The term “restomod” gets thrown around quite a bit these days, and the basic definition is to make an old car perform like a new one without destroying the vintage style. That's exactly what Maryville, Tennessee, resident Dwayne Gross accomplished with his '60 Corvette, but he never intended on taking it this far when he purchased the car in 2001. He always loved the looks of first-generation Corvettes, dating back to the '60s when his cousin sported a black '58. Although he always longed for a Corvette, life simply got in the way and more practical decisions were made in place of the topless two-seater he wanted.
Fast forward a few decades and Dwayne's desire for a Corvette still lingered. While tossing around the idea of buying a '67 Oldsmobile project car, his wife, Charlene, offered a very encouraging statement: “Why don't you get the Corvette that you've always wanted?” And that was all it took to push him over the edge. However, when he finally had the chance to buy one, he was rather disappointed in its performance. His dream car didn't quite live up to the expectations.
One of Dwayne's main concerns was the original engine and transmission. In 1960, Corvettes were only available with a 283ci small-block engine and Dwayne's car had the standard, three-speed manual transmission. Dwayne didn't want to go away from the old-school small-block design, so he opted for a GM Performance Parts ZZ4 crate engine, as it makes 355 horsepower without breaking a sweat. It was affordable, reliable, and offered just the right amount of power for this weekend cruiser. Atop the crate is an Edelbrock Pro-Flo EFI system to bring the small-block into the modern era. Other additions consist of a Mallory ignition, a March Ultra Drive serpentine accessory kit, and a Griffin aluminum radiator. Behind the simple and clean mill is a Tremec five-speed manual transmission, which helps the Vette hit the road and achieve relatively decent fuel mileage.
Dwayne sought out a solution to the car's shortcomings, which included inadequate drum brakes, sloppy steering, and worn-out suspension. Solid axle Corvettes were never known for their handling and 40-some-odd years of abuse didn't make matters any better for this classic. The solution, in his case, was a brand-new rolling chassis from Street Shop that features a mandrel-bent steel frame and C4 independent front and rear suspension. QA1 coilovers on all four corners and an AGR power rack-and-pinion offer a comfortable ride and great performance. Dwayne added a Master Power disc brake kit, featuring drilled and slotted rotors and a slick aluminum master cylinder to the new chassis. Dwayne's car received the new chassis and engine combination in 2004, but he decided on some big changes in 2012 after visiting the Corvette Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee.
That particular event introduced him to Larry Burchett, owner of B Rod or Custom as well as Strip Technologies. Larry has restored and modified a number of Corvettes through the years and had an incredible '64 Corvette coupe (“Classic Curves,” Apr. '13) on display at the event. A deal was made and Dwayne's Corvette went to Strip Technologies to be plastic mediablasted as the first of many steps. Larry then moved the car to the B Rod or Custom shop, where he perfected the fiberglass body and aligned the panels for a much better fit and finish than Chevrolet offered in 1960. Larry's son P.J. Burchett handled the paintwork, laying down several coats of DuPont black pigment, then sanding, buffing, and polishing the fresh finish. With a mirror-like finish, the effort certainly paid off. The slick paint is accented by refinished trim and emblems throughout.
To match the fresh, new look, Dwayne wanted a modern tire and wheel combination so he went with a set of Billet Specialties Flare wheels. Dwayne enhanced the car's stance by staggering the sizing—17x8 up front and 18x9 out back. The wheels are complemented by a set of Nitto 555 245/45-17 and 255/45-18 tires.
Early Corvettes are known for their lack of real estate in the rear wheeltub area so B Rod or Custom widened the tubs but left enough room for all of the soft-top mechanisms. The 18x9s are tucked in nicely, offering the classic hot rod rake.
Inside, bright-red leather offers the perfect contrast to the deep-black exterior. Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors handled the stitchwork, giving the original seats a rolled and pleated pattern, while the door panels received a two-tone color scheme to match the original trim. The dash is all stock, but features a Vintage Air A/C system and a Sony CD player. A Ron Francis wiring harness ties all of the accessories into the main harness for a worry-free electrical system.
Dwayne's love for Corvettes led him to eventually buy a '65 convertible and an '11 Grand Sport convertible. He enjoys sliding behind the wheel of his modern Corvette, but admits the vintage cars are way more fun and get a lot more attention. Thanks to a number of changes, his '60 Corvette is on the road again, and it has the show-winning details to match the awesome performance.
|Vehicle:||1960 Corvette Convertible|
|Heads||Aluminum, 165cc runners, 58cc chambers|
|Valves||1.94 intake, 1.50 exhaust|
|Camshaft||GM hydraulic roller, 208/221 duration, 0.474/0.510 lift|
|Rocker Arms||Stamped steel, 1.5:1|
|Crankshaft||Stock, forged steel|
|Rods||Stock, powdered steel|
|Intake Manifold||Edelbrock Pro-Flo EFI|
|Fuel System||Electric pump|
|Exhaust System||2.5-inch with Flowmaster mufflers|
|Front Suspension||C4 with QA1 coilovers|
|Rear Suspension||C4 with QA1 coilovers|
|Rearend||C4 with 3.54 gears|
|Front Brakes||C4 drilled and slotted rotors|
|Rear Brakes||C4 drilled and slotted rotors|
|Wheels||Billet Specialties Flare, 17x8, front; 18x9, rear|
|Tires||Nitto 555 245/45-17, front; 255/45-18, rear|