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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Zora Duntov's Corvette SS race car concept of 1957

The beauty of the design, the powerful engine and the compact dimensions were the reasons of many people fall in love with the Corvette legendary roadster made by Chevrolet. Might be this was what the auto engineers and designers at the one of American automotive giant subsidiaries tried to promote when they first launched the legendary model.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS encounters smoke at Indy’s Brickyard Invitational in 2014. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2XqMqtD)
This can be seen in the Chevrolet Corvette SS, a gorgeous and powerfull as well concept car that was deliberately made initially with the aim of competing in the 24-Hours of LeMans, but was later touted as the forerunner of many Corvette sports/racing car models.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS sat on display at the 17th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2012. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3buFGmZ)
The concept car's design and construction process was carried out by the GM's  team of engineers and designers led by the talented Zora Arkus-Duntov, to create a lightweight and powerful racing car and took the Mercedes 300SL as their based template.

Before we discuss more about the car, it's good for us to get to know a little about Zora Arkus-Duntov. He is a Belgian-born American engineer whose work at the Chevrolet Corvette earned him the nickname "Father of the Corvette."
The talented engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov sat behind the wheel of his creation 1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/2XEcAJL)
As a result, the car was lightweight thanks to using the magnesium made bodywork (with only a weight of 1,850 lbs) enveloping the tubular steel frames, it also features with the front suspension of coil-over-shocks, de Dion rear axle and built-in aluminum drum brakes.

The Duntov's team only made two chassis, the first was a test car dubbed the 'Mule' and the other to be a race one. Then as their drivetrain, it's pinned under the hood a small block V8 engine with fuel injection which can produce power reaching of 307 horsepower at 6,400 rpm.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS sat on display at the 17th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2012. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3buFGmZ)
After the cars completed in 1957, the first test would not be carried out at the 24-Hours LeMans, but in an almost similar race but shorter in America, namely the 12-Hours of Sebring. Although the racing results of the Corvette SS for the first time at Sebring were not going well, where suspension problems and another mechanical failure forced it stop after speedy only in 23 laps.

However, the Chevrolet Corvette 'SS' managed to set a new lap record in that race. So General Motors is very enthusiastic about the potential of the SS based on those results of the training and the speed of the laps.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS sat on display at the 17th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2012. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3buFGmZ)
Not only that it turned out, Juan Manuel Fangio, the winner at the 12-Hours Sebring of 1957, was quite impressed with the car, and then tested the Corvette SS in training sessions. The results were astonishing, Fangio completed his one full lap of 3: 27.4 seconds, that's faster in a car he had never driven before than any other driver could in a car they had driven before.

Despite GM's enthusiasm, unfortunately the Corvette should be scrapped several months later, as the American auto-making community band together to ban the manufacture of factory-produced racing cars. This was triggered by a great accident that occurred at the 24-Hours Le Mans of 1955 which claimed the lives of 83 people, since then the public attitude towards automotive racing has changed drastically.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS sat on display at the 17th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2012. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/3buFGmZ)
Protests forced many companies to withdraw from racing, organizers reviewed safety rules, and Mercedes, which was accused to involve directly to the accidents mentioned above then decided to refuse to participate in any auto races until the 1970s.
But it won't stop GM from launching the Corvette as a sports car for the layman who likes to combine the look and feel of a race car with the comfort of a daily-using vehicle. Then Zora Arkus-Duntov, those car's engineer-designer, presented it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 1967, during the drivers meeting before the 51st Indy 500 mile race started, paced by the Chevrolet Camaro.

And then it's no surprise that to this day, the Corvette is renowned for producing some of the finest cars not only in the United States, but all over the world... *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | HEMMINGS | CONCEPTCARZ | WIKIPEDIA | RCNMAG | CORVETTEBLOGGER ]
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