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2009 Corvette ZR1 on the Nurburgring

Back in June when GM Development Engineer Jim Mero drove the 2009 Corvette ZR1 around the Nurburgring in 7:26.4, we wondered out loud what that time could have been if one of Corvette Racing’s drivers, particularly Jan Magnussen, had the opportunity to drive the 6.2L Supercharged Corvette around the world’s all-important 12.9 mile track. According to several sources, we’ve learned that on Monday, October 27th, Jan Magnussen drove the Corvette ZR1 to a time of 7:22.4, besting the previous time by 4 seconds!

Jan Magnussen’s extensive knowledge of the Nordschleife and his employment with Corvette Racing makes him the perfect candidate for a second Corvette ZR1 attack on the ‘Ring. It was Magnussen that left Corvette’s first mark on the Nurburgring with his Corvette Z06 lap time of 7:42.9 back in 2005.

There is somewhat of a conspiracy afloat about this time, as it was originally posted to FasterLaps.com here and then the entry was deleted. It’s posted again here with credit from Autoblog which listed the information from the original post:

Lap time ID: 49063045e0652
Car: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (476 kw)
Track: Nordschleife
Lap time: 7.22.4
Driven by: Jan Magnussen
Submitter IP: 24.208.168.135
Date & time of submission: 27/10/08, 23:19:01

Without proof including video or a substantiated third-party eyewitness, this time will remain suspect. We also can’t imagine that GM wouldn’t take the opportunity to roll-tape as Nurburgring times have become such an important selling tool for the new super cars, Corvette ZR1 included.

Lastly, this story really leaves us wanting more. How about a race-prepped ZR1 complete with racing tires, roll bar and that really fast looking velocity yellow paint? Now that would be something to see!


Source:
Autoblog.com
MotorGears.com
FasterLaps.com

Related:
[VIDEO] Official Video of Corvette ZR1′s 7:26.4 Nürburgring Lap
[VIDEO] 2009 Corvette ZR1 Laps Nürburgring in 7:26.4

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Corvette Responsibilities Shift to GM’s Gene Stefanyshyn

by Keith Cornett on October 27, 2008

Gene Stefanyshyn

With the news of Tom Wallace’s retirement at the end of this month finally sinking in, attention is now shifting to who GM will name as a replacement. Several automotive sites, AutoWeek and InsideLine are confirming that Gene Stefanyshyn, GM’s global vehicle line executive for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, will add the Corvette chief engineer responsibility to his duties.

Gene Stefanyshyn (rhymes with definition) was behind GM’s global Epsilon initative that will eventually involve 1/6th of the cars GM build around the world – roughly 1.4 million units annually. More recently, his Rear-Wheel-Drive duties have led him to Australia where his team did much of the design and engineering work on the new Camaro, as well as the Holden Commodore.

The news of how Corvette and Stefanyshyn will work together is still cloudy and we hope GM issues an official statement soon. AutoWeek is claiming that the Corvette will be added to Stefanyshyn’s Rear-Wheel-Drive Vehicle Line while Inside Line is reporting that Wallace will be succeeded by Stefanyshyn as Corvette boss.

One thing we do need to clear up though. Tadge Juechter is officially Corvette’s Chief Engineer. About six months into Wallace’s tenure, he split the VLE and Chief Engineering positions.

Maybe in this time of downsizing it would make sense to combine the performance and rear-wheel-drive VLE’s. But having one person do the workload that 2 or 3 people use to do is never a great long-term solution. In July this year, Corvette Marketing Manager Gary Claudio moved to a position at Corvette Racing and his duties were added to the Corvette Product Manager, Harlan Charles.

We found this brief bio of Gene Stefanyshyn:

Gene Stefanyshyn started his career in a junkyard. He fondly recalls, “As a teenager, I spent days in an Oshawa, Ontario, salvage yard that belonged to a friend’s father. We’d bombed around in cars, tore things apart, and rebuilt engines for fun. That’s where I starting loving cars.”

Stefanyshyn says his high school dream was to become a tool and die maker. He took the math and science classes required for college admission and also the hands-on technical courses.

