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Twas the Night Before Christmas – Corvette Style

by Keith Cornett on December 24, 2007

Corvette Christmas Greeting

We originally posted the following take-off of the popular classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” back in 2005 and every December it continues to be one of our most linked-to posts. I’d like to wish everyone who visits CorvetteBlogger.com a very Merry Christmas and also extend Christmas wishes to the men and women serving our country in the Armed Forces both home and abroad. God Bless you all!


Twas the Night Before Christmas – Corvette Style

‘Twas the night before Christmas and out in the garage,
There wasn’t a trace of a Honda, Toyota, or Dodge.
The presents were wrapped and the lights were all lit,
So I figured I’d mess with my classic Corvette for a bit.

I popped the release and lifted the hood,
When a deep voice behind me said “looks pretty good.”
Well, as you can imagine, I turned mighty quick,
And there, by the workbench, stood good ol Saint Nick!

We stood there a bit, not too sure what to say,
Then he said “don’t suppose that you’d trade for my sleigh?
“No way, Santa” I said with a grin,
“But if you’ve got the time we can go for a spin!”

His round little mouth, all tied up like a bow,
Turned into a smile and he said “Sure! Let’s go!!”
So as not to disturb all the neighbors’ retreat,
We quietly pushed the Vette out to the street,

Then, taking our places to coast down the hill,
I turned on the key and I let the clutch spill.
The sound that erupted took him quite by surprise,
But he liked it a lot, by the look in his eyes.

With tires a’ screaming and side pipes aglow,
We headed on out to where the hot rodders go.
And Santa’s grin widened, approaching his ears,
With every shift up as I banged through the gears.

Then he yelled “can’t recall when I’ve felt so alive!”
So I backed off the gas and asked Santa if he wanted to drive.
Ol Santa was stunned when I gave him the keys,
When he walked past the headlights he shook at the knees!

The Corvette exploded with side exhaust sound!
And when Santa let out the clutch and the tires shook the ground!
Power shift into second, again into third!
I sat there just watching, at loss for a word,

Then I heard him exclaim as we blasted from sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, it’s one hell of a night!!!”


Original Post:
December 24, 2005

Image Credit:
National Corvette Owners Association


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The 6.2L LS9 V8: Heart of the 2009 Corvette ZR1

by Keith Cornett on December 20, 2007

The 2009 LS9 6.2L V8 will power the new Corvette ZR1

The small block V8 is one of the most enduring engines ever produced and time and again, the engineers at GM have found ways to push performance and efficiency to new levels. So its only fitting that with the flood of information that’s been released about the upcoming 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, we take a few minutes to stare in awe of what is essentially the heart of the new King of the Hill, the all-new LS9.

While the Corvette Z06 gets is power from the raw displacement of the 7.0L LS7, engineers took a step back by bringing the engine size back down to 6.2 liters and then boosted the power with a Eaton designed roots-type supercharger. Creating more power at lower RPM’s is the signature of the LS9. At 3,000 RPM’s the engine makes approximately 300 horsepower. GM has targeted 100 horsepower per liter, or 620 total horsepower and 595 pounds of torque. The SAE certified figures will be available in March 2008.

Press Release

2009 CORVETTE ZR1 POWERED BY THE MOST POWERFUL PRODUCTION ENGINE EVER FROM GM: THE SUPERCHARGED LS9 SMALL-BLOCK V-8

PONTIAC , Mich. – When it arrives next summer, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 will be the most powerful and fastest production car ever produced by General Motors, with performance enabled by a new, supercharged 6.2L LS9 small-block V-8 engine.

Incorporating the engineering experience already found in the Corvette Z06′s LS7 engine and the new-for-2008 6.2L LS3 of the Corvette, GM Powertrain is targeting 100 horsepower per liter for the LS9, or 620 horsepower (462 kW), and approximately 595 lb.-ft. of torque (807 Nm); final SAE-certified power levels will be available in early March 2008.

It is, indeed, the ultimate small-block engine for the ultimate Corvette.

“When you experience the LS9 in the Corvette ZR1, the terms performance and refinement take on a new meaning,” said Tom Stephens, group vice president for GM Powertrain and Quality. “The LS9 demonstrates an outstanding performance range, with smooth driveability at low speeds, and surprisingly fierce performance when the customer wants more power.”

The enabler of the LS9′s performance is a new, large positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger – with a unique four-lobe design – developed for the engine by Eaton. It is teamed with an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for maximum performance. The LS9 represents the first of several new, supercharged small-block engines that will be introduced in GM vehicles in the near future, each using superchargers of similar design.

“The small-block V-8 once again demonstrates it boundless horsepower potential, versatile design and an architecture with proven quality, durability and reliability,” said Stephens. “We haven’t yet realized the small-block’s performance potential.”

