Rumors are rampant about a high-performance version of the new mid-engine Corvette being named Zora in honor of the car’s original chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov.
But if this rumor does eventually materialize in the coming years, it won’t be the first time the legendary engineer has been honored with a namesake.
A North Carolina man named Tim Childers recently came across one of the turbo C3 Corvettes that Zora produced back in the mid-1970s in cooperation with a company named American Custom Industries (ACI) after retiring from General Motors in 1975.
Childers got a tip from a friend about the car and ended up buying it for just $5,000 after traveling to Kings Mountain, N.C., where the car had been sitting for more than 20 years.
“We went around and looked at it, looked under the hood, looked in the interior,” Childers said. “It looked like he was getting ready to restore it years ago. He had the weatherstripping pulled out on the T-tops. The windshield was broken.”
The car definitely remains a symbol of the ’70s. Inside, for example, Childers found red crushed velvet seats and the first owner’s name on a gold plate on the woodgrain dash, along with a Blaupunkt stereo and a handheld mic (for a little early karaoke, maybe?).
The car features the same kind of widebody made famous by racer John Greenwood on his Greenwood Corvettes, also produced by ACI, in the early ’70s. The front end features headlights sunk deep into the body instead of the stock pop-ups, and the primer is showing through the original black paint after decades of neglect.
This particular car appears to be #25 out of an undetermined number of such cars actually produced and is titled as a ’77 model, though Childers believes it must be “a late 1977 because it looks like a ’78” – complete with “the sugar scoop hatch on the back” but with a back glass that actually opens on this one like the ’82 Collector Edition.
Childers isn’t sure about his plans for the car, saying it depends on how hard it is to track down the parts that make it so unusual. Unfortunately, the one thing that makes the car so noteworthy – the turbo on the L82 engine – is missing, and Childers says he would have to find one of those, along with removing the headers and changing the intake and exhaust manifolds, to make it back to a true Duntov Turbo.
Still, it’s good to know that this original vehicle that bears the Duntov name has resurfaced, just in time hopefully for the high-performance hybrid mid-engine C8 that some speculate will be named in his honor.
Corvettes on eBay: 1979 Custom Duntov Turbo Corvette Offered at No Reserve
Corvettes on Craigslist: 1980 Duntov Turbo Convertible
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