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Don’t try this at home folks!

Tuner Joe Hunnycutt pilots the monster vette down the airfield at a soft 190mph, but loses traction at the finish line sending him on a wild ride through the grass! Luckily no one was hurt and Joe drove the car back to the pits under its own power with some cosmetic damage due to catching some serious air!

The museum has released details of the cars damaged in the floor collapse:

  • 1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
  • 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors
  • 1962 Black Corvette
  • 1984 PPG Pace Car
  • 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
  • 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
  • 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
  • 2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

Seeing the Spyder on the list makes my heart fall. The museum also released some pictures :

DSC_1259 DSC_1250

I just saw the breaking news that the Corvette Museum floor collapsed inside the Sky Dome. Reports say that a sinkhole opened up beneath the dome and swallowed eight cars. There are no reports of injuries thank goodness. The dome houses some of the Museum’s rarest vehicles, so this could be a huge loss to the collection and will no doubt cost a lot to fix. You have to wonder too if the site was surveyed properly before the museum was built.

It’s hard to think that at last year’s ZR-1 Gathering we had dinner inside the Sky Dome – something that now feels very humbling.

Best wishes to the Museum and it’s staff.

Auction season is in full swing with Paris’s Le Grand Palais being just one of the latest. As always with these events the cars combine rarity and beauty along with eye-popping prices. I have one simple strategy when it comes to any kind of auction – don’t! It really doesn’t matter too much what is being auctioned and, what’s more, they’re all pretty much above my pay grade!

That said, here’s my choice from the line up at Le Grand Palais.

Citroen DS21 1968 Citroen DS21

At an estimated $190,000+, this is probably the cheapest car at the auction and I still couldn’t afford it! Oozing all of the Gallic charm it can muster, the DS series was iconic of Citroen. I remember ads on TV declaring “Citroen DS for the sheer joy of driving.” a captivating idea that stays with me even now. Driving – just for sheer pleasure. Years later my first real car was a Citroen Xantia, direct descendent of the DS series and a car enjoyed by both myself and my wife.

Jag D-Type1955 Jaguar D Type

As a British lad, how could I not be entranced by Jaguar who have produced some of the most beautiful and highest performing cars in the history of the automobile. The D-Type brought innovation in chassis design and was one of the most successful sports cars in Jaguar history winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Look at those curves! Estimated price? An eye-watering $5-6 million. Continue reading

So the new C7 Z06 has been launched. There’s some great technology in the new C7s so it’s no surprise that the new uber-vette looks like an amazing deal (prices haven’t been announced yet). Yet I have to say I feel dissappointed, though not exactly surprised.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, increase engine capacity and you increase power. Add a supercharger to increase volumetric efficiency and you get more power. It’s been the easy solution since the 1920s and sadly I don’t see anything here beyond that thinking. It’s the same-old same-old. More power, more cubes, who cares about real efficiency gains…

I felt kind of embarrassed for the whole GM presentation and especially Mark Reuss. There was the thumping rock track (okay not too thumping, let’s keep it safely corporate…) and then Reuss climbs on the stage looking old, tired and bloated. I got the idea that they were trying to do something like the Stark Expo from Iron Man 2 but without the style, panache or balls. And Mark sorely missed the presence of some “Ironette” equivalents.

Chevy has won both the truck and car award for 2014. Great news and a big boost for GM as a whole. But the whole show fizzled like a wet firecracker searching desperately for gunpowder. And a fuse. Next time maybe GM could bring in Robert Downey Jr – I’m sure he’d be available at the right price.

And by the way. Those tail lights are still butt-ugly…

I visited Niagara a couple of weekends ago. The plan was to meet up with some ZR-1 friends from Southern Ontario also David, President of the ZR-1 Registry, was coming up to visit from Baltimore. We got together on Friday night and had a nice dinner at The Keg in St. Catharines.

On Saturday we dropped my wife off at the Pen Center to do some shopping while me and David went to get the cars cleaned. Finding somewhere turned out to be more challenging than you’d imagine, but eventually we found Superior Car Wash & Express Detailing who helped us clear the hundreds of kilometers of dirt off the ZR-1s. Continue reading

I’ve known about the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask!) ‘Gatherings’ for several years, even before I bought my ZR-1 and it has always been my intention to make the trip at one point or another. 2009 was a possibility but I wasn’t sure I’d want to go two years in a row and so we postponed until this year. This also coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the ZR-1’s ‘birth’ which made it even more special.

The drive down was through some terrible weather, rainstorms beat around our ears all the way and the Dragon looked almost as bad as when he’d been delivered to us in the middle of winter – despite having done an extremely thorough detailing job over the weeks before setting out.

The Gathering always has lots going on and the anniversary version no less so. There were presentations, Q & A sessions and the opportunity to meet some of the most famous people in the history of the Corvette and in-particular the ZR-1. It made choosing what to sign up for very hard – simply not enough hours in the day.

Our first event was a guided trip through the Kentucky back-roads by no other than Jim ‘Jingles’ Ingle himself. Jim was one of the original drivers at the ZR-1 press launches and entertained the crowd with his tire shredding ‘grenade’ exercises. Not only that, but Jim was in charge of the test drive and quality check program that GM put the ZR-1s through.