“When I was about to become an apprentice, an excellent machine shop teacher took me aside to tell my abilities exceeded those required to be a tool and die maker,” he says. “They encouraged me to try for more. That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps I could become an engineer.”

The 47-year old Canadian joined GM as a General Motors Institute engineering student in 1976. Upon graduation, he took up corporate finance studies, earnings an MBA in 1981. That led to a planning and competitive analysis assignment at GM of Canada while Rick Wagoner was the organization’s CFO. Subsequent assignments at Saab and Opel broadened Stefanyshyn’s horizons. Under Opel’s Peter Hanenberger, he helped lay a foundation for GM’s global architectures strategy. Before returning to North America in 1995, Stefanyshyn also created an engineering council for GM’s international operations, strategy for Asia Pacific business, and an engineering proposal for GM’s China joint venture partner.

Back in the U.S.A. Stefanyshyn’s assignment as GM’s mid-size VLE was to grab a range of under-performing models by the scruff. His global experience made him the perfect change agent for solving mid-size problems and integrating future models into GM’s global product portfolio.

We’ll have more on this as soon as GM makes an official statement.


Source:
AutoWeek
Inside Line
ECnext.com
Photo Credit: Drive.com.au

Related:
Corvette Chief Tom Wallace Set To Retire
GM Cutbacks Extend to Corvette Program

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Corvette Assembly Plant to be Idled in December

by Keith Cornett on October 27, 2008

The Bowling Green Assembly Plant

General Motors is planning to shut down the Bowling Green Assembly Plant for another week in early December in another attempt to keep inventories in line with demand. AP is reporting the plant will be idled the week of December 1st and will reopen the following week.

The Bowling Green Assembly Plant builds both Chevrolet Corvettes and Cadillac XLRs. GM previously said that Cadillac XLR production would be shut down that week. The plant employs 900 workers.

The assembly plant was idled already once this fall with production halted during the week of October 6-12th. Corvette sales are down 9.5% through the first nine months this year.


Source:
NewsChannel 34

Related:
GM: Corvette Production Being Cut to Reduce Supply
September 2008 Corvette Sales

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Corvette Racing: GT2 Corvette C6.R Ready for Assembly

by Keith Cornett on October 27, 2008

The GT1 #4 Corvette at Laguna Seca

The much anticipated move from GT1 to GT2 next year brings a whole host of new challenges and obstacles for the Corvette Racing team. Having thoroughly dominated the GT1 class and pretty much driving out the competition over the last two years, GT2 will pit Corvette’s C6.R against some of the premier manufacturers and teams in sports car racing. Corvette Racing Program Director Doug Fehan recently shed some light on GT2 C6.R project during an ALMS conference call.

According to Fehan, the debut of the Corvette C6.R in GT2 will most likely happen at Mid-Ohio, the 7th race of the 12 race ALMS season. Some of the changes the GT2 Corvette will have over the GT1 car include a smaller rear wing, steel brakes and a “little less” horsepower. Like the GT1 Corvettes, the GT2 car will be powered by cellulosic E85.

“The engineering work is completed and we’ll be starting in the next week to 10 days actually assembling the car,” Fehan said. “We’ve done the simulations on it. We know what the rules are and we know what the other cars are capable of. When we finally come out we’ll do the best job we possibly can.”

Followers of the ALMS know all about the competitiveness of the GT2 class. Porsche and Ferrari are the two premier cars and BMW is returing with a M3 factory team as well. Also in the mix are Viper’s, Ford GT40s, Aston Martin and the LG Motorsports Corvette. Fehan warns that this will be a transition year and not to expect the Corvette C6.Rs to dominate immediately.

“Don’t look for us to dominate right out of the shoot – it’s not going not to happen,” Fehan said. “Rear-engine and mid-engine cars have a distinct advantage in that classification. We know the challenges that lie ahead for a front-engine car and we are prepared to meet them. Let’s not forget too that we spent the first two years struggling with (the GT1) car. It took us awhile to get us up to speed and we expect that same kind of learning curve. We are prepared for it.”

