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  Article Image gallery (7) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1960
Numbers built:3
Internal name:C1
Source:Company press release
Last updated:May 20, 2021
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDuring the 1950s, the production based Gran Turismo or GT class came to prominence in international racing. For the 1960 season, the three-litre displacement limit was abandoned, which opened the category at events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Chevrolet Corvette. This sparked the interest of American privateer Briggs S. Cunningham for whom Le Mans was still unfinished business.

Cunningham did realise that simply sticking roundels and numbers on stock Corvettes would not cut it, so help from General Motors was required. That was somewhat of an issue as the major American manufacturers had agreed a racing moratorium following the 1955 Le Mans disaster. Fortunately, the 'back door' was invented for this type of situation and Cunningham had the full but unofficial support of GM's Zora Arkus-Duntov, who is considered the father of the Corvette.

Three standard Corvette Roadsters were purchased from the General Motors and were ready in time for the 1960 Sebring 12 Hours. Two were entered in the race and although sporting the American racing colours of white with a pair of blue stripes, they were hardly modified. The main purpose of the Sebring outing was to determine exactly where the cars needed to be improved to make them suitable for Le Mans. Neither car reached the finish, one crashing out due to a hub failure and the other due to engine damage.

Among the options already fitted to the Corvettes when they were first handed to Cunningham were quick-ratio steering, heavy-duty sintered-metallic brake linings, heavy-duty suspension, a close-ratio four-speed transmission, a Positraction limited-slip differential, radio delete, and temperature-controlled radiator fan. To give General Motors plausible deniability, the three cars were ordered through and delivered by Don Allen Midtown Chevrolet of New York City.

In charge of carrying out further modifications was Cunningham's talented chief mechanic Alfred Momo. He fitted the three cars with additional Stewart Warner gauges, a Halibrand quick release fuel cap, Koni shock absorbers, Bendix fuel pumps, an additional front anti-roll bar and a 37-gallon fuel tank. The cars were also equipped with bucket seats from a Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft. The standard steel wheels were also replaced by stronger Halibrand magnesium wheels, which were shod with Firestone racing tyres.

Following the engine issues that sidelined one of the Corvettes at Sebring after just 41 laps, Momo also carried out modifications to the small-block V8. The lightweight but delicate aluminium cylinder heads were replaced by stronger cast-iron examples. Larger valves were also fitted and improvements were made to the porting. The heavier but sturdier V8 was fitted with a Hilborn Travers fuel injection system. The engine was mated to a close-ratio, four-speed gearbox.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Chassis (2) Specifications