1980 Chevy Corvette - Zora's Retirement Project

The Turbocharged Corvette He Always Wanted

Richard F. Newton Nov 1, 2004 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0411_08_z 1980_duntov_chevy_corvette Duntov_ensignia 1/16

ACI then took every possible opportunity to place badges and little plaques all over the car. Then huge Duntov decals were placed on the front fenders. Just in case you missed all of that, a large Duntov decal was placed on the rear panel.

The body, though, was a statement in fiberglass perfection. Remember, GM was in the process of closing the old St. Louis Corvette plant. All capital expenditures were slated for the new Bowling Green (Kentucky) plant. The quality of the cars leaving St. Louis was horrid. The fact that ACI could improve on the quality of the Corvette wasn't very difficult.

The initial idea was to use a stock hood panel. This simply wasn't possible because of the tremendous heat generated from the turbocharger. This led to the addition of the hood vents you see in the pictures.

Vemp_0411_05_z 1980_duntov_chevy_corvette Door_panel 2/16

When an '80 Corvette arrived at ACI, the car was totally stripped down to the steel structure. The only items that were retained were the front and rear bumpers and the hood. The interesting part was that ACI was able to assemble the new body using far fewer parts than had been used at the St. Louis plant.

"Normally a Corvette is assembled in a number of panels," said Schuller in 1980. "Hood, front and rear fender, doors... Wherever these panels are bonded together, you're likely to get defects. So for this car, we tooled a complete rear end and complete doors. There are no seams, so there is no bodywork necessary for our car."

The Duntov body is 6 inches wider than a standard '80 Corvette. The front headlights were changed to a rectangular design. All in all, this new body was the most impressive part of the Duntov Corvette. However, you might feel the design and quality was far beyond anything that ever rolled off of the old St. Louis assembly line.

The EngineThe engine was both the good and bad part of this project. Bob Schuller really wasn't too excited about the turbocharged engine. "I was reluctant to get into turbocharging 200 cars," Schuller told Corvette Fever in 1980. "But then I realized that Duntov is really more known for his emphasis on the performance of a Corvette than the looks of the car. As far as he's concerned, the car and body are there to keep the rain off the turbocharger."

Actually the turbo was a potential deal breaker. Zora Duntov saw this project as a way to get the Corvette that he couldn't get from General Motors. Unless ACI was willing to give him the turbo, this deal was not going to happen.

Vemp_0411_07_z 1980_duntov_chevy_corvette Gauge 3/16

The turbo installation gave the team at ACI more than a few anxious moments. The heat was an incredible problem. In desperation, ACI added a vent panel to the hood. It was placed directly over the turbo in an effort to remove at least some of the heat from the engine compartment.

The turbo heat was so great that the hoses around the turbo would actually melt. This necessitated going to a lot of industrial-strength hoses from Aeroquip. An engineer was brought in from Aeroquip and looked at all the possible trouble spots. As a result, all the water, fuel, and oil lines were converted to Aeroquip products. While this solved the problem of melting hoses, it certainly didn't do anything for the cost of the project. What began as a simple body project was suddenly getting more expensive every day.

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