According GM’s previous press release on the move to GT2, Corvette Racing will run the GT1 car at Sebring and Long Beach (skipping St. Pete and Utah) and then will make its final appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The team will then skip Lime Rock to make theirGT2 class debut at the Acura Sports Car Challenge in Mid-Ohio. Should the debut happen at Mid Ohio, the team will have six races left in the ALMS schedule including the premier events Petit Le Mans and Monterey.



Source:
AmericanLeMans.com

Related:
Corvette Racing: GT2 Will Never Be The Same

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Bruce Willis' 1957 Corvette Roadster

The 1957 Corvette roadster owned by Bruce Willis was sold at the Bonhams & Butterfields’ California Classic auction on Saturday. The White/White convertible was hammered for a sale at $79,560 which included the undisclosed buyer’s commission. Bruce’s second Corvette in the auction was a 1967 Marlboro Maroon 427/435 Convertible that didn’t reach reserve and was unsold.

The 1957 Corvette was a gift to Bruce Willis from his ex-wife actress Demi Moore. Bruce had the non-standard Blue/White Corvette repainted to Polo White and upgraded the mechanicals by installing front disc brakes with a power booster and adding power steering. The Corvette came with the base 283 ci 220 hp V8 engine and it apparently is an original Radio Delete car.

Bruce Willis' 1957 Corvette Roadster Bruce Willis' 1957 Corvette Roadster
Bruce Willis' 1957 Corvette Roadster Bruce Willis' 1957 Corvette Roadster

Here is the description of the Bruce Willis 1957 Corvette from Bonhams & Butterfields:

1957 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Chassis no. E57S104949

The early Corvettes advanced steadily from the near-prototype hand built construction of the first 300 Corvettes in 1953, through their 3,640 successors in 1954, both with Blue Flame six-cylinder engines and Powerglide, through the first V-8 powered 1955 Roadsters of which only 700 were built.

1956 saw Corvette make a major evolution, becoming a true convertible with rollup windows. For the first time its distinctive fender side coves appeared. 1956 also brought Corvette’s first optional high performance engine. Described as “for racing purposes only”, its dual 4-barrel carburetors could be combined with RPO 449 high lift camshaft to deliver something like 240 brake horsepower from the little 265 cubic inch Chevy V-8. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Corvette fully matured in 1957 with a laundry list of 283 cubic inch engines and other performance options. There were five available engines, starting with the 220hp V-8 and ending, of course, with the famous 283/283 Fuelie engine. On April 9, 1957, just over half way through the year’s production, Corvette closed the last gap in its stature as a true sports car with the addition of the Borg-Warner T10 4-speed manual transmission to its options list.

Attesting to the success of the evolved Corvette concept and its execution was the year’s production, 6,339 cars, nearly double the 1956 total of only 3,467.

One of them was this base model Corvette which Demi Moore gave to Bruce Willis. It has had a thorough restoration and is still in sharp, near-showroom condition. A base 283 cubic inch, 220 horsepower car with Powerglide transmission, it was finished in Light Blue with White coves and White upholstery. Although it has a heater it is apparently an original radio delete car, as it has the factory blanking plate in the instrument panel cutout and no RF suppression shielding on the secondary ignition wires.

Bruce Willis then set out to give it some personalization, including installing disc front brakes with a power booster, power steering and radial tires (reproduction BFG Silvertown wide whitewalls) for better handling on 15” wheels with spinner wheel covers. The color combination was non-standard so Bruce entrusted it to the acknowledged experts at Performance Paint in Torrance, California to repaint it in a gorgeous nearly pure bone white color. It comes with both hard and soft tops, both in white to give it a consistent all-white presentation that is outstanding.

It is described as a sweet running Corvette in excellent overall running and driving condition and is ideal for cruising or weekend jaunts in the country. Its all-white presentation is dynamically different and will stand alone among any Corvette display.

If purists ask why it’s presented this way the response, “Because this is the way Bruce Willis wanted it,” is virtually guaranteed to start a conversation.