Performance range

More than just its tremendous peak horsepower and torque numbers, the supercharged LS9 makes big power at lower rpm and carries it in a wide arc to 6,600 rpm. GM Powertrain testing shows the engine makes approximately 300 horsepower (224 kW) at 3,000 rpm and nearly 320 lb.-ft. of torque (434 Nm) at only 1,000 rpm. Torque tops 585 lb.-ft. (793 Nm) at about the 4,000-rpm mark, while horsepower peaks at 6,500 rpm. The engine produces 90 percent of peak torque from 2,600 rpm to 6,000 rpm.

Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components enable the engine’s confident high-rpm performance, while the large-displacement Eaton supercharger pushes enough air to help the engine maintain power through the upper levels of the rpm band.

“The sixth-generation design of the supercharger expands the ‘sweet zone’ of the compressor’s effectiveness, broadening it to help make power lower in the rpm band,” said Ron Meegan, assistant chief engineer. “To put it simply, the low-end torque is amazing.”

The LS9 is assembled by hand at GM’s Performance Build Center , a unique, small-volume engine production facility in Wixom , Mich. , that also builds the Corvette Z06′s LS7 engine and other high-performance GM production engines.

Cylinder block and reciprocating assembly details

The LS9′s aluminum cylinder block features steel, six-bolt main bearing caps, with enlarged vent windows in the second and third bulkheads for enhanced bay to bay breathing. Cast iron cylinder liners – measuring 4.06 inches (103.25 mm) in bore diameter – are inserted in the aluminum block and they are finish-bored and honed with a deck plate installed. The deck plate simulates the pressure and minute dimensional variances applied to the block when the cylinder heads are installed, ensuring a higher degree of accuracy that promotes maximum cylinder head sealing, piston ring fit and overall engine performance.

Nestled inside the cylinder block is a forged steel crankshaft that delivers the LS9′s 3.62-inch (92 mm) stroke. It features a smaller-diameter ignition-triggering reluctor wheel and a nine-bolt flange – the outer face of the crankshaft on which the flywheel is mounted – that provides more clamping strength. Other non-supercharged 6.2L engines, such as the base Corvette’s LS3, have a six-bolt flange. A torsional damper mounted to the front of the crankshaft features a keyway and friction washer, which also is designed to support the engine’s high loads.

Attached to the crankshaft is a set of titanium connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons, which, when combined with the cylinder heads, delivers a 9.1:1 compression ratio. This combination is extremely durable and lightweight, enabling the LS9′s high-rpm capability.

Cylinder head details

The basic cylinder head design of the LS9 is similar to the L92-type head found on the LS3 V-8, but it is cast with a premium A356T6 alloy that is better at handling the heat generated by the supercharged engine – particularly in the bridge area of the cylinder head, between the intake and exhaust valves.

In addition to the special aluminum alloy, each head is created with a rotocast method. Also known as spin casting, the process involves pouring the molten alloy into a rotating mold. This makes for more even distribution of the material and virtually eliminates porosity – air bubbles or pockets trapped in the casting – for a stronger finished product.

Although the heads are based on the L92 design, they feature swirl-inducing wings that are cast into the intake ports. This improves the mixture motion of the pressurized air/fuel charge. The charge enters the combustion chambers via titanium intake valves that measure 2.16 inches (55 mm) in diameter. Spent gases exit the chambers through 1.59-inch (40.4 mm) hollow stem sodium-filled exhaust valves. The titanium intake and sodium-filled exhaust valves are used for their lightweight and high-rpm capability.

To ensure sealing of the pressurized engine, unique, four-layer steel head gaskets are used with the LS9′s heads.

Camshaft and valvetrain

The broad power band enabled by the LS9′s large-displacement supercharger allows it to make strong low-end torque and great high-rpm horsepower, which allowed engineers to specify a camshaft with a relatively low lift of 0.555-inch (14.1 mm) for both the intake and exhaust valves. This low-overlap cam has lower lift and slower valve-closing speeds than the Z06′s 505-horsepower (377 kW) LS7, helping the LS9 – with its approximately 620 horsepower – deliver exemplary idle and low-speed driving qualities.

The camshaft actuates a valvetrain that includes many components, including the lifters, rocker arms and valve springs, of the LS3 engine. However, LS7 retainers are used to support the engine’s high-rpm performance.

Supercharger and charge cooler details

The LS9′s R2300 supercharger is a sixth-generation design from Eaton, with a case that is specific to the Corvette application. The supercharger features a new four-lobe rotor design that promotes quieter and more efficient performance, while its large, 2.3-liter displacement ensures adequate air volume at high rpm to support the engine’s high-horsepower aspiration. Maximum boost pressure is 10.5 psi (0.72 bar).

The supercharger is an engine-driven air pump that contains a pair of long rotors that are twisted somewhat like pretzel sticks. As they spin around each other, incoming air is squeezed between the rotors and pushed under pressure into the engine – forcing more air into the engine than it could draw under “natural” aspiration. The rotors are driven by a pulley and belt that are connected to the engine’s accessory drive system.

