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The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 survives thanks to Zora Arkus-Duntov

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a car enthusiast’s dream, but it wouldn’t exist without Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Chevy recently released a video in tribute to Duntov, who is sometimes referred to as “the father of Corvette.” He didn’t create the ‘Vette, but he set it on the path to becoming an American sports car by focusing on racing.

Zora Arkus-Duntov with Chevrolet Corvette 1966

Zora Arkus-Duntov with Chevrolet Corvette 1966

Duntov became head of show cars at Chevy in the late 1950s, just as General Motors and other American automakers enacted a voluntary ban on factory racing activities. Duntov has worked around this with test vehicles like the Corvette SS, and by quietly supplying performance parts to racing teams. That’s how the original Z06 was born.

In 1963, Chevy first applied the Z06 badge to a Corvette, using it for an option package on the newly launched C2 Corvette.

Only 199 of the 1963 Corvette Z06 were built, with the first ones going directly to the racing teams. The Z06 won’t return until 2001 on the C5 Corvette, this time as a stand-alone model rather than an option package and no longer racing-focused. It has been an integral part of the Corvette lineup ever since.

Chevy has restored some of the Z06’s track connections with version C7, which incorporates lessons learned from the C7.R racing car. That goes even further with the 2023 Z06, using the new LT6 V-8 which is essentially a civilian version of the CHEAP C8 racing car engine. And that engine is mounted in the center of the chassis, something Duntov has always wanted to do with a production Vette. So the 2023 Z06 is a fitting tribute to the man in many ways.

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