That’s what Hot Rod magazine’s Technical Editor Ray Brock called the fuel-injected ’61 Vette he road tested for the magazine’s July 1961 issue.
The car was borrowed from a local dealer, Harry Mann Chevrolet in Los Angeles. It was brand new, with just 250 miles on the odometer, but Mann’s mechanics went through the car to make sure everything was working properly. The only modification they made was to intake valve lash (set at 0.008-inch rather than the factory spec 0.012) “to increase effective intake timing slightly,” Brock said. “Everything else was absolutely stock.”
In this case that meant a $3,934 1961 Corvette; the fuel-injected, 315hp V-8, the most powerful engine offered that year (and a $484.20 option); four-speed manual transmission ($188.30); Positraction diff with 4.11 gears ($43.05); plus a radio, heater, and whitewall tires, bringing the as-tested price to $5,078.25. “The price, although high for the average person, assumes a more reasonable perspective when you consider that this particular car will compete quality-wise and performance-wise with foreign production models that cost twice as much and are not nearly as ‘driveable’ on the street,” Brock pointed out.
The fuelie’s driveability came up several times in the story. He described it as a “full-blown competition engine… [that] can be driven on city streets without being unmanageable.” He did call the engine’s idle “a little ragged and fast (about 950 rpm), but with the high-performance camshaft and closer-than-stock intake valve setting, this was to be expected.”
That bit of engine tuning, plus the 4.11 gears and a set of sticky Butyl tires got Brock down the quarter-mile at just a tick under 105 mph. “Not bad for a beginner.” He was less enamored of those Butyl tires while driving winding roads, as “they gave too much front wheel traction on tight corners. With power applied to the rear wheels, the rear of the car would ‘get loose,’ but the fronts would ‘stick’ too well and cause oversteer. Other Corvettes we have driven in recent years maintained a more equal balance between front and rear.”
Brock loved the BorgWarner four-speed in his tester. “If we were to choose the one item that has made Corvette in sports car society, it would be the four-speed transmission. Synchronous meshing in all four gears, the transmission not only raised Corvette performance to the point where it could compete in bonafide sport car races but also made the car a real pleasure to drive. A short session running up and down through the gears of a Corvette four-speed gives anybody a new outlook on life.”