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Chevrolet Corvette Sting-Ray: US athlete with steam announcement

Wolfgang Wilhelm
Chevrolet Corvette Sting-Ray
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D his rear window takes the breath away from all attempts at description. Did the Gordian Knot ever look more divided after meeting Alexander the Great? Isn't the bridge between the window halves like the unruly strip of fur on the back of the Ridgebacks that Africa once bred to hunt lions? Or is the 'split window' just an early automotive idea of ​​Jennifer Lopez in a thong from behind?

The distinguishing feature of the Corvette Sting-Ray is the split window

Like that The answer is also canceled: With the split rear window, Bill Mitchell - at that time chief designer at General Motors - and his right-hand man Larry Shinoda burned a distinctive feature in the history of car shapes. Like a Bugatti Atlantic or the gullwing, it claims to be eternal. But automobile sales are a tough design critic.

The split window only had one year of construction, then Mitchell had to bow to the reasoning argument of technology boss Zora Arkus-Duntov: Even the 64 Corvette coupé got the continuous one Rear window, because the bridge looked dramatic from the outside, but drastically impaired visibility from the inside. Quite a few customers from the first Sting-Ray hour happily picked up the saw, cut out the rear window bridge and fitted the new, one-piece window from the 1964 season. This is one of the reasons why there are now far fewer of the 63 series split-window coupés than the high production number of 10,594 units would suggest. The first year of the C2 family was a milestone for General Motors: Because 10,919 convertibles were added to the sale of the closed version, GM was able to produce more than 20,000 sports cars for the first time in 1963. The way to the split window was by no means a dead straight path with the pleasant shortness of a drag strip, which is already at the end after a quarter mile.

The Corvette Sting-Ray benefits from its uncompromising design

In order to understand the Sting Ray, we therefore have to leaf through the landmarks on the way to the second Corvette generation. Dream cars were always popular at GM, and as early as 1938 the Buick Y-Job came under Harley Earl, which, together with the Le Saber from 1951, anticipated the topic of the Sting-Ray pop-up headlights. In 1954 the Oldsmobile Cutlass Sports Coupé already showed the retro aspect of the teardrop-shaped roof that was reminiscent of theBoattail roadsters of the 20s and 30s. In the same year, the Corvair Coupé study made its debut, which already contained the side elevation of the Sting Ray. In 1959, Mitchell had a racing car built for home use based on the Corvette SS version with which Arkus-Duntov had tested the Sebring brake system two years earlier - and because Mitchell was an enthusiastic Petri disciple, he caught up with fishing Name the stingray. In English: Sting Ray.

Mitchell hated committee decisions because he hated the compromises that came with them. The Sting Ray from the 1963 model year draws its charm from this: This is what a sports car looks like, which has been enforced down to the last detail against all objections and concerns. The fact that the look of power and magnificence found its technical counterpart under the body is ensured by the radically changed anatomy compared to the original Corvette from 1953.

The ladder frame ensures stability, drum brakes ensure sweat on the forehead

The old X-frame had had its day, because a new ladder frame with five stable cross members almost doubled the torsional strength of the Sting-Ray coupés. The new rear suspension offered another decisive advantage. Instead of taking over the stomping rear rigid axle that likes to jump when accelerating vigorously, a modern independent suspension was used. While the final drive and differential are firmly bolted to the frame, each of the drive wheels is suspended on three transverse and trailing arms. Based on the model of the Jaguar E-axle, the two drive shafts function simultaneously as upper wishbones. Unlike Jaguar, however, the brakes are not on the inside of the final drive, but on the outside - for the purpose of easier maintenance.

Although disc brakes on sports cars were already part of the technical commonplace in 1963, Mitchell relies on drum brakes for cost reasons. For sports use, instead of the not particularly stable gray cast iron pots, there are light metal brakes with a shrunk cast ring on which a sintered metal lining rubs. The higher pedal pressures, however, require the optional servo support. Anyone who drives down the Stilfser Joch in a Sting Ray today would do well not to allow the cast iron brake too little recovery time.

