1 of 32: 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Duntov Turbo

When Zora Arkus-Duntov retired from GM in 1975, the Corvette was only a shadow of the car that he loved and engineered. Duntov was a proponent of the “bigger is better” philosophy when it came to Corvette engines, and this placed him on an inevitable collision course with Chevrolet management who were wrestling with ever-tightening emissions requirements. So it came to pass the Duntov’s path crossed that of Bob Schuller of American Custom Industries (ACI), and after some negotiation, the Corvette Duntov Turbo was born. You will find this particular Duntov Corvette listed for sale here on eBay. Located in Fraser, Michigan, it is being offered for sale with a clear title. The seller of this Corvette has set a sale price of $36,900.

The most striking aspect of the Duntov Corvette is the body. Stock Corvettes were delivered to ACI, where all the standard fiberglass was removed. The car was then fitted with an ACI-designed body that left the vehicle 6 inches wider than standard. The execution of the body kit was virtually faultless, and contemporary reviews indicate that it was better than the factory could achieve. Some of the changes were purely aesthetic, while items such as the hood vent were a practical necessity. That vent was designed to channel away some of the enormous heat generated by the turbocharger. This particular Duntov is in really nice condition. The fit and finish is as good as it would have been the day that the car left ACI, and the car definitely has a meaningful stance. The seller describes the wheels that are fitted to the car as “custom”, but to me, they look like they could be German BBS 3-piece wheels with a custom off-set.

The interior of this Duntov is in really nice condition. The upholstery looks to be in good condition. I can see no issues to speak of with the trim or plastic, and the car is fitted with a digital dash. Sitting below the dash by the driver’s right knee is a turbo boost gauge, which tells the driver when that turbo is spooling up (as if he wouldn’t know from that push in the back).

Under the hood is the business end of the deal as Duntov saw it. He’d spent a number of years within GM agitating for a turbocharged Corvette, but management simply couldn’t see the value or sales volumes that justified this. The Duntov Corvette was originally envisaged as a body package, but Duntov was able to convince ACI to pursue the turbo route. They started life with a standard 350ci L48 engine, and a Turbo Industries turbocharger was then added, running a boost pressure of 7psi. This generated huge levels of under-hood heat. It necessitated the addition of the previously mentioned hood vent. The car also demonstrated the ability to melt any engine hose that was anywhere near the turbo, so this then necessitated the inclusion of Aeroquip hoses to prevent a melt-down. The engine and automatic transmission on this car are exactly as it was when it left ACI, and the correct Bilstein shocks are still in place. The seller also includes a huge dossier of documents that verify the history of this car.

When the Duntov Corvette was launched, the original intention was that it was to be a production run of 200 cars. While actual numbers have been the subject of some conjecture, the generally accepted opinion is that eventually only 32 cars were ever built. This example is car #5 of that total and has spent some time displayed at the Corvette Museum. It has traveled a total of 15,883 miles, and it is being sold with full documentation. Would you drive it, or is its life destined to be in a museum?

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Comments

  1. Andre

    Even as a (early) Corvette guy I’m sorry but this is awful. Short of the color combo im not sure how this pays homage to Zora.. Wooden dash.. CB radio.. Over padded seats.. Anemic SBC.. Has more in common with a Vandura conversion than a Corvette.

    For that kinda coin I’d buy a C5 Z06 + the Vandura and at least have your respective cakes and eat them too.

    14
    • Frank Sumatra

      I’m with you. They built 31 too many from the looks of it. Yuck.

  2. Matt steele

    They ruin the lines of a beautiful vehicle

  3. Dcowan

    I will absolutely take it. Looks amazing

    11
  4. Steve M Member

    I’ll stick with mine at a quarter of the price!

    14
    • brianashe Member

      First of all, congrats on owning the exact Corvette I want: ’80-82, white, with 8-slot wheels. :-)

      Secondly, seeing Duntov’s name on this is a bit like seeing Carrol Shelby’s name on a Dodge Omni. Not quite as bad, but it’s a good step down from when things were good.

      This is kind of awesome, and I liked IMSA-style body kits when I was younger, but with all due respect to Mr. Duntov, I’d rather have a Callaway C4.

