As Corvette People, we thank Zora Arkus-Duntov for helping to make the Corvette what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow, but do you know his history?
Most of us know that the early days of the Corvette were a bit uncertain and, thanks in large part, Duntov, who applied the principles learned from racing in Europe for brands like Allard and Porsche, helped make it so we still have a Corvette to enjoy today.
Have you ever asked why his last name is “Arkus-Duntov”? Duntov was born in Belgium and grow up in St. Petersburg as a child of Russian revolutionaries and lived in a household with two fathers, his biological father, Jacques Arkus, and his stepfather, Josef Duntov. To honor both men, Zora appended Duntov’s name to his own.
He witnessed Russia’s February Revolution; was educated in one of Germany’s top technical schools; joined the French air force; escaped from Nazi-occupied France after hiding out for weeks in a Marseille bordello; caught a refugee ship to New York; consulted for top United States defense companies; started his own munitions operation in New York; developed the Ardun overhead valve conversion kit for Ford’s flathead V-8; entered his own racecar in the Indianapolis 500 (but did not qualify) and won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He eventually found his way to G.M. in May of 1953, after seeing the Corvette on an auto show turntable in January 1953 and falling in love with what it could be.
Stay Tuned for Part 2!
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