Guldstrand Tuned Meat Axe: 1970 Corvette Race Car

General Motors was the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, and it had essentially bottomless resources.  However, racing a Corvette was always an exercise in frustration.  Corvette’s chief engineer, Zora Arkus Duntov, accomplished amazing things in the racing world with one hand figuratively tied behind his back by corporate bean counters.  One coping strategy was to funnel parts and engineering support to privateers to skirt GM’s ban on racing.  This illicit policy gave rise to some amazing cars and put the wind at the back of racers who went on to become legends in their own right.  Dick Guldstrand was one of these.  Both an accomplished driver and an engineering wizard, Guldstrand went on to become synonymous with Corvette racing.  One example of his handiwork is this 1970 Corvette race car, currently for sale on eBay in Phoenix, Arizona.  With a Buy It Now price of $50,000, this meat axe of a racecar may be worth that and more.  However, just what type of race car is this?

Guldstrand’s specialty was suspension systems.  While always a fast and calculating race driver, it was his ability to adjust a suspension by what he felt when driving flat out that made him sought after by owners like Roger Penske (who hired him on a suggestion from Duntov).  In this interview published by Hemmings Motor News, you get a good idea of just what kind of man he was.  A product of the legendary Southern California racing culture, Guldstrand is like the cars he drove and built: brutal and direct.

Therefore, it would be a bucket list experience for a Corvette enthusiast to acquire a car with a direct link to Guldstrand.  This 1970 Corvette, which was built by a small Arizona race shop, used Guldstrand’s suspension components and then the package was tailored by him for maximum effect.  According to the seller, this car then ran roughshod over the competition in the Southwest.  Strangely, it was raced in both SCCA and NHRA events.  While it must have been an undeniably fast car, usually race cars are either one thing or another.  There just isn’t a lot of crossover between drag racing and road racing.

So how would this have worked?  The biggest problem Corvettes had in drag racing was their independent rear ends and the incompatability of the bulky tires required to put that power to the ground without heavy modifications.  This car may have partially solved this problem through the strengthening and adjustability of Guldstrand’s suspension modifications and the radical flaring of the wheel wells.  While installing such drag racing modifications as a solid axle and traction bars may have helped both lower elapsed times and increase durability, this car as built likely held its own at the dragstrip.  The racetrack would have been its primary playground.  A car built like this one is similar to the beasts that privateers like Guldstrand and John Greenwood famously took to Le Mans.  French race fans went nuts when monsters similar to this car thundered down the Mulsanne Straight at 170+mph speeds.

To continue along that line, a suspension has to have two things to perform on a racetrack: durability and adjustability.  As you can see from the picture above, Guldstrand’s modifications considerably beefed up the rear end assembly and suspension.  The strut rods are also adjustable, and the mounting looks to be different from stock.  What appears to be devices to restrain snapped axles, which were a problem when high horsepower met bigger tires with more traction, are also added.  It would have been nice to get a picture from the side with the tires removed to see if the trailing arms were modified as well.

Inside there are more questions than answers.  Much of the interior looks to be stock.  Stock means plastic, rubber, and foam.  In a pure race car, these are major liabilities.  Race cars occasionally catch fire in a crash, and all of these things are flammable.  They also produce toxic gases when burning.  I also do not see any sort of fire suppression system.  If this car was competitively raced in the SCCA, then why is it still mostly stock inside?  Perhaps it was used for autocross, which has less stringent rules on modifications.  What is there looks to be in pretty good condition and somewhat comfortable.  The roll cage would take some getting used to in the cramped cockpit though.

Under the hood we have a built up LS7 big block Chevrolet engine packing 454 cubic inches.  These engines were sold by Chevy dealers in the seventies and eighties, and were the favored weapon of the drag racing crowd.  From there, a number of speed parts were added to the balanced and blueprinted Chevy internals.  Some of the list includes an Edelbrock manifold, Holley 1150 cfm carburetor, MSD ignition, ARP fasteners, and a set of Crane roller rocker arms.  The picture also shows the the builder added braided fuel lines and some foam to help keep cooling air directed into the radiator.  Keeping a high horsepower big block cool in a C3 is quite the job.  To help all that power get to the ground, an M-22 “Rock Crusher” four speed backs up this monster engine.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that the car is being sold on a bill of sale.  Getting it registered for street duty would be a difficult to overcome issue.  It has enough street parts on it to make the idea workable, and who wouldn’t want to terrorize their city in this rolling Godzilla of a car?  The other big issue is the documentation.  It obviously has the Guldstrand suspension, but documentation of his tuning would be nice.  The racing history is also a big mystery.  The seller claims that it was “tuned to numerous victories in both SCCA and NHRA events.”  However, no documentation is provided in the ad.  If it were road raced, then an SCCA log book should be included as proof.  I am not saying that the seller doesn’t have these items.  In all, the ad is well produced and the car makes my heart go all pitter-patter.  Just do your research before you buy it.  Corvettes as cool as this only come along once in a blue moon.

