David Frank, an Austin, Texas, Corvette enthusiast, purchased this '61 "square-tail" Corvette in back in 1984 for the then-princely sum of $9,000. "The car was just a 'driver,'" said David's wife Jean, "and David wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to do with it!"
"I just couldn't make up my mind whether to restore it or not," says David. "At one time or another, the car had been hit on every corner. It wasn't really what you would call 'restoration material.'"
After noticing that a number of these '61s and '62s were being turned into some pretty impressive resto-rods, Frank made the commitment. In February of 2001, he took the Corvette completely apart and started to get with the program.
David refurbished and replaced virtually every component (shocks, bushings, and grommets) on the '61's chassis with all-new pieces. Still in use is the original 3.70:1-geared '61 vintage Corvette Posi-traction rearend, albeit fully rebuilt to withstand the rigors of regular use and abuse, along with freshened-up factory-Corvette drum brakes with modern compound linings and manual steering.
When it came to selecting wheels and tires, David and Jean ultimately settled on a quartet of 16x7-inch Budnik billet wheels rolling on 225/60-R16h Goodyear Eagle GT radial rubber.
Powering this beauty is a Crankshaft and Grinding Service-machined (Waco, TX) '76 Chevrolet 350 small-block, outfitted with a Duntov cam, a set of Corvette "461" fuelie heads, and a polished-aluminum '66 Corvette intake manifold with a 650-cfm Edelbrock Performer carburetor bolted onto it. Other items include a Pertronix-converted (breaker-less) Corvette ignition system, a reproduction Corvette "off-road" exhaust system, and a GM Performance Parts chrome engine dress-up kit. Backing up the Frank's warmed-over 350 small-block is a rebuilt '67 Muncie M-22 four-speed tranny.
David and his son William handled all the paint and bodywork themselves. Frank's square-tail '61 is painted PPG Global DG '00 Corvette Torch Red urethane. Corvette Central and Paragon Reproductions supplied all of the necessary "re-pop" body panels, chrome, and stainless trim used as part of the '61's resurrection.
And when it came to the interior and trunk area, the Franks went for the full effect. Hatfield Restorations, based in Canton, Texas, re-upholstered the entire interior (which utilizes a pair of Wise Guys custom seats,) and trunk in lush parchment vinyl with gray tweed carpeting. In the process, the crew at Hatfields also personalized both areas with the Corvette logo script and the familiar Corvette crossed flags.
The Torch Red '61 was completed just in time to enter the 30th annual Ft. Worth Rod & Custom Car & Truck Show held at Ft. Worth's Amon G. Carter Exhibit Hall on March 4-7. There, David and Jean's resto-roadster captured First Place in the mild sports category, which certainly makes all that time and the occasional indecision well worthwhile.