1961 Chevrolet Corvette - Something Old, Something New

Tommy Vinciguerra's Pro Street '61 Blends Modern Performance In A Classic Package

Richard Prince Jul 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0807_13_z 1961_chevrolet_corvette Tommy_vinciguerra 2/16

After attaching the caliper-mount brackets to the spindles, packing the inner wheel bearing with grease, and placing it into the hub, Tommy V. installed the rotor and hub assembly. In doing so, he made sure that the arrow on each unidirectional rotor pointed forward. He then packed the outer wheel bearing with grease and installed it.

Next, he mounted the brake caliper onto its bracket with the bleed screws pointing up. He then used the included 0.032-inch shims between the caliper and mount bracket to get the calipers centered over the rotors. For added security, he safety-wired the bolts, which come with the heads drilled for that purpose.

Tommy V. next turned his attention to the rear brakes. He removed the drum to unscrew the five nuts that retain the axle and brake-backing plate, then slid the axle out of its housing. Next, he reinstalled the axle in its housing and bolted up the rear caliper-mount bracket. The bracket is correctly installed when its slot is pointing up and its mounting ears are pointing toward the rear of the car. He secured the axle and caliper-mount bracket with the same hardware that originally held the axle and OEM backing plate.

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With that done, Tommy V. bolted the rear hat to the rotor using the included lock washers and bolts, then safety-wired them with standard 0.032-inch-diameter stainless-steel safety wire. Next, he installed the rotor onto the axle and then temporarily mounted the caliper to its bracket with the bleed screws pointing up. Once again, he used the provided 0.032-inch shims to center the caliper. After flushing out all of the old fluid, he connected the brake lines to the calipers.

The original master cylinder must be replaced with a dual-reservoir unit designed to work with four-wheel discs. To ensure compatibility, Tommy V. opted to use a Wilwood master, which uses a standard-sized mount that works with a wide variety of cars other than early Corvettes. In order to mount it in the '61, an adapter that extends forward from the recess in the firewall was needed.

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The final area Tommy V. upgraded was the drivetrain. A G-Force GF-5R five-speed replaced the OEM Warner four-speed. Besides being much stronger than a stock unit, the G-Force trans has a wide range of gear ratios available, so you can custom tailor it to your driving style and needs. It can also be configured to work with a large number of different bellhousings, and it easily fits into a first-generation Corvette, requiring only minor modifications to the rear mount bracket.

The five-speed G-Force sends the engine's twist to a Dana 60 differential. As part of this most recent overhaul, the Dana was fitted with ultra-strong Moser gears, axles, bearings, and wheel studs. A 35-spline Eaton Truetrac limited-slip unit filled out the beefed-up differential.

Tommy V.'s '61 Corvette has been a work in progress since the day he brought it home 30 years ago. This latest round of modifications goes a long way in bringing the classic ride's performance into the 21st century. With timeless good looks that date all the way back to the middle of the 20th century, it truly is a masterful blend of old and new.


Wilwood Engineering
Camarillo, CA 93012
G-Force Transmissions
Cleona, PA 17042
Flaming River
Berea, OH 44017
Eaton Corporation
Moser Engineering
Portland, IN 47371
Jim Meyer Racing Products
Lincoln City, OR 97367
FK Bearing
Southington, CT 06489
QA1 Precision Products
Lakeville, MN 55044
Action Powder Coating
Farmingdale, NY 11735
On-Time Auto Parts
West Islip, NY 11795


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