When legendary Corvette chief engineer
Zora Arkus-Duntov came up with a plan in
1962 to create a lightweight version of the
’Vette to take on the likes of Ford, Ferrari
and Porsche in international GT racing, he
knew his biggest challenge would be getting
it past GM’s guardians of corporate policy.
The General had signed up for the
Automobile Manufacturers Association’s
1957 ban on direct involvement in racing,
and the suits in Detroit were still holding fast
1963 CHEVROLET CORVETTE GRAND SPORT
to that as Arkus-Duntov secretly put plans
in place for the Corvette Grand Sport.
Key to making the car competitive was
losing weight – lots of weight – and giving
it some decent braking power.
A Shelby Cobra weighed 1,000lb less
than a Corvette, so Arkus-Duntov’s team
pared 1,300lb by replacing the steel cabin
frame with aluminum and fitting paper-thin
fiberglass body panels and cast magnesium
wheels, slimming it down to 1,900lb.
Disc brakes replaced the original drums,
and the car was ready to race. Except...
For FIA GT homologation, 125 cars
would need to be built. But when GM boss
Frederic G. Donner got wind of a Sebring
shakedown test, he called an immediate
halt to the program. Officially, it was game
over. However, a “privateer” three-car
entry in the 1963 Nassau Speed Week
teased the Grand Sport’s potential with a
Cobra-beating performance (see page 70).
Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport No. 004 was one
of three sent to the 1963 Nassau Speed Week.
Their performance against the Shelby Cobras
was spectacular, leading to a big “what if...?”