Late in 1955, before the name “Corvette” became a household word signifying America’s
sports car, a young Russian-born Chevrolet engineer named Duntov was toiling away almost anonymously in an effort to make
his leftover factory mule into a record-breaker.
Over a year earlier, Chevrolet Chief Engineer and three-time Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose had Daytona legend Smokey Yunick
install an experimental V-8 engine into a 1954 Corvette test mule, which was given the factory designation EX87. When its
testing duties were completed, it was given to Zora Arkus Duntov at Chevrolet Engineering to prepare for a high-speed record
run at Daytona Beach in January 1956. It was assigned a new tracking number, 5951.
Duntov modified the car by replacing the windshield with a curved plexiglass windscreen and fitting a fiberglass tonneau
cover over the passenger side of the cockpit. Borrowing from recent Jaguar practice, Duntov also fabricated a fiberglass headrest-tailfin
for high speed stability. Duntov increased the engine displacement from 283 to 307ci and ordered a special camshaft from Engineering
before loading EX87/5951 onto a trailer and heading for GM’s Arizona Desert Proving Ground.
After initial resistance from Engineering, Duntov’s cam was delivered to the Proving Ground, where it earned lasting
notoriety as the “Duntov cam” by helping the car blast off to a record 163 miles per hour, an astounding figure
in 1955. That same engine was later installed in another famous Corvette, 6901, which set a new record at Daytona of 150.583