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Old 12-20-2010, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default *General Grand Sport Topic*

There seems to be a constant thirst for knowledge concerning these magnificent 5 Grand Sports and especially the replica cars that so many of us here are building or driving. So why not have a general GS topic for all things related to GS. Mr. Wizard has an awesome build topic going on here and lot of the general GS stuff is asked in that topic.

So to start of I give you few photos of the legends themselves Mr. John Fitch and Mr. Dick Thompson getting behind the wheel of Tony Stefan's cars, both coupe and the recently finished roadster with full windscreen.



The flying dentist in the Coupe.



Mr. Fitch in the roadster.

It cool to see the old masters still getting excited about these cars.

More about Tony's projects:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48654039@N04/

http://www.ZLandSharkgs.com/

http://www.tonysautobuilders.com/index.html

Sure looks like nice quality stuff, I saw the finished coupe at Carlisle 08 and the roadster was there too showcasing their new aluminum birdcage.

Hope this topic will serve it's purpose for years to come.
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Old 12-20-2010, 02:19 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting .
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:20 PM   #3
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A Grand Sport topic is a wonderful idea.
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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To let this thread be a way of reaching all the Grand Sport information that has been posted to date, here are links to two long running threads that answer a lot of questions:


title: are there any grand sport people here

and

title: looking for grand sport differential oil cooler scoop


Other threads that have proven interesting:

title: grand sport bliss

title: is mid america grand sport in business

title: grand sport does the choice of chassis and suspension really make a difference

title: superformance 1963 corvette grand sport

title: please post your grand sport pictures

title: grand sport 4 pictures.......

title: 63 gran sport [sic]

title: grand sport replica vs c6 z06

title: what grand sport livery would you choose


Doubtless there are other threads about these interesting cars. However, the ones I've listed will provide plenty of eye-glazing reading material.

Jim
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:52 PM   #5
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At least three sections:

1. The Holy Five: history, film, appearances, auctions, and five subsections, one for each original, like John, Paul, George, Ringo and Brian

2. Homage: aftermarket rollers, kits, parts, homebuilt C2 conversions, Cobra eating

3. Late Models: factory built late models that bear the name
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:37 AM   #6
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Looks like we're of to a good start with this topic so to keep it going I present you few pictures of my roadster project...



Here's the car when I first bought it. It was mildly customized 63 convertible with brand new LT4/TH400 in it. I was planning on putting on new bumpers and emblems on it with the stock headlight assemblies. I already had all the parts ready for it to change it to more of a restomod style car but as life sometimes does, this all went up in the air on a beautiful august night.



Yup, that's my own bonfire night right there. I was driving back home from a local cruise night when the flames started coming through the hood. I didn't even get the hood open before it melted right before my eyes. So I just took all my cd's and camera with me and stood back and "enjoyed" the view... When the fire department got to the scene there wasn't much left for them to do.



Pretty miserable sight. But there and then I thought that I might as well build a Grand Sport out of it now. So I called Jeff at MAI and ordered complete roadster body for it and thought I could have it back together in two years... BOy was I wrong. It's been 5 years now and it's just about to go to paint shop.








Hope everybody will have a nice and relaxing Christmas!

Jay

Last edited by groovyjay; 12-23-2010 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:49 AM   #7
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Oh and if any of you wonder what happened to the pics I requested a while ago. I put together a GS montage but youtube didn't like my song choices (copyrights ) So I started doing something much more time consuming out of them... I will keep everyone updated once I have something to show for.
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:14 AM   #8
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awesome idea... subscribed!
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:32 AM   #9
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Sixth Grand Sport, true or false?

Quote:
Sixth racing Grand Sport Vette likely ended up as molten aluminum


By WILLIAM JEANES

AUTOWEEK'S SEARCH FOR the rumored sixth Grand Sport Corvette has borne fruit yet again in unexpected fashion.