Because the pressurized air is hotter than naturally aspirated air, the LS9 employs a liquid-to-air charge cooling system to reduce inlet air temperature after it exits the supercharger – reducing the inlet air temperature by up to 60 degrees C (140 F). Cooler air is denser and allows the engine to make the most of its high-pressure air charge. The charge cooling system includes a dedicated coolant circuit with a remote-mounted pump and reservoir.

The design of the supercharger case and its integrated charge cooling system was driven by the space and dimensions afforded under the Corvette’s hood. To that end, the charge cooler was designed as a “dual brick” system, with a pair of low-profile heat exchangers mounted longitudinally on either side of the supercharger. Coupled with the supercharger itself, this integrated design mounts to the engine in place of a conventional intake manifold and is only slightly taller than a non-supercharged 6.2L engine. The air inlet and rotor drive pulley are positioned at the front of the supercharger.

Additional engine details

Oiling system: The LS9 uses a dry-sump oiling system that is similar in design to the LS7′s system, but features a higher-capacity pump to ensure adequate oil pressure at the higher cornering loads the ZR1 is capable of achieving. An oil-pan mounted oil cooler is integrated, too, along with piston-cooling oil squirters located in the cylinder block. The expanded performance envelope of the Corvette ZR1 required changes to the dry sump system also used in the Z06. System capacity is increased and scavenge performance improved to meet the demands of Chevrolet’s highest-performance sportscar.

Water pump: To compensate for the heavier load generated by the supercharger drive system, an LS9-specific water pump with increased bearing capacity is used.

Accessory drive system: To package the accessory drive system in the Corvette’s engine compartment, the supercharger drive was integrated into the main drive system. This required a wider 11-rib accessory drive system to be used with the LS9 in order to support the load delivered by the supercharger.

Fuel system: The LS9 uses high-capacity 48-lb./hr. fuel injectors with center-feed fuel lines. The center feed system ensures even fuel flow between the cylinders with less noise. In order to ensure fuel system performance during low speed operation as well as under the extreme performance requirements of wide open throttle (WOT), a dual pressure fuel system was developed. This system operates at 250 kPa at idle and low speed, and ratchets up to 600 kPa at higher-speed and WOT conditions.

Throttle body: An 87-mm, single-bore throttle body is used to draw air into the engine. It is electronically controlled.

Rocker covers / ignition coils: Unique rocker covers with new, direct-mount ignition coils are used. Other Gen IV engines, such as the LS3, feature coil packs mounted to a bracket. The LS9′s direct-mounted coils offer a cleaner appearance and a shorter lead between the coil and spark plug.

Beauty cover: A special engine cover is attached to the top of the LS9. It surrounds the intercooler, which is visible through a hood window. The intercooler has the legend “LS9 SUPERCHARGED” embossed on the left and right sides, and the engine beauty cover features the Corvette crossed flags logo debossed at the front.

New six-speed manual transmission

The Corvette ZR1′s LS9 engine is backed by a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission, with a twin-disc clutch system. It is based on the new-for-2008 TR6060 six-speed, but upgraded to handle the LS9′s torque output and delivers improved shift quality.

The twin-disc clutch system provides exceptional clamping power, while maintaining an easy clutch effort. The system employs a pair of 260-mm discs, which spreads out the engine’s torque load over a wider area, enabling tremendous clamping power to channel the LS9′s torque. It also dissipates heat better and extends the clutch life (in normal driving).

Thanks to comparatively small plates, the twin-disc system enables similar disc inertia to the Corvette Z06, which has a 290-mm single-disc system, contributing to low shift effort and providing exceptionally smooth engagement and light pedal effort. In fact, the more powerful ZR1 has a pedal effort similar to the Z06.

ZR1-specific gearing in the transmission provides a steep first-gear ratio that helps launch the car. The car’s top speed is achieved in sixth gear – a change from the fifth-gear top-speed run-outs in the manual transmission Corvette and Corvette Z06. The gears also are designed to balance performance with refinement. The angles of the gear teeth are optimized to provide both strength and quietness.


Sources:
National Corvette Museum

Related:
The New King of the Hill: The 2009 Corvette ZR1
2009 Corvette ZR1 Image Gallery
Corvette ZR1 News Archive

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The New King of the Hill: The 2009 Corvette ZR1

by Keith Cornett on December 20, 2007

It’s 12:01 on December 20, 2007 and the curtain has been raised on a new Corvette model. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 has crossed over from rumor to reality. It’s obvious from the first photos that this isn’t your father’s ZR1. We’re talking 620 horses delivered via the supercharged 6.2 liter LS9. A bit lower than the lofty 650 that was speculated, but that is still 115 hp more than the performance-minded Corvette Z06. So here we go, fellas! Sit down, shut up and hang on because we are going to be throwing a whole bunch of Corvette info at you:

Corvette ZR1 Talking Points:

  • The 2009 Corvette ZR1 is RPO 1LZ
  • The ZR1 will have a unique, identifying VIN digit, as well as a sequential build number
  • LS9 supercharged 6.2L V-8 targeted at 620 horsepower and 595 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Curb weight of 3,350 pounds
  • Unique Carbon-fiber hood with a polycarbonate window
  • Carbon fiber roof panel
  • Unique exterior and interior colors
  • Only two options: chrome wheels and a “luxury” package
AND

Jake, that bad boy skull logo of Corvette Racing has been embossed on the ZR1′s intake snorkel, forever cementing his racing roots on a production Corvette. Unbeliveable!!

