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Zora and the Chevrolet Echidna

 
Old 02-22-2019, 06:29 PM
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Dan Hampton
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Default Zora and the Chevrolet Echidna




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Old 02-22-2019, 06:49 PM
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In 1958 three friends from the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, who were amateur road racers, and who had previously campaigned a '57 Corvette, put together a plan to build three light weight sports racer incorporating a Devin body, using a Chevrolet passenger car chassis and SB Chevrolets. The first car, owned by John Staver, had a 337 cid engine; the other two were 283s. The cars weighed in at around 2,100 lbs, about 1,000 pounds lighter than the previously mentioned '57.

GM (Chevrolet) took an interest in their pursuit, given the AMA ban on racing that had occurred in 1957, and were eager to help out this amateur team. Before the engines were totally assembled, the FI units were sent directly to Duntov and he personally tuned the units to the cars specifications. It is hard to tell what "black magic" Zora might have worked on these units but the cars were quite successful in their respective classes. The owner of the third car was an optometrist; the other two being metallurgist and owners of a foundry on the Range.

To thank Zora for his work (this was strictly backdoor help by GM), he constructed what was then a fairly rare commodity: prescription sunglasses. Remember, this was 1958. He supplied Zora with them until they quit racing in 1960.

The cars pictured first is the number three car (entering the track at Goodwood, England about ten years ago. It was owned by the optometrist and is currently owned by Steve Steers. The two other pictures are of the number two car which I owned for a number of years. It is the Grierson car. The cars were very successful. They placed fourth or better 29/35 races; 1st in class 17 times and won eight races out right.

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Old 02-22-2019, 08:14 PM
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This was the cover of Sports Car Illustrated in 1960, featuring the Echidna in two issues. Notice the Bucyrus Erie Drag Line Crane. This pic was taken on the Mesabi Range--as desolate as the moon.....
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Old 02-23-2019, 07:58 AM
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Dan how cool!!! I would love to hear your ownership story!
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ChattanoogaJSB View Post
Dan how cool!!! I would love to hear your ownership story!
So would I. They must have been thrilling to drive.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:46 AM
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Yep.. love to hear more. Passenger chassis meaning like a ‘58, ‘59... ??? I’m guessing not a C2 chassis. Beautiful race cars. Thx
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:48 AM
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That would be one fantastic kit car!
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:13 AM
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A fantastic car and history - but “Echidna”? Sounds like the latest limited time creation from Taco Bell!
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:09 PM
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Let the stories begin!
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:13 PM
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Will give a longer narrative later but here is a cool pic of one of the cars ice racing on Lake Phalen in the Minneapolis area, circa 1960.
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:36 PM
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Sitting in the drive way, circa 1958, waiting to complete the third car (Larson). Never a shortage of snow on the Range....


The Grierson son car (the one I owned) racing at the Eveleth Airforce base/track in the 50s in northern Minnesota.

Outrunning a Maserati 450 S (?).
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Hampton View Post

Will give a longer narrative later but here is a cool pic of one of the cars ice racing on Lake Phalen in the Minneapolis area, circa 1960.
27 time SCCA national champion Jerry Hansen behind the wheel of the Echidna above
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Old 02-23-2019, 02:07 PM
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Jerry was one hell of a driver.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:06 PM
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Cool car!!!

with no real comparables what do buyers pay for one?
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Old 02-23-2019, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 68hemi View Post
Cool car!!!

with no real comparables what do buyers pay for one?
The last one at auction--and I think it was the Grierson car--sold for around $180K. In the pecking order of "Specials"--a term that was used in the 50s to describe a lot of the purposively built "hybrid" race cars (Old Yellers series, Sadlers, Devin SS, Scarabs, BoCars), they are at the bottom of the pecking order. They are fairly crude cars and a handful to handle. The number one and two build cars have been sold off and on over the past decade. The number three car, owned by Steve Steers, has not changed hands since he bought it years ago from Jim Bartlett, who once owned all three. As a child, Bartlett's parents were socially connected to the three builders, so he had intimate knowledge of the cars as a kid.

He showed me a picture where one of the cars was at the Hibbing Country Club (1959) with his mom in the passenger seat smoking a cigarette. These owners would actually drive the cars to the Club, play golf and, then, take off and rod around the back roads of the Mesabi range with no plates.

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Old 02-23-2019, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Hampton View Post
The last one at auction--and I think it was the Grierson car--sold for around $180K. In the pecking order of "Specials"--a term that was used in the 50s to describe a lot of the purposively built "hybrid" race cars (Old Yellers series, Sadlers, Devin SS, Scarabs, BoCars), they are at the bottom of the pecking order. They are fairly crude cars and a handful to handle. The number one and two build cars have been sold off and on over the past decade. The number three car, owned by Steve Steers, has not changed hands since he bought it years ago from Jim Bartlett, who once owned all three. As a child, Bartlett's parents were socially connected to the three builders, so he had intimate knowledge of the cars as a kid.

He showed me a picture where one of the cars was at the Hibbing Country Club (1959) with his mom in the passenger seat smoking a cigarette. These owners would actually drive the cars to the Club, play golf and, then, take off and rod around the back roads of the Mesabi range with no plates.
I think I read on FB where Steve Kline (son from Jay Kline Chevrolet Minneapolis MN) said he paid $700 for his Echidna. Jerry Hansen (I believe) was (among other things) a stock broker
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by redvetracr View Post
I think I read on FB where Steve Kline (son from Jay Kline Chevrolet Minneapolis MN) said he paid $700 for his Echidna. Jerry Hansen (I believe) was (among other things) a stock broker
That is entirely possible. The cars remained, for the most part, in the Minnesota area. I believe, however that the third car (Larson) was eventually found in an obscure salvage yard in Colorado. Bartlett found it and brought it back to life, after searching for a long time. It is the one thatis owned by Steve Steers.
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by redvetracr View Post
I think I read on FB where Steve Kline (son from Jay Kline Chevrolet Minneapolis MN) said he paid $700 for his Echidna. Jerry Hansen (I believe) was (among other things) a stock broker
Ah, another stock broker!
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by provette67 View Post
Ah, another stock broker!
I think he traded Echidna futures....

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Old 02-23-2019, 05:46 PM
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The Steve Steers car as it looks today.


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