When we suggested the existence of a sixth Grand Sport Corvette (AW, July 21), a howl went up from the keepers of conventional wisdom.

Everyone knows there were only five, cried the faithful.

According to a reputable restorer who asked not to be named, the original long-running rumor likely owes its existence to a set of factory blueprints for a sixth GS, reputable sources say. The restorer does not believe a sixth one exists--absent incontrovertible proof.

Readers will recall from our original article that Texas oilman John Mecom, who campaigned the Grand Sport Vettes in the early 1960s, claims that he bought not five but six Grand Sports from General Motors. Dallas artist Bill Neale, a longtime friend of Mecom, maintains with no equivocation that a photograph in the Mecom trophy room showed six GS Corvettes in the Mecom Racing shop.

Seeking further confirmation, Mecom called Barry Smyth, a former Mecom Racing employee. Smyth, who had also worked with Corvette patriarch Zora Arkus-Duntovs racing group, stated categorically that there were six Grand Sports.

He told me, said Mecom, that the sixth car went back to Detroit [to the shadowy Corvette racing headquarters] and never came back here [to Houston].

Ed Welburn, GM's new design boss, was intrigued by our story and instituted a search for the car (AW, Oct. 13). The search met with failure, and we may now know why: There is no sixth Grand Sport to find but not necessarily because one never existed.

On a reader's tip, we called Jim Champlin, 71, a retired employee of what was once called Plant Protection at GM's Milford Proving Grounds. Champlin says he destroyed the sixth Grand Sport, probably in late 1964 or early 1965.

The car had come back from the Bahamas, and the word came down to make it disappear, Champlin recalled.

Champlin wasn't privy to the source of the order, but he described taking the lightweight Corvette to an area where GM tested military vehicles, putting two tires inside it, dousing them with gasoline and setting it afire. His supervisor, Bob Cameron, witnessed the destruction.

He [Cameron] knew I was a racing fan and said he didn't think I should be left alone with the car or I'd keep its whole drivetrain, Champlin said. And I would have.

Champlin described the car's many aluminum components turning into a big puddle, but he was unsure of the car's color. I think either white or silver, he said. He is also unable to recall whether it was a roadster or a coupe, but he does remember his emotions.

It just tore me up to do it, Champlin said.

In some ways it tears us up to report that the sixth Grand Sport Corvette, like Arkus-Duntov's plans for racing it, may have gone up in smoke. Mecom recalls a GS painted white for Jim Hall at Nassau, and photos of several 1964 races show both Hall and Roger Penske at the wheel of a white GS coupe but this car is usually identified as GS 005 and still exists. Robert Ash told us that all the GS Vettes were originally white, broadening the potential for confusion.

Whatever its origin, Jim Champlin is certain that he burned a racing Corvette that had returned from the Bahamas. This would have reflected GM management's anti-racing mood at the time and allows us to say with at least some confidence that here ends the search for the sixth GS.
Quote:
The Grand Sport Corvettes: Now we are six

By WILLIAM JEANES

IN MARCH 2003, at the Amelia Island Concours Elegance, the only five Grand Sport Corvettes appeared together for the first time. Or so said the publicity material; new evidence indicates that there were six Grand Sports. Still, the reunion of the mighty lightweights, purpose-built racing cars constructed in 1962-63 to battle the hated Ford-powered Cobras, fascinated the Corvette faithful. Rounding them up had been difficult.

I'd been trying to get all five of them together for eight years, says Bill Warner, chairman of the Amelia Island event. But each year, there'd be a reluctant owner, a car that wasn't ready, or both. In 2002 Warner went to work in earnest on the last owner holdout, former General Motors engineer Bill Tower.

Tower attended the 2002 Amelia Island show and conceded that its Ritz-Carlton backdrop merited a Grand Sports convocation for 2003, Corvette's golden anniversary year. Furthermore, Amelia Island is an easy drive from Plant City, Florida, where Tower lives. With Tower aboard, the fabulous five would at last appear together. Why was this event so noteworthy?