     

View the 2009 Corvette ZR1 Photo Gallery.

PRESS RELEASE

CHEVROLET ENTERS THE WORLD OF SUPERCARS WITH 2009 CORVETTE ZR1
New, Supercharged LS9 V-8 is the Heart of the ZR1

DETROIT – Chevrolet officially announced the 2009 Corvette ZR1 – an American supercar that brings the technology and engineering refinement of carbon-fiber, ceramics and electronics together in a distinctive design.

“Chevrolet’s goal with the new ZR1 is to show what an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three or four times as much – and does so with exceptional driveability,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.

The ZR1′s basic stats:

  • All-new LS9 supercharged 6.2L V-8 targeted at producing at least 100 horsepower per liter, or 620 horsepower (462 kW), and approximately 595 lb.-ft. of torque (823 Nm)
  • Six-speed, close-ratio, race-hardened manual transmission
  • New, high-capacity dual-disc clutch
  • Higher-capacity and specific-diameter axle half-shafts; enhanced torque tube
  • Specific suspension tuning provides more than 1g cornering grip
  • Twenty-spoke 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels
  • Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires – P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear – developed specifically for the ZR1
  • Standard carbon-ceramic, drilled disc brake rotors – 15.5-inch-diameter (394-mm) in the front and 15-inch-diameter (380-mm) in the rear
  • Larger brake calipers with substantially increased pad area
  • Standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control with track-level suspension
  • Wider, carbon-fiber front fenders with ZR1-specific dual vents
  • Carbon-fiber hood with a raised, polycarbonate window – offering a view of the intercooler below it
  • Carbon-fiber roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter and rocker moldings with clear-coated, exposed carbon-fiber weave
  • ZR1-specific full-width rear spoiler with raised outboard sections
  • Specific gauge cluster with boost gauge (also displayed on the head-up display) and 220-mph (370 km/h) speedometer readout
  • Only two options: chrome wheels and a “luxury” package
  • Curb weight of approximately 3,350 pounds (1,519 kg)
  • The specialized components of the new ZR1 work harmoniously to deliver the most powerful and fastest automobile ever produced by General Motors. Performance estimates will be announced closer to vehicle’s summer 2008 launch.

“Preliminary testing shows the ZR1 builds on the highly respected Corvette Z06 in every performance category, from acceleration and braking, to cornering grip and top speed,” said Peper. “It all boils down to the power-to-weight ratio and the ZR1′s is exceptional – better than the Porsche 911 GT2, the Ferrari 599 and even the Lamborghini LP640. In fact, the ZR1 is expected to be the first production Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 mph.”

Supercharged LS9 engine

The new LS9 6.2L small-block engine is the power plant the supports the ZR1′s performance capability. The enabler of the LS9′s performance and refinement is a large, positive-displacement Roots-type supercharger with a new, four-lobe rotor design. It is augmented with an integrated charge cooling system that reduces inlet air temperature for maximum performance.

A sixth-generation supercharger developed by Eaton helps the LS9 make big power and torque at lower rpm and carries it in a wide arc to 6,600 rpm, as it pushes enough air to help the engine maintain power through the upper levels of the rpm band – the area where supercharged performance tends to diminish. Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components enable the engine’s confident high-rpm performance.

The LS9 is hand-assembled at GM’s Performance Build Center , in Wixom, Mich. , and incorporates specialty processes typically seen in racing engines to produce a highly refined and precise product. For example, cast iron cylinder liners are inserted in the aluminum block and are finish-bored and honed with a deck plate installed. The deck plate simulates the pressure and minute dimensional variances applied to the block when the cylinder heads are installed, ensuring a higher degree of accuracy that promotes maximum cylinder head sealing, piston ring fit and overall engine performance.

Transmission and axle

The LS9 engine is backed by a new, stronger six-speed manual transmission and a twin-disc clutch that provide exceptional clamping power, while maintaining an easy clutch effort. ZR1-specific gearing in the transmission provides a steep first-gear ratio that helps launch the car, and top speed is achieved in sixth gear – a change from the fifth-gear top-speed run-outs in the manual-transmission Corvette and Corvette Z06.

As the term implies, the twin-disc clutch system employs a pair of discs, which spreads out the engine’s torque load over a wider area. This enables tremendous clamping power when the clutch is engaged, while also helping to dissipate heat better and extend the life of the clutch.

