This 1961 Corvette packs an awful lot of Wow! into its 2-seater body. Professionally built as the ultimate pro-touring early Corvette, it combines modern technology and performance into one of the most classic body styles. And unlike so many resto-mod projects, this one treats the original Corvette with respect, giving it Corvette power, Corvette suspension, and a set of vintage-looking rims that would be right at home on any car from 1961. Gorgeous to look at and thrilling to drive, this roadster will be the star of any show it attends.
Tuxedo Black with a silver cove is a classic Corvette paint scheme, and in 1961 it was actually a $16 option. The body is a real 1961 Corvette, complete down to the new-for-61 ducktail rear end that gave Corvette fans a sneak preview of what was to come. Built by well-known Corvette restorer Charlie Bacon of Running Springs, California, you know this car has what it takes to amaze crowds wherever it goes. Outstanding detailing and incredible finish quality are hallmarks of Charlie's work, and on this car, there was no fussing around with trying to duplicate the factory's flaws and imperfections instead, Charlie and his team were free to shoot for perfection. That means the inky black flanks on this Vette are smooth enough to use as a mirror, and panel gaps are exceptionally tight thanks to the rigid chassis underneath. Once the fiberglass was in shape, the Tuxedo Black (this cars original color, by the way) was applied by Dave Schwartz at Euro Body in Reseda. The results speak for themselves, because the car is absolutely devastating in person.
There are no modifications to the original body, no shaved door handles, no blacked-out trim, no raked back windshield. Instead the goal was to build a Corvette with almost a pure stock appearance because, let's face it, it's awfully hard to improve on the looks of an early Corvette and reliable modern performance. The grille and bumpers have been refinished to concours standards and all the badges and emblems, from the CORVETTE block letters on the nose to the new-for-1961 emblem on the deck lid, have been expertly restored or replaced. The stainless trim around the side cove has been given a show-quality polish job, and a subtle Corvette emblem was added in the cove to set this one apart. This is also a two top car, and includes the optional hardtop in addition to the original black canvas folding top.
In 1961, the top powerplant was a 315 horsepower fuel injected 283, which probably delivered impressive performance in its day. Today, this car is powered by a robust 2008 LS3 crate motor making a very stout 480 horsepower thanks to an upgraded camshaft. The aluminum small block is a perfect fit in the early Corvette engine bay, and even with the original plastic LS3 coil covers and intake, it looks right at home. Unlike a lot of builds that simply take the easy way out and throw a 4-barrel carburetor on the engine, Charlie kept all the engine management systems intact, from the fuel injection to the distributorless ignition. That means this big horsepower piece fires up instantly and idles perfectly the first time every time, no matter the temperature. It means that it cruises down the road and can pull down mid-20s fuel economy, while also being able to hammer low 13-second quarter mile passes. It means that parts are available at any auto parts store in the country, and that your GM dealer can service it for you if that's the way you want to go.
On a vintage Vette, the only transmission you want is a manual, and this one packs a 6-speed Tremec unit out of a late-model GTO. With two overdrive gears, it makes highway cruising a relaxed affair while still being able to deliver amazing acceleration thanks to the 3.50 gears in the Ford 9-inch out back. The entire chassis is a custom fabrication from Art Morrison, specifically designed to allow late-model running gear under vintage Corvette fiberglass. Its robust construction features boxed frame rails and cross-members that are vastly stiffer than the original Corvette X-frame. The front suspension uses Corvette C5 upper and lower control arms and a set of coil over shocks, along with the C5s rack-and-pinion power steering system. Out back, the aforementioned Ford 9-inch is suspended on a second set of coil-overs along with an adjustable triangulated 4-link setup. Wilwood disc brakes on the rear axle compliment the beefy 13-inch C5 units up front. The exhaust system has been discreetly tucked up tight against the frame, and has been given a black high-temperature coating to keep it well hidden. Everything is superbly fabricated and beautifully finished, showing virtually no use since it was complete. The finishing touch is a set of vintage-looking 17-inch Boyd Coddington Salt Flat wheels wearing 235/45/17 front and 255/45/17 rear Hankook Ventus performance radials.
The red leather interior is so sumptuous it's hard to resist jumping in and taking this car for a spin. Like the rest of the car, it is a beautiful tribute to the original design with some thoughtful modern upgrades. And yes, it's leather, not vinyl. The original seats have fresh foam and new covers in the original pattern, and the door panels are absolutely amazing pieces of period styling. Power windows have been added, along with a smaller diameter steering wheel wrapped in matching red leather, as well as a white-faced Auto Meter tachometer in the original tachs pod on the steering column. The shifter looks correct, but look a little closer that cue ball now has a 6-speed pattern on it. For entertainment, the original Wonderbar radio has been rebuilt and upgraded with AM/FM and XM satellite radio capability. The carpets are the correct texture and nap, and are protected by a set of matching custom floor mats. The trunk features a simple rubber mat, as original, and you'll also note the power antenna mounted back there, which is another period accessory.
This amazing Corvette comes with a thick stack of build receipts and manuals that document the entire vehicles construction.
To sum it all up, this 1961 Chevrolet Corvette is beautifully built and incredibly functional. None of the original cars spectacular design elements have been compromised and with a change of wheels, this one could probably do a pretty good impersonation of a stock Corvette. Then you turn the key and that LS3 rumbles to life instantly and idles so smoothly that you won't be able to hide the fact that there isn't an ancient 4-barrel carburetor under the hood. Detailing is what makes cars like this special, and Charlie Bacon and his crew definitely took time to sweat the small stuff. As wonderful as this car is to look at, it's even more amazing to drive. Call now!
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