama dream cars—plans to produce Chevrolet’s Corvette—Bob Morrison rescues the role of GRP—Corvette is tooled for manufacture.

  • 5 Chassis by Maurice Olley � � �

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Maurice Olley’s R&D Department designs a chassis for Project Opel—Mauri Rose

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 4: A Corvette underbody lifted sky-high to dramatize lightness.

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 12: For 1957, the Corvette was capable of a 132 mph top speed.

ramrods prototypes and hot-rods the Chevy six—decision to use Powerglide— Myron Scott names SO 1737—final details decided.

Perspective: Corvettes Courageous � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 70

Production Corvettes Profiled: 1953–1955 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

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  • 6 Dream Car or Nightmare

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Final design changes before manufacturing—first production cars from Flint— Mill Building is plant in St. Louis—tests of early cars—marketing and the press launch with Mauri Rose—first sales to VIPs—problems with the bodies—slow sales force production cuts—Chevrolet’s doubts about its new baby.

  • 7 Sports Car in the Doldrums

90

Enter Zora Arkus-Duntov—meeting Cole and Olley and joining GM—special Corvettes for 1954 Motorama—ideas for face-lifts—enthusiast engine swaps— first tests with new V-8—introduced with 1955 model—sales still sluggish— Corvette faces extinction. Perspective: Zora Arkus-Duntov—The Early Years � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 106

  • 8 Creating the Real McCoy� �

112

The 1956 model—Ford’s Thunderbird shows two-seater’s potential—handsome restyling with wind-up windows and hardtop—experiments with transmissions— Duntov’s chassis improvements and new camshaft—150 mph at Daytona—SR-2

racing versions. Perspective: GM’s La Salle II Dream Cars � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

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  • 9 Corvette Learns to Race

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Corvettes star at Daytona in 1956—first amateur racing efforts in 1954–55—Ed Cole urges racing but Duntov demurs—Smokey Yunick and John Fitch prepare cars for Sebring 1956—Corvette competes bravely in 12-hour race.

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 8: For 1956, new locations for exhaust pipes to avoid problems of their original positioning.

  • 10 Le Mans in the Windscreen

150

Ambitious plans for international racing in 1956—Corvette and Dick Thompson surprise rivals in SCCA events—SR models defined for series production and homologation—Le Mans effort postponed.

  • 11 Fuel Injection � � � �

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John Dolza and Zora Duntov develop fuel injection—constant-flow design cho- sen for production—Smokey Yunick helps racing development—in spite of late

problems manufacture begins. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1956–1957 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

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  • 12 Fabulous Fifty-Seven � � �

170

The 1957 model—one horsepower per cubic inch—full-synchro four-speed trans-

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 11: Rochester-Chevrolet fuel injection manifold evolution shown.

mission introduced—sparkling injected performance—Super Sport show car.

  • 13 Return to Sebring � � � � � �

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Production Corvettes for Sebring 1957—shakedown at Nassau—SR-2 for Bill Mitchell—RPO 684 racing package—Daytona speed trials and racing—GT success at Sebring—Chevy’s cars sold to private teams—American automakers agree to stop promoting performance.

  • 14 Corvette SS — The Creation � � � �

192

Duntov’s conviction that racing should be by special cars—Cole is Chevy general

manager—Harley Earl threatens a V-8-engined Jaguar—low-drag XP-64 racer styled—Duntov creates skunk works for chassis design—multitube frame and special suspension—tuned injected V-8.

  • 15 Corvette SS — The Racing

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Mule version of Corvette SS used for testing—recruiting drivers for Sebring

1957—John Fitch and Piero Taruffi the choices—Fangio and Moss sensationally lap in the Mule—racing version’s extreme heat from exhaust headers—problems in race and retirement—shutting down the program.

  • 16 Going for Baroque

228

The 1958 and 1959 models—Olds Golden Rocket inspires possible new body— four headlamps front dramatic styling changes—new interior pioneers a console— potent Corvettes excel in SCCA racing and record-breaking—production rises.

