Too Hot to Handle
Longtime Corvette enthusiast Daryl Coleman got his passion for Corvettes from his older brother Dale. In 1998, Daryl was searching for a 1964 Corvette at the Pomona Swap meet. He wanted a 1964 Corvette because that was the year he was born. His plans suddenly changed when he spotted this custom-painted 1961 Corvette that you see in this feature. After a close inspection he walked up to the owner and began horse trading to make the buy. The owner wanted $35,000, but settled on $33,000 and Daryl got the car of his dreams. Seventeen years later he still thinks his Corvette is worth every penny he paid for it. Daryl tells Team Vette, “Every time I walk into my garage after all these years it still feels like Christmas morning!”
Underneath the Corvette’s beautiful paintwork is a surprisingly stock 1961 Corvette. It is equipped with a code #102 Wonder Bar radio; #468 283ci, 270hp engine with 2x4 carburetors; #685 four-speed manual transmission; and #675 Positraction rearend with 3.70 rear gears. It’s previous owner commissioned Tom Evans to transform the Corvette and the process took two years. It features its original frame that was refurbished before reassembly. It also has a set of modified GM disc brakes fitted by Don Caldwell of Caldwell Hot Rods that work extremely well. The custom paintwork was completed by Bill Headly and the graphics were done by Little Louie in Riverside, California. The Corvette sits on 17-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels front and back with General Exclaim tires. Dugans Racing Engines in Riverside, California, did all of the machine work to clean up the original 283-cid block and heads. Woodchuck Racing in Riverside, California, assembled the engine and installed headers with 2 1/2-inch collectors that dump into Flowmaster mufflers. Daryl has not made any changes to the engine since he bought it, because he wants it to remain close to its 270hp factory rating. The end result is a stunning first-generation Corvette that even after 17 years of ownership still turns heads when Daryl takes it for a weekend spin, and it only shows 12,517 miles on its clock.
The interior features a smaller-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a custom AM/FM radio that is installed between the seats. The Wonder Bar radio still sits in the dash but is disconnected. The black interior includes original-pattern seat covers and the overall interior is in excellent condition. His brother Dale recently purchased an unrestored 1961 Corvette that is also powered by a 270hp/283-cid engine. Daryl and his brother Dale like to travel together with their two ’61 Corvettes. They enjoy attending swap meets and cars shows that are held every weekend in Southern California. It’s a great family experience for these two brothers and that is what the Corvette hobby is all about. We wish them both many more years of enjoying their awesome twin ’61 Corvettes.
In 1961, the Saint Louis Assembly Plant produced 10,939 Corvettes. Surprisingly, Ermine White was the most popular choice that year when 3,178 buyers picked that color. In addition, only 2,827 Corvettes built that year were ordered with the option code #468 (283ci/270hp) engine. 1961 was the first year Corvette featured a Stingray rear that would become standard on all 1963-’67 Corvettes. Longtime Corvette enthusiast Dale Coleman from Glendora, California, began searching for an unrestored Ermine White 1961 Corvette in 1998. The bug bit him after his brother Daryl purchased a red 1961 mildly customized Corvette that same year. He never gave up on his dream even as he completed the restoration of a 1965 air-conditioned roadster (which he still owns). Since 1998, Dale has bought and sold several Corvettes, but he still yearned to find an original 1961 solid axle.
Shortly after Christmas 2014, he received a phone call from his friend Don Caldwell, owner of Caldwell Hot Rods in Upland, California. Don found this featured, unrestored 1961 Corvette on Craigslist with 45,000 original miles on its clock. It was located in the middle of Washington state. After Dale reviewed the Craigslist photos of the car he was ready to buy it without inspecting it. However, his gearhead friends recommended against that move. They told him they knew someone who lived near the Corvette’s location who agreed to look it over. The report was very positive and Dale learned that this 54-year-old Corvette was on its third owner. It was a true survivor. After some friendly back and forth negotiations on the phone, a price was agreed upon and Dale became the Corvette’s fourth owner. An auto hauler friend was transporting cars from Seattle to California and Nevada and had one opening on his truck. He agreed to pick the Corvette up and transport to Dale’s home. Fifteen days later his dream Corvette was sitting in his driveway. He later learned that a Chicago collector was flying to Seattle to buy the car. The potential buyer was only 2 hours away when the owner accepted Dale’s offer! It was meant to be.
Dale discovered that the Corvette began its life in Maryland and was sold to its second owner who lived in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania owner sold the Corvette to the Washington state owner. So it was easy to trace the Corvette’s ownership chain. The car has not undergone any restoration and the original paint has some chips, but nothing significant. All of the chrome is in good condition and as you can see in the photos the interior is in exceptional condition. The red carpet is faded, but that is no surprise after 54 years of use. It is factory equipped with a code #102 AM Wonder Bar radio, #685 four-speed manual transmission, and #675 Positraction axle with a 3.70 gear. Positraction was required for cars ordered with the four-speed manual transmission. Everything under the hood is original and it is powered by a sweet-sounding, dual-quad 270hp engine. Dale only occasionally drives his rare find to local car shows and to friends’ homes. His next goal is to transport his Corvette to Bloomington Gold and have it judged as a Survivor. Based on the way this beautiful Corvette looks he has our vote!