Zora-Arkus Duntov was not the father of the Corvette, but he was the guy who made it a real sports car. Born in Belgium to Russian Jewish parents, Duntov and his family emigrated to the US just as World War II was breaking out. He joined the Corvette team after the car debuted in 1953, and immediately set about trying to compete with the best of Europe.
It was Duntov who got Chevy's small-block V-8 into the 1955 Corvette, and lead the engineering of the legendary Sting Ray. He transformed the car, but his ambitions were far bigger still. Duntov wanted a mid-engine car. He created a number of mid-engine prototypes over the years, but none swayed GM bosses into putting such a Corvette into production.
Now, things are different—the C8 Corvette will have its engine in the middle. And to pay tribute to its godfather, the Corvette team made a subtle tribute to Duntov in the camouflage of the C8 prototype. First , the Corvette team placed stickers with a silhouette of Duntov's face on the car. There's at least two—one on the mirror, and one on the door. You'll have to zoom way in on the photo below of GM CEO Mary Barra standing with the car to see the stickers, though.
It's a small tribute, but it's meaningful. Duntov knew that the way forward for the Corvette was with its engine behind the driver, and while he never saw such a car reach production in his lifetime—he died in 1996 at age 86—it's finally becoming a reality. A larger tribute could be coming, too—there's a rumor that a high-performance version of the C8 could be called the "Zora."
The C8 will break from years of Corvette tradition, but, it maintains an important connection to its history. It's clear that the people behind it realize this.