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354 Fall 2015


September 2, 2015

Dick Guldstrand was another

Southern California hot rodder who

found a niche in the Corvette world and

rose to the top. He wasn’t called “Mr.

Corvette” for nothing. We include him,

here, because he was always a strong

competitor for the Cobras on the road

courses in Southern California. Had

they not had strong competition they

would not have been regarded as highly

as they presently are.

He was a hot-rodder in high school;

his father was an engineer and his

mother was a vaudeville performer. He

was influenced by both. He enjoyed the

spotlight and was described as having

never met a mike he didn’t like. He at-

tended Los Angeles City College and

when the Korean War broke out he

joined the army. studied electrical engi-

neering at UCLA and joined the army

during the Korean War. He was sent to

the Ft. Bliss Missile Academy where he

was assigned to work on radar systems.

After attaining the rank of Technical

Sergeant he was discharged and at-

tended UCLA and studied engineering.

He also studied electrical engineering

at Pasadena City College and worked

as an aerospace engineer through 1962.

But he admitted that his heart was re-

ally in the ratty 1956 Corvette out in

the parking lot.

Before he discovered Corvettes, Guld-

strant drove sprint cars and midgets on

the dirt tracks that dotted Southern Cali-

fornia in the early 1950s. After getting an

early V8 Corvette he quickly gravitated to-

wards sports car road circuits and became

a top competitor. From 1963 to 1965 he

won three consecutive SCCA Pacific Coast

championships. The Cobras were tough

competitors but instead of giving up, he

worked harder and drive faster. He was no-

ticed by Zora Duntov and Roger Penske

and drove for both of them. In 1966,

teamed with Bob Bondurant, they set a

track record at LeMans in a 427-powered

Corvette Coupe. In Penske Grand Sport he

finished 1st at the Daytona 24-Hours.

In 1968 he opened his own shop, Guld-

strand Engineering, in Culver City, Cali-

fornia. He was the go-to guy for Corvette

owners and his shop was a magnet for

Corvette owners like James garner, Bruce

Springsteen. Nicholas Cage and Arnold

Schwarzenegger. The mechanical improve-

ments he made helped Corvettes to handle

better at high speeds.

After he gave up driving his shop con-

centrated on preparing Corvettes for

SCCA racers, vintage Corvettes and even-

tually tuning customer cars. He produced

a handful of Corvettes to his own speci-

fications, including the S80 in 1986 and

the GS90 in 1995, based on the ZR-1.

The last special edition was the Signa-

ture Edition Anniversary Corvette, a

500-horsepower monster he unveiled in

2003, the car’s 50th anniversary.

In 1999 Guldstrand was inducted

into the Corvette Hall of Fame at the

National Corvette Museum in Bowling

Green, Kentucky. He continued to oper-

ate his shop into 2015 and was a popu-

lar personality at reunions, car shows

and vintage races, and frequently spoke

at car club gatherings. He passed away

at his North Hollywood home from nat-

ural causes. He was 87.