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						Manire Grand Sport6
The Long and Winding Road

Adventurous, long-haul cruising in a D&D Grand Sport Corvette

Text and photos by Steve Temple

Travel photos courtesy of Dennis Manire

Even though the original “Lightweight” ’63 Grand Sport Corvettes were built to beat Cobras and Ferraris on a competition road course, a replica version can fulfill an entirely different mission. No, we’re not talking about sipping wine over it on the green lawns of snooty car shows. Rather, relishing the car on extended road trips, along with raising money for a police charity. That’s the route that Dennis and Cindy Manire took with their D&D Corvette Grand Sport. How they came across the car in the first place is an interesting tale to tell as well.

Back in May of 1997 Dennis saw a 1963 Grand Sport Coupe replica on the cover of a magazine, but he was especially entranced by photos of the open-top configuration also shown in the feature.

“It took my breath away,” he recalls. “It was love at first sight. I knew then that someday, someway I would own a Grand Sport roadster similar to the one in the picture.” But that would take some doing, and result in some surprising twists during their search.

Along the way, Dennis and Cindy traveled to most of the major Corvette car shows through 2001, but saw only a few Grand Sport coupe replicas. Then they came across the #2 original Grand Sport roadster at the NCRS show in Orlando, Florida, in January 2000, and also saw both of the original Grand Sport roadsters at the National Corvette Museum Labor Day Celebration later that year.

“Seeing the two original cars made my dream even stronger,” Dennis says. Then by chance in October 2001 he spotted a classified ad for a 1963 Grand Sport roadster replica, just a few hours from where he lives.

“When I got my first glimpse of this Grand Sport, I couldn't believe my eyes,” he recalls. “It was exactly like the car that I fell in love with five years earlier in the magazine.”

That was just the beginning, but before relating further adventures with the car, we should provide a few details on its construction. While D&D is no longer producing Grand Sport replicas, this is one of the better ones ever built with a four-inch round-tube frame, Aldan coilover shocks and C4 Corvette suspension and disc brakes. It’s powered by a 345 hp ZZ3 Chevrolet topped by an Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor (replacing the original TPI fuel injection setup). While significantly less than the original race car’s output, that’s plenty of power as we’ll see, and also proved to be reliable for long-haul cruising.

Before decking it out in cop trim (shown in the photos), the Manires drove the car through nearly three dozen states from Florida to California and back. Their trips included visits to tracks like Sebring, Indy, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta and Daytona, plus some triple-digit speed runs on the Bonneville Salt Flats. They also toured memorable sites such as Mount Rushmore, Pebble Beach and the Pacific Coast Highway.

In addition to winning dozens of trophies over the years, it was displayed at the National Corvette Museum where they had previously spotted the original Grand Sport roadsters. How did that honor come about?

“While in the Corvette Corral at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2010, the Dennis was approached by a representative of the National Corvette Museum,” Dennis recalls. “He said they were planning a special six-month display called ‘From Serene To Extreme’ and needed one more car to complete it.” The Manires agreed to let their car be a part of the display, as it was considered to be on the extreme side of the scale. They received many notes and phone calls for the next six months from friends all across the country who visited the Museum and were pleasantly surprised to find the Manires’ Grand Sport on display.

It went onto host various celebrities as well, such as John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth. Even though most Corvette owners do not want anyone else driving their cars, Dennis had a different take on the opportunity to let an astronaut pilot both of his Corvettes (he also owns an original ’67 Midyear): “My response was if they can blast off into space and orbit the earth for days and return home safely, they have the ability to drive our Corvettes!”

All told, Dennis and Cindy have put more than 120,000 miles on their Grand Sport replica. While they never had an opportunity to race against any Cobras or Ferraris along the way, they surely deserve the ultimate long-haul trophy.

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