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Greenwood Corvette GTO - Flash Black

The Greenwood Corvette GTO Was A Race Car For The Street.

Wayne Ellwood Dec 14, 2006
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It's hard to tell the story of the Greenwood GTO without a fast recap of its predecessor, the Daytona. John and Burt Greenwood designed the Daytona race-car body style to fully exploit the somewhat vague rules established for IMSA's 1981 season, particularly those relating to spoilers. The Greenwoods pushed all four fenders out to the maximum permissible width, then tied the fronts to the rears with wide sills that minimized drag while increasing downforce. The same philosophy dictated the extreme size and shape of the rear spoiler on the top of the rear fenders-it was simply an extension of the bodywork.

In 1982, IMSA changed its rules. The big rear wing was banned, resulting in a new car called the GTO. Despite IMSA's efforts, the Greenwoods were able to refine the car's body shape and keep most of the benefits associated with the Daytona. The GTO was still the quintessential high-speed suction cup. Tico & Ren Racing introduced the GTO (No. 13) at the Daytona track in 1982 and went on to achieve great success. As was the case with multiple Greenwood race cars, the T&R Racing Greenwood GTO broke track records at many of its appearances.

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On the street, response to the radical Daytona styling had been sufficiently encouraging to convince Corvette-parts giant Eckler's to sign a deal with John to manufacture the body panels. When it came to the GTO, however, John and Burt manufactured all panels in-house.

Two streetable GTOs were built-both black and using 1981 platforms. One car had a saddle interior, and the second, presented here, has a red interior. The most notable changes from the Daytona to the street version of the GTO were the hood, rear spoiler, and Kevlar brake fans. The big-block engine in the GTO race car required the use of a higher-profile hood to clear the Greenwood cross-ram fuel-injection system. John and Burt retained this hood style for the street car. This hood also moved away from the use of NACA ducts and rear slots to cool and evacuate underhood heat and air pressure. The new design allowed the hot underhood air to be extracted through a series of vents near the back of the hood, thus eliminating the drag associated with the NACA ducts previously used as air inlets.

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Butch and Sundi Ayers, of Houston, Texas, purchased this GTO in 2000. The car had been lying in a corner of a shop for some time, so Butch bought it with an eye toward restoring it and using it as a rolling advertisement for his body shop. Butch didn't know any of the Greenwood history when he started the project, but the previous owners gave him all the help he needed when it came to decoding and locating the special items needed for the restoration.

Every Greenwood car is special, especially to those who understand what it takes to make a truly outstanding performance car. So, even though many of Greenwood's street cars didn't carry the same highly refined race parts as did the full-fledged racers, each one received its fair share of attention to detail.

Early Greenwood turbo cars used a blow-through system. By the time the Daytona models were introduced, however, the company had switched to a "Turbo International" draw-through design, using a Rajay compressor, which was more reliable and provided more effective fuel management. Of all the turbo cars built by the Greenwoods, only two-including our feature car-were matched to manual transmissions.

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Standard Greenwood features included the special cross-drilled brake rotors and BBS wheels and tires, complete with Kevlar brake fans. The balanced-and-blueprinted L82 engine is estimated to produce 450 gross horsepower. Cosmetically, the car has an original interior, and, as is typical on Daytonas and GTOs, the Cars and Concepts rear-opening hatch was a standard "option."

The restoration process didn't start right away, but once Butch heard about the Greenwood Reunion being scheduled for the Corvettes at Carlisle 2004 event, the car was given the priority it deserved. Since this was a full, frame-off restoration, with every nut and bolt being replaced or replated, time was of the essence. Butch called for help from lots of friends. Special thanks are owed to Mike Murnane, Jerry Milton, and Rodney Glendennie. Butch also received some special help from PPG Paints through another friend, Ken Brault. The car is finished in a black urethane basecoat-clearcoat, just as applied by the Greenwoods.

Since its restoration, the car has appeared at a number of shows, including the Super Chevy Show at Houston Raceway Park, the Houston Autorama, and the Houston Corvette Show. With only 43 street sharks made, on five different body styles, Greenwood performance is hard to ignore, and membership in the club is definitely limited.



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