The Yenko name is one that needs no introduction in automotive circles. Responsible for some of the most recognized and desirable GM products to ever hit the street, Don Yenko and company created a legacy so strong that GM purchased the trademark in 2009 for their own use. What many enthusiasts tend to gloss over is the fact that Yenko was, first and foremost, a Chevrolet dealership that sold new cars just like every other Chevrolet dealership in the country. The story of this 1961 Corvette begins at that famed lot where hobby racer Ed Lowther stopped in and special ordered it on Thursday, January 1st 1961. The total came to $4,733.10 and, looking over the original Don Yenko-signed paperwork, it looks very much like the original paperwork from any other car sale of the day. Lowther made a $750 deposit and waited, probably very eagerly, to take delivery of his new C1.
Looking over the options selected, Lowther had both good taste and fairly obvious intentions for the car:
527B: Silver/White paint
490D: Red trim
685A: 4-speed manual transmission
101D: Deluxe heater
102A: Signal seeking radio
276A: 15x5.5 wheels
1408: 6.70x15 Nylon tires
354N: Fuel injection system
419A: Corvette hard top
470E: Convertible white top
675E: Positraction axle
687N: Heavy duty brakes and suspension
It didnt take Lowther long to cash in on those intentions. By June of 61, he was out running laps in his new Corvette as part of the Yenko Racing Team. As evidenced by the personalized inscriptions on vintage SCCA magazines, the relationship between Lowther and Yenko extended beyond the dealership and onto the track where, on several occasions, it was Don Yenko himself running hot laps in the Corvette. There are pictures of the car in its on-track glory as well as a shot of Lowther and Yenko but, beyond that, the specifics start to fade. What we can tell you is that, by June of 1964, the storied Corvette made its way back to Yenko lot and into the hands of a new owner later that month. The car traded hands several more times until it ended up in Massachusetts where Rons Auto Restoration performed a nut and bolt restoration good enough to earn it an NCRS Top Flight Award in September of 2010. While the car wore a louvered hood and a SCCA-mandated roll bar in race form, the current version shows exactly how it was delivered to Yenko in 1961.
Approaching the car, the combination of Sateen Silver and Ermine White stand out immediately. Both aggressive and sophisticated, this color pairing may be the best representation of these cars true personalities. The paint work is first rate and presents well from all around while the fiberglass body beneath shows as an early Corvette should perfectly imperfect. Even eight years into Corvette production, their fiberglass shells retained the character of lower-production cars and this one retains that feel. The cars racing past left it with a few battle scars that required repairs to the passenger front fender and rear quarter but, thanks to professional work, those repairs would are practically undetectable from the outside. Overall fit and finish is well above average and, judging by the reactions of staff and showroom patrons, the car has a certain magnetism that just cant be created.
Under the influence of designer Bill Mitchell, the 1961 Corvettes looked significantly more modern than earlier models without sacrificing their identity. Up front, a horizontal-mesh finished in Argent Silver replaces the trademark vertical teeth while a split chrome bumper adds a little flash. Above, vertical script spells out Chevrolet beneath a cross flag emblem while, at either side of the grille, Sateen Silver headlight bezels modernize the headlight treatment. The side profile houses the C1s signature feature the cove. Surrounded by chrome trim, it remains one of the most iconic Corvette design cues to date. Up top, show quality brightwork is in place around the date coded windshield and side glass. A removable hardtop fits snug, while a white convertible top offers another option for keeping the elements out. At the back, a downward swept ducktail rear end houses a large Corvette medallion on the decklid with the four round taillights just below. Another split chrome bumper rounds out the package.
Flip the hood forward and take a look at the original 283cid V8. There were a few variants of this engine on the menu for the 1961 model year and, among them, the 315hp fuelie reigned supreme. In one of the SCCA magazines included with this car, Don Yenko goes so far as to say that this was the only Corvette engine option of the day worth taking to a race course. This block wears a proper 3756519 casting in the distributor valley with a corresponding F0203 (February 3, 1961) assembly date, CS suffix code and matching 1105781 partial VIN to prove it came with the car originally. The star of the engine bay is the Rochester Ramjet fuel injection system which delivers a constant flow, metering fuel to all cylinders simultaneously from a central spider of injection lines. Its a complex system by most standards but driving a properly tuned Fuelie will make you a lifelong believer. This one fires on the first try and makes a racket worthy of the cars former racetrack life. Take a closer look at the bay and youll find an impressive number of date-coded parts including the exhaust manifolds, water pump, generator, radiator, expansion tank even the battery was made in 1961! Fresh paint, new decals and, of course, timeless pieces like the finned aluminum valve covers and chrome ignition cover make it a show-worthy bay in every respect.
This impressive restoration doesnt stop under the hood...peek underneath this C1 and youll find a factory fresh undercarriage, carrying even more original and date-coded pieces. At the center, a T10 four-speed manual transmission makes quick work out of gear selection. The main case wears a WA412 (January 4, 1961) date code which aligns nicely with the cars February build date. Power is sent to a date-code correct Positraction axle which looks parts-counter new thanks to a fresh coat of satin black paint. In the July 1961 issue of the SCCAs magazine, Don Yenko wrote an article which specified factory options he believed to be mandatory for any Corvette destined for track time. Among those options was code 687 Heavy Duty Brakes and Suspension. This C1 is one of just 233 1961 models to leave the factory with this option which consisted of special front and rear shocks, air scoops for the brakes, metallic brake facings, finned brake drums with cooling fans, and a quick steering adaptor. The 687 setup took the Corvettes performance capabilities to the next level, transforming it into a car that could truly shine at the track. If youre combing over the undercarriage pictures looking for those signature air scoops, dont worry theyre still in their original burlap shipping sack in the trunk. At the corners, wide code 276 15x5.5 wheels are wrapped in 6.70x15 and topped with cross flag-branded centers.
Between the doors, a spectacular red interior practically glows against the Sateen Silver exterior. Rebuilt bucket seats provide plenty of support and fit snug on either side of the signature Corvette waterfall. The transmission tunnel serves as the center console, housing the chrome-knobbed shifter, machined shift plate and little else ...For more information please call the seller.