by Mike Guyette
The Greenwood Daytona Turbo is, without a doubt, the most radical of all body styles a Shark would ever wear. Every inch of the outrageous body was designed to either aid in cooling the engine or brakes, reduce aerodynamic drag or assist in downforce - while still showing some semblance of its C3 Corvette heritage. Although one might think that the domesticated version looks pretty much like the untamed racer, the opposite is actually more true.
The first street Daytona was built on a 1980 Corvette that was provided by Tico & René Racing. This was the prototype car whose body would be refined on the track before the actual racer was built. When the aero details were finalized, the white ZL-1 aluminum engine-equipped race version was built for T&R Racing (car #81). Response to the radical styling was mixed but was encouraging enough to prompt the Greenwoods to sign a deal with Ecklers of Titusville, FL to manufacture the body panels. The prototype was owned by race team co-owner Tico -- its whereabouts is unknown at this time.
The Daytona body style came about as a result of stretching the somewhat vague rules of IMSA, particularly when it came to the huge rear spoiler. Because the rules werent specific enough on the size and shape of the fenders and spoiler, John pushed all four fenders out (vented at the rear) and tied the fronts to the rears with wide sills that minimized drag while aiding in downforce. The same philosophy dictated the extreme size and shape of the rear spoiler (the rules would change the next year, reeling in Johns maverick approach to aerodynamics). Large air inlets at the leading edge of the rear fenders were necessary in getting even more air to the brakes. The ground-hugging front spoiler had to be trimmed back a bit to accomodate the everyday occurences of curbs and inclined driveways. Vents on the top of the front fenders helped dissipate hot, trapped air coming from the cross-drilled brake rotors.
Five Daytonas were built by Greenwood (1 1980, 4 1981) before Ecklers began making their own body kits and a few complete cars. Most of the Greenwoods had similar configurations with a few exceptions. Unlike the Sebrings and Turbo GTs which were pretty much all configured the same way, the Daytonas could be ordered with varying degrees of performance options, primarily in the suspension department.
All street Daytonas were built with the Cars & Concepts rear opening glass kit which allowed much easier access to the cargo area. All had specially tweaked automatic transmissions (in fact all Greenwood turbos except one GTO had autos). Four of the five Daytonas were red -- three with saddle interior and one with black. The other was painted Sunoco Blue and has dark blue cloth interior.
Two of the five Daytonas (#002 & #004) utilized the trademark Greenwood rear five-link suspension with coil-over shocks, while the other three kept the stock rear setup. Softer springs could be used due to the efficiency of the five-link rear, which virtually eliminated dive and squat. Bilstein gas shocks, needle bearing idler arm, and a tweaked steering box went into all Daytonas, regardless of rear suspension configuration. Heavier sway bars were added to all, as were three piece BBS wheels (8 in front, 10 in rear) along with the race-proven kevlar brake cooling fans. Overkill for the street, yes, but John insisted that the street cars incorporate as much race technology as possible. These cars were definitely overbuilt, as most owners would put very little mileage on them, let alone put them through their paces on a race track.
The turbo setup changed with the Daytonas - a Turbo International draw-through arrangement replaced the complex custom made system on the Turbo GTs. This proven configuration allowed use of an aftermarket air cleaner atop of the stock Quadrajet carb. The twin turbo style hood was already higher than the stock unit, so clearance was not a problem, given the additional height of the under-carb adapter plate that accepted the turbo plumbing.
A full blown Daytona with all options would set back the got-to-have-it enthusiast anywhere from $37,000 to a whopping $53,000 more than three times the price of a new Corvette! Ferrari dealer Rick Mancuso of Lake Forest Sports Cars in Illinois commissioned and sold two of the red Daytonas, while Greenwood Automotive of Altamonte Springs, FL sold the other three directly. Because there were no serial plaques made initially by the Greenwoods, Mancuso had his own made.
The first car Mancuso sold was a 1981 (serialized by himself as L.F.S.C. #001) and was purchased by Terry Carter, a serviceman stationed in California. Carter later sold it to Dr. Marv Silverman, a dentist from Beverly Hills who has since donated it to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY where it resides to this day. This car has the black interior and retained the stock suspension pieces instead of the five-link/coil-over option.
The second 1981 car produced was ordered by Dick Hammond, who already owned the number one Turbo GT. This Daytona was the Sunoco Blue car and was fully loaded. It changed hands several times, mostly amongst dealers. The Greenwoods did afix a serial plaque to this car - appropriately #2 (of the 1981 cars). This car is now owned by good friends Lou and Chris Pittack of Dunmore, PA who have become fixtures at Corvettes @ Carlisle. In addition to a premium sound system and every available option, the engine was balanced and blueprinted, yielding a claimed 425 horsepower. With under 10,000 miles logged since built, this turbo has seen 155 mph on an unnamed highway, with plenty of pedal travel left, according to Lou.
The third 1981 car was sold by Mancuso to a wealthy gentleman in Chicago. This original owner replaced the original turbo setup with a twin turbo system and the tranny gave way to a Richmond five speed unit. Unable to make the twin turbo setup perform as it should have, the engine was again replaced by a hi-performance Lingenfelter engine. The original tan interior was dyed black and the signature Greenwood logos and name were redone in a red-to-gold gradient scheme.
The fourth 1981, and last of the Daytonas, was ordered by George Hurd of PA. Fully loaded, this car is unique as far as the Daytonas go. Gearing up to accomodate the new rule changes brought about by IMSA, the Greenwoods incorporated a few updates into this last Daytona before the changeover to the GTO body style. The last Daytona had a different style hood altogether. The NACA-ducted turbo hood was replaced with the GTO style which has vents on the side of the center raised portion.
The Greenwoods were also experimenting with rectangular headlights for the new race car. These fixed lights were faired on three sides with a clear plexiglass cover over the front. These experimental lights were built into the fifth Daytona, but never did make it to GTO production. Also unique to this car is the revamped brake cooling fans made by BBS. Whereas the other Daytonas have a concave dish to these kevlar pieces, this car uses the GTO style flat coolers.
The push-it-to-the-limit styling of the Daytona would be fine tuned on the race track and made a little less radical, resulting in the last of the Greenwood turbos - the GTO.
The Daytona was somewhat of an enigma when it comes to serial numbered plaques. Although the Greenwoods put a numbered plaque on the two 1981 Daytonas they sold directly, Rick Mancuso also supplied his own engraved serial numbers which conflict with the actual production order. Regardless, all Daytonas have been accounted for and documentation for each more than makes up for the easily duplicated plaques.
Handpainted John Greenwood signatures could be found on the B-pillar, rear wing and even on the front air dam where the license plate typically goes. Along the running boards were painted Greenwood Daytona.