Home Chevrolet History Zora: The Legend Behind Corvette

It's hard to have imagined what would have happened to the Corvette-if it had even survived-without a Duntov to drive it. For 22 years, Zora Arkus-Duntov made both himself and the Chevrolet Corvette bigger than life; they both became icons. Perhaps he was less of a brilliant engineer or manager than a flamboyant promoter who was connected to powerful people in and out of General Motors, and able to champion the cause.

This story could only have been written posthumously, to avoid losing control of it to Duntov, who had some difficulty communicating in his later years. Author Jerry Burton, former editor of Corvette Quarterly, subtly exposes the real Duntov, with the help of his widow Elfie and many others, who were resigned to his passion for womanizing and for cars that were sometimes faster than he was.

It was obviously a challenge to research the facts post-Duntov, including his unconventional upbringing and epic adventures. But it is definitely worth reading (especially between the lines), particularly for its illustration of the process of becoming a legend-both the why and how.

Burton shows us that although the Ardun engine, the Duntov cam and mechanical fuel injection established Duntov's name, the test of time and classic car values have proven his greatest success to be the Stingray and its lightweight GS derivatives. And in all of them his contribution was mostly intuitive design, common of the period, rather than executive management or the high technology that followed.

- Paul Van Valkenburgh

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