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Zora Arkus-Duntov: The Godfather of the Corvette

Zora Arkus-Duntov


Zora Arkus-Duntov was born on December 25, 1909, a Christmas day in Belgium. he was born with both Russians parents, his father was a mining engineer and his mother a medical student in Brussels. his mother married Josef Duntov, another mining engineer, when his parents divorced. though his parents separate his father still lives with them. out of respect to the two important man in his life, his father and his step father Josef Duntov, he and his brother Yura took both their last name Arkus and Duntov and so he is now what we've known as Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Zora graduated from the Institute of Charlottenburg in 1934. he also writes engineering papers for the German motor publication Auto Motor und Sport. he met Elfi Wolf his wife, a German native who danced with the Folies-Begere in Paris. After they got married in 1939, Zora and his brother joined the French Air Force.

Zora and his family lived in Manhattan when they were able to leave Portugal. together with his brother they set up a business and named it Ardun from their family name Arkus and Duntov. they supplied parts to the military and manufactured aluminum heads for the flathead Ford V8 engine. their business was doing good until they got a problem with their other business partner that starts the downfall of their business. zora tried not to be affected with what happened to their business and so he accepted a job from England, a development work on the Allard sports car, co-driving it in 1952 and 1953 at Le Mans.

Impressed with the Motorama Corvette that was displayed in New York, he applied for a job in General Motors, he believed that he could improve the car especially the underneath of the car which is not so impressive for him. determined to work for GM, he wrote to Ed Cole, Chevrolet chief engineer his intentions on making improvements on the car, along with the letter was a technical paper that proposes an analytical method in determining a car's top speed. The people at Chevrolet was impressed with him and so he was offered a job as an assistant staff engineer, which he gladly accept on May 1, 1953.

The memo that he wrote to his bosses entitled "Thoughts Pertaining to Youth, Hot Rodders and Chevrolet" became the foundation for the strategy that the company has used, that also made them the winning manufacturers ever in the history of motor racing. he became the director of high performance at Chevrolet, he transformed GM's largest division into a youthful and exciting division, which was too far from what it was before. He developed the famous Duntov high-lift camshaft and in 1957 he helped in bringing the fuel injection to the Corvette. In 1963, he launches the Grand Sport program which captures the interest and imagination of Corvette fans all over the world. he retires in 1975 and turns his duties to Dave McLellan.

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