1963 Chevy Corvette Stingray - Liter Of The Pack

Big-Cube LS Power Yields One Monster Midyear

Christopher R. Phillip Sep 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)

The engine features a 4.125 x 4.00 bore/stroke combo, a forged-steel crankshaft, titanium connecting rods, CNC-ported heads with a 2.20/1.61 valves (sodium filled on the exhaust side), 1.8-ratio rocker arms, a hydraulic roller cam with 211/230-degree duration and 0.591/0.591-inch lift, and an 11.0:1 compression ratio.

As many VETTE readers know, the injected LS7 requires a compatible ECU to operate, even when retrofitted to a classic Corvette. Because no "plug and play" solutions were available at the time, Spiteri utilized a reprogrammed LS1 ECU and a Holley 90mm drive-by-cable throttle body in his project. (Seeing the exploding popularity of LS-into-vintage-car swaps, GMPP has since developed an LS Controller Kit and an LS7 Accessory Drive System, which together make the job much easier.)

To increase the LS7's output to even more sinister levels, Spiteri and his cousin, Joe, upgraded the LS7's internals with JE pistons and added a Comp Cams hydraulic roller delivering 238/240-degree duration and 0.605/0.609-inch lift.

One of the more noteworthy aspects of the swap is the car's unique dry-sump canister, which the mechanically inclined Spiteri put together himself. "It started from an old water-type,stainless-steel fire extinguisher," he explains. "I worked out all the baffles, the filler tube, the dipstick and tube, the mounting brackets, and such. Then it was TIG-welded together and mounted to the frame on the right-side inner fender. [It] works great."

Next, Spiteri designed a custom fuel-delivery system featuring three fuel pumps. After the addition of 17?8-inch custom headers welded to Corvette 3-inch side pipes, the fortified LS7 pumped out a rousing 640 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque on an engine dyno.

Realizing that the vintage M20 trans would curtail the capabilities of his 7-liter projectile, Spiteri sourced an LS7 clutch and flywheel, a Tremec T56 six-speed, and a custom-length driveshaft for the car. The Vette's stock 3.70-geared rear was deemed up to the task and left in place.

While he was at it, Spiteri also took the initiative to upgrade his Vette's ride and handling. Although the underpinnings remain mostly stock (at least for the time being), the factory A-arms were treated to Nylo-thane bushings, while Pedders lowering springs and Koni shocks stand in for their factory counterparts up front. Rear-suspension modifications include a composite monospring, a second set of Konis, and a -inch sway bar to limit side-to-side motion. For an added touch, many of the front and rear suspension components were powdercoated.

The next step was to make sure the brakes, tires, and wheels could accommodate the massive power increase provided by the LS7. Accordingly, Spiteri installed GM four-piston calipers and 11.9-inch rotors from a '66 Vette at all four hubs to provoke instant stopping power. A set of 17-inch custom Dragway wheels wrapped in Yokohama rubber provide a wide-enough contact patch to punish the pavement into submission.

Performance was Spiteri's primary goal, but along the way he found the passion to prepare his midyear missile for show duty, too. Friend Tony Roberts mixed up the batch of Corvette Red paint, and Illawarra Collision Repair sprayed the scintillating hue. The interior, meanwhile, was Spiteri's own design. It includes Recaro seats with full racing harnesses, an SAAS sport wheel, black carpet, and Auto Meter gauges in the factory pods. For added safety, Spiteri also installed a brace box behind the seats.

So, how has this heavily modded midyear been received? Since the build was completed, Spiteri's coupe has won numerous Best Car and First Place trophies in the Aussie Vette-show circuit's highly competitive '63-'67 Modified class.

"Now that the car's complete, it's great fun to drive," says Spiteri. "All I have to do is reinstall the split window, and I'll have a '63 Corvette that's exactly the way it should have been built: with an LS7 engine."




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