WANT ADS

WANTED 1978-1982 Volvo 262 or 780 with a V-8 swap NY area Contact

WANTED 1981-1983 Chrysler Imperial Looking for an excellent condition Imperial, preferably in original, unrestored condition. Contact

WANTED 1958-1961 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite Looking for a rust-free Bugeye to fix and drive. Thanks! Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. RayT Member

    I’d have to see lots o’ paperwork proving the seller’s claims. My semi-trained eye see a lot of modifications — to engine, suspension and body, for starters — that would have put this in a SCCA “modified” class, where it would have been slaughtered by a host of purpose-built race cars. Not sure where it would fit in NHRA, either.

    And, as noted by Jeff B., the full interior is not something you’d expect to see in any racing series this ‘Vette even remotely qualifies for.

    My guess is that someone with a lot of spare change had a Boy Racer built for themselves. That could be a whole lot of fun, and could win a lot of clandestine unsanctioned drag races.

    Good luck getting plates though. The seller says there’s no VIN.

  2. Todd Zuercher

    There should be enough enthusiasts left from the era in the Phoenix area that would remember this car and perhaps help validate some of the claims.

    The Phoenix area has always been a hotbed (literally) for a large variety of motorsports and automotive-related activities and endeavors and there should be a good knowledge base for whatever genre you’re looking for.

  3. grant

    I could be way off, but this sounds like someone who built a track toy and knows a few racing words. Surprised it didn’t compete in IMSA as well.

  4. doug

    Nowhere that I saw does it say what class it raced in. An LS-7 was never available in a car so it could not have been a production class. As said above, why the interior?

    • doug

      Now that I think more about this, if raced in SCCA they require a logbook of where it was raced.

  5. jw454

    If the shop that built it is so terrific, why not say the name? What’s the big secret? If they’re still in business, I’m sure they’d love the mention.
    Also, the Plexiglas headlamp covers are goofy looking IMO.

    • Poppapork

      The headlamp covers are period correct, they are called FIA lights after Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.

  6. Victor Anderson

    This thing looks fishy for a huge number of reasons. First of all there isn’t any SCCA class that I know of that would let you race a car setup like this one – it obviously doesn’t meet any safety standards at all… then there is this:
    Best NHRA ET 9.64 at 147 MPH.
    Top Speed with 3.08 Gear Selection 185MPH
    0 to 60 MPH in 2.67

    …uhh huh suuure. I’m sure it’s a fast car and all – but it’s not no sub 10 second 1/4 mile, sub 3 second 0 to 60 with a top speed of 185. I don’t believe it – or much else in the ad either. It looks to me like someone bought a few thousand bucks of go-fast parts for a beat up corvette and is trying to pass it off as some wonderful race car – oldest scam in the book.

  7. oilngas

    I could be wrong. Probably I am, but I see what looks like a electric water pump, no alternator, no fan. Not what I would expect on a track car. I stand corrected. I do see a electric fan. Still no alternator though.

  8. Classic Steel

    You found my missing hot wheels toy !
    Thanks now I can go to the track in a 30k over priced vehicle 💰💰💰

  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Hi Gang, can someone tell me if the valve covers are vented through the coves to the side pipes? Or am I missing something? I have never noticed that on anything before. Thanks for any help.

    • Jeff Bennett Staff

      It sure looks that way to me. Like you, I have never seen anything like that before, and I wonder why they went to the trouble. You would think that any pressure from the exhaust would flow back into the valve cover, unless there is a check valve. Still, why?

      • Gasser Man

        Its basically a PCV system common on drag race cars. There are check valves at the header collector.
        Most race engine camshaft profiles create very little manifold vacuum so a traditional PCV system wont work well.

  10. gbvette62

    There are a lot of things in the seller’s ad to question.

    The ad states the car had a factory 454 LS5, M-22 four-speed, heavy duty suspension, and heavy duty frame. Only 20 1972 Corvettes came with an M-22, and they were all LT-1 powered ZR-1’s, not LS-5 454’s. Also, the 20 ZR-1’s were the only 72’s with heavy duty suspension, and there was no “Heavy Duty Frame”.

