Why Don’t They Make? #2 – Corvette C2 Roadster

corvette33-4

When the iconic Stingray version of the Chevrolet Corvette, which came to be known as the C2, was introduced for the 1963 model year it came in two body types, the famous “split window” coupe and a roadster, or convertible if you prefer.  Both the coupe and the roadster have become classics in street and race trim, but for some reason the slot car manufacturers have made a number of 1/32 scale models of the coupe while completely ignoring the roadster.

Among the companies that have made 1/32 scale C2 coupe slot cars are Revell, Eldon, Mongram (in Grand Sport configuration) MRRC, and Carrera.  There have also been static models of it from AMT and MPC but, alas, never a C2 roadster.  I think this is a major oversight that needs to be corrected.

Early C2s, both coupes and roadsters, raced with completely stock bodies and steel wheels.  The SCCA, where most of them competed, had strict rules prohibiting most body modifications at the time, while light alloy wheels were still considered somewhat exotic and were an added expense many Corvette racers chose to forgo.

Bob Beinerth Bridgehampton-1965

This is a shot taken at an SCCA race in 1965.  The car looks severely basic compared to the highly developed present-day vintage racer at the top of the page.  The rules and the racing technology of the day meant that Corvettes and many other sports cars could almost be driven straight off the showroom floor and onto the race track.  An interesting feature of this car is the removable hardtop, not often seen on the track.  Note that the bumpers are still in place.  A Corvette like this could easily have done double duty as a road car and a race car.

Of course, it didn’t take long for racers to discover all sorts of ways to make the cars faster, some of which were even within the rules.  The cars began to evolve into much more intensively prepared racing machines.  Soon the standard fit for an SCCA production class Corvette looked more or less like this…

8-ball-1

This is Herb Caplan’s 8-Ball Cobra Killer, a ’65 big block roadster.  It enjoyed several years of success in the mid-60s, driven by Caplan and Corvettemeister Dick Guldstrand.  This photo was taken within the last few years at a vintage race, but the car looked exactly like this back in the day, with a low windscreen, stout single-hoop roll bar, Torq-thrust magnesium wheels, big side pipes, and no bumpers.  You can see, however, that the body was still stock width,  but that didn’t last long.

Throughout the 60s tires kept getting wider and wider.  Corvette racers made room for the fatter rubber within the stock body dimensions by such tricks as notching the rear suspension trailing arms for more tire clearance.  Soon, however, they reached the limit of what could be done inside a stock-width body.  Then, in 1968, Chevrolet introduced the C3 Corvette, and one of the first performance upgrades offered for it was a set of fender flares included in the famous L88 options package.  Soon we began seeing C3 Corvettes that looked like this…

V.V.Cooke-80-Car-11[1]

With all that extra fender width available the C3s could race not only with wider tires but also a wider track overall.  The C2 owners had to keep up, and the rules were relaxed to allow it.  By the mid-70s a great many C2 roadsters looked very much like this…

c2-64-1000

The fenders weren’t the only parts of the car that had been evolving.  This photo gives a good view of the full roll cage that became more or less standard in SCCA racing.  The cage wasn’t just for safety.  Racers quickly discovered that it could be tied into the frame pretty much wherever it would increase chassis stiffness, enhancing handling.

Some car builders took a more subtle approach to widening the C2 body.

DSC00223[1]

Here’s the C2 of Bill Morrison, a highly successful SCCA Corvette driver.  Note how the fenders have been seriously widened while still maintaining the classic C2 belt line through the fenders.  Looked at directly from the side the body looks almost stock — well, except for the whole front clip having been tilted down noticeably to improve the car’s aerodynamics.  In this photo you can also see the very common practice of raising the trailing edge of the forward-opening hood to vent off air from the engine compartment, improving cooling and probably reducing front end lift at speed.  Except for not having the full roll cage Morrison’s car arguably has the most “evolved” design of any C2 SCCA race car in existence.

As you can see, the possibilities for modeling the C2 roadster as a 1/32 scale slot car are almost endless, though they would take more than one body mold to do. It actually mystifies me why none of the companies that made C2 coupe slot cars ever simply cut an additional body tool and made a roadster.

In the present day the quickest route to a C2 roadster slot car would be for Carrera to rebody its C2 coupe.  Their chassis, however, is a less than optimal platform.  It leaves too little space through the fenders  between the chassis and the body, needlessly limiting tire width even with a wider body (a shortcoming it shares with Scalextric’s C3 Corvette).  It also leaves something to be desired in its magnet installation.  Still, they have the chassis, and once you’ve done the CAD work to design a coupe body you’ve done most of the work to design a roadster.  It’s worth noting here that all the evolutions of the C2 roadster as a race car were also applied to C2 coupes.  Carrera could offer widened bodies in both coupe and roadster form.

A more promising approach would be for Scalextric to redesign its venerable C3 Corvette chassis with the motor moved to the rear (requiring a highly desirable change to a flat tray interior) and the chassis narrowed between the rear wheels so it is only just wide enough for the standard Scalextric bar magnet to fit in between the motor and the rear axle.  If they then redid the front of the chassis so it did not incorporate any part of the body and moved the guide aft a bit to fit the C2’s shorter nose, along with trimming the rear a bit to fit the C2 body, they would have, in addition to a C2 Corvette chassis, a much-improved chassis for their C3 Corvette to go with a long-needed retooling of the C3 body.

I’ve actually done such a conversion.  Here’s what it looks like…

IMG_9253

I’ve actually built two cars with this conversion and both are a whole world faster and better handling than the original front-motor design.

I don’t expect either company to take up my suggestions, at least not any time soon.  I think it’s more probable that some other manufacturer would start with a blank  computer screen (nobody designs on paper any more) and create both a roadster and a coupe slot car on a chassis incorporating the improvements described above.  There’s no knowing what the chances of that are.

Still, hope springs eternal in the heart of every slot car hobbyist.  Less likely things have happened.

To see lots of cool-looking C2 Corvette race cars check out our photo album at https://victorylaphobbies.smugmug.com/C2-Corvette-Race-Cars

Your comments and questions are welcome.  You can post them below or e-mail them to bob@victorylaphobbies.com.

One thought on “Why Don’t They Make? #2 – Corvette C2 Roadster

  1. Bob, actually, back in the day, Varney did a roadster, which could be had RTR. The kit version could be built either way: just leave the top off.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s