Chevrolet Dealer and noted Corvette Collector Bob McDorman will be bringing 25 unique cars to Dana Mecum’s Spring Classic in Indianapolis in mid-May. Among those cars is the first true high-performance Corvette in history, the 1954 EX87 test mule that Corvette’s first Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov drove to 163 mph at the Arizona Proving Grounds.
It was in the mid-1950â€™s that Zora Arkus-Duntov had Daytona legend Smokey Yunick install an experimental V8 engine into a 1954 Corvette test mule. Following that test, EX87 was reissued a new tracking number of 5951 and was returned to Zora at Chevrolet Engineering to prepare for a high-speed record run at Daytona Beach in January 1956.
Duntov modified the Corvette by replacing the windshield with a curved Plexiglas windscreen and fitting a fiberglass tonneau cover over the passenger side of the cockpit. Zora also fabricated a fiberglass headrest-tailfin for high speed stability.
Zora then went to work on the engine, increasing displacement from 283 to 307 ci and ordered a special camshaft from Engineering before loading EX87 onto a trailer and heading for GM’s Arizona Desert Proving Ground.
Engineering delivered “Duntov’s Cam” to the proving grounds and once installed, the test mule set a new record of 163 miles per hour. That cam became know as the “Duntov Cam”.
Once testing at the proving grounds was completed, the engine was pulled and installed in another famous Corvette #6901 which set a new record at Daytona with a run of 150.583 mph.
Following the death of Smokey Yunick in 2001, his widow called friend Steve Tate and said she had “some stuff around the shop” and to come see if there was anything he wanted. Among that “stuff” was an engine marked “Record Run”, the same engine Smokey installed in EX87/5951.
Tate tracked down the car and purchased it and its original Chevrolet experimental log book. Tate restored the Corvette and reunited it with the engine that set records so long ago. Upon completion, the Corvette was featured at the 2003 Bloomington Gold Corvette show.
The 1954 EX87 Corvette is one of the featured cars being auction by Mecum at the company’s Spring Classic in Indianapolis on Friday, May 15th. The auction will be part of the Mecum’s Muscle Cars and More TV show on HD Theater. Visit Mecum Auctions for more info and the car list for the Original Spring Classic Auction.
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