The Greder Corvette, s/n 410300, holds a unique place in Le Mans history, not only as one of the most successful, and well-traveled, Corvette race cars in the world, but also as the survivor of one of Chevrolet’s “back door” racing programs, managed and implemented by Zora Arkus-Duntov. The central figure is Henri Greder.
Greder nearly won the 1963 Tour de France in a factory-entered 427 Ford Galaxie. This earned him a Ford of France ride in a 4.7-liter GT40 at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. In preparation for the 1968 24 Heures du Mans, GM’s European promotions director (and up-and-coming chairman) Bob Lutz and Greder approached Swiss racing patron Georges Filipinetti with the idea of entering a two-car Corvette team at Le Mans.
Filipinetti accepted, and two L88 Corvette coupes shortly arrived from Detroit, fully race-prepared for the 24 Hours under Zora Arkus-Duntov’s supervision—this car, for Greder and Umberto Maglioli, and the other for Sylvain Garant and Jean-Michel Giorgi. Zora, knowing the demands of 24 hours at speed at Le Mans, fitted very tall 2.56 rear end gears to take full advantage of the legendary 427-ci L88 engine’s power. The combination was clocked down the Mulsanne straight at 191 mph and turned in a sub-four-minute lap in testing.
The Corvettes were fast but suffered from what the French called the “ennuis de freins”—brakes not measuring up to the inertia of one and a half tons accelerated to nearly 200 mph by th big-block L88. Greder recalls having to brake for the Mulsanne turn at the 500-meter mark.