One of the oldest axioms in automobile manufacturing is that "racing improves the breed," but with a voluntary corporate ban on motorsport in effect at General Motors in the 1960s, it was up to renegade engineers to develop race cars as technological test beds in secret. One such engineer was the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov, who in 1962 launched a clandestine program inside GM's Warren Tech Center to create a Corvette capable of conquering the world's finest sports racers. The result of his top-secret effort was the Grand Sport, a 1,800-pound, tube-frame variant of the C2 Sting Ray packing a 377 cubic-inch, all-aluminum V8 capable of 550 horsepower.
Five prototype Grand Sports were completed, and achieved modest success in SCCA racing, Nassau Speed Weeks and at Sebring. Arkus-Duntov planned a production run of 125 cars to achieve homologation for international GT racing, but the Grand Sport program was snuffed out instantly when GM executives caught wind of the unauthorized race program operating right under their noses. Unwilling to let go of the Grand Sport concept without a fight, Arkus-Duntov quietly shuffled the five existing prototypes off to privateer race teams, offering back-door technical support with experimental parts sometimes delivered in secret using engineer vacations as cover!
TSM have released their long-awaited 1:43-scale resin replica of the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, specifically chassis number 003 as campaigned in the 1964 12 Hours of Sebring by Mecom Racing Team. Though still very much a development prototype, #003 in the hands of A.J. Foyt and John Cannon climbed through the field to claim 5th place in the over-three-liter prototype class...a strong finish in a field of refined, thoroughbred race cars that hinted at what might have been possible with proper corporate backing from General Motors.
For more information on TSM's Corvette Grand Sport, please click here.