One of the cars that caught my eye at Barrett-Jackson 2013 was this gleaming red 1961 Corvette Convertible. Like a bald eagle or a baseball game, the sight of a first-generation Corvette is one of those symbols that should fill any red-blooded American with a sense of pride. It certainly caught my attention, and I went in for a closer look.
This car is built in the “Pro-Touring” style, which means it is an older car (roughly from the 50s to the 70s) that has been upgraded with today’s technology. I have a fondness for pro-touring cars, and this one was absolutely perfect.
While a hot rod is built to go fast in a straight line at the drag strip, pro-touring cars have upgraded suspension components that allow them to handle well on a road course. This particular car has been modified with the front suspension from a C4 Corvette and a 4-link with coilovers in the rear. It’s also got C4 disc brakes all the way around – a big upgrade over the factory drum brakes. (Note: disc brakes became standard equipment on Corvettes starting in 1965).
The car’s low ride height is the result of a modified frame – there is no air suspension system here! The car sits beautifully on American Racing wheels which are 18×8.5″ in the front and 20×10″ in the rear. The rear wheel wells have been modified to allow for the oversize wheels.
Of course, it takes more than lateral grip to set a great lap time – you also need power. Under the hood of this car is a fresh 2012 LS3 V8 engine. The LS3 is good for 430 horsepower out of the box, but this engine has a few bolt-ons including a performance pulley system and Sanderson headers. Power is routed to the rear wheels through a Tremec 5-speed transmission.
What really sets this car apart is the attention to detail. It’s got a custom-made aluminum fuel tank and a DeWitt aluminum radiator. Both of these components are prone to corrosion, especially in an older car. The fact that someone took the time to replace them tells me that some real care went into building this car.
Although it is a convertible, driving this car doesn’t mean you have to live without creature comforts. It’s got a Classic Auto air conditioning system, Pioneer stereo, and custom suede and leather seats. It even has power steering!
This 61 Corvette performs as good as it looks. There’s honestly not a thing I would change about it! Some lucky bidder took it home for $165,000 dollars. Considering what you get, it seems like a great buy to me.