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Corvette Grand Sport

Developed to confront Europe’s purpose–built sports racers and Carroll Shelby’s new Cobra, the Chevrolet division, under the guidance of Corvette Chief Engineer, Zora Arkus–Duntov, secretly began the “Lightweight” a.k.a. “Grand Sport” project in ’62. Unfortunately, early testing at Sebring caught GM Chairman, Frederic Donner’s attention. Enforcing GM’s adherence to the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association’s (AMA) ban on any direct involvement in racing, he killed the project. As a result, only five of the planned 125 GS units were built.

Slated for destruction, all five cars were cleverly diverted into the hands of privateers who competed them at SCCA events (and as rumored, with Chevrolet’s unofficial help). Grady Davis and Dick “The Flying Dentist” Thompson scored the #004’s first victory at Watkins Glen in ’63, while Roger Penske and John Mecom won first in class and fourth overall in the Nassau Trophy Race during the Nassau Speed Week–feats that helped elevate chassis #004 to the most successful sibling among its GS peers.

Constructed to emulate the production-based Corvette, but much lighter, the Grand Sport’s diet began with an all–aluminum birdcage framing with an integral roll cage replacing the standard steel structure. Additionally, a cast aluminum steering box, differential housing and other components reduced weight even further, as did the elimination of side–window lifts and the side glass replaced with plastic. Lighter Halibrand magnesium wheels replaced the stamped steel originals.

Utilizing independent suspension and discs at the four corners, nearly 500 horses are developed by a 377c.i. small–block fed by four 58mm Webers parked on a special aluminum cross–ram manifold.

Fresh from a 10-month authentic restoration, the Corvette Grand Sport (GS) Chassis #004 in 2003 not only wore the 1964 Sebring exact configuration, but sports the original external copper grounding wire needed for two–way radio communication, front mounted auxiliary light sockets and a rear pair of utility bicycle lights (both preventative measures against head and taillight failure during its Sebring runs), wide paws, flared wells and body vents to dissipate heat–––these and other period-exact details were retained by present owner, the Collier Museum, to keep this most illustrious Corvette racer in history in vintage 60’s condition......Walter PIetrowicz

Grand Sports at the 2003 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance