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Chev Corvette Nationals 2006

Broadcast date : 23rd July 2006

It’s America’s favourite sports car and it’s been that way for over fifty years. The Chevrolet Corvette is pretty popular in South Africa too, amongst a certain breed of enthusiast who appreciates raw power, the burble of a V8 engine and a cheerful lack of styling restraint.

The Corvette Nationals is show-time for the South African Corvette Club. This year the event drew a fine mix of third, forth and fifth-generation Vettes, including an amazingly detailed ZR1, identified by its 16 intake runners for its 32 valve Lotus-designed cylinder heads.

It was good to see the number of fifth-generation Corvettes on show at The Glen Shopping centre, South of Jo’burg, which traditionally hosts the Nationals.

The Nationals is all about show ’n’ shine and the cars are judged by knowledgeable club members.

Various categories reward originality, attention to detail for modified cars and general presentation.

The trophies are replicas of the Corvette, as well as the club’s sub-sections for Camaro and Luminas, which also capture the Chevy spirit, the Heartbeat of America, as they say.

Club chairman Peter Sandford Junior says the main interest is in Jo’burg, but Corvette fever is spreading.

The cars for the 2006 Nationals were lined up in groups according to their generation, and the fourth Generation machines built between 1984 and 1996, or C4s as Corvette aficionados call them, made a strong showing.
The C3 ‘Vettes came into being way back in 1968 and are known as the Mako Shark style cars, after an early ‘60s General Motors show car.

Engines in those days were very basic carburetor V8’s, although some were very long on horsepower too.

Displacements for C3 Corvettes ran from 327 cubic inches, or 5,3 litres, to 7,5 litres, or 454 cubic inches.
Gert Booyens’ C5 convertible is 5,7 litre fuel-injected car and a two-time Nationals winner in its category.

It’s all about the detailing for these guys, whether its chroming and polishing a set of wishbones, or fitting just the right set of wheels to a Lumina.

The Camaros differ from the Corvettes in that they are four-seater ponycars, and have only been around since 1967.

It was a good idea for the Camaros to join forces with the ‘Vettes as they use similar Chevy V8 engines and have their own fanatical sub-culture, which pays homage to countless race track successes in America.

The Z28 was the first performance version of the Camaro in the ‘60s, and this name has been carried through to the present because it means so much to Chevy fans.
The C3 cars are often referred to as Stingrays, and earlier examples of this generation did in fact carry the Stingray badge, although it was introduced much earlier in 1963 on second-generation cars.

Many C3 owners fit high-rise manifolds and bug-catcher air intakes to their cars, which gives it that supercharged look without the hassles of belts jumping off pulleys.

One of the most potent Corvettes at the Nationals was the yellow C3 owned by Kevin Pearman.

This radical ‘Vette runs a 454 V8 bored and stroked to over eight litres. It also has a pair of Holley six-hundred CFM carbs on top of an ultra-high-rise manifold, which means that opening the bonnet is a rather complex task for the average pump jockey.

The last Corvettes allowed into this country before the ban on left-hand-drives were the C5 generation cars, produced from 1996 onwards.

These are truly beautiful machines and rare examples at The Glen included some Le Mans spec and Mallett modified cars. Club President Peter Stanford’s purple C4 is also pretty cool.

The Corvette will always hold a special place in the hearts of South Africans who love American muscle. Let’s hope this silly left-hand-drive ban is lifted some day.
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