Editor's Note: Last month, we brought you the results of cars number three and four from our Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge, presented by Nitto Tire. This month, we give you the lowdown on how the Art Morrison Enterprises entry fared at our first annual Suspension & Handling Challenge. Next month: the Total Cost Involved Nova and Air Ride Technologies' Chevelle will be featured.
The low slung silver Corvette brought to the event by Art and Craig Morrison is simply stunning to look at. In fact, it was so nice we were actually surprised that the Morrisons didn't flinch at accepting the invitation to let us beat the tires off of it. While the car had been done for nearly a year, it hadn't gotten out on the track much at all, but that was about to change. The foundation of AME's Vette is the company's GT Sport Chassis. Originally introduced for the Tri-Five Chevys, this full frame was computer designed for the first-generation Corvette. This is a godsend to early Vette owners since the ride quality and handling capabilities of Chevrolet's first sports cars are notoriously poor.
Craig Morrison also is proud of the fact that while this is a complete chassis, it's still virtually a bolt-on proposition. As Craig told us, "Our Max G chassis is pretty bare bones, but the GT Sport version comes complete with mounts for the specific application, making for a much easier, do-it-yourself installation."
We expected good testing numbers from the fiberglass-skinned Chevy and the car delivered with well over 1g of lateral grip and some of the best slalom numbers we've ever seen. This was the Vette's first time on an autocross track and it could definitely benefit for some suspension tuning. The Morrisons also weren't able to get the exact tire sizes they have the car setup for and feel that didn't help with their autocross times. In any event, it's a car any one of us would be happy to pilot just about anywhere.
Driver's Impression - On The Autocross Course
This car had incredible power and good traction, but the threshold between stability and scary was very narrow and took some getting accustomed to. I had to use a delicate touch, "point and shoot"-type of driving style to get it around the autocross course, and never really felt comfortable behind the wheel. Part of this was the pedal position as the accelerator pedal was located more in the center of the foot-well with the other two pedals off to the left-definitely something the driver needs time to get use to. At the speeds this car could generate, the brakes couldn't get it slowed down fast enough for my liking. The car didn't like any throttle application at an apex, skittered through corners, and the technique required to drive it was throttle, brake, turn, and then back to throttle until the next corner. Luckily, it was relatively easy to turn with excellent steering response. With a softer, more compliant suspension and more responsive brakes, this could be a very fun autocross car. I hope to drive it again after these changes are made. - Mary Pozzi
Driver's Impression - On The street
I've driven or rode in a number of solid-axle Corvettes in my life, including an original-owner, bone-stock '54. Believe me, none of them performed like this. This sucker was low, perhaps lower than I'd like for my personal car, but the ride and handling were first-rate. You can get this setup with an independent rear, but our tester had a 9-inch stick axle and I was perfectly content with it. The throttle response from the 427-inch small-block was instantaneous, brake feel was great, and the steering was very fast, but predictable and accurate. And while it has nothing to do with handling, this roadster drew more admiring glances from Southern California females than all the other cars at our Shootout combined. Ultimately, there are few vehicles that have the style and grace of a '53-62 Corvette. With the GT Sport chassis, you can have all that with the kind of ride, handling, steering, and braking that engineers could only dream about 50 years ago. - Jim Campisano