  • 17 Ed Cole’s Q-Ship

244

New Code Q passenger cars for 1960 to have transaxles and independent rear

suspension—XP-64 Corvette designed in 1957 to use components—platform frame designed—Bill Mitchell inspires new body concept—radical swing-up doors proposed—mid-engined proposals also—Code Q’s cancellation ends projects.

Perspective: Mitchell on Mitchell � � � �

 

256

  • 18 Stingray Racer � � � � � �

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Bill Mitchell succeeds Harley Earl—his passion for Corvettes—Mitchell ac- quires Corvette SS Mule chassis—special body derived from Q-Corvette road- ster—curved underbody concept for downforce—Bill finances racing by Dick Thompson—he gains GM’s approval—Stingray SCCA success in 1959 and 1960.

  • 19 Mitchell’s Motors

274

Mitchell XP-700 of 1958–59—establishing Studio X with Ed Wayne, Larry

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 14: Magnesium-bodied Corvette SS with chassis exposed.

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 16: Designers gave Corvette one of the first central consoles.

Chapter 1: The Auburn Speedster was America’s idea of a sports car. Chapter 2: Henry Ford

Chapter 18: Dick Thompson showed the Stingray’s heels to competitors.

Shinoda and Tony Lapine—foreshadowing look of future Corvette—creation of

XP-755 Shark for 1961. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1960–1961 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

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Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I.

  • 20 Sixty Specials

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The 1960 model—increased use of aluminum—major suspension rethink— racing entries abroad in GT category by Camoradi and Cunningham teams— four start the Le Mans 24 Hours—Fitch and Grossman finish eighth and win their class thanks to Bill Frick’s inspiration.

  • 21 CERV at Your Service

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In 1960 Duntov’s team designs mid-engined “R Car” single-seater—attack on Pikes Peak record a priority—striking Studio X bodywork—sensational appear- ance as “CERV I” at U.S. Grand Prix—later engines with Roots blower and twin turbos—tests at Daytona in 1962—in 1964 206 mph at Milford.

  • 22 Ducktail for 1961 � �

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The 1961 model—new rear end based on XP-700 design—successes in SCCA racing and at Sebring—Allen Markelson takes a C1 to Europe—Bunkie Knudsen

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 22: New duck tail design for 1961.

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 26: Possible rear bumper and lamp arrangments drawn by Shinoda.

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 27: For 1963, headlamp concealment was artfully achieved.

becomes Chevy chief—Joe Pike named Corvette marketing manager. Perspective: C1 Inspires Coachbuilders � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

321

  • 23 Calling Car 327 � �

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The 1962 model—consideration of the “W” V-8 for the Corvette—original en- gine enlarged to 327 cubic inches—two ratio spreads for four-speed box—meet- ing the XK-E Jaguar on the track—lone Corvette races at Le Mans.

  • 24 International Initiative

338

Four-liter prototype rules for 1962 offer Duntov an opportunity—Bunkie Knudsen keen to compete—36-valve V-8 of 4.0 liters planned—space frame for CERV II—ingenious transaxles—Shinoda smuggles body ideas—corporate crackdown

halts manufacture. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1962–1963 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

347

  • 25 A Legend’s New Legs

348

Q-Corvette and Stingray provide ideas for aborted 1962 face-lift—XP-720 is

project for all-new 1963 Corvette—clever front suspension allows independent rear with transverse leaf spring—rugged new perimeter frame—engine and gear- box refined—mule tested at Sebring in January 1962.

  • 26 Concept-Car Styling

360

XP-720 to look like the racing Stingray—controversy over coupe’s split rear

window—challenge of hidden headlamps—wind-tunnel testing of scale model in California—compromises for four-passenger version craved by Ed Cole—produc- tion of pilot cars at St. Louis—“Sting Ray” name established.

  • 27 Year of the Sting Ray

374

Two shifts at St. Louis support record sales—sensational interest in new Sting

Ray—U.S. press reports—coupe sent to Europe is evaluated—divided rear win- dow is criticized—Sting Ray called “tomorrow’s car, on the street today.”

Perspective: Corvette C2 Customs

 

386

  • 28 Fish Meets Serpent

392

High hopes for Sting Ray’s racing success—RPO ZO6 created for competition—

Knudsen involves Mickey Thompson—Cobra upsets applecart—Corvette wins first Riverside encounter—Cobra’s acceptance by SCCA as production car ends Corvette’s championship runs.

