Sometimes, a custom car is an answer in search of a question, with the builder's or owner's ideas behind it not easily understood. But this car answers a "what-if" question that some Vette lovers may have: What if Corvette's 1961 rear restyling included a fixed-roof, split-window coupe?
Thought it was a '63 at first,...
Thought it was a '63 at first, didn't you? Mike Walker and Street Rods Only combined the split-window-coupe roof with the '61's Sting Ray–inspired rear styling.
Mike Walker built this one at his shop, Street Rods Only, in Macon, Illinois. If that name and shop sound familiar, then you probably know about the "fastback" '59 Corvette Walker and company built (and this author wrote about for Corvette Fever, also with Jerry Heasley's photographic assistance). "I just had so many people looking at that one," says Walker. "I said to myself, 'What do I do next?' My shop and A-1 Fiberglass teamed up, and I was asking them, 'What do I do next?'"
What he did was another lift-off-topped C1. Walker says that, unlike some builders, he didn't start with an intact '61 Corvette--or with a basket case '61, either. "We build the body," he says. "We build everything--it's a total build." That work also included the four months A-1 Fiberglass took to design and engineer the roof and trunk lid, then make the required molds.
A new body and frame may have saved Walker and the Street Rods Only crew from "remedial" rust and/or crash-damage repair, but the project consumed a lot of time nonetheless. "We have over 3,000 hours in this car," Walker says of the two-year build.
A look at the finer details shows that those hours were time well spent. The roof wears a split rear window--inspired by the one on the production '63 Sting Ray--atop the '61's body. But unlike the C2 coupes, this split-window has a functioning trunk, one whose lid blends right into the roof and rear body lines. A Sting Ray show/race car–inspired tail treatment also contributes to the "hybrid" styling theme.
Just as with Street Rods Only's orange '59 C1 fastback, you'll find two '67 Sting Ray hood scoops--but only one on the hood itself. "The other scoop is reversed and underneath the roof, inside of it," says Walker of the interior styling detail that uses the split between the two rear windows as the "stinger" that projects out of the scoop's open end.
Unlike some projects, the later-model chassis hardware and LS3 engine in this car look as if they were installed at St. Louis Assembly. What's it like to drive? "It's nice," says Walker. "It's got C4 front and rear suspension, six-piston disc brakes front and rear, power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning," he adds, pointing out the features and comforts this C1 and its fellow '61s never got from Chevrolet way back when.
No '61 Corvette caused a sensation like the production Sting Ray did when it was announced--and it's a safe bet that no '61s other than this one have ever been confused for a '63 model. As Walker points out, "Unless somebody's really a Corvette person, they'll look at this car and say, 'Oh--a '63 split window.' And you go, 'Yeah, right. It does look like one…from the back." He adds, "It's done so well that maybe Chevrolet should have thought about doing it."
Could a split-window fastback version of the '61 and '62 Corvettes have been a big seller? Possibly. Recall how Corvette coupe sales complemented those of the drop-top starting in '63. Chevrolet could have done the coupe and convertible to counter its biggest two-seat rival, Jaguar's all-new E-Type, which debuted in '61 and was available in both fastback and topless body styles.
Then again, a production, St. Louis–built split-window '61 wouldn't have the LS-series engine, C4 composite leaf springs, Baer Brakes, or custom cabin that this one does!
|OWNER|| Mike Walker; Macon, IL|
|ENGINE|| GM Performance Parts
LS3 crate engine|
|BLOCK|| LS3 cast aluminum with
|DISPLACEMENT|| 376 ci|
|HEADS|| LS3 cast aluminum|
|CAMSHAFT|| Stock hydraulic roller|
|PISTONS|| Stock hypereutectic
|CRANKSHAFT|| Stock nodular iron|
|RODS Stock|| powdered metal|
|INTAKE MANIFOLD|| Stock composite|
|FUEL INJECTION|| Stock|
|FUEL PUMP|| LS3 electric|
|IGNITION|| Stock coil-on-plug|
|EXHAUST SYSTEM|| Street & Performance
headers, 3-in stainlesssteel
|TRANSMISSION|| GM 4L70E four-speed
with Lokar shifter|
|REAREND|| Dana 44 Positraction|
|SUSPENSION|| C4 transverse composite
leaf springs with
tubular shocks (front
|BRAKES|| Baer Brakes discs with
(front and rear)|
|WHEELS EVOD|| Industries billet
(front), 20x10 (rear)|
|TIRES|| Sumitomo HTR ZIII;
Snakeskin leather covers the...
Snakeskin leather covers the refurbished C1 buckets. Dash features Classic Instruments gauges, an EVOD billet steering wheel, and a Flaming River tilt column.
Quarter windows help visibility...
Quarter windows help visibility while combining C1 door glass and C2-inspired coupe roofline.
Mike Walker, with his latest...
Mike Walker, with his latest fastback C1.
The '61 Vette offered optional...
The '61 Vette offered optional fuel-injected V-8s, but those were no match for this C1's LS3 crate engine.
The rear window split is also...
The rear window split is also a "stinger": It projects out from a '67 big-block hoodscoop that's been molded into the roof's underside.