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Corvette Developed from Decades of Racing

By Casey Williams
MyCarData
Created: October 30, 2012 Last Updated: November 5, 2012
Related articles: Life » Autos
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2003 Chevrolet Corvette (Courtesy of NetCarShow.com)

Much of what makes the Corvette legendary was honed on racetracks around the world. 

That wasn’t always so, as the first cars were roughly based on standard-issue Chevrolets. It took a Belgian-born immigrant, Zora Arkus-Duntov, to put world-class handling under flamboyant Corvette fenders.

“Candidly, Corvette was not a high-performance car until Zora Arkus-Duntov fitted it with a V8, and began campaigning Corvettes in racing,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette’s vehicle chief engineer. 
“Today, the Corvettes competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans use many of the same components as Corvettes rolling off the assembly line at Bowling Green.”

C1-generation Corvettes (1953-‘62) rode on a modified passenger car frame with a live rear axle. An independent rear suspension, disc brakes, and aluminum wheels came with the C2 “mid-year” models (1963-‘67). Although flashier, the C3 generation (1968-‘82) chassis was heavily-based on the ’63-‘67 cars.

The C4 (1984-‘96) was a complete departure from earlier Vettes. It featured a backbone chassis that integrated suspension mounting points, windshield frame, door frames, rear cockpit wall, and rocker panels. A targa top required very thick side rails for rigidity.

The rear suspension utilized a five-link design with transverse composite spring. Anti-lock brakes and traction control debuted in 1986 and 1992 respectively. A C4 is still a joy to drive and has limits beyond the skill of most drivers. 

What was learned on the track went straight into production cars.

These cars were raced heavily and captured the SCCA Showroom Stock GT-class championship. What was learned on the track went straight into production cars.

When the C5 generation (1997-2004) arrived, it flaunted hydroformed frame rails for added stiffness while a rear transaxle balanced weight and enabled a roomy interior. It was available with an adaptive suspension system that utilized sophisticated magnetic shocks. 

The current C6 is an evolution of the C5, but implemented serious amounts of aluminum and carbon fiber to improve handling and acceleration. It has been extraneously-raced, having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times since 2001.

We’re on the cusp of the C7 Corvette, which will debut less than a year from now. It will be an evolution of the C6, but will absolutely set new standards for supercar handling—all thanks to decades of setting standards on the racetrack and a Belgian-born engineer named Zora.

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