There's just something special about an early solid-axle Corvette. Whether it's the connection to the very first Corvette in 1953, or the beautifully elegant, curved shape, or even the side coves, these cars are unique among their Corvette brothers in terms of collector appeal and driving characteristics. This fully documented 1960 roadster boasts its original 283/290 fuel injected engine, a T10 4-speed, and a stunning frame-off restoration that scored 93.1 points in NCRS judging. To be honest, this might be the nicest solid axle 'Vette we've ever featured.
Refinished in its original Roman Red, the bodywork is simply beautiful. Restoration photos show it stripped to bare fiberglass, and the body tub on a cart so that every square inch, inside and out, was accessible. The solid condition of the car is how we all wish our projects would begin, and there's no evidence that this car has ever been hit or damaged, and all the repairs done to the fiberglass were done with an eye towards future durability. Two-stage Roman Red went on, and the paint is so deep and vivid that you're tempted to touch it as if it might still be wet. White side coves were added, as original, which were perhaps the early Corvette's greatest design feature. In an era where two-tone paint jobs ruled, even the Corvette's minimalist bodywork was getting in on the act. In the end, you're left with the feeling that this car is the nicest Corvette you've ever seen.
Early Corvettes were not exempt from chrome trim like their later brothers were, and all the bright bits on this 'Vette have been restored to show quality. The toothy front grille probably costs as much as a year of mortgage payments to refinish, and the delicate rear bumpers that offer outlets for the dual exhaust were clearly inspired by European sports roadsters. The bright strip that surrounds the side coves has been polished and straightened until it matched the chrome up front, and the entire windshield frame has been reworked to new condition. The '60s were not so much different from the '59s, and things like those beautiful flush-mounted tail lights and the large center-mounted Corvette badges have been expertly reproduced. The finishing touch is the Fuel Injection script on each front fender, both a feature and a warning.
What really makes this 1960 Corvette special, however, is the top-of-the-line engine under the hood, a 579D 283 cubic inch V8 with the famed Rochester fuel injection system. Rated at 290 horsepower, the engine cackles and barks thanks to a high-lift cam and mechanical lifters, which all work together to create a mechanical symphony that you have to hear to believe. Highly detailed and fully functional, it's no surprise that this car has taken home some pretty impressive trophies. Only 759 290 horsepower Corvettes were built in '60, although there was a tamer 250 horsepower version offered for the same amount of money—why anyone would buy that car, I can't imagine, especially after driving this one. Just a few tweaks away from a full-race piece, this engine snarls through the gears with an urgency that few street cars can offer, and thanks to the wonders of the early fuel injection unit, still idles nicely and is happy to putt around at low speeds. The distinctive box plenum has been refinished to match the finned aluminum valve covers, and things like the chrome distributor cover have been expertly restored to better-than-new condition. Correct markings and decals, including the all-important 290 stickers on the valve covers, have been reproduced where appropriate.
Since the PowerGlide couldn't handle the output of the fuelie, manual transmissions were the only choice. This one sports the T10 4-speed, which offers robust construction for long life behind the high-winding small block, and shift throws that are like the bolt action on a rifle. The entire chassis has been highly detailed for show duty, and during the frame-off restoration even the hard-to-reach areas received proper finishes. A rear sway bar was added in 1960 to sharpen up the Corvette's handling, working in conjunction with a larger front bar, and the results may surprise you. 4-wheel drum brakes were still the only choice, but you shouldn't be afraid of them, because they're some of the most effective drums ever installed on a production car. The floors offer just the right amount of overspray, framed in the satin black frame's X-braces, and a reproduction exhaust system gives it just the right sound. The original 15-inch steel wheels have been sandblasted and painted to match the body, wearing original full wheel covers and a set of new Firestone bias-ply whitewalls.
Red was by far the most popular interior choice in 1960, and with a Roman Red roadster, there are few better choices. Like the rest of the car, the interior is exquisitely restored with correct materials and patterns used throughout. The bucket seats offer fresh foam underneath and crisply detailed covers, making them comfortable and capable of earning the points at shows. The big steering wheel is clearly inspired by race cars of the period, with lightening holes in the spokes and framing a full array of gauges, including a factory tach mounted front and center atop the steering column. Consoles were still an invention of the future in 1960, so the shifter fits in its own bright metal bezel that incorporates the ashtray as well. Beautiful engine-turned panels highlight the door panels and add a dazzling bit of brightwork to the interior, and the famous grab bar remains in front of the passenger, just in case. A new white vinyl convertible top stows neatly behind the seats under the flush-fitting cover, and a matching red hardtop is included with the car.
This car's documentation package is impressive, most notably the title history dating back to the original owner's sale of the car to the second owner in 1966. Original paperwork includes the original new vehicle inspection report from the selling dealership, owner's manuals, warranty booklets, a 1960 edition of “How to be a Corvette Owner,” 1960 Chevrolet Finger-Tip Facts, and a 1960 Chevrolet salesman's fact book with color charts and interior material swatches. There's also a large photo album detailing the entire restoration from start to finish. And most recently, there are comprehensive judging sheets from the National Corvette Restorer's Society that details the car's results from a 2007 showing, with a 93.1/100 point score, sufficient to earn a Second Flight Award. And, of course, there are the restoration receipts, which are considerable.
As I said, this might be the nicest solid axle Corvette we've ever featured. The restoration is beyond reproach, and the rarity of the fuel injected motor makes it a blue chip collectable. Verified and judged by the NCRS, it's about as accurate as you can get, and with the judging sheets, correcting the final few items to make it a near-perfect car is certainly an easy task. Or, if you're like most of us here at RK Motors Charlotte, take it out and enjoy the sound of the race-bred small block doing what it does best. Call today!
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