Don Yenko created a popularity for delivering ground pounding conversions, ala Yenko Super Vehicles, exactly where clients could obtain Yenko modified Chevys going back to 1966.
Wait? In 1966 Chevrolet had not launched the venerable Camaro to the public, so what did Yenko have from the factory steady he could modify to grow to be his inaugural Chevy screamer? The Corvair!

Yenko was a third generation Chevy dealer, his grandfather getting offered Durant Motor Vehicles just before switching to the bow-tie brand back in the 30s. He was also a racer that competed with Corvettes in the early to mid-1960s and raced in this kind of prestigious occasions as the 24 Hrs of LeMans and Daytona and a plethora of other SCCA meets. An completed pilot, Yenko was aggressive and in 1965 determined he had ample of the Carroll Shelby Mustangs that have been frequenting SCCA racecourses and, regrettably, exhibiting him what their cute rear ends looked like on a standard basis.

Don Yenko

Don Yenko

Yenko took issues into his very own hands following approaching GM about creating a factory racer that could give the Mustang a run for its income. The upper reaches of the General’s management did not go for it so Yenko looked for an option and the Corvair popped to the surface. It wasn’t prolonged just before he and his dealership crew had created up a set of modifications for the rear-engine compact. An first buy of one hundred autos in 1965 was manufactured to meet homologation demands for the approaching SCCA season and Yenko set the stage for his overall performance organization.

The story is significantly longer, but primarily Yenko continued his march for track dominance with the Corvair from 1966 to 1968, creating some 185 Corvair Stingers outfitted with specific exterior accoutrements and a complete listing of suspension, interior and engine modifications that have been split into stage amounts (I, II, III or IV). The minor beast came aggressive correct out of the box, not only gaining a SCCA D manufacturing nationwide title but an added ten SCCA division titles.

So, what does this have to do with “one-off”? By 1968 Don Yenko was total velocity into his vaunted Camaros, Novas, Chevelles and even some Chevy Vegas (tagged The Stinger II) and he determined to quit giving Corvairs. He’d manufactured his level and showed that some excellent organizing, an first buy of one hundred autos mixed with imaginative modifications manufactured the minor Stingers a difficult mixture to beat on the racetrack.

1969 Yenko Stinger

1969 Yenko Stinger

Whilst it was even now achievable to obtain any of the overall performance packages so clients could outfit their very own Yenko Stingers (integrated in that 185 complete), no a lot more dealer set up packages have been accessible. At least not till Goodyear Tire and Rubber Organization showed up on Yenko’s doorstep. It looks Ford Motor Organization required a a lot more tough 13” tire, but did not have a car with that sized tire to in fact execute the exams. Approaching Goodyear with the dilemma, Ford of Australia required a check car that could stand up to the punishment they meant to inflict at the automaker’s proving ground in San Angelo, Texas.

Only 1 car at the moment in manufacturing would match the bill…a Chevrolet Corvair. And Goodyear knew that Don Yenko was the man to outfit the Corvair to meet their wants. So a 1 and only 1969 Corvair Yenko Stinger was created for the track full with SCCA-authorized roll bars, a tall three.27 ultimate drive (to attain meant speeds of 130-140 mph), an auxiliary 24-gallon gasoline tank from a Corvette, hefty duty oil cooler and clutch, large movement carburetors and heavier valve guides.

1969 Yenko Stinger

1969 Yenko Stinger

The automobile had the 240 hp Stage IV engine mods that had only been utilised in a handful of autos. At this degree, which was meant for all out racing, the two,000-pound Stinger was a main competitor towards the SCCA-spec Shelby Mustangs and Triumph TR4s.

Goodyear wished the check automobile to emulate a factory car, so the interior was left in location and preceding Stinger lightening of physique elements wasn’t completed. The automobile also did not obtain the distinctive Yenko rear spoiler and C-pillar sail panels or the stripe that ran from front trunk to rear engine hood. It was merely a plain Jane all white Corvair 500 that displayed the Goodyear emblem and black lettering denoting its use in the “Tire Testing Division”. It was offered an official Yenko quantity (YS 9700), nonetheless, and sported a modest Yenko plate and the phrases “Stage IV” on the rear taillight panel.

