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1960 Chevrolet CERV I

Chevrolet CERV I, 1960 - Illustration from "Chevrolet Idea Cars - Today's ideas for tomorrow's driving" Foldout
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960 - Illustration from "Chevrolet Idea Cars - Today's ideas for tomorrow's driving" Foldout
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960 - Zora Arkus Duntov
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960 - Zora Arkus Duntov
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Chevrolet CERV I, 1960
Images: www.shorey.net; General Motors Archive
Rating:  20    -4    +24
CERV stands for Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle. The 1960 CERV-I is the first of four high performance research vehicles produced by Chevrolet over a 35 year period.
The CERV I was developed between 1959 and 1960 by Zora Arkus Duntov as a functional mid-engine, open wheel, single-seat prototype racing car, with Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine doing the design work. Duntov developed CERV I as a platform for engineers to develop and refine Chevrolet body, chassis and suspension systems. Its impressive performance on the test track drove him to have higher aspirations, the checkered flag at Indy. Due to the AMA (Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing at the time, Duntov drove the CERV I’s demo laps at the U.S. Grand Prix in 1960.

The CERV I was originally equipped with a 283 cid / 350 hp, small block V8 engine, weighing only 350 lbs. Intensive use of aluminum and magnesium engine components saved over 175 lbs. Complementing its lightweight power plant, designer, Larry Shinoda constructed the body structure out of fiberglass, which weighed in at only 80 lbs. The body structure was attached to a rigid 125 lb. Chrome-molybdenum tube constructed frame, welded in a truss-like configuration. Combining these lightweight components helped the CERV I’s 96-inch wheelbase weigh in at 1,600 lbs. The chassis features a four-wheel independent suspension. The front suspension uses independent, variable rate springs with shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear suspension uses independent multilink, variable rate springs, with double acting shock absorbers and the wheels are cast magnesium alloy. Steering is recirculating ball type with 12:1 ratio.

The brake system uses front disc/rear drum, with a two piston master cylinder to eliminate the chance of complete brake failure. Fuel is delivered via two rubber bladder fuel cells (20 gal. total capacity).

Fuel injected small block technology was developed using the CERV I. For even greater performance, Duntov refitted the CERV I with a 377 cu. in. aluminum small block, an advanced Rochester fuel injection system and Indy-style tires and wheels. To match this mechanical updating, Shinoda redesigned its streamlined body structure for greater aerodynamics. Top speed was 206 mph.


Zora Arkus-Duntov developed the CERV as a platform for engineers to develop and refine Chevrolet body, chassis and suspension systems. Its impressive performance on the test track drove him to have higher aspirations — the checkered flag at Indy. Regretfully, due to a ban on racing by Chevrolet at the time, Duntov was unable to compete — he settled for a few demo laps at the U.S. Grand Prix in 1960.

Originally, the CERV-I was equipped with a 283 cu. in. small block V8 engine that delivered 350 horsepower while weighing only 350 lbs. — an impressive power-to-weight ratio rarely achieved in even high performance aircraft of its time. This lightweight status was due to an intensive use of aluminum and magnesium engine components — saving over 175 lbs. Duntov employed a Corvette-type 4-speed transmission to harness this power.

Complementing its lightweight powerplant, designer, Larry Shinoda constructed CERV-I’s body structure out of fiberglass-reinforced plastic — weighing in at only 80 lbs. This body structure was attached to a very rigid 125 lb. chrome-molybdenum tube constructed frame. Combining these lightweight components helped the CERV-I weigh in at a lean 1,600 lbs.

CERV-I’s chassis system also features a four-wheel independent suspension with a unique rear multilink system that’s very similar to systems used in modern automobiles. The brake system — also ahead of its time — employs an innovative two-piston master cylinder that eliminates the chance of complete brake failure.

Over time, with his eye on even greater performance, Duntov refitted the CERV-I with its current 377 cu. in. aluminum small block, an advanced Rochester fuel injection system and Indy-style tires and wheels. To match this mechanical updating, Shinoda redesigned its streamlined body structure for greater aerodynamics. Today the CERV-I appears in this second-generation form. It’s owned by Mike Yager, President of Mid America Designs, and is part of the Mid America Designs car collection.
Source: Bill Bowman - wiki.gmnext.com; Mario van Ginneken - www.corvettes.nl
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