1961 Chevrolet Corvette - Z Whiz

Suppose A '61 Roadster Swapped DNA With A '92 ZR1

Tom Shaw May 25, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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Blending the best of vintage styling, the '61 sports a toothy '58 grille.

They say that in America, you can be anything you want to be. True enough. And from where we sit, that even extends to Corvettes. Svelte sports car, big-block superpower, pedigreed road racer, street profiler, sparkling showstopper, vintage classic, dragstrip terror, world-class supercar, top-end speedster, kitschy street machine-Corvette does 'em all. For that matter, Corvette can beautifully blend any of the two.

Take this '61 that we're calling "Z Whiz." Have you ever seen vintage styling and modern technology so perfectly blended? Richard Carlson had the original vision and commissioned Time Machines in Hudson, Florida, to build the car. Corvette rodding being a personal thing and all, it's easy to color outside the lines, so to speak, and lean a bit too far one way or the other, causing the car to be off-balance. But we don't have that problem here. In fact, if there's an award for the best Corvette rod (we should start one if there isn't), this '61 should be a finalist.

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If it looks like fun, it is. Rolling on an SRIII Motorsports chassis with '92 ZR1 suspension, this '61 is a joy to drive. Body mods were kept to a minimum so as not to subtract from the classic Corvette lines.

Maybe we shouldn't be that surprised, given that Time Machines is a veteran builder of vintage cars with modern chassis and drivetrains. This shop specializes in this sort of thing. For this project, the crew started with an SRIII Motorsports' round-tube chassis made specifically for C4 components. SRIII specializes in custom frames for just such occasions.

Next came the 375hp LT5 engine and driveline out of a '92 ZR1 Corvette. In case you've been backpacking in Botswana for the last decade, the LT5 is the DOHC four-valve 5.7L V-8 out of the exotic, limited-production ZR1. It was renowned for its wide powerband and the way it would pull way up into the high revs. Chevrolet has marched relentlessly forward in the quest for ever-greater horsepower, but those relative few who've had the pleasure of piloting a ZR1 know it was something special. Stainless Works headers feed into a Flowmaster exhaust with rear dumps.

To squeeze even more power and driveability out of the engine, it was fitted with an Accel DFI computer and wiring harness, allowing custom fuel mapping, which was programmed by injection ace Bob Ream from Imagine Injection in Phoenix. To keep the engine in the sweet spot of the powerband, a genuine GM-issued Tremec T56 six-speed out of an LS1 Camaro was chosen as the transmission and fitted with a Hurst shifter. It was reworked inside and made ready to handle the ZR1's power. The clutch being a key component between a high-powered engine and six-speed transmission, a McLeod clutch and pressure plate were selected, along with a hydraulic throw-out bearing.

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Most of the rearend is stock C4, but the center was rebuilt and fitted with 3.73:1 gears, a bit steeper than the stockers, for even better acceleration. With the basic chassis configured, it was time to add some details. Stainless Steel Brakes' 14-inch slotted rotors and calipers were used up front, with 13-inchers rear. A Hydratech power booster provides brake boost by tying into the power-steering system rather than using engine vacuum.

Wheels blend period five-spoke design with modern size and flash. The model name is Alcatraz, from Colorado Custom, and the dimensions are 18x8 inches front and 20x8 inches rear. Tires are BFGoodrich g-Force KDWs. Tire size had to be kept reasonable to fit into the factory wheelwells.




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