Goodyear engineers place about two,200 miles on the automobile, finishing the Ford undertaking and briefly making use of it to check studded snow tires just before it was retired and offered to a Southern California enthusiast who instantly extra a two-tone blue and white repaint. That proprietor by no means raced the automobile (this was effectively just before Yenko autos grew to become sought following collector autos) and one more Corvair fan took the automobile to Wisconsin to join his modest Stinger assortment. There the Stinger sat in a physique store awaiting restoration.

1969 Yenko Stinger

1969 Yenko Stinger

It appeared this “one-off” would devote a prolonged-time collecting dust till Bob Dunahugh, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, acknowledged the automobile as the Holy Grail of Corvairs. Dunahugh had substantial expertise with the Stingers, getting restored and modified a number of and raced them extensively during the Midwest.

Dunahugh mentioned it took virtually two many years to persuade the Wisconsin proprietor to component with the unrestored, but repainted Corvair. After he acquired it house, he identified the physique was in exceptional form and even the authentic Goodyear markings have been even now intact underneath the repaint, making it possible for him to properly reproduce the door signage. And with just 2200+ authentic miles, the mechanicals have been even now precisely as Yenko had delivered the automobile to Goodyear.

The restoration place the automobile back to its plain Jane persona and Dunahugh’s program was to wrap the automobile in cellophane and let no 1 to touch it ever once again. Incorrect! Bob Dunahugh was a racer and he wasn’t about to allow a historical milestone sit idle when it could be working wheel to wheel at one hundred mph on a street racing program.

1969 Yenko Stinger

1969 Yenko Stinger

A bonafide gearhead, Dunahugh was 1st smitten with Corvairs in 1967 shortly following acquiring a brand new Chevelle. He had been an lively drag racer with a 327 powered ’57 Chevy and the Chevelle was destined to see some action on the quarter mile as effectively.

“I noticed an ad just following acquiring the Chevelle for a 1964 turbocharged Corvair Spyder convertible,” he mentioned, “and I wished to consider it for a check drive, just for enjoyable.” Dunahugh took that check drive and mentioned he loved how the automobile dealt with and he managed to trade straight up for it with a 1961 Triumph.

The Corvair was fast, but on the drag strip Dunahugh discovered he was bored. Track days gave him restricted time behind the wheel, and he was established to attempt one thing distinct to sharpen his driving capabilities and do some competing that much better match his Corvair Spyder. Autocross grew to become his exercise of decision and the Spyder presented just the pleasure he wished.

But attending university and raising a loved ones took priority and his autocrossing days disappeared for a number of many years. He couldn’t aid yearning to get back to flying close to a racetrack and in 1985 he started a new search, this time for a Yenko Stinger which he had realized was created for the track. Discovering a Stinger was difficult ample, but Dunahugh identified that the Stinger faithful weren’t effortlessly moved to allow go of their compact rockets.

He did sooner or later handle to obtain not 1, but a number of Stingers which permitted him to grow to be a standard at street programs and sharpened his capabilities as a driver. And he also grew to become an professional in all factors Stinger, placing him correct in the center of the organization that is established to protect Don Yenko’s creation of a genuine, American manufactured sports activities automobile.

1969 Yenko Stinger

1969 Yenko Stinger

In 1998 he started the quest to obtain the final Yenko Stinger created from its proprietor in Wisconsin and was effective in 2000 to get that completed. And his program integrated racing what a lot of take into account is the rarest Stinger of all. But Dunahugh is not 1 to not show the automobile at exhibits close to the Midwest which includes a number of visits to the yearly Muscle Vehicle and Corvette Nationals in Rosemont, Illinois.

“I have proven it in a nationwide concours occasion,” he explains, “and it managed 961.seven factors of one,000 which gave it a Senior Division classification.” But the Corvair was created to race and Dunahugh is not going to deny its provenance.

“I cannot fully describe it, but this automobile has a ‘feel’ that you do not get in a Corvette or Camaro on a street program. It provides tons of suggestions and you can truly truly feel what the tires are performing.”

Aside from, Dunahugh admits, taking what was initially created as an economic system automobile out to do battle with Porsches and BMWs is a great deal of enjoyable. “You do not have to beat ‘em to harm their emotions.”

This write-up, written by Jim Volgarino, was initially published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial spouse of Motor Authority.