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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 71 - 1987 Corvette
"Return to Greatness"
After having been kicked around for over 15 years as an overweight has-been, the '87 Corvette reestablished itself as America's performance car.
You have to go back to the '70-1/2 LT-1 and LS6 454 big-block to see performance figures like those of the '87 Corvette. Although there was only a 5hp increase in power, testers reported that it felt more like 25hp. With 0-60 mph times of 6.3-seconds and a top speed of 152-mph, critics, the competition, and racers were beginning to notice.
The fuel-injected 350 engine only received two improvements the old-style hydraulic lifters were replaced with racer-like roller valve lifters, and the sparkplugs were relocated to the center of the combustion chambers.
The overall performance of the '87 Corvette was vastly improved with the new Z52 "sport package." For $470, the '87 Corvette was treated to most of the parts used on the Z51 package, but with the softer, stock suspension. Z52 extras included a radiator boost fan, Bilstein shocks, an engine oil-cooler, a heavy-duty radiator, 16 x 9.5-inch wheels, faster 13:1 steering, and a larger front stabilizer bar. The Z52 option was available with the coupe and convertible, manual or automatic transmission.
And in keeping with the Duntov tradition, the Z51 option included all of the before mentioned, plus the stiffer suspension, as well as the extra structural stiffening from the convertible. The $795 Z51 option formed the basis of the SCCA Showroom Stock competition Corvettes that went undefeated for four years straight!
Visual changes on the '87 Corvette are hard to spot. On the wheels there was a paint change to argent gray on the center-section and radial slots. Interior changes included relocating the "overdrive engage" light to the tachometer display area, a lighted vanity mirror, heated side-view mirrors, rear window defogger, six-way power seats, and standard electronic air-conditioning. Two anti-thefth devices were now used major parts received I.D. tags and if not properly started, the fuel pump was disengaged. Base price of a coupe was $27,999.
Successful racing is what has always made the Corvette a performance icon. The SCCA Showroom Stock Corvettes were so fast that Porsche bought two '87 Corvettes to dissect to try to learn why their 944 racers couldn't keep up with them. Revenge can be sweet! - K. Scott Teeters
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lllustrated Corvette Series No. 75 - 1987 - Callaway Corvette
"Chevy's Back-Door Supercar"
After 13 years of Corvette buyers only having one engine choice, Dave McLellan determined that it was time to start working on a new engine. But an exotic turbo-Vette would be an excellent offering to put the Corvette into supercar territory, while
waiting for exotic LT5.
Not long after the C4 was released, work began on a new powerplant for the Corvette. All sorts of combinations were considered, with a turbocharged V-8 finally winning out. Dave McLellan was aware of Reeves Callaway's turbo work on quality European and certain Japanese engines. McLellan thought it made sense to forge a relationship with Callaway and let the Connecticut firm develop a turbo-Vette for quick release.
After several prototype Turbo Corvettes were built, a deal was struck in June '86 that created the official 1987 Corvette option number "RPO B2K" as the "Callaway Twin Turbo" option. Cost? A hefty $19,995 on top of the $27,999 base price, plus the mandatory Z51 Handling Package for an additional $795. A completed Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette could be yours for only $48,785! However, if you wanted 345 net horsepower with 465 ft-lb of torque at 2,200 rpm, that was the price of the party. The car ran 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.2!
Performance like that far surpassed the old 427 and 454 days, but it wasn't easy. The L98 350 engine received a complete blueprint - and - balance rebuild, Roto Master 1H1 RHB52 twin turbos nested on both sides of the engine, and an air-to-air intercooling system was used. Special parts to accomodate the demands of the turbo instalation replaced many stock parts, including; Cosworth 7.5:1 forged pistons, a high-output Melling oil pump, an auxiliary solid-state fuel enrichment system, and a heavy-duty brass and copper radiator. Hood mounted NACA ducts were considered, but it was found that ducting from under the front of the car worked better. The only visual change on the car was the elimination of the heavy stock wheels and the use of 17-inch, 9.5-inch wide light-alloy Dymag wheels and 275/40ZR Goodyear Eagle tires.
All of the extra hardware added up to 100 pounds, making the Callaway Corvette weigh in at 3,600 pounds. But it really didn't matter, because the extra 105 hp turned the Corvette into a genuine stump-puller!
Only 184 Callaway Corvettes were built for '87. Despite the outsourcing of the car, Corvette buffs considered it a "real" Corvette because it was on the order sheet. The ZR-1 was a full two years away, so the Callaway was the perfect interim exotic Corvette. - K. Scott Teeters
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lllustrated Corvette Series No. 76 - 1988 Running Indy Corvette
"The Running Prototype"
After seeing the full-size Corvette Indy clay model, GM brass approved the construction of a running prototype of the bold new design. Clay models are always a little over the top and need to be pulled back, but the running Corvette Indy still sizzled.
The second-stage Corvette Indy was a three part project. The overall design shape and hardware specifications came from the Corvette design team. Since GM had recently purchased Lotus, it was decided to use Lotus' suspension engineering skills to develop a prototype active suspension system. And finally, Cecomp of Italy was contracted to assemble the finished running vehicle. This was to be an interim car while the CERV III engineering study was being built.
Dream cars can be very exciting, but are often not road worthy as production cars. So the original design had to be more realistic. The front end was shortened and the A- and B-pillars were a little more realistic. Also, extra ground clearance and wheel travel in the wheel openings was added. But the shape, flavor, style, and attitude remained.
Running gear was as cutting edge as could be. An early version of the 5.7 LT5 (ZR-1) engine was used. Placement was not only mid-engine (something that Duntov wanted for decades), but was also transverse mounted. The backbone chassis was made of carbon fiber rather than the Kevlar tub of the first version. The Lotus team got to show off their latest active suspension hardware that had just about everything you could imagine. Micro processors and hydraulics replaced the entire standard suspension. The car had full-time four- wheel-drive, four-wheel steering, ABS brakes and traction control. The active suspension allowed for smaller wheel houses, fewer parts, and more interior room.
Weighing only 3,300 pounds and packing 380 hp, the Corvette Indy had enough grunt to carry the Corvette flame. The next stage would be the production-like CERV III. As a prototype, the running Corvette Indy was a success! - K. Scott Teeters