The twin-disc clutch system also contributes to the ZR1′s exceptional driving quality, with smooth and easy shifting. The twin-disc system’s design enables a 25-percent reduction in inertia, thanks to smaller, 260-mm plates, corresponding to a pedal effort that is similar to the Corvette Z06′s 290-mm single-disc system.

The rear axle also is stronger in the ZR1 and features asymmetrical axle-shaft diameters that were developed after careful testing to provide optimal torque management. The axles are also mounted on a more horizontal plane that correlates with the wider width of the rear wheels and tires.

Ride and handling

The ZR1 is built on the same aluminum-intensive chassis as the Corvette Z06 and features similar independent SLA front and rear suspensions, with aluminum upper and lower control arms. Where the ZR1 differs is the suspension tuning, which was optimized for the car’s steamroller-wide front and rear tires.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control is standard and tuned specifically for the ZR1. The system’s ability to deliver a compliant ride with nearly instantaneous damping adjustments enabled engineers to develop a surprisingly supple ride quality in a supercar that still delivers cornering grip of more than 1g.

From a high-performance perspective, Magnetic Selective Ride Control helps the rear axle remain planted during launch for smooth, hop-free acceleration. It also helps suppress axle movement when cornering on broken or uneven pavement.

Brakes, wheels and tires

Commensurate with the ZR1′s engine output is the braking system, which is headlined by carbon-ceramic brake rotors. Found on only a few exotics and more expensive supercars, carbon-ceramic brake rotors are made of a carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic silicon carbide material . Their advantage comes in low mass and resistance to wear and heat. In fact, the rotors should never show any corrosion or require replacement for the life of the vehicle, when used in normal driving.

The vented and cross-drilled rotors on the ZR1 measure 15.5 inches (394 mm) in diameter in the front and 15 inches (380 mm) in diameter in the rear – making them among the largest carbon-ceramic rotors available on any production vehicle.

Clamping down on the high-tech rotors are six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers, each painted a ZR1-exclusive blue. The front pads are equivalent in size to the largest on any production car with a single-pad design – double that of the Corvette Z06′s 70-sq.-cm. front pads.

The brakes are visible through the ZR1′s exclusive wheels: 20-spoke alloy rims that measure 19 inches in diameter in the front and 20 inches in the rear. They come standard with a bright, Sterling Silver paint finish and chrome versions are optional. The wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires developed specifically for the ZR1, measuring P285/30ZR19 in front and P335/25ZR20 in the rear.

Exclusive exterior

The ZR1 is instantly recognizable, with perhaps the most identifiable feature a raised, all-carbon-fiber hood that incorporates a clear, polycarbonate window. The window provides a view of the top of the engine’s intercooler, with the legend “LS9 SUPERCHARGED” embossed on the left and right sides, and an engine cover with the Corvette crossed flags logo debossed at the front.

The underside of the hood has an exposed carbon-fiber-weave. Exposed carbon-fiber is used on the roof, roof bow, rocker molding and front splitter. These exterior components are protected by a specially developed glossy, UV-resistant clear coat that resists yellowing and wear.

Widened, carbon-fiber front fenders with specific, dual lower vents, and a full-width, body-color rear spoiler incorporating the center high-mounted stop lamp, are also unique to the ZR1. All of the exterior features of the car were developed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.

Interior details
The ZR1′s interior builds on the brand’s dual-cockpit heritage, with high-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality that support the premium-quality experience promised by the car’s performance. The ZR1′s cabin differs from the Corvette and Corvette Z06 with the following:

  • ZR1-logo sill plates
  • ZR1-logo headrest embroidery
  • Specific gauge cluster with “ZR1″ logo on the tachometer and a 220-mph (370 km/h) readout on the speedometer
  • Boost gauge added to the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display
  • The “base” ZR1 (RPO 1LZ) comes with accoutrements based on the Z06, including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The uplevel interior package includes unique, power-adjustable and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); custom, leather-wrapped interior available in four colors; navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and more.

By the numbers In addition to the exterior cues and powertrain, ZR1 models will be distinguished from other Corvette models by their VIN. Each will carry a unique, identifying VIN digit, as well as a sequential build number. This makes it easy to determine the build number of a specific car – information treasured by enthusiasts and collectors. For example, a ZR1 with a VIN ending in “0150″ would indicate it is the 150 th ZR1 built for the model year.


Sources:
Press Release: National Corvette Museum

Related:
2009 Corvette ZR1 Image Gallery
Corvette ZR1 News Archive

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Three years ago car restorers Bill Connell and Joel Lauman got a lead on a rare 1957 Corvette that was parked inside a barn on a pig farm outside of Trenton, Ohio. The two were familiar with the history of the car and its original owner Bill Howe, a local car dealer who raced the car in 1957. While Connell was convinced that this car was a true airbox Corvette, it wasn’t until they were able to make the deal and bring the partially disassembled car back to the shop where upon further inspection it turned out to be the first airbox Corvette produced by Chevrolet.

