Zora Arkus-Duntov is known as the father of the Corvette and truly built the nameplate’s foundation for success decades later. Despite his success and history with General Motors, Chevrolet and the Corvette, Duntov actually remained close with Porsche.
Hagerty delved back in into history to look at Duntov’s career and how he became so close with the German sports car maker. In the mid-1950s, Duntov was even offered a position as a lead engineer for the automaker.
Duntov caught the eye of Porsche in 1953 after racing at Le Mans for Sydney Allard, the namesake behind Allard cars at the time. Duntov’s work with Allard nearly led to his dismissal from GM, but alas, he stayed on. Porsche, though, was impressed.
The automaker invited him to drive for Porsche, which GM actually condoned—the U.S. automaker felt it could learn a lot from Porsche and its air-cooled engines and rear swing axles. So, Duntov was placed behind the wheel of a 550 Spyder.
After racing the car, Duntov returned to Porsche with his findings and offered up solutions to fix weight distribution, problems with oversteer and more. Porsche was impressed.
Upon returning to Detroit, Duntov kept in touch with Porsche, which quietly gave him credit for his engineering expertise on future Porsche vehicles. Porsche never advertised a Chevrolet engineer helped hone its cars, but the job offer for Duntov to join the team remained. Duntov felt GM had more to offer in the future. Turns out, he was right, as GM quickly become a dominant automaker across the globe during the 20th century.
Thankfully, Duntov kept much of his passion within GM. The Corvette as we know it may not exist today if it weren’t for him.