LS7-powered 1961 Chevrolet Corvette - Total Transformation

No concours Corvettes were harmed in the making of Larry Allman's incredible, radical '61 Vette-Rod

Tom Shaw Feb 3, 2010 0 Comment(s)

The same attention to superior performance with vintage flair also extends to the body. No radical departures that might jar the eye were made, but a subtle change was made to the rear. To accommodate the 10-inch wheel/tire package, Larry had to either cut into the convertible top well or extend the wheels out past the body, neither of which was an acceptable option. Larry chose another course, which called for yet another expert-Keith Russell Custom Bodyworks in Bremerton, Washington. "We hand-made new rear fenders to avoid having to cut into the top well," Larry says. "We were extremely careful to preserve the exact look and lines of the original fenders, yet move them out 2 inches. We first modeled the fenders from foam and bondo, then made molds from that, then the fenders pieces from the two molds. Last, we grafted them onto the body and refinished the inside where they attach so it looks stock from underneath as well."

The trunk lid was shaved and converted to a keyless latch.

Up front, Larry wanted an update too. He says, "I decided to give the car a little more Z06 identity. After securing the front air scoop and grill from the new Z06, we modified the stock upper fascia and hood to resemble the new Corvette. The new air scoop drops fresh air above the throttle body-mounted air cleaner." After carefully tweaking the body panel gaps and straightening the panels, Keith sprayed the bodywork in '06 Chrysler Silver Steel and '05 GM Sport Red for the coves.

Corp_0708_08_z C6_Z06_LS7_powered_1961_chevrolet_corvette Shifter 2/15

Inside, new door panels were made. The original seat frames were reshaped to add extra room between driver and steering wheel, and were fitted with custom foam and covered in Claret Red leather by Parkland Upholstery in Parkland, Washington. The convertible top fabric matches the cove color. The steering wheel was also modified consistent with the theme. No longer needing the leverage of the large-diameter stocker, Larry ordered a reproduction wheel from Corvette Central that's only 15 inches. "It makes getting in and out of the car much easier," Larry says. "Corvette Central also offers to leather wrap the wheel if you supply the leather, so that's what I did." To keep the gauges stock looking, Corvette Clocks converted the tach to electronic and the ammeter to a battery gauge. A small motor box converts the transmission's pulse output to cable drive for the speedometer. Other interior features are Specialty power windows, custom pedals, quartz-movement clock, Kenwood DX8017 stereo with GPS navigation, and Kicker 3.5- and 6-inch speakers. A Vintage Air A/C keeps it cool on hot summer days.

Even with all the mods, it weighs a slender 2,990 pounds. Needless to say, it's a superb place to spend Corvette seat time. "I really built it to create a top performing C1, at least to the limits of what the aerodynamics will allow," says Larry. "Driving it is phenomenal. It has so much torque, and it corners like it's on rails."

After 14 months of intensive construction and a cold winter, the spectacular '61 is finally hitting the road. In fact, the first outing was a road trip to SEMA in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Jerry Heasley photographed the car in the desert setting you see here. Since then, public reaction has been amazing. It's already taken Best in Class wins in the three shows it's been in to date, as well as winning Best Engineered and Best Frame.

Larry says, "I would like to think that were he still alive, Zora Arkus-Duntov would be pleased to see a '61 Z06." We bet he'd be even more pleased to drive it.




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