      • The_Driver

        You may not like a Shelby GLH and GLHS, but Caroll Shelby certainly did. Not only he praised the car, he owned a pair of them!

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        Make mine with an L82.

  5. Walter

    I’ll take it!

  6. Derek

    I love it. It is unique and white with red interior is gorgeous. I like the body modifications.

  7. rod444

    I do love the wider hips, not so sure about the hood vents, but I do think they erred by not using dual headlights on such a wide, low car.

    Still one heckuva car. Can’t believe they crammed a turbo under the hood. That’s a major feat. I’d drive this proudly any day.

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Never heard of this.
    Interesting C3 footnote.

  9. Wrong Way Member

    Great read Adam! I don’t like corvettes, but I do enjoy automotive history!

  10. Dirty Dingus McGee

    “Duntov was a proponent of the “bigger is better” philosophy when it came to Corvette engines”

    Actually, no. Duntov was a sports car racer and felt that adding the big block in 65 ruined the handling due to the extra weight.

    Also; I’m still trying to see where the turbo is plumbed in, in those shots of the engine. It certainly looks to be a stock engine to me.

    • Frank Sumatra

      Actually, “yes”. The only Corvette Mr.Duntov actually owned and drove daily was a 1974 coupe with a modified 454 ci engine.As Chief Engineer he also oversaw the development of the L-88 and ZL-1 big-block Corvettes.

  11. Troy s

    I’m gonna have to research this thing for performance numbers, if there are any. For 1980 this would have been fairly high on the mountain for performance cars, although that mountain was fairly low, more like a hill.
    It’s not a bad looking custom Vette, has some interesting history, but for the money you’re buying a museum piece that could get blown into the weeds by any number of other Corvettes both newer and older.

  12. Ron

    Some shady stuff going on with this one. It shows as being sold at Mecum Dallas on October 5th for $11,000 all in. There are photos in the Mecum listing that are also in the eBay listing. Guessing they bought it from themselves to keep from losing their ass on it at the auction. It was a no sell with a $30,000 bid back at Mecum Indy in 2014. https://www.mecum.com/lots/DA1018-332622/1980-chevrolet-corvette-duntov-turbo/ https://www.mecum.com/lots/SC0514-183040/1980-chevrolet-corvette-duntov-turbo/

  13. Daved

    What everyone needs to realize is, this is a unique piece of Corvette history (that many of us didn’t even know about until this story). While it can be said that it’s performance can, yes, be eclipsed by other years and iterations, that’s not the point. It’s a rare, exclusive build that is surely not one you will see at the local Corvette Club meet or cruise-in. It’s a refreshing change from the dime-a-dozen 78 Anniversary models and while some may object to the body lines, there’s no doubt that it’s design is superior to a bloated, uninspired C5 (the fat Elvis of Corvettes).

    The amount of engineering it took to bring this limited run to production is commendable and like any Shelby, there’s no denying the historical significance of Mr. Duntov’s hand in these.

  14. Lucky strike

    Since when do they make convertibles in 1980 has to be a body shop special

    • Daved

      Lucky strike,

      You apparently skimmed over the part about the custom-fitted bodywork…. here it is again, for your utmost convenience and ease of reading:

      “The most striking aspect of the Duntov Corvette is the body. Stock Corvettes were delivered to ACI, where all the standard fiberglass was removed. The car was then fitted with an ACI-designed body that left the vehicle 6 inches wider than standard. The execution of the body kit was virtually faultless, and contemporary reviews indicate that it was better than the factory could achieve……. …..This particular Duntov is in really nice condition. The fit and finish is as good as it would have been the day that the car left ACI.

  15. JoeNYWF64

    Does anyone reproduce those tires? I bet they are original!
    Now THAT’S the kind of ultra thin whitewall i would want!! with or w/o RWL

  16. laurent

    I bought 3 weeks ago this number 5 duntov , this masterpiece will be in europe in few days. Its for me a real collectible corvette .

    • Daved

      Congratulations!!!! You have yourself a very unique Vette! Enjoy!!!!

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