Grand Sport Retrospective – From Outlaw Racer to Sales Favorite

Corvettes have always been about style, cessation and power. While early Corvette suspensions demeanour archaic by today’s standards, Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov’s racer pack cessation tools incited Corvettes into SCCA championship cars by a late ’50s. Early in 1962, Duntov took on dual special projects.

First was his RPO Z06 cessation choice that debuted during a 1962 L.A. Times Grand Prix race. Four Z06 Sting Rays were expelled to Mickey Thompson, Bob Bondurant, Jerry Grant and Dave MacDonald. Also creation a entrance was Carroll Shelby’s 289 Cobra. The Cobra should have won a foe though pennyless an axle, permitting Thompson’s Z06 to take a win. Corvettes didn’t get a top palm again until a attainment of a L88s in 1967.

Duntov’s second plan was called “The Lightweight.” To know The Lightweight we have to go behind to a summer of 1961 to Dave MacDonald’s family garage. MacDonald was one of a handful of immature Californian drivers that were creation names for themselves, and Duntov and Shelby were examination MacDonald’s career. Shelby suggested MacDonald and his racing partner Jim Simpson that they should get a Max Balchowsky purpose-build foe car. Max and Ida Balchowsky were a go-to group in a late ’50s and early ’60s for purpose-built highway racing cars. MacDonald and Simpson bought a Balchowsky using framework and custom-built a 7/8ths-size fiberglass ’61 Corvette body. When Duntov schooled what a guys were doing, he visited MacDonald’s home garage. Purpose-built foe cars were not new; however, this competence have been a seed of Duntov’s Lightweight ’63 Sting Ray.

Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen was a ubiquitous manager during Chevrolet in 1961 and was an zealous believer of racing. Knudsen OK’d Duntov outlaw project, as Chevrolet was still underneath a 1957 AMA Racing Ban. The Lightweight was a 7/8ths scale Sting Ray with a tube frame, lightweight cessation components and no amenities. Only 5 cars were built, though Duntov designed to make 125 to homologate a cars for foe as “production” Corvettes.

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By a time The Lightweight done a contrast entrance during Sebring in Dec 1962, it was renamed “Grand Sport.” But a Grand Sport was dead-on-arrival interjection to a automotive press doubt GM President John F. Gordon about a Mystery 427 Impala recently seen during a Daytona 500. Embarrassed, Gordon abruptly said, “GM does not race!” Knudsen was called on a runner for a critical sauce down and scarcely mislaid his annual bonus!

Duntov was systematic to stop all Grand Sport efforts and throw his skeleton for a Le Mans invasion. Duntov lent 3 of a 5 Grand Sports to some of his favorite highwayman racers, though given a cars were undeveloped, they were not successful. Around Sep 1963, Duntov called in a cars for some vital upgrades, including initial all-aluminum 377-cid Weber-carbed engines, large buffer flares to cover a oversized wheels and tires and a large hoodscoop. The Grand Sports looked meant and stomped a Cobras during a Nassau Trophy races in late November/early December. In Mar 1964, 3 Grand Sports raced during a 12 Hours of Sebring with a Roger Penske holding a category win with his #005 Grand Sport.

That was radically a finish for a Grand Sports. Without bureau development, they were shortly obsolete. All 5 Grand Sports transient a crusher and were sensitively sole to privateers. The cars were raced and resold many times and, amazingly, all 5 still exist. But by a mid-’70s, a Grand Sports were mostly forgotten. By a ’80s, a cars started to resurface during Corvette shows. A few pack automobile companies offering replicas though had a rage of GM come down on them. Today, Superformance offers central GM-licensed Grand Sport travel cars and Duntov Motors sells protected Grand Sport foe cars. Then came 1996.

The ’96 Grand Sport was Corvette Assistant Chief Engineer John Heinricy’s baby. Special book Corvettes are tough to furnish from a prolongation standpoint, though a easiest pathway is to use existent tools to minimize costs. The styling dialect pitched a pattern by John Cafaro that mimicked a 1963 Grand Sports of Penske and Foyt. The thesis featured a blue automobile with a far-reaching white stripe, red buffer crush marks, blue doorway handles and black wheels and stop calipers.

To yield some-more grunt, they simply used a few racer tricks; let a small some-more atmosphere in, combined a small some-more fuel, new drum rockers and revved it higher. The finish outcome was a LT4 engine. To make a mutated engine cost effective, a LT4 was an open choice for all ’96 Corvettes. A sum of 6,359 LT4-optioned Corvettes were sole in 1996. To hoop a additional power, painted-black ZR-1 wheels shod with 275/40ZR17 on a front and 315/35ZR17 on a back were partial of a package. To cover a wider back tires, buffer flares were added. Convertible Grand Sports had smaller 255/45ZR17 tires on a front and 285/40ZR17 tires on a rear, and no back buffer flares. Interior choices were black or a black/red combo.

The Grand Sport was a singular book indication with a sum of 1,000 cars produced: 810 coupes and 190 convertibles. The sum cost of a Grand Sport coupe was $40,474. The sum cost of a Grand Sport automobile was $47,940. The Collector Edition helped make a Grand Sport probable interjection to amortization. The Collector Edition choice cost $1,250, though did not embody a $1,450 LT4 engine option. However, many ’96 Collector Edition Corvettes were systematic with a LT4. Overall, a ’96 Grand Sport and Collector Edition were a good approach to tighten a C4 line.

In 2009, heads exploded on a recover of a 638-horsepower, 205-mph ZR1. So, in 2010, no one was awaiting another apart indication Corvette. But a Corvette universe fell in adore with a Grand Sport, that now became a many renouned of all of a C6 Corvettes. The brew was amazingly elementary and brilliant.

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The C6 Grand Sport used a Z06 widebody and was accessible as a coupe or a convertible. Since a Grand Sport used a bottom 430-horsepower LS3 engine, it was accessible with a primer or involuntary transmission. The cessation was revised and had wider, dedicated 18-inch front wheels shod with 275/35ZR18 tires, and 19-inch back wheels shod with 325/30ZR19 tires. The brakes, front splitter and back spoiler were subsequent from a Z06, and a Grand Sport had singular front buffer vents. The best partial was a price; only $55,720 for a coupe and $59,530 for a convertible. That’s an additional $5,840 for a coupe and $5,000 for a convertible. The Grand Sport transposed a Z51 cessation option. From 2010-’13, a Grand Sport coupe and automobile vastly outsold all other Corvette models.

Thanks to a Internet, a C7 was a many expected Corvette ever. No earlier had a ’14 Stingray done a entrance when Corvette fans were seeking where a Z06 and a Grand Sport were The Z06 arrived in 2015, though Grand Sport fans had to wait until 2017. Corvette product planners used a C6 formula: Z06 widebody pattern and aero packages, cessation and stop upgrades, with a customary 460-horsepower, 465 lb-ft of torque LT1 engine. And like all C7 Corvettes, a Grand Sport is accessible as a coupe or convertible, and with a seven-speed primer or eight-speed involuntary transmission. With a towering array of options, business can totally pretence out their Grand Sport.

The reviews are unanimous; with a Z06-size wheels and tires and cessation upgrades, a Grand Sport is improved means to implement a bottom engine’s horsepower and torque for energetic travel driving. The 650-horsepower Z06 is a wonder, though is some-more matched for a lane than a street. The Grand Sport is a high-performance “street” Corvette, some-more same to a ’67 427/435 L71, though with scarcely triple a gas mileage. So, when a mid-engine C8 Corvette comes out, will there be a Grand Sport version? we certain wish so.

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