Each of the cars we’ve featured thus far from the 2016 Falken Tire Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge has been a true muscle car. Camaros and Chevelles have dominated the festivities and we haven’t shown you any of Chevrolet’s true sports car: the Corvette. Until now, that is. Jane Thurmond’s 1964 Corvette (named Scarlett) is a true work of art.
As the owner of the lone Corvette to participate in the Challenge, Thurmond had her work cut out for her. She was up to the task, as her husband, Greg, and the team at their shop (GTS Customs in Simi Valley, California) outfitted the Vette with all of the necessary running gear to make it perform on the track. This car is no stranger to track outings as it has competed at many different venues over the years, and Thurmond is no stranger to automotive performance as she’s at GTS Customs with Greg, and has been for nearly 30 years.
“The car has the original chassis that was modified by Newman Car Creations in Templeton, California, to support C4 [Corvette] suspension that ultimately offers a better ride and supports more modern technology when it comes to braking and handling,” says Thurmond.
The car is not new; in fact, Thurmond bought it in 2004, then GTS Customs took about three years to complete the restomod build. Of course, since they are in the business of restomodding Corvettes, it could be said that the car is never truly complete either.
“We own one of the nation’s premier Corvette specialty shops in Southern California. We have always owned Corvettes. This was an opportunity to build a car, specifically a restomod, that showcases what we do at our shop,” she says.
One thing that stands out about Scarlett is that the car was truly built to be used. It’s not a show car—although it was originally built to be one—and is flogged regularly on all sorts of race courses. The car is driven regularly, and to prove it Thurmond put over 4,000 miles on it in 2016 alone.
“I’ve been racing autocross and big track for a few years now. I have had some amazing experiences, far too many to list. But one that really stands out for me would be receiving the invite to participate in the Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge. I happened to be the only female participant, and I finished tenth in a field behind drivers Mike Skeen, Danny Popp, and Al Unser, Jr. In fact, I beat Little Al by maybe a tenth of a second on the drag race segment that day. Not many people can say that, can they? What an amazing experience. All because of that little red Corvette!” says Thurmond.
The car has limited exterior modifications, but one that sticks out is the widened quarter-panels that permit the use of the better C4 suspension.
The frame modifications are simple, and the C4 retrofit stacked up well against the other cars in the competition. Rather than reinventing the wheel with the chassis configuration, the Newman Car Creations team relies on the vast expertise and manufacturing prowess of the General Motors engineers with regards to suspension design and development. In addition to the forged aluminum C4 A-arms in the front, GTS has used a set of GM C4 spindles. The rear suspension consists of a set of transverse-mounted shocks with an adjustable cantilever design manufactured by GTS Customs.
“Greg did pretty much all of the work aside from Paul and Kyle Newman; we’ve worked with them on virtually all of the Corvette builds we’ve done for our customers. Their attention to detail and quality craftsmanship really gave them a name in the automotive industry and they are still one of the best chassis builders around,” Thurmond says.
Disc brakes from sponsor Wilwood are installed at all four corners, which include 13-inch slotted rotors front and rear to go with the proven Wilwood caliper design. These were a big deal since the factory C4 PBR calipers aren’t well suited for heavy-duty track work. Suspension motion is controlled by RideTech adjustable HQ shocks. The suspension drop is 4 inches, which gets the chassis sitting strong on the Falken Azenis RT615K tires measuring 315/30/18 at all four corners. In the interest of retaining the Corvette lineage, the GTS team wrapped the Falken tires around a set of polished 18x10.5 C5 wheels.
GTS Customs is not just Greg and Jane; their boys Justin and Weston Thurmond also participated in the car’s build. “Weston is really like my right-hand man when it has come to Scarlett. He is really the reason I’ve been so fortunate with obtaining sponsors and maintaining this car in so many ways. He works at our shop now full time and is really following in Greg’s footsteps with regards to his ability to build and create. But I think before long he will surpass what we’ve done in this industry,” says Thurmond.
Since the chassis was originally constructed 10 years ago, she feels that updating it with current components would enhance the car’s performance.
“We’ve made changes to the car through the years as a result of getting the car out on course. Originally this was a show car. We discovered that racing is much more fun than dusting!” she says.
|What Makes It Handle|
|Stock displacement LS1 (5.7L) with AFR heads machined by Quarter Mile Performance and assembled by GTS Customs. TREMEC T-56 six-speed with Centerforce DYAD dual-disc clutch. Rear is a Dana 44 with a limited-slip differential and 3.73 gears|
|OE with Newman Car Creations modifications|
|C4 Corvette arms and spindles with RideTech HQ shocks. 1.25-inch antisway bar by Vette Brakes and Products|
|Wilwood four-piston calipers with two-piece, 13-inch slotted rotors front and four-piston calipers with one-piece, 13-inch slotted rotors rear|
|GTS Customs adjustable cantilever design with transverse-mounted shocks. RideTech HQ shocks|
|Falken Azenis RT615K: 315/30/18 front and rear|
|Corvette C5 18x10.5 (8.75-inch backspace) front and rear|
|Suspension package: $10,000 approximately|
|How’d It Stack Up?|
|Slalom Average Speed||100-Yard Dash||Road Course Lap Time|
|GTS Customs 1964 Corvette||45.1 mph||5.19 seconds||01:21.7|
|2010 Camaro SS||42.1 mph||5.76 seconds||01:25.9|
|The testing portion of the 2016 Falken Tire Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge was held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Jane Thurmond acquitted herself quite well, driving Scarlett to a solid performance and leaving the benchmark 2010 Camaro SS in its wake. Substantial improvements over the benchmark in all three categories are a testament to the 64’s capabilities, an average speed of 45.1 mph through the slalom trounced the Camaro SS solidly. In the 100-yard dash, the light weight of the Corvette combined with the modded LS1 bested the SS by over half a second. On the road course Jane piloted the Vette well, beating the benchmark SS by over 4 seconds.|
Photography by Robert McGaffin