The Legend Behind Corvette
Authored by long-time NCRS member Jerry Burton. It's the amazing story of how a gifted engineer raised by Russian Revolutionary parents became the guiding force behind Corvette.
This is an excerpt from NCRS Member Ralph Kramer (THE Ralph Kramer) writing a review in The Corvette Restorer magazine, back in 2002.
Zora Arkus-Duntov: The Legend Behind Corvette is Jerry Burton's first book. It is also Elfi's. Jerry is editorial director for several Campbell-Ewald publications, including Corvette Quarterly. Fifteen years ago, he was a C-E copywriter. His job was to shrink the great thoughts of Chevy marketers into tiny strings of words so sticky that car buyers couldn"t get them out of their minds. He was very good. "Chevy Thunder" was a catch-phrase we were then using to glorify the small-block V8 engine. To which Jerry added the three words that gave it immortality: "Heartbeat of America." It became an unforgettable Chevy mantra. He hasn"t lost his touch.
Elfi, of course, is the leading lady in Zora's life. They met in the mid-'30s in Berlin. He was handsome, 25 and broke. She was 15, beautiful and rich. It was love at first sight. And what a love it was. They'd been married almost 60 years when Zora died in 1996. Elfi still lives in their house on Lochmoor not far from Lake St. Clair. This is as much her book as his. When they make it a movie (and oh, my goodness they must) I'd cast Brittney Spears to play Elfi, the younger, and maybe Ingrid Bergman for her later years. I know, I know. But only Ingrid could do justice to Elfi.
Soon after Zora died, Elfi persuaded Jerry to write the book. Then, she told him the love story. Or,more correctly, the stories. They emerged from hundreds of hours Jerry spent with Elfi pouring over old memos and ancient memories. You want proof that truth really is stranger than fiction? Read Zora.
The stories range from adolescent high-jinks to danger-filled escapades in war-torn Europe to the high life of London, New York, and, yes, Detroit, to infidelities and separations - both forced and voluntary -- to spats and tantrums and exquisite reconciliations. They're in the book. In many ways they are the book. The passion with which Zora and Elfi loved each other, fought with and for each other, protected each other is the passion that Zora seems to have brought to everything he did. Lucky for us, he did Corvettes.
Jerry details how Zora - boy genius turned refugee, turned soldier, turned racer, turned businessman --saw the Motorama show car at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel in January, 1953. He found its mechanicals awful, but fixable. And he fell head-over-heels in love with its looks.
Hardcover and over 400 pages and 200 black/white photos.
- Turbulent Times in St. Petersburg (1909-1924)
- A World Beyond Russia (1926-1936)
- The Manager and the Racer (1937-1939)
- Zora's World at War (1939-1940)
- America and Ardun (1940-1945)
- Shifting into High Performance (1945-1948)
- Sojourn in England (1948-1952)
- Courting the Automakers (1952-1953)
- Zora and the General (1953)
- Getting Down to Business (1953-1957)
- Driving the Works Porsches (1954)
- Driving His Reputation Forward (1954-1956)
- The Transformation Continues (1956-1957)
- Growing Roots (1957-1958)
- The Mid-Engined Advocate (1959-1960)
- Struggle over the Sting Ray (1961-1962)
- Taking It to the Track (1962-1964)
- The Corporate Robin Hood (1964-1965)
- Sharks in the Water (1965-1969)
- The Back Door Man (1967-1974)
- One Last Stand (1970-1977)
- Bowing Out (1970-1975)
- Life After GM (1975-1989)
- Never Say Die (1989-1996)
- Art Credits
- About the Author