Moviestar with a racing pedigree: the 1968 Corvette C3
1968 Swiss motor racing team Scuderia Filipinetti competed in the 24
Hours of Le Mans with a Chevrolet Corvette driven by French drivers
Jean-Michel Giorgi and Sylvain Garant. They crashed the car heavily
mid race and their race was over. The wrecked Corvette was sold to
Swiss designer Franco Sbarro who patched it up and sold it to Swiss
F1 and sportscar driver Jo Siffert. Who happened to know a famous
Hollywood A-lister and obsessive racing fan Steve McQueen had started to create a movie about the Le Mans 24-hour race and the ex- Le Mans C3 was casted for the part next to the big guns of the era, the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 512. Much of the screen time was understandably devoted to this duo, but painted in yellow representing the French Greder team, the Vette played its part in McQueen’s ingriguing film about the world famous gruelling 24-hour race.
In 1971 the car was purchased by another artist, famous Swiss jazz musician and avid car racer Joe Kretschi. Kretschi repainted the car in white and red and raced it with success in 1972, contesting the first edition of the European GT Championship where he stood on the podium in the Coppa Intereuropa at Monza, supporting race to the 1972 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix. In 1976 the now famous C3 changed owners once again but remained in Swiss hands thanks to Robert Dubler, a chocolate manufacturer with a passion for racing. After a throrough restoration Dubler won at Hockenheim in 1978, his first race in the C3. In 1984, 15 years after the Le Mans race crash, the Vette once again crashed heavily during a race on the high speed Österreichring, only to be repaired and prepped for competition again 18 years later.
The C3 Vette is the stereotype ‘70’s racer; curved lines, big engine, fast and loud. Under the hood lies the fire-breathing variant of GM’s 427 cubic-inch big-block lineup, the L88 production race engine. With the addition of an exceedingly aggressive camshaft, the implementation of an increased compression ratio, and the fitment of a larger carburetor, the outrageously powerful L88 was born. The Chevrolet Corvette L88 made its Le Mans debut in 1968 and returned for the 24 Hours of Le Mans five more times – consecutively – until 1973, a record that remains unbroken by any single chassis.
During the Classic GP Assen ‘The Queen’, as the C3 is called by its American driver Amanda Hennessy, will contest the Colmore Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge.