From the January 1965 issue of Car and Driver.
We know Americans can't build the best possible Grand Touring car. After all, that takes brilliant engineering and old-world craftsmanship of the kind only Europe can provide. It's heritage and breeding and all that sort of thing, old boy. Detroit is perfectly capable of producing blustering, big-engined buses that might pass as high-speed touring vehicles if they had proper brakes and handling. Yes, that's where they fall down. Squishy suspensions and incendiary brakes certainly make American machines intolerable for the connoisseur.
It bears superficial resemblance to the authentic thing; the bucket seats are remarkably well-formed and comfortable, and the instrumentation is what you might expect on a GT car—with a large, clearly numbered speedometer and tachometer placed right in front of the driver. But after all, there are dozens of cars with that kind of equipment that miss being GT cars by a mile.
Size is the standard that immediately comes to mind. The Corvette is simply too big.
Wait a minute. You say the Corvette is only one inch longer than the Ferrari and five inches shorter than the Aston Martin? But it has that enormous wheelbase...
Only 98 inches? The same as the Aston and only 3.5 inches longer than the Ferrari?
But wheelbase and overall length are only part of it. The Corvette is heavy like a truck.
Its curb weight is only 3180 lbs? The Aston Martin weighs 3450 in the same trim? But Ferrari claims only 2540 lbs for the 250/GT. Bulk and size are silly parameters in such a discussion anyway. The real question is engineering sophistication. That is the heart of any automobile of this sort. After all, the Ferrari and the Aston Martin cost over $12,000, and it's ridiculous to expect that a car less than half as expensive could compete. Take the suspension, for example.
The Corvette has a fully independent suspension system fore and aft? Yes, we know. The Ferrari and the Aston use live rear axles? Now what can that all mean?
Then there is the gearbox. The Aston Martin features an optional ZF five-speed unit that is unparalleled, and then, of course, the Ferrari's, though only four-speed, has a tremendous reputation. Muncie? You don't mean Muncie, Indiana? That may be where they make the new General Motors four-speed, but who ever heard of a true Grand Touring car with a gearbox made in Muncie, Indiana? It's utterly barbaric. Maybe it does have one of the lightest, most positive linkages ever designed and near-perfect ratios, but it's nonetheless downright silly for any transmission to be built in Muncie, Indiana.
When it comes to powerplants, the question is academic. Corvette engines simply can't compete with the modern, overhead camshaft units of the Ferrari and the Aston Martin. Yes, yes, we know all about the Ferrari V-12 dating back to the 1940s but it is one of the greatest designs of all time. And the Aston Martin engine is a lovely double-overhead-cam straight-six. Of course we know the big 365-hp and 375-hp Corvettes have a considerable edge in sheer power, but they're harsh, solid-lifter, semi-racing engines that hardly fit the mold of a smooth, silent GT powerplant.
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