You must understand that Corvettes constitute the country's third-largest religion behind Overeating and Money. Within that religion lurks a sect that worships the Grand Sports with the fervor and logic of the Flat Earth Society.

Now why would anyone say something tacky like that?

Maybe because a Grand Sport Corvette never won a major race. Their best FIA-sanctioned showing was a 1-2 class finish at Sebring in 1964. They never came near a world championship a trick turned by Carroll Shelby's Cobra. Further, what few wins the cars notched were almost always the result of someone else's problems. Finally, you could point out that the Grand Sport was an aerodynamic carnival ride. At speed, its front end was lighter than a confetti souffle.

Roger Penske, whose accomplishments as a racing team owner and businessman long ago eclipsed his distinguished career as a driver, said, It was so light at the front end that when you really stood on the gas, the front end would come off the ground like a dragster.

Former Texas Chevrolet dealer Delmo Johnson, who logged more seat time in a Grand Sport than most, called it ...the only car I ever drove that would lift the front wheels off the ground in all four gears. Said Johnson, who drove his Grand Sport in Mexico's 1964 Carrera de Costa a Costa: I was clocked at 205 in the car. The front end was off the ground from 160 on up, but the road was straight so it didn't make any difference.

The Grand Sport's lackluster record, frightful aerodynamics, and outdated front-engine configuration would seem to militate against its becoming an icon. Why then, when five surviving Grand Sports appeared together, did Corvette lovers take to their fainting couches?

There are reasons, some of them excellent.

First, the Grand Sports were the product of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the volatile Russian who wasn't the father of the Corvette but was the worldly uncle who taught it how to act. As Corvette's chief engineer he did everything a crafty zealot could do, in the face of GM stodginess, to make the Corvette a genuine sports car. If you don't know his story, read Jerry Burton's Zora Arkus-Duntov, The Legend Behind Corvette. In it, you can read of how Arkus-Duntov took the Corvette racing in defiance of the 1958 Automobile Manufacturers Associa-tion ban on competition activity.

That constitutes the second reason the Grand Sport enjoys legend status: One thing better than a corporate racing effort is a secret corporate racing effort. That the cars emerged from a hidden program opposed by top GM executives contributes mightily to their aura. Finally, some of racing's greats laid hands on them. These included drivers John Cannon, A.J. Foyt, Masten Gregory, Dick Guldstrand, Jim Hall, Penske, Hap Sharp, Dick Thompson and Don Yenko plus Texas oilman John Mecom, who bought and campaigned the cars.

Arkus-Duntov's disobedience to the AMA ban mani-fested itself first in the Z06 Corvette, named for an option group that fitted a stock Vette with stiffer springs and shocks, more horsepower and thicker antiroll bars. Seeing that the Z06 would not best the Cobras without divine intervention, Arkus-Duntov next built the Grand Sport. The new racer was more than a half-ton lighter than a stock Sting Ray and shared few parts with the showroom version.

After a December 1962 test session at Sebring, word of Arkus-Duntov's racing activity reached the GM executive suite. Though Arkus-Duntov had tacit support from GM vice president Ed Cole and Chevro-let general manager Bunkie Knudsen, word came down from GM chairman Frederic Donner to stop the lightweight Corvette program. Arkus-Duntov's plan to produce 125 cars and thereby achieve FIA homologation died aborning.

Conventional sources say Arkus-Duntov handed out the five Grand Sports to private racers for 1963: one to Chevy dealer Dick Doane, one to Gulf Oil executive Grady Davis and three to the Mecom Racing Team. Davis hired Thompson as a driver, and he recorded the only Grand Sport win of 1963 an SCCA club race at Watkins Glen.

A high watermark for the Grand Sport came at the Nassau Speed Weeks in December 1963. The post-season Bahamian races had a certain international cachet, but they lacked FIA sanction. And if racing's big boys came primarily for the party, at least they showed up. It was face-off time.