Joel and Bill next to the restored 1957 Corvette. Original Owner Bill Howe at the Cumberland, MD SCCA race on 5/19/57.
The 1957 Corvette was a true barn find The 1957 Corvette restored to its original glory.

Before we get into the details of what makes an airbox Corvette so rare, let’s go back to 1957 when small town Chevy dealer Bill Howe first got the Corvette. The story goes that Bill and a friend flew from Ohio to the Corvette factory in St. Louis where they picked it up on May 16, 1957. They then drove the car straight though back to Middletown, Ohio. They stopped for a couple of hours of sleep and then they drove through the night to Cumberland, Maryland where they arrived just in time to compete in an amateur SCCA event against some of the best known racers of the day. In the end, Bill Howe and his number “4007″ Corvette came in third place.

Fast forward to present time. As Bill and Joel began work on the Corvette, they brought in noted Corvette historian and Chevy V8 fuel-injection expert Ken Kayser who spent two days researching the Corvette, upon which he proclaimed that the 1957 Corvette was indeed an original airbox Corvette and more importantly, was the pilot car from which only 43 were produced.

So what is an airbox Corvette? I had never heard the term before so I posed my question to the Corvette Forum’s C1-C2 section where the resident expert on airbox Corvettes “DZAUTO” schooled me on the following:

ALL fuel injected 57 Vettes have an air cleaner attached directly to the air meter. Fuel injection units do not like heat, and all of the 57 FI engines (except 43) drew in hot air coming directly from the HOT engine compartment. The 43 Fuel Injected cars which were built with an “Airbox” in 1957 had a somewhat crude, practically hand laid up, fiberglass duct work attached to the left inner fender and a hole was cut into the left side of the radiator support to allow air into the duct work. All of these 43 cars were built with heavy duty everything (translate factory built race car), brakes, suspension, special steering, NO radio, NO heater, wide wheels, tachometer mounted (clamped) on the steering column, fuel injection, HD shocks and that about covers it. Somewhere along the line, the term “Airbox” was tagged to these 43 cars, and it stuck.

A Regular Production 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit with a Fresh Air Intake (airbox)

Restoring the 1957 Corvette to its original glory took over two years and more than 1,500 hours. Fifty years and five months after Bill Howe took delivery of number “4007″, the Corvette was completed. As with most freshly restored classic Corvettes, the 4007 1957 Corvette will make an appearance at an NCRS show to be judged and Corvette Forum member “66rag427″ mentioned in the airbox post that the 1957 Corvette is expected to be judged next month in Dayton, Ohio. He’s promised photos so we’ll see how well it scores when he reports back.

Finally, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the airbox option. For many years the option was know as RPO 579E and in fact The Corvette Black Book shows that 43 Corvettes had the 283 ci FI engine option at an additonal cost of $726.30. However in Ken Kayser’s book entitled The History of GM’s Ramjet Fuel Injection on the Chevrolet V-8 and its Corvette Racing Pedigree he states that the real airbox option was actually 579D, an RPO not listed in the Black Book. Corvette Forum’s DZAUTO has read Kayser’s book and says the author seems to have a pretty convincing argument based on the research of GM’s archives on the subject.

Regardless of the airbox option’s RPO codes and how many may have been produced, what’s worth remembering about this story is the fact that an ultra rare Corvette with a unique racing history was found partially disassembled in a barn and was brought back to life by two guys with a passion for both Corvettes and local automotive history. For more on this fantastic barn find, click here to view a video complete with historical footage of that SCCA race on May 19, 1957.


Sources:
Middletown Journal
CorvetteForum.com

Related:
Corvette Barn Find
Barn Find: 1968 Corvette Convertible

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Dealers Take Corvette Buyers on a Virtual Test Drive

by Keith Cornett on December 16, 2007

Corvette dealerships are utilizing the advantages of broadband connections and video sharing websites to allow customers to not only see a Corvette they may be interested in purchasing, but to actually take the car on a virtual test drive. The American Sportscar Center in Atlanta, Georgia has been busy cranking out these virtual test drive videos for a select number of their Corvettes like this one for a 1959 Corvette Convertible. Not only do these videos allow the customer to see the Corvette from all angles, but the ability to actually hear the car running as well as riding shotgun on a run down the highway at 60 mph creates a memorable experience that I am sure will lead to an increase in sales.

