It’s fair to say that the C3 Corvette has the poorest reputation among every generation of America’s favourite sports car. It coincided with the ‘malaise era’ of American car manufacturing where design, quality and engineering were at a nadir and even horsepower suffered with economy and smog restrictions strangling a base V8 C3 down to just 165PS (121kW).
Video: Spa 24 champ monsters a Greenwood Corvette
John Greenwood changed all that and, in the process, became American racing royalty, recognised with just a single name, like Shelby or Penske. The Corvette C3’s saving grace was the L88 options package that Zora Arkus-Duntov developed in defiance of GM’s no-racing edict. With a 7.0-litre big block engine producing around 550PS (368kW), four-speed manual transmission, limited-slip diff, performance suspension and reduced weight, Arkus-Duntov effectively created a turn-key racer. So much so that GM actively tried to discourage people from ordering it and only 20 are believed to have been sold.
Enter Greenwood, who was contracted by BF Goodrich to run a couple of cars in FIA endurance races including the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. The catch however was that the cars would run the company’s new radial tyres and be up against cars on full slicks. Realising that to cope with a race tuned L88 big block engine’s 750PS (552kW) and monster torque some serious downforce would be required. Designed with help from Arkus-Duntov the result was the widest and wildest of bodywork that gave the BMW CSL ‘Batmobile’ and Porsche 935 ‘Moby Dick’ wheelarch extension envy. Thus equipped Greenwood Corvettes won the 1971 GT class at Sebring and Daytona, the 1974 24 Hours of Daytona and Trans Am championships in 1975 and 1978. Along the way it set a top speed record of 236mph at Daytona.
In the hands of 2022 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps winner Jules Gounon this Greenwood Corvette isn’t lapping Daytona quite as quickly but still looks to be a proper handful, especially in the opening few corners before the tyres get to temperature. Watching it today in the hands of a current endurance racer puts the car’s greatness into perspective. Enjoy watching Gounon bring the noise.
Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a mid-morning helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: This is pure Porsche 956 onboard perfection
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