With Arkus-Duntov looking on, Hall and Thompson put two Mecom Grand Sports on the front row of the grid for the Tourist Trophy. Neither finish-ed. In the Governor's Cup event, Penske turned in an excellent third overall. A week later, Thompson finished a decent fourth in the Nassau Trophy. The Grand Sports earned respect, but at a cost.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:34 AM   #10
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6th GS P2.

Quote:
Three Grand Sports attacked Sebring in 1964, including this one driven by Delmo Johnson and Dave Morgan. The car DNF'd. (Photo by Tom Burnside)



Arkus-Duntov, who could not have hidden his light under a Quonset hut, let alone a bushel, generated so much publicity at Nassau that GM brass threw a running fit and slammed the door on the Grand Sport program. Once again, the cars left GM and went to privateers.

Here, new information refutes accepted wisdom. In a recent interview with AutoWeek, Mecom asserts that Arkus-Duntov built a half-dozen Grand Sports and sold all six to Mecom Racing.

I thought I'd bought them all to make it legal. It wasn't for a whole lot of money, Mecom said. His recollection is that each car cost between $3,000 and $6,000.

To examine the relationships in the 1960s between Mecom, Hall, Penske and the two camps of GM racing engineers one headed by Frank Winchell and the other by Arkus-Duntov would require a book. Suffice it to say that the interaction was complex. But Mecom is positive that he not only owned all the Grand Sports but also had all six of them together in his Houston shop at least once.

I'd swear on a stack of bibles there were six, he said. We had all six of them together one time here in Houston. Now everybody says there were only five. There is a sixth car.

According to the Burton book, two Grand Sport roadsters went to Penske, who immediately sold one to George Wintersteen. One coupe went to Hall, and the remaining two coupes to Mecom. Not exactly, says Mecom. At the 2003 Amelia Island event, Hall recalled pay- ing Penske for one of the coupes and was convinced he'd bought it. Mecom is equally certain Penske never owned it or any other Grand Sport. Mecom did, however, use Penske as a go-between with GM.

I paid Roger to pay GM for all six of them because he knew how to do it with no problems, Mecom told AutoWeek.

Three Grand Sports raced at Sebring in March 1964 and finished first (Penske/Hall) and second (Foyt/Cannon) in class after leader Ken Mile's Cobra failed with 10 minutes remaining. Johnson's entry did not finish. In December Penske won the rain-shortened Tourist Trophy at the 1964 Nassau Speed Weeks, and a Miles Cobra again failed to finish after leading. The cars made sporadic appearances after that, in the hands of various owners, but were never again competitive.

Where, then, is Grand Sport No. 6?

Mecom is convinced Bill Mitchell, the GM design boss who died in 1988, took it and turned it into a styling exercise. Why would Mecom believe that? Because Mitchell said so.

Bill Mitchell got hold of one and, I'm sure from what he told me, made a styling car out of it, Mecom said. He went on to describe a walk with Mitchell through one of the buildings in Warren, Michigan, where GM stored styling cars in big racks. And where such cars were frequently destroyed.

Lance Reventlow had given Mitchell a Scarab. He [Mitchell] always commented about a Scorpion and another car. I don't know whether the Scorpion was the Scarab or the old Corvette. But one was sitting next to the other on the third level, side by side, both painted blue. I never saw it again although I'd paid for all six of them.

Mecom describes one of the warehoused cars as a brighter purple than the Mecom Blue, which is a 1959 Cadillac Pelham Blue with added metal-flake. He said that none of the Amelia Island reunion cars restored to Mecom Racing trim got the color right.

None of them were the same as they were when I had them. I know a lot of things change, but there was crap hanging on those things I never saw before. Even the ones that were painted in our old livery got the color wrong. Speaking of wrong, if you accept Mecom's version of the Grand Sport saga, all the books are incorrect.