Source:
Bonhams & Butterfields

Related:
eBay: Charlton Heston’s 1999 Corvette For Sale
Celebrity Sighting: Rush Hour Corvette For Sale on eBay

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Corvette Chief Tom Wallace Set To Retire

by Keith Cornett on October 26, 2008

Tom Wallace discusses the Corvette ZR1

The Corvette community was surprised to hear Thursday evening at the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Corvette Racing celebration that GM’s Performance Vehicle Line Executive Tom Wallace is retiring at the end of October. Tom served as Corvette’s Chief Engineer after Dave Hill stepped down at the end of 2005. His quick departure opens up speculation about the future of the Corvette program since we heard that the program has been put on an indefinite hold.

Tom’s three year tenure as the head of the Corvette program is the shortest ever for any of Corvette program leaders. The speculation on the street regarding his departure is either that he was unwilling to commit to pushing back the C7 Corvette launch schedule to 2014 or beyond, or with the launch of the Corvette ZR1, the only “new” model launched during his tenure, now seemed to be the best time to take a buyout and make an exit as GM faces one of the most difficult periods in its 100 year history.

As of Saturday, there has been no official word about Wallace’s retirement from General Motors.

Whatever the reasons, we liked Tom and felt that his racing DNA were ideal for leading Corvette into the next generation. We do know that Corvette will be in good hands with the likes of Tadge Juechter and others leading the next generation Corvette program. Our fear is less about GM cutting the Corvette program and more about GM’s financial viability as a company over the next year.


Sources:
Autoblog
CorvetteConti.com

Related:
Wallace Discusses Building a Better Corvette
Corvette’s Tom Wallace Q & A
[VIDEO] GM’s Tom Wallace Discusses the 2009 Corvette ZR1

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Corvette Racing: Team Celebrates Post-Seasons Awards

by Keith Cornett on October 25, 2008

Doug Fehan (left) accepts the From the Fans award from ALMS found Don Panoz

Corvette Racing’s Program Manager Doug Fehan was presented with the From The Fans Award at the American Le Mans awards ceremony following last weekend’s season finale, the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca. Mike West, crew chief for the #4 Corvette C6.R was named GT1 Mechanic of the Year. Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell won the GT1 drivers championship and Chevrolet took home the GT1 manufacturers championship trophy for the eighth straight year.

Fehan’s win of the From the Fans award is significant because it’s determined by ALMS fans in online voting. The purpose is to award the person who has made the greatest contribution to sports car racing in the year. Fehan was very busy this year as one of the most visible supporters of the Green Challenge initiative. Doug also helped raise more than $6,000 in the Corvette Challenge Bike Race to Fight Cancer which benefited the Lance Armstrong Foundation by racing C6.R driver Oliver Gavin in a lap around Road America.

“Each and every one of our team members knows how to take care of our fans – not only our fans, but all fans,” said Fehan. “Anybody who visits Corvette Racing knows that hospitality is our No. 1 priority. We try to make everyone feel at home.”

Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen won the GT1 drivers championship. This was the third time O’Connell won award, and his first with teammate Jan Magnussen. Johnny came within three votes of winning the Most Popular Driver award.

“Jan and I were teamed together in 1999 with another marque, and we never got that second season,” said O’Connell. “I’m so grateful to everyone at Chevrolet for giving us the opportunity to realize what I thought would have happened in 2000. I’m blessed that throughout my career I’ve had great teammates, guys that I could push and that could push me. To all the great champions, whether you won or not, it’s an honor for all of us to compete with you week in and week out.”

The GT1 Mechanic of the Year went to Mike West, crew chief of the #4 Corvette C6.R. The recipient is selected by the pit lane and technical staffs of the IMSA. This was Mike’s first time to win the prestigious award.

Finally, Corvette Racing claimed its eight consecutive team title in the GT1 class. GM’s Racing Director Mark Kent accepted the manufacturers trophy and said the following:

“Corvette Racing has achieved remarkable results in 10 years of competition in the GT1 category,” Kent said. “The 2008 season marks the end of one chapter in Corvette Racing history, and the beginning of a new chapter as we move into the GT2 category in 2009. We look back at our past success with pride, and we look forward to new challenges with determination to succeed. We anticipate great competition, and I can think of no team that is better prepared for that challenge than Corvette Racing.”



