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2023 Corvette Info Including SR Pricing, SR 2023 Visualizer, 70th Anniversary SR/Z06 Press Release; The C8 Z06 Press Release, Order Guide & Its Visualizer Link

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Zora Arkus-Duntov

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  • Zora Arkus-Duntov

    Zora was such an awesome force in saving the Corvette. While he has been labeled the “father of the Corvette” by some, that is not fully accurate. However, accurately, he is the savior of the Corvette.

    And as to his dream of a mid engine AWD Corvette, please see the bolded words toward the post of this post.

    Where to start, for so many of his life’s attributes and experiences are so notable, and not just those relating to the Corvette?

    For example, he was an amazing race car driver, having raced another brand at the 24 Hours of LeMans (‘54, ’55, ‘57, and ‘59), and he also set an American Pikes Peak record in 1956 in a Chevy 4 door sedan.

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    Zora was not just a race driver, but an engineer and an inventor, i.e., the Ford flathead became greatly improved with its aftermarket Duntov cam and heads.

    As Corvette historians know, he wrote the famous following document to GM that changed the course of Corvettes from a nice visual for important movie stars and politicians to the performance powerhouse he is today. Here is that letter than changed our Corvettes for the better.

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    Below, Zora’s obituary sums up so much about him, including his modesty, and his unrequited dream of building a mid engine Corvette.

    Originally posted by LA Times
    Corvette (By Myrna Oliver)

    Arkus-Duntov, the automotive engineer known for transforming the Corvette from a show car and plastic toy into a true American sports car, has died. He was 86.

    Duntov, a race driver who became known as "Mr. Corvette" and the patriarch of high performance, died Sunday in Detroit. He had been increasingly frail since a stroke five years ago.

    A Russian-born, German-trained engineer, Duntov went to work for Chevrolet in 1953--the Corvette's first model year. He joined the Corvette team after writing a memo now enshrined by General Motors suggesting that drivers were finally ready for an American high-performance car. He soon became the Corvette's first chief engineer.

    "There are great designers, there are great motor people and great corporate politicians," Reeves Callaway, who customizes Corvettes, once told The Times' car columnist Paul Dean. "Zora Arkus-Duntov is all of these things. And a race car driver. So he was able to build a car where his personality shows through. The Corvette is him."

    Duntov himself downplayed the uniform adulation.

    "A man puts his pants on one leg at a time. So the fuss about me is out of proportion," he told The Times in 1991. "I really didn't create anything. Genius? Hah! I just make a good car."

    He added several innovations to the Corvette that filtered through the automobile industry, including fuel injection in 1957 and four-wheel disc brakes in 1965.

    But he clearly was thwarted on other ideas.

    "I know that I give lots of people joy, and I'm happy for that. But my satisfaction with the car was never really full . . . because I was always constrained," he said in 1991.

    Had he been given free reign, he added, "Today's Corvette would be a mid-engined car and four-wheel driven. Four-wheel drive for better traction needed in a high-performance car. Mid-engine for better balance, more efficient braking."

    He retired from Chevrolet in the mid-1970s, but continued to attend Corvette shows and events around the country, such as those at the Vintage Museum of Transportation and Wildlife in Oxnard, which has a dozen vintage Corvettes owned by former Times publisher Otis Chandler.

    Duntov drove a 1974 Corvette for nearly 15 years--until someone offered him $100,000 for it. He switched then to a 1989 Corvette, but never liked it as well.

    The legendary engineer celebrated his 85th birthday on Christmas Day in 1994 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., the city where Corvettes are produced. A street near the museum was named in his honor.

    Duntov is survived by his wife, Elfi.

    So much more to say about him; at least this is a start about his lifetime of Corvette and other achievements.

    Our very fortunate Mike Furman ([email protected]) knew him very well:


    Thanks Zora for all you did for the Corvette, and thus secondly for us Corvette lovers. Hopefully the top of the line, the rumored 1,000 HP, AWD version, will be named for you. Zora was born in Russia, and there the word “Zora” means dawn. How fitting would that be! [Thanks “jbc1995fb” for that information.]

    Last edited by John; 07-17-2018, 05:12 PM.
    2023 Z06: Hypersonic Gray HTC, two tone blue interior, complete high wing/aero package. CCB’s, PBC, E60, and with every visible carbon fiber option including wheels. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 24 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

  • #2
    Men such as him don't come along very often. In all aspects of life and industry very few like him can be found. If you think about it, you know who some are/were.
    Lynnie, "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. "
    - Albert Camus


    • #3
      Great letter. You can tell he was both an astute engineer and a visionary. And he a passion for Chevrolet becoming the go-to brand for performance.

      Was fun to read that.


      • #4
        I noticed the letter was addressed to Mr. Maurice Olley, so I decided to look him up.

        Well, he's also very well know relative to the Corvette.

        Working along side Harley Earl and Bob McLean, Olley developed the chassis and suspension of the first-generation Corvette. Acting as head of Chevrolet Research and Development, he headed the engineering team that worked to perfect the early Corvettes and hired Zora Arkus-Duntov to continue the improvements.

        My C8:
        '20 Elkhart Lake Blue 2LT Coupe, Natural Interior, GT2 Two-Tone Seats, Performance Exhaust, Front Lift, Carbon Flash Wheels, Engine Appearance Package 2000 Status December 27, 2019; 3000 Status January 2, 2020; 3400 Status March 10, 2020;TPW March 16, 2020; Built June 4th, 2020 (COVID-19); Delivery July 1, 2020

        Current Vettes:
        '68 Lemans Blue 327/350 Convertible
        '91 Turquoise Convertible with Hardtop
        '14 Lime Rock Green 2LT Convertible, Black Top, Kalahari, 7-Speed, Performance Exhaust


        • #5
          Thank you Mobius. I had not seen that video before; learned a lot by doing so. Good for him for hiring Zora (and great for all of us).
          Last edited by John; 07-18-2018, 02:27 PM.
          2023 Z06: Hypersonic Gray HTC, two tone blue interior, complete high wing/aero package. CCB’s, PBC, E60, and with every visible carbon fiber option including wheels. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 24 year members of National Corvette Museum. Home is the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


          • #6
            We owe so much to that great man who was multi-talented, and thankfully was never hesitant to speak his peace. There were times his colleagues were a touch less than pleased with the strength of his thoughtful presentations, but he was always respected even by those who had differing opinions.
            Enjoying my Shadow gray C8. What a car it is.