There's a reason for that.

No one ever interviewed me for those books, Mecom said. One author of a book devoted solely to the Grand Sport called Mecom after the book was published. He told me he didn't interview me because he'd already talked to the experts. But the reunion nonetheless pleased Mecom. I was glad to see them there. It's just hard to realize those things are as valuable as they are.

How valuable is the Corvette quintet? As Warner put it, A car is worth what someone is willing to pay for it on the day that the owner decides to sell. He also noted that, If two owners decided to sell on the same day, we'd find out what one is really worth. At least two experts familiar with the collector car market estimate $1 million plus. That's per car and with or without a sixth example.

Was there a sixth car?

Dallas artist and Mecom friend Bill Neale says yes. There was a framed photograph of the Hobby Airport shop in John's trophy room, and you could see, if you looked, six Grand Sports. Neale added that more than a few people saw the photo and spoke of the six cars.

Until the photo is located, skeptics will insist that no sixth car existed. But it's difficult to fault Mecom's memory. To paraphrase the Packard slogan, Ask the man who owned all six.
Even Larry Shinoda seemed to think there were more than 5.

Quote:
During a conversation with a late departed friend at the NCRS Nat. Convention at Bend Or. in 1988 I asked him about the GS's and the rumored 66 L-88. He just smiled about the GS and said their was more than 5. He also said that their was a "Prototype" 66 L-88 that was tested some in Daytona during speed weeks there. We had several other conversations over the next couple of years on the subjects but he was never much forth coming. I believe that 1 or more of them were in exsitance at one time but were destoryed by GM.
I miss my friend we had lots of great conversations over the years. He is missedby lots of us.
R.I.P Larry Shinoda.
I believe there was 6th car, maybe more...
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:03 PM   #11
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Default six Grand Sports, counterpoint

Here are two excerpts from private correspondence I had with a fellow GS owner back in 2004, after the rumours and stories about a 6th car surfaced. The first is kinda long, but it creates the context for the 2nd message, which contains the punch line:


Quote:
I ventured up to the vintage races at Road America this past weekend and entered the GS in the two concours shows that they have, one on Friday night for race cars, and the other on Saturday night for classic sports cars. On Saturday night, as we were backing into place, there was an elderly gentleman taking pictures as we parked. As soon as I got out of the car, he can over and asked if this was one of the cars that was at Amelia Island last year. I explained that it wasn't, or I'd be a much richer man. He continued to say that he really couldn't tell, AND HE USED TO DRIVE THEM. That's when he got my attention. He turned out to be Leonard Dunlevy, a GM engineer that worked on the cars originally and was one of the persons that took vacation and went down to the Bahamas to support them when the raced there. We talked about my adding a weber set-up this winter and he indicated that he may have a few contacts that may still have one. One of his comments was "...or you could call Roger Penske." Yeah, like I have Roger Penske on my speed dial. I gave him my card and he said that he'd make some calls and email me any comments or information. He just loved the car and must have taken 25 pictures. Have you ever run into this fella???

Quote:
It's funny you should mention it, but Mr. Dunlevy and I did talk about the 6th Grand Sport. He said with passion, "THERE NEVER WAS A 6TH GRAND SPORT!" He did say that they had a '63 coupe that they used as a "mule" car to test all the things that they designed, but it was in no way a Grand Sport. They cut up the "mule" car pretty good, but never considered it a GS. He thinks this is what Mecom was referring too when he let the media in on the 6th Grand Sport story. Dunlevy, himself, wrote the magazines, telling them who he was and what the real story was, but none of them ever printed any part of a retraction of the story. Of course, they don't want to look like idiots for picking up the story to begin with. So that's the 6th GRAND SPORT story as I now believe it. It makes more sense.
So, were there six? Decide for yourself but I tend to think not.