Source:
Corvette Racing

Related:
[VIDEO] Corvette Racing’s Doug Fehan on the Green Challenge
Corvette Racing: Vote for Fehan, O’Connell in 2008!
Le Mans: Corvette Racing and the National Anthem

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Elfi Arkus-Duntov: 1915-2008

by Keith Cornett on October 25, 2008

Elfi and Zora Arkus-Duntov

If Zora Arkus-Duntov is considered the “Father of the Corvette”, then his wife Elfi was most certainly Corvette’s First Lady. The National Corvette Museum announced that Elfi Arkus-Duntov passed away on October 23, 2008 at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit. She had been hospitalized there for several weeks with a severe leg infection.

The former dancer from the Folies Bergere in Paris was 93 going on 19. Together, she and Zora personified the performance and allure of the early Corvettes. Even well into their years, the pair had an energy and spark that infected everyone around them. Now they can be together again.

Funeral arrangements are pending and additional information will be made available via the Museum. Elfi will be cremated and her ashes will be joined with Zora’s as part of the current tribute inside the Museum.


Source:
National Corvette Museum
Photo Credit: Corvette Owners Club

Related:
Zora’s Ashes Rest at Corvette Museum
Video: Zora’s 1955 Corvette Sold By RM Auctions for $134,750

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Motor Trend tests the 2009 Corvette ZR1

Motor Trend hauled a Corvette ZR1 down to Arizona where they strapped their performance measuring instruments to the 638 hp King of the Hill and went wild on Chrysler’s Proving Grounds. No, the merger ain’t done yet, but Chrysler’s five mile high-speed loop is one of the few places in the US that has the space to test the Corvette ZR1′s top speed.

In addition to bringing their instruments, Motor Trend also brought a test driver who knows how to drive, former IndyCar driver and Daytona 24 Hours winner Didier Theys who drove the Corvette ZR1 and recorded the best performance numbers we’ve seen yet. The magazine hit the magic 200 mph mark, corrected due to a 25-mph headwind, and was still pulling according to the VMAX.

In the other measurements that matter, the Corvette ZR1 performed superbly. 0-to-60 mph was achieved in 3.3 seconds and the ZR1 blew through the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds at 130.5 mph. The huge Brembo carbon ceramic brakes stopped the Corvette ZR1 from 60 mph in just 97 feet. Finally, the lateral acceleration averaged at 1.1 g.

Motor Trend enjoyed their time spent with the new Corvette, and frankly, who wouldn’t. Check out the article’s opening statement:

Prepare to be humiliated. If, that is, you’re a sports-car maker other than Chevrolet. Call it what you will — “Blue Devil,” “King of the Hill,” even “Steve” – the all-new 2009 Corvette ZR1 is a world-beater.


Here is a comparison of the three instrumented Corvette ZR1 tests:

MAGAZINE 0-60 MPH 1/4 MILE SKIDPAD BREAKING
Motor Trend 3.3 Secs 11.2@130.5 1.10 g 97 ft
Popular Mechanics 3.7 Secs 11.5@127.8 1.04 g 94.9 ft
Car & Driver 3.4 Secs 11.5@128.0 1.07 g 142 ft*

* Car and Driver’s breaking distance test is 70 mph to 0, the other magazines are rated at 60 mph to 0.


Source:
Motor Trend

Related:
Popular Mechanics’ Corvette ZR1 Instrumented Test Results
Car and Driver’s Corvette ZR1 Instrumented Test Results
[VIDEO] Another Corvette ZR1 on the Dyno pulls 549.9 RWHP!
Corvette ZR1 Wednesday: The ‘First Drive’ Reviews Are In

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1963 Corvette Grand Sport Chassis #002

Grand Sport Corvette Chassis #002 – one of the legendary five Corvettes secretly built by Zora Arkus-Duntov and the Corvette engineering team explicitly for racing will be offered for sale at RM Auction’s Automobiles of Arizona in January 2009. The 1963 Corvette Grand Sports are considered to be some of the rarest and most valuable Corvettes ever made, and this will be the first time one is being made available in a public sale.

