Corvette Super Sport

John Fitch and Zora Arkus-Duntov with the Corvette Super Sport photocopy, undated

John Fitch, Zora Arkus-Duntov, and Elfi Wolff with the Corvette Super Sport, undated.

With the reveal of the Corvette in 1953, the question of racing would eventually arise. In 1956, General Motors decided to move forward and begin design on a new model of Corvette that would be able to compete at Sebring in 1957. With the 1953 design in mind, Zora Arkus-Duntov and his team created the unique XP-64. This experimental prototype would come to be known as the Corvette Super Sport.

Corvette Super Sport at 12 Hours of Sebring photograph, 1957

Corvette Super Sport at 12 Hours of Sebring, 1957. 

Duntov and his team worked around the clock to engineer a car that could compete with the world’s fastest sports cars at the time such as Jaguar, Maserati, and Ferrari. They were able to create the Super Sport which was powered by a fuel-injected V8 engine, innovative technology in 1957, that produced 310 horsepower at 6,400 rpm. The entire car, with its magnesium body and tubular steel space frame, weighed in at only 1,850 pounds. Due to time constraints, there was no time to develop and construct disc brakes, so the Super Sport had to use conventional drum brakes.

Juan Manuel Fangio at the 12 Hours of Sebring photograph, 1957

Juan Manuel Fangio at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 1957.

General Motors brought three Corvettes to the 12 Hours of Sebring race in 1957: a production model, the Super Sport prototype, and a test ‘mule.’ John Fitch and Piero Taruffi were the nominated drivers for the official race, while Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were to pilot the ‘mule’ in practice. During his first time driving the ‘mule,’ Fangio broke the previous year’s record for fastest lap at 3:27.2 minutes. Moss also tested the ‘mule’ with success, leading General Motors to believe that the Super Sport would be just as victorious during the official race.

Corvette Super Sport at Sebring photograph, 1957

Corvette Super Sport test car in the pits, Sebring 1957.

Piloted by John Fitch at the official 12 Hours of Sebring race in 1957, the Super Sport only completed 23 laps due to issues with the brakes and rear suspension damage. The Super Sport would never race again, but the ‘mule’ would later be developed and rebuilt into the Bill Mitchell Corvette Stingray. The Bill Mitchell Stingray then, reportedly, became the inspiration for the 1963 Corvette.