I’ve got a special Midyear Monday photo gallery lined up this week for fans of the 1963-67 Corvettes!
Ever come face to face with your favorite singer or the actor who appeared in your favorite movie? Well, last week a similar occurrence happened to me when I joined Chevrolet for a ride and drive event last week in Atlanta.
While there to drive the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport (review coming this week), Chevrolet had four previous Grand Sports from their respective generations including the last of the original five 1963 Grand Sports – the No. 005 Grand Sport Coupe!
I am sure that many of you are aware of the Grand Sport’s unique chapter in Corvette history, but the quick recap goes like this.
In 1962-63, Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov constructed five lightweight Corvettes with tubular frames and outfitted them with racing components. The goal was to build 100-125 Grand Sports to sell to privateers and homologate them for racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But at the time, the major auto manufacturers including GM had a corporate ban on racing and when the program was found out, it was immediately squashed. Zora made sure that the existing five Grand Sports, three coupes and two roadsters, got into the hands of the best racers at the time including Roger Penske, A.J. Foyt, Jim Jeffords and Dick Thompson. Those five Corvettes are now the most collectible Corvettes ever produced.
These lightweight Corvettes were engineering marvels at the time. Where the production 1963 Corvette Sting Ray weighed in at around 3,150 pounds, the Grand Sports weighed around 2,000 pounds. They were powered by an all-aluminum 377-cubic inch small block with 58mm Weber carburetors. Those specially produced engines were capable of 458-hp at 6,000 rpms and 435 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The No.005 Corvette Grand Sport was the last Grand Sport produced and has been owned by former GM engineer Bill Tower of Plant City, Florida since 1978. The No.2 livery is the same as when it ran the 1965 12 Hours of Sebring where it finished 14th overall and 2nd in class. Later in the year, Roger Penske won the 1965 Nassau Tourist Trophy in the No.005 Grand Sport.
Bill doesn’t show the car often outside of his collection so seeing the Grand Sport was a real treat. The history of the car cannot be understated and you have to wonder where the Chevrolet Corvette would be today had Zora’s plan had come to fruition.
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