Built to challenge Carrol Shelby’s Cobras in SCCA and FIA endurance races, the Grand Sport program originally called for 125 of these lightweight Corvette race cars to be built, which would allow the cars to run in the GT class at Sebring and Le Mans. The Grand Sports weighed in at about 1,900 pounds, or 1,300 pounds less than a stock Corvette coupe. They were originally powered by an all aluminum 377 ci V8 with 58 mm side draft Weber carbs. The engine was capable of 550 horsepower and coupled to a 4-speed transmission.

Failing to meet the 125 minimum build, the Corvettes raced in the prototype class in 1963 at Sebring. Although they ran against advanced purpose-built race cars, the Corvettes proved to be superior in speed and handling to the Cobras that raced in the GT class.

The Grand Sports finally got the chance to go head-to-head with the Cobras at the 1963 Nassau Speed Week race. The Corvettes finished third and fourth behind two prototypes and completely bested the Cobras.

Unfortunately the program was cancelled by GM in early 1964. The Grand Sport prototypes, two roadsters and three coupes, survived destruction and fell into the hands of private racers like Roger Penske and George Wintersteen who preserved their heritage for future generations.

1963 Corvette Grand Sport #002 1963 Corvette Grand Sport #002 1963 Corvette Grand Sport #002
1963 Corvette Grand Sport #002 at Watkins Glen 1963 Corvette Grand Sport #002 at Mosport  

Some have estimated that a Grand Sport Corvette could sell for as much as $5 million dollars and with that kind of estimate, it’s totally plausible that this Corvette could be the most expensive Corvette ever purchased at an auction.

The #002 Corvette Grand Sport is scheduled for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona event on Friday, January 16th. The following is excerpted from the press release:


Preeminent international auction house, RM Auctions, will open the 2009 collector car season in grand style as they offer one of the rarest and most valuable Corvettes in history – the legendary 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – at their famed ‘Automobiles of Arizona’ event. The January 16th event will mark RM’s 10th anniversary sale in Phoenix, Arizona.

PHOENIX, Arizona (October 21, 2008) – Preeminent international auction house, RM Auctions will mark their 10th anniversary Automobiles of Arizona auction event in Phoenix, Arizona with the sale of one the rarest and most valuable Corvettes in history – an all mighty 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (chassis no. 002).

Often referred to as one of the most fascinating enigmas in motor racing annals and certainly one of the most valuable, the Grand Sport was General Motor’s contender to Ford’s venerable Shelby Cobra. Envisioned by the legendary ‘father of the Corvette’, Zora Arkus-Duntov, these top secret, hand-built race cars were designed to win at FIA endurance races and ultimately the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only five were built out of an expected 120 car run before General Motors cancelled its competition activities in early 1964. Miraculously, each of the prototypes escaped destruction orders, falling into the hands of private racers who preserved their heritage for future generations.

From this elite fraternity, the multi-million dollar 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (Chassis no. 002) with its original un-restored race body is being offered for the first time ever at RM’s Biltmore auction in January. Previously owned by Roger Penske and George Wintersteen, 002 is one of just two roadsters produced out of the original five prototypes.

“The Corvette Grand Sport is one of the greatest American racing cars and quite possibly, one of the most historically significant American built race bred automobiles ever produced,” says Ian Kelleher, Managing Director of RM Auctions. “Additionally, for Corvette enthusiasts, this car is singularly the most important and significant Corvette to ever come to market, making its offering in Arizona a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire such an important piece of American motoring history.”

Keith Martin, Publisher of Corvette Market Magazine adds: “The Grand Sport is clearly one of the most desirable Corvettes ever built. With its significant racing history, featuring a strong showing in the 1966 U.S. Road Racing Championship, it is the most important Corvette to ever be offered for sale publicly.”

This legendary Corvette will be presented along with over 100 exceptional vintage automobiles and motorcycles.


Source:
RM Auctions
Corvette Legends
Photo credits – Studio: RM Auctions-Troy Wood Vintage: Dave Friedman

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1962 Gulf Oil Corvette Sells for $1.485 Million at Pebble Beach Technorati Tags:
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