When he first took the car to the track, Tom was handed e.t. slips in the 13.20 range-at an eye-opening 110-111 mph. More practice netted a best of 12.8 at 112. Two things, he feels, made the car a lot quicker. Learning to drive it at the track and putting the five-speed in it.
"The five-speed made it a whole lot easier to get out of the hole. First gear is 3.27:1 instead of 2.20 with the four-speed. The ratios for first through fourth gear are very close to a 2.20 Muncie with 4.56s. But on the street I click it into fifth and it's got 3.08s.
"The five-speed gave the car a completely different personality. You could have a conversation inside the car. It was a lot of money, but well worth it."
The first time down the track with the five-speed, the Corvette went 12.60s. Tuning the carburetors was the next step. He changed the accelerator pump discharge nozzle, which allowed him to get into the secondary carbs quicker. There was also some axle windup with the IRS, which he cured with the QA1 adjustable shocks. Last time down the strip at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, resulted in a 12.31 at 114.8 mph, with a 2.00 60-ft time. The car has gone as fast as 115.8 and consistently runs in the 12.40s, even in July heat and humidity.
We don't think Keiling will be happy until the car runs in the 11s on its 70-series Goodyears. That means a lot more tinkering, a bit more tuning. Of course, he may just swap on a set of modern aluminum cylinder heads and a roller cam. This could add 10 mph or more and send e.t.'s into the mid- or low-11s.
Your author had the opportunity to make some laps in the car-to say it was a blast is an understatement. Anyone can launch a car on slicks. It takes finesse to launch a Rat-motor Vette on 70-series Goodyears. Get into the secondary carbs too soon and you'll do nothing but spin. Once you get rolling, you nail it and watch the tach shoot for the stars. Once the needs hits about 6800, you slam the Hurst into second, never lifting the throttle. You hope the tires don't spin too badly. Once in awhile you experience axle hop on the 1-2 gear change. The action isn't as smooth as a Muncie; it's stiffer. But it works. Then come third and fourth and you're across the finish line before you know it. It's a scene you could repeat over and over again. You never want to get out of the driver seat.
After a couple of hits at the track and some more street driving, we understand why these cars routinely sell for six figures and beyond. They represent an era when GM was at its peak, both in engineering and design. The styling is timeless. The interior is styled as perfectly as the exterior-those who worked on it obviously sweat the details.Great looks, eye-opening performance and ever-increasing value is a combination that's hard to beat.