A child of pure passion

At that time, General Motors was out of the question of a factory race. In 1957, an agreement was reached with Ford and Chrysler to forego an arms race for the racetrack. It is up to the private teams to use the big three cars in motorsport. However, the spirit of the checkered flag had long established itself in the dreams of the technicians involved. When Arkus-Duntov designed the CERV study in 1959 with funds from the development and design budget, the then GM boss receivedFrederick Donner had a fit of rage: In front of him was a clean monoposto, built according to the Indy rules for 1960. The name CERV was derived from his fathers from Chevrolet Experimental Racing-Vehicle.

Donner lives up to his last name. From then on, the R in CERV stands for research instead of racing. It is important to know about it. Because anyone who puts a Sting Ray in the garage as a classic has a lot more than a US car cliché between chewing gum and Western boots. He drives a child of pure passion. In order to motorize the customer teams appropriately, the race fans at GM go the same way as their colleagues from Ford: Contrary to the official abstinence from racing, there is a lot of power ex works in the total performance program; the Sting Ray also shines with fun engine variations right from the start. In any case, the basis is the small block with a displacement of 327 cubic inches (5.4 liters), which in its tamest version produces 250 hp at 4,400 rpm.

With enlarged intake and corresponding Carter carburetor there are already 300 hp, which can be increased to 340 hp with a sharper camshaft. King of the Road is the 360 ​​hp version, so to speak, which leaves its mixture preparation to a Rochester injection. This Sting-Ray variant is one of the most expensive today, but it is also very maintenance-intensive. Even seasoned Corvette specialists like to refrain from repairing and adjusting the injection. While the two weaker engines have hydraulic valve lifters, pure mechanics are used in the two powerhouses.

In order to be able to expose subsequently upgraded versions, here the corresponding codes in the chassis number (mt means manual gearbox, at automatic): RC 250 PS, mt; RD 300 hp, mt; RE 340 hp, mt; RF 360 hp, mt; SC 250 PS, at; SD 300 PS, at. The cylinder heads of the 250 PS version do not correspond to the heads of the more powerful siblings. The Corvette fathers' passion for racing, which was not allowed to do what they wanted, literally jumps at the reader of the color tables: In addition to tuxedo black, saddle brown and ermine white, there are, for example, Sebring silver and Daytona blue.

$ 64.50 discount for everyone who wanted to do without disc brakes

The one from Motor Klassik is painted in Riverside red, the color that many split-window fans appreciate the most. Hardliners accept gray-green at best - as a primer. Kurt Huber's private Sting Ray, the boss of Corvette totally in Bonstetten near Zurich, represents the foundation of all split-window enthusiasm: It is a SC, with 250 hp, the two-speed Powerglide automatic, without differential lock, braked by four Cast iron drums. The C2 series received discs in 1965, but they were still thereLots of old drums that Chevrolet gave a $ 64.50 discount to those who ordered their Sting Ray with the old brake.

When you sit down, the Corvette is polite to the hairstyle: The one in the roof The upper edges of the door drawn in reveal a spacious entrance, as the parting often misses painfully in older and younger sports cars. The turn of the ignition key is followed by a clear throat in a sonorous baritone, then the V8 engine lapses into an unshakable idle. After a gentle pressure on the accelerator, the Sting Ray starts to move smoothly. Its instrument panel under the double arched roof is a feast for the eyes, and only the oil pressure gauge is worrisome.

Sometimes the copper pipe that supplies it directly with oil under pressure breaks, and that creates a huge mess on the red carpets. The recirculating ball steering, praised in 1963 as the ideal of high directional stability, is only moderately accurate by today's standards. However, the streets that the driver wants to turn into are never missed. The suspension and damping feel surprisingly comfortable, and we are prepared for the slight right-left twitching of the steering when braking into a curve. What the leather seats lack in lateral support, they replace with comfort.

And the orgies of acceleration? If you want to train the rear wheels to be heavy smokers, you can hardly avoid the manual four-speed gearbox plus differential lock. In the SC, there is no danger of suddenly swallowing your tongue when suddenly accelerating. Our racing red Riverside baby sends signals of a different kind: The power is definitely enough for sporty driving, and the comfort offered makes the Sting Ray a serious GT. A quick trip to the Ligurian coast, and then park so that the setting sun is reflected in the split rear window. On the way back to the year in which the Beach Boys released 'Surfin 'USA', the footbridge in the split window is a wonderfully stable bridge.

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