A number of years ago, a group of Procter & Gamble engineers were looking for an entry to compete in the $2007 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge. The purpose for the contest contest was to build a car for under $2,007 and then enter it in a variety of competitions. The 1986 ChEaparral J2J “Sucker Vette” was their entry to the race, and now that Corvette has been donated to the National Corvette Museum.
The team found a wrecked C4 in a barn for $1400 with a hole in the hood, but that wasn’t a big deal because they ended up making room for 100-horse twin-turbos.
Then, inspired by the Jim Hall vacuum-enhanced Chaparral 2J from the 1970s, the team rigged up a skirt underneath and connected a cooling fan from an Abrams tank. The fan was powered by a snowmobile engine that created so much suction that one could actually see the car being pulled to the ground to the tune of about 1000 pounds of downforce (hence the “Sucker” nickname) . A beer keg designed to keep the engine from being gas-starved in hard turns was used as a gas tank.
The team competed with 50 others, managing to win the autocross, concourse, best-engineered award, top-finishing team distinction, and the 2007 Challenge Overall Champion award.
With the Corvette a winner, the team was wondering what they should do next with the C4. “It is sad for us to let the car go, but we are happy that the car is coming here,” said Team ChEaparral member Cliff Papsdorf. “The National Corvette Museum is the perfect home for it.”