This Is What I Hope the Zora Trademark Really Means
There are few cars that are as important to the world stage, and the development of the American sports car than the Chevrolet Corvette. Of the thousands of people who have worked to create this iconic nameplate, arguably none have been more important than Zora Arkus-Duntov. With the news that Chevrolet has just trademarked the name “Zora,” my mind has been running away with what this may mean.
Is there going to be a special-edition Corvette? Is this going to be an entirely new model line? Is Chevrolet just trying to give me an aneurysm by making my mind run wild with anticipation?
Whatever the reason, I have compiled a collection of what I think it could mean. From the likely candidate like name protection, to the outlandish like an entirely new lineup of cars, there is lots for you to see and think about. When you get finished, make sure to hit the comments and let me know what you guys think.
Corvette C7 Grand Sport
The Chevrolet Grand Sport could be called Zora’s first true “pet project” during his time with the Corvette team. The Grand Sport project was started with the introduction of the C2 Stingray, and the idea was to take the new split-window coupe of 1963, and turn it into a proper race car. The car was to be stripped of weight, given a prototype aluminum engine, and then sent out to the track to slaughter Ferraris and Porsches. At the time however, GM regulations prevented factory-backed racing, and the project was shuttered. Thankfully, Zora was able to get five of these cars built and into the hands of private owners.
With private owners, Zora was able to see his creation on a track despite the ban from his superiors.
Since 1963, Corvette has reused the Grand Sport name on several occasions to celebrate a slightly higher-powered or higher trim level versions of the base Corvette. It may not be the best way to celebrate the legacy of Zora, but adding some of the carbon-fiber bits of the Z06 to the base Stingray would make for a decent Grand Sport-badged car. Then a limited run of these cars with special styling enhancements could wear the “Zora” name. It isn’t what I would do with such a powerful name in the Corvette community, but it does seem like the safest bet.
Let’s get a little crazier; a production version of the Z06X concept. Zora was instrumental in making the Corvette a true world competitor in the worlds of performance cars and racing. If Chevrolet wanted to create a specialized model that was deserving of the Zora name, a hardcore, track-focused version like the original Grand Sport cars would be a perfect model to wear the badge. The car would be a competitor to high-end metal like the Porsche 911 GT3.
It would also provide a turn-key racing car for anyone who was interested in getting into the sport of endurance and GT Class racing. The big question revolves around what engine this car would use. In a racing setup, it makes sense to hand out the most powerful engine currently available, the supercharged, 650-horsepower V-8 from the Z06.
It also makes sense that GM would drop its deliciously good 7.0-liter LS7 into the engine bay. As a naturally aspirated mill, it will be easier to convert the car to fit most regulations for road racing. It also gives GM one more car aside from the new Camaro Z/28, to use this incredible engine with.
Now we get into the really juicy, crazy and speculative stuff. This is the OMFGWTFBBQ zone. Zora helped to turn the Corvette into a formidable performance machine, but he gave absolutely zero sh*ts about legacy and tradition. He wanted to make the Corvette the fastest car on the road, and was willing to change anything and everything to make it happen. This is how the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV) cars were created.
The original CERV was an open-wheel racer with a mid-engined design that resembled a Formula One car. It was created to be used as an engineering platform to test and design chassis and suspension tweaks for the Corvette.
1962 saw the creation of the CERV II. The car was created to potentially battle the Le Mans-dominating Ford GT40. A mid-engined Corvette prototype, the car featured a mid-mounted V8 and a unique AWD system. The car had two transmissions, one mounted to each side of the block, to send power forward and back. It was reported the car would hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and reach a top speed nearing 200 mph. That is GT-R level performance in the early 1960s.
After plans of taking on the GT40 were canned, the car was used as a prototype for a mid-engined Corvette supercar for the road.
Chevrolet has a long history of looking at the potential for a mid-engined Corvette, but the backlash from more than 60 years of history would be too much for the car to succeed. By using the Zora name, Chevrolet has the freedom it needs to create a true supercar to take on the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini without sullying the Corvette name. Best yet, it names the car after the man who always wanted to see a mid-mounted V-8 powering a Chevrolet.