The virtual test drive videos also serve a dual purpose as advertising for the dealership on the social video websites like YouTube.com and StreetFire.net, I am certain that we will be seeing more dealers move towards producing these video test drives in the near future.
Source: BuyaVette.net Related:
Video: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Quick Drive Technorati Tags:
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Five People in the Corvette Hobby I’d Like to Meet

by Keith Cornett on December 15, 2007

I saw a post on an unrelated blog about the author’s desire to meet five people that he found interesting. That led me to wonder about the five people I’d like to meet in person, but I also decided to narrow my list down to specifically people within the Corvette community. This is probably the first of two posts, the second being those Corvette legends that have already passed. However I digress. Each of these gentleman is destined for the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame, and two of the members on this list have already achieved that distinction. My list of five people in the Corvette hobby I’d like to meet in no particular order:
1. Noland Adams

Noland knows more about classic Corvettes than you can shake a powerglide at. He hold’s NCRS membership #4 and he founded the Solid Axle Corvette Club. While leading the NCRS back in the seventies, he was responsible for bringing the midyear Corvettes into the NCRS fold, a controversial decision back then but one that has since come to define how new Corvettes are added to judging each year. Noland was inducted into the NCM Corvette Hall of Fame in 2003.

2. Tom Wallace
Wouldn’t you love to know what Tom Wallace knows about the future direction of the Corvette? We are in very exciting times right now and meeting the man in charge would be an awesome thrill.

3. Dave Hill
I always admired the way Dave Hill appeared to relate to the average Corvette owner. He always seems to have a genuine interest in what owners said and felt about his Corvette, the C5. In fact, my impression of Dave Hill is that he would be a great person to kick back and have a few beers with while listening to stories of what the folks in the Corvette program had to overcome in the nineties to build the C5 Corvette. Dave was inducted into the NCM Corvette Hall of Fame in 2006.

4. Mike Antonick
Mike is the only guy on this list that I have no idea what he looks like. But every year I pluck down my $15 bucks for a new copy of his Corvette Black Book and every year it is just about the best money spent when it comes to Corvette publications. When heading off to a Corvette show, his Black Book is always along for the ride. A person new to the Corvette hobby could damn near become an expert if he could commit those pages to memory.

5. Reeves Callaway
I can sum up Reeve’s contribution to Corvette (and wannabe tuners) in just 2 words. Well, one word: Sledgehammer! and one RPO code… B2K!
So there you have my list of five people in the Corvette hobby I’d like to meet in person. Any comments regarding my list? Who is a living Corvette personality you would most like to meet? Related:
Corvette’s Tom Wallace Q & A
My Thoughts on Dave Hill
Vette Magazine: A Conversation with Reeves Callaway Technorati Tags:
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When a Matching Numbers Corvette is Anything But…

by Keith Cornett on December 14, 2007

1963 Split Window Coupe CorvettePart of my motivation in writing this blog is to help buyers, particularly first time Corvette buyers, learn more about the specifics of buying Corvettes before making the plunge. I do that through posts like this week’s very appropriate Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps as well as trying to constantly reinforce the mantra of “Knowledge is Power When Purchasing Corvettes”. Too many times buyers make the plunge first, only to find out they have been taken for a ride. To illustrate this point, I bring you this Corvette that was advertised earlier this week on a well-known classified ads website. Here are the details:

Rare 1963 split window Corvette rebuilt 327 10 over, 202 dart camel back heads, 292 cam solid lifers, rebuilt 2 speed power glide w/2800 stall converter, rebuilt 348 rear balanced drive shafts, knock off rims new red line tires, new brakes, renewed dash, original paint riverside red, black interior . many extra parts to many to list Extremely Nice, Show Ready. Matching Numbers with original colors. Original AM-FM Wonder Bar Radio. California car , Automatic Trans, Power Brakes, Power Steering. At this time it has a 1966 engine in it I have the 1964 engine ready to rebuild to make # matching car and the true knock off rims and red line tires for more info or pics Call or E-mail or $55,000.00 or make offer must see great car.
I sent the seller an email as I was confused if he meant he had the 1963 engine instead of a 1964:
Just a quick question about your 1963 Corvette for sale. You say you have a 1964 engine ready to be rebuilt to make it a matching numbers car. Did you mean it is a 1963 engine? If so, was it the original engine? Any history or documentation with the Corvette?
The seller responded back with the following:
It has a 66 engine in it now I have the block heads and casting # right not built yet never got around to it so you could get it done any way you would like or I could have my guys do it for you I just put the 66 in to drive it and to sell it easer if the buyer can drive it also here it run. call me on my cell if you want any more info but if you want a 63 you really got to see this one.
1963 Split Window Corvettes can be an excellent investment and this one is obviously well taken care of. In fact, this Corvette has awesome curb appeal that is ready for show or go. Advertised as a California car, it features comfort options like an automatic transmission, power brakes, power steering and an AM/FM Radio. The wheels are beautiful and who can resist the rebuilt drive train. But throwing around terminology like matching numbers is exactly why buyers need to be educated. When you set out to buy a house, what is the one thing you always have done before purchase? You have it inspected. Buying a classic Corvette should be no different. I do not think the seller is out to purposely misrepresent this car as he’s obviously stated in both the ad and the email that it has a 1966 engine. But stating that a 1964 engine can turn this 1963 into a matching numbers car because the casting and head numbers match is just incorrect. What often happens is that while this seller is being honest in telling us that the Corvette has a non-original motor (NOM), future owners selling this Corvette may not be so forthcoming, and that leads to the second point of the question I asked: “Any history or documentation with the Corvette?” Since there was no response to that question, I have to assume that there isn’t any. At $55,000, the car is priced appropriately for a NOM ’63 Coupe. Unless you don’t care about owning a non-documented Corvette with an NOM, then you should immediately walk away from a Corvette like this. Despite its NOM status, this Corvette is a stunner and will be sold to someone. However, it will never appreciate in value like a documented split window coupe and it will be harder to sell when that day comes. Knowledge is power… Related:
Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps
Seller of Fake L88 Caught by Corvette Community Technorati Tags:
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Friday’s Featured Corvettes For Sale

