Where to Find High Performance Corvette Parts
The Corvette is the quintessential American sports car and many auto enthusiasts search far and wide for classic C1 generation Sting Rays, C3 coupes and convertibles and contemporary C6 ZR-1’s. Once you’ve found the car of your dreams and arranged payment for it the real work begins as you will need many high performance genuine Chevy Corvette parts to keep any make or model of Corvette in showroom shape. Finding parts for select models of Corvette can prove to be daunting since many earlier generations are no longer in production and consequently the parts that were used to make each model are no longer being manufactured either. The online auto parts aftermarket is your best bet for finding high quality Corvette parts including brakes, wheels, seat covers, air filters and more. The Chevy Corvette is a precisely engineered automobile that requires the right parts to make the car perform at an optimum level. Unlike Nissan Sentra’s or Honda Civic’s that can be repaired with generic auto parts and even scrap parts found in a junk yard Corvettes need genuine Corvette parts in order to run smoothly. You can perform repairs and add accessories with non-genuine parts but the results will vary and rarely will the performance be of the quality one expects from a Corvette. A problem many people have when looking for genuine Corvette parts including brakes, wheels, tires and engine parts is not many auto superstores or garages carry these parts in stock. Corvettes aren’t your typical automobile and often times a Corvette owner will have to order parts from a variety of vendors to outfit any make or model of Chevy Corvette.
Luckily the Corvette following is a large one and several high quality aftermarket parts suppliers can be found online where you can match your model Corvette to the exact part you are looking for. From brake pads and brake rotors, transmission coolers and oil coolers to custom auto covers and exhaust systems the web is your best source for finding rare and hard to find genuine Corvette parts. Shopping for parts online is much easier than trying to find rare parts in an auto parts store or even a mechanics shop. Once you have the make and model you can quickly find the specific part number and then browse the selections of any online aftermarket parts supplier for the right match. Better still you can comparison shop to see if you can find the same part for a cheaper price depending on the vendor and how long it will take them to ship the part. As with any premium sports car the Chevy Corvette is both a high performance automobile and a collector’s item that many enthusiasts like to show off at car shows and keep in pristine condition in a garage or carport. There are literally hundreds of custom Corvette parts and accessories that can keep any make or model of Chevy Corvette looking and running great and all you have to do is search online for a high quality genuine Corvette parts supplier to track down the exact part you’re looking for.
An Introduction to Corvette
The glorious Corvette history started in 1953, when Chevrolet first came out with the Corvettes. It has endured the tests and ravages of time, and is now considered to be at par with some of the greatest cars in the world. The first all American sports car built by an American company, today Corvettes are manufactured almost exclusively by General Motors in their plant in Kentucky. The early Corvette produced in 1953, was a reflection of the styling flair of Harley Earl, who convinced GM that two-seater sports cars were the ultimate American dream. The name Corvette comes from a small maneuverable fighting frigate. The early Corvettes were almost hand built using fiberglass instead of steel for the lightweight effect. At that time, Chevrolet was known for producing excellent performing cars in a no nonsense package. So, though the cars were good value, sales continued to decline.
The Corvette history would have ended with this small chapter except for the arrival of Zora Arkus-Duntov in the engineering department of GM. Duntov single handedly transformed the Corvette from a two-seat car to a genuine sports car by taking a 265 version of the engine and applying the three-speed manual transmission to it. Corvette history covers 6 generations of the famous Corvette cars beginning from C1 through to C6. The C1s are usually referred to as solid-axle, and were in production till 1962. By 1963, turbulent times lay ahead for the Corvette, with various other cars trying to outshine each other. The Corvette rose to the competition with the C2 that started rolling out in 1963. This year saw the dramatic popularity of the Corvette Sting Ray coupe with its split rear end window, and non-functional ford-like vents. The split window was taken off the very next year due to safety concerns, making this model of the car one of the most sought after by vintage collectors. Greater engine power, four-wheel disc brakes, and side exhaust pipes appeared in the later versions and were available till 1969. The famous L88 version of the Stingray was another landmark in Corvette history. A true blood racing car, the L88 was in production for only three years, and was quickly gobbled up by a market that was thirsting for the trendy sports beast. “Not for the Faint of Heart”, was the song that Chevrolet came up with to advertise their new L88. The L88 was never actually intended for public use. The high performing car had many capabilities that were relatively unknown to most users of the time.
