1961 Corvette That Packs A Punch

1961 Corvette

Although a Corvette would be far from minimalism, but Rich Stadelhofer’s 1961 Corvette seems to have a bit of a minimalistic charm, with its slender and subtle look. This 1961 Corvette is a true roadster and not a convertible as you might think. Pulling off such a minimalistic look actually made the build more complicated which is ironic. Cotati Speed Shop was in-charge of this build and according to Zane Cullen of Cotati Speed Shop, “It took a strenuous effort to make something look simple.”

Rich bought the Corvette in 1997 during an auction at the Reno’s Hot August Nights. The previous owner was from Canada. At that time, the Corvette was more of a hot rod than a roadster and was in good condition. The Corvette received a repaint and some refurbishing but not too long after, an incident occurred. “When I shut off the car in my garage and heard it backfire, I didn’t think much of it, but the fuel somehow ignited and I came back later and found the car badly burned,” Rich recalled.

*Check out this classic “Chevrolet Corvette Parking Only” sign.*

61 Corvette

Reviving the Corvette back into top condition would require a decent amount of effort and money but Rich did not back down. “I wanted to make the car even better than before,” Rich said. The Corvette was rebuilt from the ground up. The frame was rebuilt back to the straight-axle, a more traditional setup for Corvettes. Rich has already owned several street rods and preferred to go with that approach and wanted to make this build simple.

Unlike most Corvette restomods that receive a chassis upgrade to a more modern setup, mostly the C4 suspension setup, this Corvette did not receive any. It has the stock frame but did receive some tubular cross member to reinforce it and Cotati redid the welding to further improve the structural strength. The suspension system is made up of the Mustang II-style front setup, Wilwood coilovers and brakes on all wheels, and a Ford 9” rear end.

1961 Corvette exterior

Zane from Cotati Speed shop said that: “We wanted to build a hot rod, I don’t like using a C4 rear end anyway, as it has a positive offset, and I prefer a deeper dish.” So to create more space, the crew made a mini-tub that is around 2 inches big, cut, and reworked the fenders so they perfectly fit the frame’s width, instead of overhanging it. This allowed the rims to be 11 inches wider in the rear. The wheel measured 17 inches in diameter for the front and 18 inches for the rear. All 4 wheels are fitted with Dunlop tires.

Using the triangulated four-bar system with a live-axle rear end provided some advantages for the build. Because the plan was to build a Corvette street rod, instead of a high-performance racer. A straight-axle made it easy to adjust the pinion angle for better anti squat and hookup, the structural integrity was also great for aggressive handling.

1961 Corvette horsepower 1961 Corvette engine


This made sure that all of the 534 horsepower generated by the 383 cid stroker goes to where they should be. Rebello Racing used a 350 SBC was used to build the 383 cid stroker. To create this much power is the result of fine details that went into building this engine. It features an old-school induction setup that has an Edelbrock manifold and coupled with a Holley carburetor and a custom 14” air cleaner. The headers are custom built as well. This means sure that the engine bay looks great and everything works like clockwork.

To match that power, a Richmond 6-speed transmission controlled by a McLeod clutch and Hurst shifter. The Richmond 6-speed directs all the power to a steel shaft built by Driveline Services from Santa Rosa, California. The drivetrain is simple but very effective, which stayed true to its minimalistic theme.

Time to talk about the body which is probably the most difficult part of the built. Although the process was straightforward, creating the seamless and perfectly smooth body was difficult. It took a lot of metalwork to connect every panel without any gaps. The results was an entirely perfect and flawless body. Sherm’s Custom Plating produced the chrome that perfectly matches the bodywork.

“Zane has a very, very sharp mind in visualizing how a car should look,” Rich said. To make sure everything was ready before adding the final touches, Rich did a test drive with the car having a plain gel coat for around 500 miles. After he was satisfied with everything and was confident with the result. A Spies-Hecker Mercedes Silver finish was applied by Cotati, and charcoal covers gave emphasis on the Corvette’s sexy and seamless body. Rich admits that he loves silver which is probably obvious when you see his 1966 and 1999 Corvette also comes in silver, even his company’s trucks come in silver.

1961 Corvette interior

Inside the cockpit, because the frames were taken from a ’94 Corvette, the trims around the seats needed to be modified to fit. Howdy Ledbetter did the leather work for the seats and now looks classier than before. The seats are also lower than the cockpit provides a more comfortable ride. “Before, I was looking over the top of the windshield frame with the factory seats, and the new ones are much more comfortable,” Rich explained.

1961 Corvette dashboard

The dash still features its original gauges and have been restored to working condition. Budnik steering wheel provides smooth steering and a modern audio system provides the perfect music for cruising. The floorboards are covered with Black wool carpets.

*Check out this classic “Chevrolet Corvette Parking Only” sign.*

original 1961 Corvette

The finished product is a minimalistic themed hot rod which is a bit ironic but has proven itself at is has twice won the “Best in Show” during the Reno’s Hot August Nights at the Peppermill Resort. An elegant and flawless Corvette that Rich has certainly enjoyed cruising along the North Carolina coast. It looks so classy that you won’t expect that it also packs a hard punch.

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