Jim’s quiet exterior is at complete odds with what he can do behind the wheel. On the first leg of the journey there were a few grumbles about ‘not going fast enough’ – but with a dozen or so ZR-1s travelling in convoy we were a rather conspicuous group! On the second leg, Jim turned his 2010 ZR1 up a notch to power through the gorgeous and challenging Kentucky roads, which quickly silenced everyone. Certainly no-one was complaining at the speed at our second stop!

The trip itself was a delightful romp through the countryside to the Z06/ZR1 chassis assembly plant where we were treated to a guided tour of the amazing Dana plant. The painstaking attention to detail and the technology that goes into putting together the aluminium chassis is remarkable. I tried to persuade the Plant Manager that they out to put together an aluminium chassis for the C4 ZR-1, but unfortunately he seemed to think I was joking!

The next highlight of our trip was the special barbecue hosted by Jim Van Dorn at his Automasters shop just across from the museum. JVD is the man who put together the Corvette Pirate Racing team in the 90s and effectively served as the test-bed for what became the official Corvette racing team. Not only that but JVD’s outfit was one of only three teams to officially race the ZR-1.

Due to the late return of the Jingles Tour, we ended up getting to the barbecue late as well. This didn’t seem too significant until we queried the whereabouts of our specially ordered veggie-burgers. JVD takes regular burgers and cuts them into Chevy bowtie shape before barbecuing them to perfection. We’d requested veggie-burgers and arranged with Jim to have them there.

After a detailed investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Sherlock Holmes it became clear that the burgers had been eaten by those nasty meat-eater types. Jim was appalled at this and more annoyed than we were!

At the barbecue Jim showed a video detailing the ZR-1 anniversary run, an amazing feat that still is unrivaled by any production car, what made it an even more incredible event was that in the audience were Dave McLellan, Tommy Morrison, John Heinricy, Stu Hayner, Jim Minneker and Hib Halverson the key men who were involved in the development of the ZR-1 and the record attempt.

After the video finished, all the people involved took part in an ‘after-hours’ discussion on the attempt and the car, led by Dave McLellan. In that they revealed a lot of fascinating new details about the car’s unique development, the battles with GM corporate to get the car out and insights into what had been planned for future development.

When the discussion stopped Jim held an auction in aid of soldiers on duty in Iraq and again the ‘celebs’ led the way, showing entertaining skills (Jim Minneker and Tommy Morrison could probably do a stand-up routine if they ever wanted to!) as auctioneers. I managed to snag an LT5 cam-cover and took it around to all the guests for their autographs – a ‘trophy’ that is now the pride of my ZR-1 memorabilia collection.

With more discussions and talks and side events than you could imagine it was impossible to see everything. I focused on the technical presentations and the talks with the former GM people gaining a huge amount of information and insight into the car’s development. Sadly that meant I missed seeing John Heinricy resoundingly taking first in the autocross event, but with so much going on how do you choose?

One of the best moments was taking around my copy of ‘Heart of the beast’ and getting each of the celebrities to sign their part of the book. It’s hard to believe that these people would spare so much of their own time to talk to an enthusiast like myself and yet they made me (and everyone) feel like old friends. At the Gathering dinner Dave McLellan actually asked everyone there to sign a commemorative poster for him as a memento!  It truly brought home the community feeling associated with the Corvette and the ZR-1 specifically.

The museum itself is amazing. The number and rarity of the cars on display is incredible. From details of the early designs and designers all the way up to the latest and greatest, the presentation is world-class. Cars that belonged to Harley Earl, Zora Duntov and Ed Cole nestle in-between displays of modern C6Rs and concept cars. In reality you probably have to go around a few times for everything to sink in properly.

For the Gathering a number of cars had been brought in specially to form a display in the Main Hall, this included Tommy Morrison’s race Corvettes, “Queenie” a prototype ZR-1 from 1988 that was crushed only to later rise from the grave, not to mention the world record running ZR-1s.

As we were reluctantly loading the car to return home we spotted a gold coloured ZR-1 sliding up beside us. To our amazement it turned out to be Tommy Morrison himself who had been staying at the same hotel, unknown to us. I paid complement to Tommy’s one-of-a-kind custom ZR-1 which has some incredible unique details and he returned the same about our car. The thing was you could genuinely feel that he meant it.

Going down I wasn’t sure if I would want to go twice in a row. Coming back I was sure I would!

 

Yesterday was a beautiful day here. The snow has largely gone, the roads are pretty clear (so long as you stay off the side streets) and the temperatures are hitting the pluses with reasonable frequency.

I couldn’t resist any longer. We picked up the gear necessary and went to wake The Dragon from it’s long Winter slumber.

After re-installing the battery he cracked into life first time and purred contentedly. Out on to the streets the beast rumbled sedately, stretching himself in the warm Spring sunshine as we made our way across town.

The first run is always fairly sedate, the tires aren’t really at operating temperature and I spend most of the journey listening to noises from the car, watchful for any telltale warning signs after the Winter hibernation.

There were no concerns. The Dragon was in fine shape, rumbling pleasantly all the way home.

At one point I couldn’t resist, dropping a couple of gears to bring the revs up and ‘exercise’ the secondary injectors. The Dragon reared forward, eager to pound the highway content to do my bidding, whatever that might be. A tingle of excitement jumped up and down my spine and the ‘permagrin’ settled on my face.

ZR-1s are pure excitement!

Dave standing by 1991 Black Corvette ZR-1

 

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