The National Corvette Museum’s annual Birthday Bash always provides Corvette enthusiasts with a sneak preview of the next year’s models. The big news this year was the return of the Grand Sport option to the Corvette lineup for 2017. This is the third time it has been added to Corvette’s lineup (1996, 2010 and 2017). The Grand Sport name is a legendary icon for Corvette enthusiasts. In 1962, at the height of a corporate racing ban that GM signed in 1957, Corvette’s Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov secretly attempted to build 125 “lightweight” (2,000-pound) Corvette coupes in 1962. He had to build 125 to prove to the Le Mans organizers that these Corvettes were production Grand Touring cars. His goal was to beat the Ford Cobras at Le Mans. Only five were completed before his project was discovered by GM executives. Zora was ordered to destroy the completed cars. Undaunted, he made arrangements to loan three of these Grand Sports to a private racing team (Mecom Racing). They ended up at the Nassau Bahamas Speed Weeks event in November 1963. GM’s top racing drivers Jim Hall, Roger Penske, Dick Thompson, Augie Pabst and John Cannon were on hand to do the driving. The Grand Sports completely trounced the Ford Cobras and embarrassed Carol Shelby in front of numerous Ford executives. Many GM engineers were present (on vacation) to help sort the cars out during the week and could be seen with big smiles on their faces.
GM Engineer and racing driver John Heinricy, served as Assistant Chief Engineer for Corvette when the fourth generation production was ending. He was charged with adding spark to the last year of the C4. To accomplish this goal he and his team developed the Grand Sport option for 1996. Only 1,000 were built and each one had their own VIN # starting at 001 and ending at 1,000. Low-mileage examples still command high prices. In 2010 GM was in dire shape and Corvette sales were at rock bottom. The Corvette group decided to build a new Grand Sport to boost sales, and it worked. The car was offered from 2010 to 2013 and had the highest sales numbers of all the models that were available.
The seventh generation will be entering its fourth year of production in 2017 and the Corvette group believes the time is right to reintroduce the Grand Sport. It will be offered in the coupe or convertible with the 1LT/2LT/3LT interior options. Each will be fitted with Z06-style bodywork and aero enhancements and fitted with an interior dash plaque with the word Grand Sport. Each will be fitted with the lightweight Cup Wheels: Q8W Pearl Nickel, Q8X Black, RUR Satin Black with Red Stripe, Q8K Machined or Q8Z Chrome.
Three optional packages will be offered:
1. Grand Sport Heritage Package (Z15)
• Fender hash marks
• Interior aluminum buttress with hash marks
• Grand Sport logo floor mats
• Grand Sport fender hash mark color choice and matching center stripes
• Hash Marks: 75A Torch Red, 90A Shark Gray, 97A Carbon Flash, 59A Yellow, 55A Hyper Green, 62A Volcano Orange.
• Center Stripe: DXX White, DXT Gray, DXU Blue, DXP Red and DNE Carbon Flash
2. Grand Sport Collector Edition (Z25)
• Coupe 3LT or Convertible 3LT ($4995)
• Unique VIN sequence 300001 and up
• G7Q Watkins Glen Gray Metallic with YET Carbon Flash badge package
• 20A Tension Blue fender hash marks
• DUR Satin Black center stripe
• Q8X Black wheels
• 246 Tension Blue leather and suede interior
• Two-tone seats with blue stitching
• Seat and steering wheel emblems
• Hash marks on interior aluminum buttress
• SGI custom sill plates
• FAY carbon-fiber interior trim
• VYW Grand Sport logo floor mats (dealer installed)
3. Grand Sport Performance
• Michelin PSS tires (285/30-19x10 front and 335/25-20x12 rear)
• Functional brake ducts and extra cooling
• 6-piston, 14.6-inch front and 4-piston, 14.4-inch rear brakes with black calipers. Red/Yellow optional
• Performance 7-speed manual ratios (MEL from Z51)
• 8-speed automatic with 2.73 rear axle
• Magnetic ride control, specific stabilizer bars and springs
• Available with the Z07 package—Carbon Ceramic brakes—Michelin PS Cup 2 tires
As you can see, customers will have a lot to choose from when ordering a 2017 Grand Sport.
The entire 2017 lineup will have five new colors to choose from: Admiral Blue, Watkins Glen Gray, Racing Yellow, Sterling Blue Metallic and Black Rose Metallic. Several new headliner colors and stitching patterns will also be available. The Corvette’s electrical system will be upgraded with Info 2.6 that includes an app store and cyber security. The Performance Data Recorder will get a mute feature, driver mode displayed in track overlay, enhanced recording screen that shows overlays selected and odometer recording screen on selected overlays. Engine choices and horsepower ratings remain the same (LT1 460 hp and LT4 650 hp). Finally, here are the base prices for the 2017 Corvettes.
|2017 Corvette Model||Price|
|Stingray Coupe w/ Z51||$60,450|
|Stingray Convertible w/ Z51||$64,450|
|Grand Sport Coupe||$65,450|
|Grand Sport Convertible||$69.45|
The Bash also had a full agenda including technical seminars, celebrity car show awards, vendor displays, a new interactive sinkhole display, 2017 Corvette preview, Q & A sessions with racing drivers John Heinricy and Andy Pilgrim, Corvette Assembly Plant tours, NCM Motorsports Parks High Performance Driving Event and many more activities throughout the weekend.
The National Corvette Museum’s Birthday Bash is a great way to hang out with Corvette owners that share your Corvette interests. Plan on attending the 2017 Bash. Who knows what Corvette’s merry band of engineers and marketing staff might unleash on us next year? For more museum news and schedule go to www.corvettemuseum.org.