Art Morrison’s 3G ’60 Corvette Crosses The Block

For many of us, our first taste of driving came through video games. Then as we grew older, our cars moved from the small-screen to the open road. Thanks to Art Morrison Enterprises and Barrett-Jackson, that transformation from video game to two-lane reality may actually be seamless.

When Art Morrison and his team at Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) were considering what car they should use to highlight their performance-ready chassis, it was a no-brainer that a Corvette would make a great palette for which to apply their wares. Of course, when you’re highlighting the improvements that your chassis will make to the donor car’s performance, starting with a first-gen Corvette gives you the most bang for your buck.

Known for its performance chassis, when it came time to update a ’60 Corvette, AME used its knowledge and GM’s blueprints to make the match as bolt-in as possible.

The AME GT Sport chassis for first-generation Corvettes was an evolutionary creation from the 1955-57 GT chassis, which allowed Tri-Five Chevys to carve a corner like never before. AME did its homework when spec’ing the shoebox chassis and the understanding of proper suspension setup carried over to the lightweight C1 version. But to make the integration as trouble-free as possible, the team at AME poured over Chevrolet’s own blueprints of the ‘Vette to make sure that all of the mounts aligned and a minimum of mods to the body were necessary. Thanks to the already set-back engine layout of the Corvette, upon completion, the Art Morrison Enterprises GT Sport chassis achieved as perfect a 50/50 balance as possible.

The GT Sport chassis comes with C5 or C6 components and all body, radiator and bumper mounts are aligned according to factory specifications. The triangulated 4-bar rear suspension helps weave the exhaust up and over the differential and out to the factory openings in the rear bumpers.

A ’60 Corvette was sourced and the work began, to transform those classic lines of a vintage performance car into a late-model hyper-driver that would be the envy of enthusiasts both young and old. The task of keeping those classic lines while transforming many components into one-off masterpieces was handled by Art Morrison Performance. Many components were re-manufactured using modern components such as carbon fiber and aluminum to seamlessly blend both old and new together.

The Foundation

Body modifications were kept to a minimum, with the larger deviations from stock being the removal of the side glass and capping off the doors at the top, making the car a true roadster. Also, the windshield frame was modified to remove the channel for the door chrome. A set of custom inner fender panels and floor were fabricated out of fiberglass to fit the much wider wheels and tires and trim was CNC-machined to replicate the stock pieces. Another touch of non-stock bright-work are those roll hoops that mount to the chassis in four locations to give positive roll-over protection, should it ever be necessary.

Due to the massive tire choice, the rear wheel wells were mini-tubbed and a new floor was fabricated from fiberglass.

Under the body, the GT Sport chassis features C5 components with an AGR 15:1 power rack and pinion steering. Out back, an AME triangulated four-bar rear suspension centers a Strange Engineering 9-inch third member and 31-spline axles. Ride height is determined by coilovers at each corner and AME-designed anti-sway bars are tuned with the rest of the chassis to keep the bumpers level at mid-apex.

Body mods were kept to a minimum while updates were added in keeping the classic, original body lines with a modern touch.

Go And Whoa

The intent for the project was to build the car into a true performer, whether accelerating, braking or turning. As designed, the car will achieve over 1g acceleration in each category. To put it into perspective, the Corvette can out corner a Saleen S7 Twin Turbo, out brake a Porsche 911 GT3, and keep pace with a Ferrari F430 on the drag strip.

Carbon fiber rules in the engine compartment and the interior. The lightweight material gives a modern feel while keeping the car as light as possible.

The chassis takes care of the turning, while the 538hp Bill Mitchell Products all-aluminum 427ci small-block (controlled via a FAST fuel injection) and the Tremec T-56 6-speed keep the thrill factor at redline. To erase speed with the same vitality, a complete round of Wilwood 14-inch rotor, 6-piston caliper (front) and 13-inch rotor, 4-piston caliper (rear) brakes were added under those Boyd Coddington (18×10 rear, 18×9 front) wheels. Nitto NT01 tires (275/35/18 front and 275/40/18 rear) were added to fill in the wheel openings and provide the greatest grip possible without inducing any unwanted handling characteristics or excessive body modifications.

Virtual Vindication

There may be no greater proof that the AME team succeeded in their quest to build the ultimate handling machine than when their little Corvette was crowned with the Grand Turismo Award at SEMA in 2006. With that came the car’s fame on the video game circuit where millions of enthusiasts could enjoy driving the car.

The car was introduced at the 2006 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and soon after won the Gran Turismo award. It was added to the popular PlayStation game, where millions of enthusiasts could take it for a spin.

Of course, a select few were also honored with being able to enjoy the car in reality, like Matt Farah, of The Smoking Tire and autocross legend Mary Pozzi.

Now, it may be your chance to turn the wheel on this super-capable C1. Art Morrison has contacted Barrett-Jackson and decided to send the car through the auction in January in a bid to find the car a new owner. We asked Art’s son Craig why they decided to sell the car, he replied: “Art has realized that he just doesn’t drive the car enough and that there’s somebody out there that would have more fun with this car in their stable.” Indeed, this car has proven that it was designed to be driven and even after a number of years, it still beckons to the open road.

Modifications were low-impact, but done with great skill, such as removing the side windows and sealing up the doors. New trim was created for the tops of the doors and the fenders to mate to the factory bright-work. The addition of the roll-over bars was a necessary safety feature and securely mount to the chassis for true roll-over protection.

The car is going to be on display at the Barrett Jackson booth at SEMA as well as the Barrett Jackson display at the Goodguys Southwest Nationals. From there, it will be in their showroom from November to auction time in January where it is scheduled to cross the block prime-time on Saturday. At that point, the car will roll across the small-screens of America one more time on its way to a new owner and new adventures.

The Boyd Coddington wheels and Wilwood brakes blend with the classic lines of the Corvette, and like the other modifications, they modernize the design without over-powering its classic vibe.

Whether you’re the winning bidder in January or not, you’ll still be able to make a few laps as you play Grand Turismo. Although we’ll admit that it might not be as fun as the real thing, but you won’t have to try and get the smell of burnt rubber out of your clothes either!

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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