  • 29 Grand Sport Genesis

404

Chevrolet’s better idea for racing is ultralight Corvette—production of 100 planned for GT car category—special ladder frame and suspension—ultralight fiberglass body—hemi-head dual-ignition V-8 of 377 or 402 cubic inches—venti- lated disc brakes.

30

Lightweights Go Racing

416

Grand Sport production plans finalized—GM bigwigs reconfirm nonracing policy—only five cars completed—two raced in 1963 by Dick Doane and Grady Davis—testing at Waterford Hills improves cornering—377-cubic-inch engine

specification confirmed. Perspective: Thomas and the Cheetah � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

426

  • 31 Meet Mr. Mecom

430

Texan John Mecom provides fig leaf for Grand Sport entries at Nassau in

December 1963—“green” final drives throw up problems—Cobras soundly thrashed—Bernard Cahier gives his impressions—two rebuilt as roadsters—cars

sold to private owners—Roger Penske establishes team to race one. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1964–1965 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

443

  • 32 Sting Rays that Stop

444

The 1964 and 1965 models—cleaner style with one-piece rear window—high-

performance hydraulic-lifter V-8—in 1965 disc brakes after exhaustive develop- ment—GM’s disc-brake evolution.

  • 33 Power to Spare

456

The 1965 and 1966 models—Mark IV engine in ’65 with 396 cubic inches—op-

tional outside exhausts—fuel injection dropped for 1966—Mark IV now 427 cubic inches and nominal 425 bhp—RPO M22 “rock crusher” gearbox.

  • 34 L88 the Great

468

The 1967 model—rivalry from others including Pontiac’s lighter, smaller XP- 833—AMC’s AMX—ventilated steel “Rally” wheels appear—triple Holley carbu- retors for Mark IV—aluminum-head L88 engine in spring 1967—L88 entry at Le

Mans in 1967. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1966–1967 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

479

  • 35 Winchell’s Raiders

480

Frank Winchell’s Chevrolet R&D takes an interest in Corvettes—project XP-777 Corvair could be lighter version—GS-II was V-8-powered mid-engined car pro- posed to Knudsen for production—thanks to Mitchell R&D begins cooperation with Jim Hall’s Chaparral—XP-819 a rear-engined V-8 coupe—to compete with Ford’s Mach 2 the XP-880 is built—becomes 1968 Astro II show car.

  • 36 Racing Four by Four

494

Direct opposition to Ford GT40 planned for 1964 GS-3—later known as CERV

II—advanced Firestones powered by four-wheel drive—patented torque-con- verter driveline—single-overhead-cam hemi-head V-8 planned—engine used as frame behind steel tub—effort to build GS-3 comes to “screeching halt.”

Perspective: Driving CERV II

506

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 32: GM Holden’s 1969 Hurricane concept sports car.

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 34: The car that was not meant to be, the 1967 Corvette.

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 36: CERV II used the engine as part of the structure for stiffness.

Chapter 21: Zora Arkus-Duntov posed next to the CERV I. 20 Sixty Specials � � �

Chapter 35: XP-880 experimental design that became the Astro II.

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II. Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II.

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II. Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal

Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal air delivery.

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II. Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal

Chapter 41: John Greenwood with his spectacular American-flag livery.

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II. Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal

Chapter 43: 1970 Corvette cockpit with Turbo Hydra-matic transmission.

  • 37 Mako Shark the Second � � �

508

Astonishing X-15 single-seater based on Scarab—ideas used in new XP-830 con- cept car planned in 1964—Mitchell’s ideas implemented by Shinoda’s studio— shown at New York and Paris in 1965—rich in fascinating features—named Mako Shark II—becomes Manta Ray in 1969.

  • 38 Choosing the Future � �

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The 1968 model—threats from Corvair, Camaro and designs of R&D—fresh mid-engined proposals—new front-engined studies from Hank Haga and Larry Shinoda—Shinoda’s concept closely related to Mako Shark II prevails—poor visibility and aerodynamics of first body force delay from planned 1967 launch—

Zora not fully in charge—last-minute cooling problems. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1968–1969 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

533

  • 39 Preening the Shark

534

The 1968 model—C2 underpinnings get overhaul—Turbo Hydra-Matic intro- duced—new suspension geometry and wider wheel rims—as “special consultant” Duntov takes a C3 to Europe—production quality suffers and Car and Driver can- cels a test—Astro-Vette a show-car version.

