On our way back from Nashville in our Four Seasons 2016 Nissan Maxima SR, we stopped by the National Corvette Museum. This is hallowed ground for the Corvette faithful, so we would be remiss if we didn’t pick our favorite cars on parade.
1995 Guldstrand GS90
Forgive yourself if you’ve never heard of the Guldstrand GS90. Dick Guldstrand, a legendary racer and builder affectionately known as “Mr. Corvette,” created the GS90 in an attempt at building a world-beating performance car, aimed at busting the jaw of the established marques. Underneath the streamlined body lie the bones and organs from a C4 ZR-1 Corvette, with power from the LT5 motor boosted to 475 hp. Performance was staggering, but it wasn’t enough to offset the wallet-clenching $135,000 price tag. Guldstrand planned on creating over 100 GS90s, but just six left his shop, most of which reside in museum collections.
Zora Arkus-Duntov’s 1974 Corvette Stingray
Surprisingly, Arkus-Duntov, “The Father of the Corvette,” only owned one Corvette during his lifetime: this 1974 Stingray. The car was special ordered and delivered with the highly sought-after 454 big-block V-8. According to the museum, this car features a handful of unnamed performance modifications that boost power up to unknown heights. After purchasing the car, Arkus-Duntov had it repainted to the style presented here.
1998 C5 Corvette Homologation
Created to appease racing regulations, this wild C5 is a proof-of-concept car to show that the race-spec C5-R could potentially be used on the street if necessary. Unsurprisingly, the Homologation special was built by Pratt & Miller, the firm behind the development of the C5-R. Essentially, it’s a slightly softer, de-tuned example of the race car, with a full digital dash, carbon fiber interior, bucket seats, center-lock wheels, and wild hood vents. The C5 Homologation was never put into production, making this the only one in existence.
Nürburgring Lap Record-Setting 2012 Corvette ZR1
This is the very ZR1 that set the Nürburgring lap record for production cars back in 2011. With 638 hp pushed out from the 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 V-8 engine, the ZR1 stormed the Nordschleife in a scant 7 minutes, 19 seconds. The record stood until the 2012 Nissan GT-R reclaimed the title by a miniscule half-second.
Rare 1969 Corvette Stingray
According to the museum, this is just one of two Riverside Gold convertibles optioned with the big-boy 427-ci V-8 engine, exhaling through the very rare side exhaust pipes. Factor in a very uncommon suspension package, and this ’69 is about as rare as they come.
Trio of Aerodynamic Corvette Concepts
In an alternate universe, these are the Corvettes that were made in the late 1990s and early 2000s. If you need any reminder as to why the mid-engine Corvette rumors still swirl around the watercooler, look no further. All three of these concepts previewed a different vision of the future, each wild in their own right. The red stunner on the left is the insane 1986 Corvette Indy concept, sporting all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, active suspension, and traction control. Like the other three cars, it’s built with a mid-engined layout in mind. The other two are simple styling mock-ups.
The Only 1983 Corvette in Existence
Only one 1983 Corvette may exist, but that doesn’t mean Chevy took the year off. The development team wanted to make sure the launch of the C4 Corvette was as perfect and well-sorted as possible. Of the 43 ’83 ‘Vettes built, just one still exists.
1989 Corvette ZR-12 Falconer
The late 80s sure were a wild time. As the name suggests, this isn’t a regular ZR-1; in fact, this is about as far from a “normal” Corvette as you can imagine. According to GM, the Falconer Corvette was created to “test the limits of the Corvette’s chassis design.” Up front, a smallblock-based, 9.8-liter Falconer V-12 engine was shoehorned into place. It didn’t go in easy; the team stretched the engine bay by eight inches. At full tune, this insane engine puts down 686 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque.
The Sinkhole ‘Vettes
On Feburary 12, 2014, the main display area under the “Skydome” of the Corvette Museum gave way to a large sinkhole, swallowing eight ‘Vettes. When the cave-in was discovered the next morning, crews rushed to remove the remaining cars from the display area and began the process of recovering the sinkhole cars. Eventually, all eight were raised, but only a handful of those that emerged were restorable. Some required only minor reconditioning, including the famed “Blue Angel” Corvette ZR1. Others, like the PPG Corvette pace car, were damaged far beyond repair and now serve as display attractions for the museum.