The C3 was patterned after Chevrolet’s Mako Shark design. This series started rolling out in 1968 and lasted till 1982. Small changes in styling rendered the Corvette even more stylish and lightweight. 1973 saw the last of the Corvettes with chrome bumpers. 1975 was the last year a Corvette convertible was produced, and in 1980, the Corvette got a new aerodynamic design overhaul that drastically reduced drag. The glorious Corvette history moves on to the C4 or fourth generation Corvette, which saw the first Corvette to have a glass hatchback. The C4 was a total redesign and the emphasis on this model was handling. This model was acclaimed as being the best handling car ever. The mid-eighties saw GM collaborating with Lotus for developing the pricey ZR-1. The Grand Sport version of the Corvette released in 1996 marks the end of the C4 series. High performance and superb looks were highlighted in this model. The C5 rolled out in 1997 and was in action till 2004. The look of the car had improved considerably in this version. The performance also proved that this model was much superior to the previous versions. The C5-R and the Z06 are other remarkable cars in this series. The C6 is not very much different from its predecessor. The main thrust of the upgrade seems to be aimed at perfecting the older model and removing some snags and hitches. The new Z06 arrived in 2006. Corvette history is full of the various awards and prizes won by Corvette both for its looks as well as performance.
The AC Cobra 260 Sports Car
In 1961, with the departure of the two seater Thunderbird at the end of 1957, Ford were only too pleased to team up with Carroll Shelby to produce another two seater performance car with which to take on the Corvette which, by this time, had built up its own racing credentials. In fact, the aluminium bodied Cobra 260 weighed 2170 lbs, compared with 3065 lbs for the Corvette Stingray, which spelt the first sign of trouble for Chevrolet. When it came to production of the Ace with a 260 ci V8 engine, few problems were encountered since the necessary modification to the chassis and body had already been anticipated in the initial drawings for a 221 ci (3.6 litre) unit. An additional change found to be necessary was to fit a stronger rear differential to take account of the increased torque of the new engine. The unit finally chosen was the Salisbury 4HU, which was the same as that used in the Jaguar E-Type. At the same time, the rear suspension had to be stiffened. The first batch of 75 units of the Mark 1, including the prototype, were powered by the 260 ci (4.3 litre) Ford Windsor HiPo (High Performance) V8 engine.
However, a further 51 units of the Mark 1 were fitted with the larger 289 ci (4.7 litre) Windsor HiPo engine.
This unit was also used in the Mark 2 variant, which made its appearance in June 1963, and came from the same engine family as the 260 and 221 V8’s. Of the 75 Mark 1 Cobras, 62 became street cars, with the rest being used by both the factory team and race prepared by individuals, many of which were subsequently fitted with the larger 289 engine.
Coil spring independent suspension at the front and leaf spring at the rear
Worm drive steering
A limited slip differential
An adjustable steering wheel
Using a single 4-barrel Holley carburettor, and fitted with hotter camshafts, solid tappets, larger ports, and a compression ratio of 10.0:1, the overhead valve 260 HiPo V8 developed 260 bhp.
The most usable engine speed was in the range 2000-7000 rpm.
Furthermore, for competition use, Shelby modified this unit by increasing the compression ratio to 11.0:1, and used four twin choke Webber carburettors, which allowed the engine to develop 335 bhp at 8500 rpm. Although the first prototype was fitted with a Ford 221 V8 engine, this unit was never intended to power the Cobra, and was only used as a template since it had the same external dimensions as the 260 V8. It was repainted almost every time a new test was conducted to give the impression that Shelby had plenty of new Cobras. Carroll Shelby had always wanted his Cobras to be Corvette conquerors. His chance came, on 2nd February 1963 at the Riverside International Raceway, when his Cobra CSX2026, one of the first Mark 1’s built, beat a line up of Corvettes, Jaguars, CSX2001, amongst the first 75 Cobras to be received by dealers in 1962, was earmarked to race in the 1964 Le Mans, but was not entered since the 260 V8 was not competitive enough in practice. However, it was later updated with the larger 289 V8 engine, when it duly won many victories across Europe. No more than 1,000 Cobras were ever built. I will be reviewing in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of AC sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1946 to 2000.