Evolution of the Corvette Grand Sport – Fall, Revival, and New

Corvette fans collectively sigh whenever the name Grand Sport is brought up into the picture. Sure, there’s a certain feeling of nostalgia about it, but the biggest reason for sorrow is the fact that, in many aspects, the Grand Sport was a wasted potential. Zora Arkus-Duntov, the chief engineer at the time, decided in 1963 that he wanted to build a set of wide-body Corvettes that would be able to compete with the Shelby-Cobra on tracks. In other words, the path to a new generation of speedy super-cars was about to be born.

About to be born is the key word. General Motors decided that the production for the Grand Sport needed to be halted after the construction of merely five cars, bringing the potential of this refreshing Corvette to a tragic premature end.

corvette grand sport 1963 model photo

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The Grand Sport Vette is Mourned

Fans never forgave and never forgot. For many years, the Grand Sports were essentially elements of legend, recognized among the audiences and Corvette enthusiasts as the car that could have been. Even decades after the ascension and fall of the Grand Sport, the name wouldn’t stop coming out of their mouths. It seemed that, ultimately, GM heard and listened.

In 1996, General Motors gave fans the pay-off that they have been expecting, deciding to make the debut of the C4 by reviving the Grand Sport that the public has been sighing so intensely over. The way it rolled out of the production plants established an iconic look that became synonym to the Grand Sports as we know them. The outside was painted in the trademark Admiral Blue paint split by the dashing white line stretched in the middle, the left front fender showcased its equally memorable red “hash marks,” and the 330 horsepower engine roared from underneath the hood.

Now, years later, everyone is buzzing in anticipation for the latest Grand Sport scheduled to be one of the official Corvette releases in 2017. There are already some things we know about it – a lot of things, actually, so we’re trying to change it up a little by trying to see how the Grand Sport evolved over the years.

2010 Corvette Grand Sport

2010 marked a big year for the Grand Sport year. It was the year when a leap was made from the status of Corvette special to a full-fledged automobile line with its own standalone specs and identity. Like in the case of the 1996 release, the time gap between the releases of the products meant that both of the two releases after 1963 represented a major rehash and change of look.

The luckiest aspect about 2010’s Grand Sport was that it came out in a time when many of the expectations of the people waiting to put their money on the Z51 weren’t entirely satisfied. General Motors was aware of that too, which is why they predicted early on that a considerable portion of Chevrolet’s profits might be geared from the direction of the Grand Sport sale.

In a sense, the fans’ longing over more Z06-like releases were fulfilled since their main tiny requests were that the future releases would keep the good things about the Z06 and get rid of the tiresome coupe and manual transmission exclusivity. This is why once the Grand Sport came in, it was unveiled that it offered a choice between convertible and targa-topped coupe, as well as between manual and automatic transmission.

corvette grand sport 2010

2010 Corvette Grand Sport

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2012 Corvette Grand Sport

It’s an upgrade from the previous version, but it would have been truly odd if it weren’t. After all, don’t new releases usually involve improvements? Chevrolet referred to the 2012 Grand Sport as a “luxury performance car” and, therefore, it’s the easiest to analyze the specs and features of the automobile by splitting them into these first two categories.

As far as performance goes, don’t expect any changes from the base Corvette released the same year. The powertrain remains unaltered, though buyers had the option to take out of their pockets an extra couple of thousands of dollars in order to gain access to the much more interesting variety of other features. The Goodyear F1 Supercar tires were bigger and the body was wider, thinner, and more chiseled, flaunting a larger steel frame.

2012-chevrolet-corvette-grand-sport

What was it that made it luxurious? If the glamorous exterior wasn’t an example good enough, all you had to do was to open the doors and take a look inside. The seats were more bolstered, clothed in a lot more pads, suede, and blended in with other material upgrades. The stowable roof panel that can come and go on command is always a good nod in the direction of luxury. Aside from that, another optional package was the Premium Equipment, which had a value that surpassed $10,000 and that smacked you right in the face with the “luxury” part.

Grand Sport Corvette – A New Start

Mark your calendars because it won’t be long before the latest Grand Sport Corvette is due to go on sale. After being revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, experts bumped into each other in their rush to go and analyze it. A general consensus concluded that it was a combination of your average Stingray with elements of a Z06 that may have digested some steroids.

  • Horsepower Downgrade: For the 2017 Grand Sport, the Z06’s monstrous LT4 was traded for a 460-hp LT1 V8. Although the engine purring may not be so strong with this one, it opened the door for the design choice to opt for the Stingray hood.
  • Z06 Brakes: Similarities between the Grand Sport and Z06 don’t look like they’re ceasing anytime soon. The steel structure of the Grand Sport is reminiscent of the classic Corvette design, while the Z06 brakes mean that it’s able to sustain all of the twists and turns from the track the same way a Z06 does.
  • Classic Hash Marks & Stingray-ness: With it being so similar to the Stingray, the divergent element that sets the Grand Sport apart are the characteristic fender hash marks previously mentioned. Unlike previous versions, this time they come available in six colors.

Here comes a Corvette that we have all DREAMED about!

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