Superformance Corvette Grand Sport Meets Jay Leno
Superformance Corvette is a continuation of the C3 Grand Sport race cars that Chevy built to combat Carol Shelby’s Mustangs at the track.
The Grand Sport Corvette race cars were built with the ultimate goal of taking home the GT production class trophy at the 24 Hours of LeMans in the 1960’s. Unfortunately, the production program for the car, dubbed the LightWeight, was never to be. Due to GM G.M.’s refusing to lift its ban on racing, only 5 of the intended 125 cars were built, despite how good they were shaping up. Ultimately, a few Grand Sports did race with private teams, and with success in non-production classes it wasn’t designed for. That was down to the vision and drive of Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov for the LightWeight project and Chevrolet’s General Manager, “Bunkie” Knudsen, going under the GM corporate table to support the projects.
Superformance is a high performance replica company that has taken the DNA of the 1963 Grand Sport and given it a sharp modern edge. Their officially licensed continuation “1963” Corvette Grand Sport #003 race car is built from the original engineering blueprints using modern parts, materials, and techniques. In this video from the Jay Leno’s Garage YouTube channel, Leno comments on just how authentic the Superformance Corvette feels as a 50-year-old Corvette on the road. And it is, unlike the original, road legal.
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For power, it doesn’t use the original 377 cubic inch aluminum V-8 engine putting out 550 horsepower or the same period’s big block 427 motor the privateers used. Instead, Superformance offers a range of modern LS crate engines, topped of by the one you see in the video. That’s a 427 cubic inch Lingenfelter LS7 laying 592-horsepower via a dual Holley EFI manifold. That power goes through a T-56 6-speed manual transmission rather than the original 4-speed “Rock Crusher.” All that is in a car that weighs as much as a modern hatchback and through modern made classic-car tires to the road. They don’t give as much grip on the road as modern performance tires, but the Bilstein shocks and vented Wilwood disc brakes make sure they are controllable.
If you can find one for sale, the original LightWeights are a multi-million dollar chassis now, but a Superformance Corvette starts at around $100,000. That’s not bad for GM licensed retromod replica of a car that Carol Shelby admitted would have put a serious dent in the success of his Cobra’s.