"During the fifties and sixties Chevrolet had used their special engineering laboratory to produce 'dream cars' and high performance one-off cars, one of which (a Corvette) set a record of over 150 mph at Daytona in 1965. So, Chevy's were equipped to enter the red·hot world of international sports car competition. But, also in 1965, all the major American makers took another look at the costs of their racing programmes and shuddered. They decided in consort with each other to pull out of factory involvement in NASCAR leaving the field to the private teams. Of course, there wasn't a complete cut-off of support and money. Help to the successful teams continued and continues today, but the direct link with the factories was cut. This redirection of factory resources meant that the GM Grand Sport project was killed before it could show what it could do.
Horsepower continued to be increased and offered to the public. In 1967 the famous L-88 engine developed 550 hp. although the following year it was down to a measly 500 hp. In 1969 the ZL·1 427 cubic inch engine realised the staggering 585 hp, and production was up to 38.762 units. In 1970 this engine was again enlarged to 454 cubic inches but there was a cloud on the horizon. Washington, in the form of the Department of Transportation directed Detroit to cut their cars' horse power outputs and GM brought the ZL-1 engine down to a 350 cubic inches, however, by using 2½ inch exhausts, an 11-1 compression ratio and an 850 cfm Holley carb, it still pushed out 370 hp!!
But the signs were becoming clear that Washington would be clamping down on high performance cars. Chevrolet set about improving (and it was urgently needed) the rest of the 'Vette in terms of steering, road holding, ride and brakes, all items more difficult to improve than sheer horse power increases and less 'presentable' to the buying public. But GM persevered and between 1971 and 1977 produced their best-balanced Corvette in terms of engine and chassis performance.
As a vehicle to own and use, the Corvette in the American context, and if only insurance rates were on a par in the rest of the world, has no rival. It is less refined than a Porsche or Ferrari, but for very little money can be brought up to the dynamic levels of these machines. is very cheap to service and maintain, lasts a very long time by virtue of its rust-free plastic body, its massive chassis and the enormously strong and reliable engine and transmission. Between 6,000 mile services all that needs to be budgeted for is an oil change and replacement oil filter. plus a check on hoses and belts. There is no expensive OHC valve gear to require adjustment, as the 'Vette uses hydraulic tappets (as do Porsche on the 928 models!), a solid state maintenance-free ignition system and the superb Hydamatic auto transmission is 'bullet-proof’. a Corvette expert in California slated that the engine and transmission of a properly serviced 'Vette will last at least 150.000 miles!
Having driven many miles in a Corvette I can only say that it is definitely one of the most enjoyable and fun cars available with no major faults to blot its copybook Maybe the best summing up of the car are the words of actor Robert Carradine.
“It looks and performs great. If you want more performance it costs half the price of the other best cars in the world …"
What does the future hold for the Corvette'?
Well. production has never been able to meet the demand, and still doesn't. GM has made annual improvements in the whole car. having taken it through four major new body style changes. both coupé and convertible versions. many engine and transmissions leading up to the new 1981 car which will feature a V-6 engine with turbocharger. neater and much lighter body, and much better brakes and suspension.
So long as there are cars on America' s roads the Corvette will be in production as America's only sports car.
A car with a real Sting In The Tail."
An item of interest for Dan Marsh, I know it's lonely 'out in the boondocks' mate. Originally published by Paul Raymond publishing 1981.