1961 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster (LHD)
The first Corvette rolled off the production line in 1953 and today, more than six decades on, American’s only sports car is regarded as a bone fide automotive legend. Key to its success, the Corvette has always remained true to the original concept of combining affordable sports car performance with stunning looks. The earliest Vettes employed a tuned version of the ‘Blue Flame’ six but in 1955 the small-block V8 was introduced, elevating performance of the lightweight sports roadster to levels that were little short of sensational. The first generation of America’s only sports car, the Corvette, had undergone a number of significant changes by the early 1960s. In what proved to be the penultimate year for the solid axle Vette, styling of the 1961 model was sharpened up by deleting the chrome ‘teeth’ from the grille, while a dramatic ‘boat tail’ rear end with four recessed tail and brake lights gave the model a distinctive new look. Inside Chevrolet added more standard equipment, with sun visors, windscreen washers, a courtesy light and parking brake alarm now all included in the base price of $3934. A narrower transmission tunnel also enhanced passenger legroom. Under the bonnet Chevrolet continued to employ the classic small-block V8, displacing 283-cid and developing 230 horsepower at 4800 rpm in base level of tune. Power options included the 245 hp dual four-barrel and two versions of the Rochester fuel injection, either the 275 hp hydraulic-cam RPO 353 or the ultimate solid-lifter 315 hp RPO 354. The standard transmission was a three-speed manual box, with a heavy duty four-speed or Powerglide auto optional. There were very few cars, at least those that could be registered for the road, that could match the fuel injected Corvette for performance and none for the price. Contemporary road tests managed the 0-60 mph time in just 5.5 seconds while the quarter mile was dispatched in 14.2 seconds at a terminal velocity approaching 130 mph, figures that would embarrass most Italian exotics for decades. Production of the solid-lifter fuel injected Corvette for 1961 was limited to just 1462 cars, out of the total Corvette production that year of 10,939 units. The last of the solid axle Corvettes in 1961-1962 are sought after for their glamorous image and scintillating performance, with the rarest fuel injected cars the most desirable of all.