Presented by Vicari Auction Company
Have you seen all the 2020 Corvettes in the news and online? Well, they are all going to be crushed or crash-tested because they are illegal. Because they are prototypes, they have no titles or a VIN that can be registered. What if a prototype escaped?
That is what happened in 1962 when these three Corvettes were smuggled out by their creator. Zora Arkus-Duntov was a Belgian professional racer and automotive engineer. Being Jewish, he and his brother barely escaped the Nazis and landed in New York.
After the war, every soldier wanted to make more power from the Ford Flathead. Charting a path all his own, he developed an overhead cam conversion kit. It allowed the small V8 to make 300 horsepower, and they are still popular in the modern era.
One night in 1953, he saw one of the first Corvettes in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria. He was so disappointed in the ancient six-cylinder and 2-speed automatic that he wrote Chevrolet asking to address these issues. He was hired as an assistant engineer to Ed Cole, with the goal of making the car perform.
He saved up his vacation time to race for Porsche at LeMans in ’54 and ’55, and Chevrolet top-brass asked him why. Zora explained how superior the Porsche 550 RS was, and that Corvette could learn from it. At LeMans in 55, he narrowly avoided the worst crash in history.
A decade later and the 10th anniversary of the Corvette would be celebrated by an all-new model. Between ’53 and ’60, he developed mechanical fuel injection, a cold air intake, and gave it a proper 4-speed transmission.
To prove these new technologies, GM told him to take the Corvette racing, after all, it had twice the power of the Porsche. The problem was a tall Texan that could dive deeper into the corners. Carroll Shelby drove tiny British cars with giant American V8s under the hood.
Zora was given the task to build a Corvette that could beat everyone else. In late 1959, he began designing a new chassis with independent suspension. Styling was influenced by the Sting Ray race car and perfected by Larry Shinoda. To make the car corner, a steel birdcage supported the cockpit and it was bolted to fully-boxed frame rails.
Although much was finalized by early ’62, they needed to train the workers in St. Louis, along with parts suppliers around the nation. Twenty prototypes were built, several were just rolling chassis to show the new assembly, interior, and electrical layout to dealer technicians. A handful were fully-functional and used to test aerodynamics and America’s first independent rear suspension.
Somehow, less than 10 of the running cars were preserved, as sports car enthusiasts realized the significance of this revolution in design & engineering. Since the 1963 Corvette was so far ahead of almost any other performance car, one collector in Louisana found three of them with sequential serial numbers.
By early 1962, the St. Louis assembly line was truncated to make room for the new project. The most talented employees worked alongside with Zora and his engineers to build these cars by hand. Each car has been frame-off restored, and the team discovered unique traits that prove their authenticity. The owner is not willing to split them up, so don’t pass up this opportunity from our friends at Vicari Auction Company. Click the button below for all the details and stay with us for full coverage of their events.
Presented by Vicari Auction Company
From its home office in Harvey, LA Vicari Auction Company conducts Classic & Muscle Car Auctions across the southern US including venues in New Orleans, LA; Biloxi, MS and Nocona, TX. Pete Vicari’s passion for muscle cars, specifically Corvette’s, inspired him to enter the Classic & Muscle Car Auction Arena in Biloxi, MS over 20 years ago. His pastime hobby has grown into a successful auction business that attracts hundreds of cars to each event with sales reaching into the millions of dollars.
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