  • 40 Return of the Stingray

550

The 1969 model—arrival at Chevy of John DeLorean—350-cubic-inch V-8—

alarm system option—aluminum Mark IV blocks—quarter-millionth Corvette— Rathmann and the astronauts.

  • 41 Sharks With Teeth

564

L88 racing in 1968—DeLorenzo and Thompson race for Owens-Corning—John Greenwood brings fresh impetus—GM designers are involved—Lutz, Filipinetti and Greder join forces to create legends at Le Mans—the Shark’s racing career.

  • 42 Mid-Engine Mania

584

The 1968 design of XP-882—adaptation of Oldsmobile Toronado transaxle—two prototypes ready in 1969—Joe Pike’s pessimism—attempt to merge Camaro and Corvette—surprise appearance at 1970 New York Show.

  • 43 ’Vette for the Seventies

594

The 1970, 1971 and 1972 models—styling freshening—pricing rises—solid-lifter LT1—Mark IV increased to 454 cubic inches and aluminum heads—adapting to

unleaded fuel—St. Louis plant activity. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1970–1973 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

 

607

  • 44 Foam and Aluminum the Answer?

608

Foam-plastic structure of Vega-based XP-898 of 1973—John DeLorean and Alex Mair support revived mid-engined XP-882 effort—Haga and Young style XP-895 version—aluminum structure built by Reynolds and assessed in 1972.

  • 45 Topping and Tailing the C3 � �

618

The 1973 and 1974 models—radial tires—better body mounts—L82 engine op-

tion—urethane plastic nose and tail—Gymkhana suspension—last years for the Mark IV V-8.

  • 46 Welcome to Wankel World � � �

630

GM’s commitment to the rotary Wankel engine—the XP-987GT Chevrolet GT of 1972 becomes the 2-Rotor Corvette of 1973—design by Wasenko and MacKichan—inspiration source for John DeLorean.

  • 47 Aerovette the Magnificent � � �

644

The 4-Rotor mid-engined Corvette concept of 1973—Wankel power package by Gib Hufstader—styling by Mitchell, Palmer and Haga—Paris Salon star—GM

decides against Wankel power—change in 1976 to V-8-powered Aerovette—its

significance and influence. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1974–1975 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �

659

48

Period of Adjustment

660

The 1975 and 1976 models—solely 350 V-8s—bladder fuel tanks and catalysts—

paint issues—elimination of the convertible—retirement of Zora Arkus-Duntov— arrival of Dave McLellan—GM management not keen on all-new Corvette.

Perspective: Tribute to Zora Arkus-Duntov

 

674

  • 49 From Duntov to McLellan

676

The 1977 model—new Corvette chief Dave McLellan—body-quality issues— V-6 experiments—prices march upward to improve profits—retirement of Bill Mitchell and Joe Pike—Irv Rybicki at Design Staff.

Production Corvettes Profiled: 1976–197

 

687

  • 50 Happy Anniversary!

688

Chapter 37: Design patent for the Mako Shark II. Chapter 39: 1968’s grill design gave marginal

Chapter 46: The no-nonsense front end of the XP-987GT.

The 1978 model—fastback glazing—aerodynamic refinements—new instru-

ment panel—Silver Anniversary edition—Corvette demand intensifies—frenzy

over Pace Cars for the Indianapolis 500. Production Corvettes Profiled: 1978–1982 � � � � �
over Pace Cars for the Indianapolis 500.
Production Corvettes Profiled: 1978–1982 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �
700
51
Weight Watching the C3 � � � � � �
The 1979 and 1980 models—durability issues—production sets records—plastic
702

seats lighter but controversial—turbocharged V-8 experiments—Duntov Turbo—a turbine-powered C3—a four-door Corvette—weight-reduction campaign.

Perspective: Inside Corvette St. Louis