by Keith Cornett on December 14, 2007

If you are looking to make a deal on a new or classic Corvette before the holidays. this is probably the last week to do it. Below we are featuring six of the over 500 Corvettes available at our classified ads website, www.VetteFinders.com.

1960 Corvette Convertible For Sale 1967 Corvette Coupe For Sale 1974 Corvette T-Top For Sale
1960 Convertible
$55,900
1967 Coupe
Email for Price
1974 T-Top
$13,500
 
1996 Corvette Coupe For Sale 2003 Corvette Hardtop For Sale 2007 Corvette Convertible For Sale
1996 Coupe
$15,990
2003 Z06
$34,000
2007 Convertible
$49,995
Selling Your Corvette? Now is the time and VetteFinders.com is the place to reach more qualified Corvette Buyers. Corvette Classified Ads are only $25 and run for 3 months. You can post unlimited photos and you have access to make any changes at any time.
Source:
VetteFinders.com Related:
11/02/07: Friday’s Featured Corvettes For Sale Technorati Tags:
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Corvette Racing Will Return To ALMS GT1 in 2008

by Keith Cornett on December 13, 2007

Corvette Racing will return to the ALMS in 2008Whew! Corvette Racing announced that they will be returning both factory backed GT1 Corvette C6.R’s to the American Le Mans Series in 2008. In addition to the ALMS 12 race series, the team will be competing at the 24 hours of Le Mans. Since the team returned to the track in 1999, they’ve won seven consecutive GT1 Manufacturers and Team Championships, plus six straight Drivers championships in the ALMS. Corvette Racing currently owns the ALMS record for class victories at 57, plus 40 1-2 finishes.

“Corvette Racing was conceived as a long-term program to showcase the performance, technology, and value of Chevrolet’s world-class sports car,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “Since the team’s competition debut in 1999, Corvette Racing’s success in top-tier road racing has produced a strong return on our investment, paying dividends in marketing, engineering, technology transfer, personnel development and other areas of our business. Corvette is now a performance icon that’s recognized around the world, and Corvette Racing’s continued participation in the ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be an important element in the global celebration of GM’s 100th anniversary in 2008.” “Our decision to compete in all 12 rounds of the ALMS schedule in 2008 reflects our commitment to our sponsors, our suppliers, and to Corvette enthusiasts worldwide,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. “There is a reason why thousands of Corvette owners attend Corvette Corrals at ALMS events and why the autograph line at Corvette Racing is the longest in the ALMS paddock: Racing is an integral part of Corvette’s history and heritage, and we are continuing that tradition.” “Experience teaches us that motorsports is cyclical, and the GT1 category is currently in transition,” Wesoloski observed. “Would we like to see more competition in GT1 in the ALMS? Absolutely! But in the absence of season-long competition, we are absolutely committed to controlling our own destiny. We are pushing hard to develop our chassis and powertrain, to refine our race strategy, and to continuously improve every element of the program. We know that the competition at Le Mans will be intense, and we will use the ALMS series to hone the race cars, the drivers, and the team to prepare for it.”
Corvette Racing will be testing two new Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars in February. The 12 race series kicks off March 15th at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Related:
Corvettes to Compete in ALMS GT2 Class in 2008 Technorati Tags:
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Corvette’s 2008 Indy Pace Car Unveiling Date Set

by Keith Cornett on December 12, 2007

The Corvette has been chosen yet again to pace the world’s greatest race, the Indianapolis 500. On December 27th the curtain will be raised on the 2008 design and you can be there as part of a National Corvette Museum fundraiser. The NCM was given 19 tickets to the event and they are being sold for $100 each. The ticket admits you to the Indiana Convention Center/RCA Dome in Indianapolis to witness the unveiling of the newest Corvette pace car. The event also includes a Chevrolet Exhibit with displays of a Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, a Camaro Convertible and of course the 2008 Indianapolis Pace Car. There is also mention of a surprise display called the Flying Corvette. We will have to wait and see what that is all about. Finally lunch will be provided to participants in the ballroom, which is your chance to “mix and mingle” with representatives from GM and Chevrolet. Tickets to the event can be reserved at the National Corvette Museum’s website. Click here for details. Related:
Corvette Z06 Chosen to Pace 50th Daytona 500 in 2008 Technorati Tags:
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