Jim
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:47 PM   #12
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Just thought I would throw this in, because I thought it was a great 64 replica of one of our Canadian forum members and you might like to see.






Last edited by oldsarge; 12-28-2010 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:10 PM   #13
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Great thread.
Roger Penske told me that he only knew of five cars....and this was back in 1977, so his memory was relatively fresh.

I had a freind who owned a 427 Cobra. He was trying to sell it for a LOT of $$. A potential buyer came to town to try the car out. They got caught in grid-lock traffic on a freeway.....and the car caught fire. Nobody could get to the car to put the fire out, and all that was left was the chassis and some of the driveline. Everything aluminum was destroyed.
After all of that, his insurance company tried to claim that he torched the car! He finally got his insurance money a year later, and after that ordeal, he's never owned a "special" car again....
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:41 PM   #14
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Even Alan Sevadjian who owned one of the originals at one time told me that there was rumors of a sixth one and he had proof there was. But, I tend to believe that there may have been parts and plans to build the sixth one but was ordered destroyed. There were also stories of the plant employees hidding the parts all over the plant. I think it just adds a mystic to the legend of the GS. I am sure if someone was to profit from such a story one would turn up.

Ed
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:22 PM   #15
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Can individual body pieces be purchased to build a look-a-like or do you have to purchase as kit ... or ? ? ?
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:27 PM   #16
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To all the Grand Sport people out there , MAI, D&D, Mongoose and the future Superperformance . Have a Happy New Year !!! This group is an treasure trove of information, suggestions, experience and direction for existing and future GS owners . I have a feeling that we will have a busy 2011 with additional Grand Sports joining our ranks. ---------- Ken McCorry D&D 049

Last edited by keystonefarm; 12-30-2010 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 03:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vette758702 View Post
Can individual body pieces be purchased to build a look-a-like or do you have to purchase as kit ... or ? ? ?
Mongoose will sell you at least some of the parts, you need to contact them and ask. I would think so does Jeff at MAI too.

Here's Mongoose's front end:

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Old 12-31-2010, 03:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keystonefarm View Post
To all the Grand Sport people out there , MAI, D&D, Mongoose and the future Superperformance . Have a Happy New Year !!! This group is an treasure trove of information, suggestions, experience and direction for existing and future GS owners . I have a feeling that we will have a busy 2011 with additional Grand Sports joining our ranks. ---------- Ken McCorry D&D 049
Have a great 2011!
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:02 AM   #19
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After reading all of this I have to ask several questions so please excuse my lack of knowledge on the GS issue. Was Mr. Shelby Cobras still king on the track since it was stated that no GS won a major race? Was the 427 Cobra Mr. Shelbys answer to the GS? Were the two cars ever in a race together? Was the GT350R Mustang ever in a race with the GS Corvette or the Z06 Corvette and was the out come as bleek as the Cobra vs Corvette issue?
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:31 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ps374 View Post
After reading all of this I have to ask several questions so please excuse my lack of knowledge on the GS issue. Was Mr. Shelby Cobras still king on the track since it was stated that no GS won a major race? Was the 427 Cobra Mr. Shelbys answer to the GS? Were the two cars ever in a race together? Was the GT350R Mustang ever in a race with the GS Corvette or the Z06 Corvette and was the out come as bleek as the Cobra vs Corvette issue?
GS was Zora's answer to the ever so successful Shelby Cobra. Just when the GS project was taking it's first steps GM terminated the project and the factory backing. In all honesty the Grand Sports were never anywhere near as successful as the Cobra's. They raced against each other on many occasions and to my understanding Grand Sports never won unless the Shelby's had some sort of problems... Please correct me if I'm wrong.

It's easy to speculate what if the factory had been pouring money into the Chevrolet's Cobra killer project and it had been developed in house. They only made 5 or 6 Grand Sports so there's quite a lot of mystique that goes into these cars.

Last edited by groovyjay; 12-31-2010 at 08:33 AM.
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