    According to the seller, the car was raced with the California Corvette Club. They ran a lot of speed events, including drag racing, autocross and I think some road races too. It might be easy to find some history on the car, because there are a some people with extensive collections of Cal Corvette Club newsletters, and other info.

    I don’t have an issue with the stock door panels, as it really isn’t that uncommon for cars raced in the 60’s and 70’s. Prior to 73, the SCCA may have required the stock panels be in place, but not carpeting or a stock dash and gauges. The seats are from a 79-82 Corvette, and while decent for the street, they’d hardly offer enough support for road racing. No fire system, and who would leave the heater in a road race car?

    The LS-7 would have been legal in SCCA A-Production. Big block Corvettes ran in AP, and small blocks raced in B-Production. AP rules allowed 454’s with typical performance mods, and factory aluminum heads. I’m pretty sure the LS-7 would have been legal in SCCA autocross AP also. Around 80-81, the classes were changed, and small block Corvettes went into GT-1, while big blocks ended up in A-Sports Racer.

    I suspect that the car was either mainly used as an autocross car, or was an SCCA racer, that someone attempted to put back on the street? Whatever it was, I think the price is to high, you can buy a 63-67 with known race history, for $50K.

  11. Ohio Rick

    If there is a logbook, I’m confident the first notation would be: “Must relocate fuel pump and filter before next event.” In reality I don’t think any road racing organization would allow a car on track with that setup. This opinion comes from someone who faced the inspectors from the SCCA and various vintage organization for 25 years. My guess is this was used for autocrossing and has no on wheel-to-wheel history.

  12. Jim in Alabama

    I looks like a Milodon Vac-U-Pan System to me. Quite common on racing engines that don’t create manifold vacuum.

  13. LAB3

    Quite a bit of linguistic sleight of hand going on with the ad leading the less well attentive to believe they’re reading something they’re not. Nice lead in Jeff, you picked up on that one too!

  14. Pa Tina

    I’d love to here this thing fire up. I bet it sounds great. Arizona Speed and Marine perhaps?

  15. Donald

    The top line in the ad reads “1970 CHEVHOLET CORVETIE LS-7 COUPE”.

    Ad is from a car dealer. Get it cheap enough and it could be cool if you wanted a radical “race” build Corvette. 50K is crazy, but I hope someone buys it and straightens it out. Would like to see some paperwork, receipts, time slip, something for a 50K ask. I kind of think it is a rebuilt wreck or theft recovery.

    Like 1
  16. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’m with the other guys; there are too many things that are wrong with this car to have ever been SCCA-legal (“Show me the log book, Buddy..!”)

    I’m guessing that it’s an old Solo I or equivalent club-level events car. I used to see a lot of hot ‘Vettes running in SCCSCC slalom meets in SoCal in the early 1970s that had killer engines, Dick Guldstrand suspension (RIP, old friend) and pretty much stock interiors with racing belts.

    If it had a VIN and a clear title, it could make a fun streeter, but not at the asking price.

  17. Wayne

    Corvette club track day car. ( road race or drag race). No title needed, no particular class needed. Just go out and have fun. If it belonged to a car dealer, hang your dealer plate on it and have fun. Cruise with it and/ or drive it to the event. There have been a couple of C4s around here that are cheap and no title. I have been thinking about building another track day car.

  18. sluggo

    Yep, some dealer doing turd polishing looking for a uninformed sucker.
    Tribute car or old car club car but not legal for SCCA/IMSA and I have many of the old programs for the Portland International raceways events from the 1970s as I went to many of them.
    Camel GT, IMSA,Trans-am, Rose Cup and other races. LOVED to walk the pits and check out the cars. I NEVER saw these kind of parts or interior on a real race car.
    That being said,, this would be an absolute blast to own and play with, Love old period Muscle cars. V8 american muscle and select european cars on a road race course is THE BEST racing in my opinion.

    Sears point, PIR, SIR, Cudas, Challengers, Camaros, Vettes, A few AMCs, Mustangs against the Porshes, Jags, and throw in a few Datsun 510s for fun in the lessor classes.

    See: http://www.oregonscca.com/scca-pro-racing-news

    AND,,,,,,, Drum roll please,…. there IS a registry for REAL Corvette race cars.

    See: http://registryofcorvetteracecars.com/ee/index.php/site/view_cars/958

    Here is a genuine IMSA Corvette race car for sale for comparison…..

    Like 1
  19. JOSEPH MILAZZO

    Still very cool looking… for 20K maybe. Bring it to NY and register it 907 (salvage title) and rip up Deer Park Ave for fun, probably have a struggle though as we have plenty of garage monsters here to hold our own.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.