Category: Zora Arkus Duntov

The 1996 Grand Sport Corvette celebrates its Silver Anniversary – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

The 1996 Grand Sport Corvette celebrates its Silver Anniversary – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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Conjuring up a special edition vehicle to trigger interest and promote higher sales within its model line is a well-established marketing tool that proves most successful when the result offers exclusivity in a captivating package. To those ends, Chevrolet ushered out the C4 Corvette era by offering the daringly hued, striped, and hashmarked Grand Sport coupe and convertible in 1996. Listed under RPO Z16, production was capped at 1,000 cars (ultimately 810 coupes and 190 convertibles) and its powertrain featured the new LT4 5.7-liter V-8 with the familiar ZF six-speed transmission

Borrowing its name from the five legendary 1963 lightweight Corvette race cars developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the 1996 Grand Sport wore Admiral Blue metallic paint that wasn’t offered on other Corvettes and a wide white stripe, both reminiscent of one of the ’63s that A.J. Foyt had raced. Red hashmarks on the left front fender of the C4 also paid homage to identifiers used on three of its C2 namesakes.

The coupe was also fitted with rear wheel-opening flares to contain its P315/35ZR-17 Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires, which were last seen on the then recently departed ZR-1, as were the P275/40ZR-17s up front. The five-spoke ZR-1 style aluminum wheels were painted black but maintained a bright outer lip, and they measured 17 x 9.5 in front and 17 x 11 out back. Convertibles retained the standard Corvette’s 255/45ZR-17s fore and 285/40ZR-17s aft on 17 x 8 and 17 x 9.5 wheels respectively (also with ZR-1 styling), thus no rear flares were needed. The brake calipers were painted black, and those in front sported “Corvette” callouts.

Embroidered “Grand Sport” lettering adorned the perforated-leather-upholstered power-operated Sport seats with lumbar support in the black or red/black interior. Floor mats and carpeting were also black.

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From “Blackjack” to Stingray: The Inside Story of How the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Came to Be – Paul A. Eisenstein @TheDetroitBureau

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The original prototype was a “clown suit” hiding the plan to bring out a mid-engine supercar.

Original Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov helped develop these concepts: (l-r) CERV I, CERV III and CERV II.

With the launch of the new, eighth-generation Corvette, Chevrolet finally gets what it – and many fans – have long wanted: a mid-engine design that can truly compete with some of the world’s best sports cars.

Mike Petrucci, the lead development engineer, stands alongside an early C8 “mule.”

It’s been a long time coming. Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s first chief engineer, began tinkering with the concept way back in 1960 with the CERV I concept vehicle. He described it as “a design without limit” and an “admirable tool,” contending that it showed GM “what to put in Corvette.”

Throughout the years, Arkus-Duntov and his successors would continue to tinker with the mid-engine concept, launching additional prototypes like CERV II and CERV III. But it would take until the middle of this past decade before senior management at General Motors finally gave the idea the go, according to Mike Petrucci, who served as lead development engineer on the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, or C8.

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Cars We Remember: Getting to know Zora Arkus-Duntov, his Grand Sport Corvettes and an upcoming 2020 mid-engine ‘Zora’ Corvette – Greg Zyla @AledoTimesRecord

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Known as the Godfather, Father or Immortalizer of the Corvette, (take your pick) Zora Arkus-Duntov was born in Belgium in 1909 to Russian-Jewish parents and then moved with them first to Berlin, Germany, and then Leningrad, Russia. When World War II broke out and after serving in the French Air Force, Zora found his way to the United States where he and his brother, Yura, established the Ardun Mechanical Company in Manhattan, New York. (Ardun is from ARkus DUNtov while Zora’s hyphenated last name combines both Arkus (his father) and Duntov (his stepfather after his mother remarried). Zora was also a successful race driver himself, winning many important events from Pikes Peak to first in class at LeMans. Ardun was famous for its hemispherical Flathead Ford V8 aluminum cylinder heads that pushed horsepower to an astounding 300-plus. Ardun was also one of the very first major eastern seaboard aftermarket performance parts companies as most operated out west ala Isky, Offenhauser and Edelbrock to name a few.

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