The SHELBY AMERICAN
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.