1961 C1 Corvette

1961 Corvette Overview

By late 1960, the Corvette had demonstrated again that it was a serious contender on the race track, both in mainstream media and in the automotive marketplace. CBS television, in cooperation with General Motors, introduced the series “Route 66”. (While it was common in that era for automotive manufacturing companies to sponsor television programming, this particular series featured a story about two guys who sought adventure in their shiny, new Corvette).

Bill Mitchell had begun the process of developing a prototype for an all new Corvette that would go on to become known as the “Mako Shark I.”  He had also championed a team of Chevrolet designers in developing both cosmetic and performance upgrades to the existing C1 body styling.

Model: 1961 Corvette
Generation: C1 Corvette
Type: 2 Door Convertible
Available Colors: Tuxedo Black, Honduras Maroon, Ermine White, Jewel Blue, Fawn Beige, Roman Red, Sateen Silver
Engine: 283 ci. V-8 (fuel injected or carbureted) – multiple-horsepower options available
VIN: 10867S100001 – 10867S110939
Transmission: 3-speed manual (standard), 4-speed manual (optional), 2-speed Powerglide (optional)
Original Price: $3,934.00
Units Produced: 10,931
Full Spec List 1961 Corvette Complete Specs
1960 Stingray
Bill Mitchell with the 1960 Stingray (left) and the 1961 Mako Shark I Concept (right).

With Corvette sales consistently increasing over the previous two model years, General Motors executives decided to review some of Mitchell‘s designs and made the decision to “green light” a restyling of Corvette for the 1961 model year.

The most pronounced of Mitchell’s changes was the introduction of a freshened rear end design.  The “ducktail” design (as it has become known amongst Corvette enthusiasts) was virtually lifted from the Stingray race car as well as Mitchell’s XP-700 show car

From a practicality standpoint, the redesign of the rear end of the Corvette enabled an increase in available luggage space by twenty percent (20%).  The new rear end also showcased a pair of small, round taillights on each side of the license plate recess. (These re-designed tail lights would become synonymous with Corvette and would be a standard feature (in one form or another) on all future generations of Corvette).

1961 Chevrolet Corvette.
The Re-Imagined Rear End of the 1961 Chevrolet Corvette.

A simple vertical crease line ran down the middle of the rear deck lid, passing evenly through the traditional, big, round Corvette emblem.

The rear end of the car now featured a pair of small chrome bumpers that framed a third, small, chrome, “arch” bumper that wrapped around the license plate well.

On the front end of the car, Mitchell redesigned the layout of the dual headlamp system, providing Corvette with a more streamlined version of the of the existing four lamp nose.  Headlight bezels were no longer available in chrome, but instead were painted to match the rest of the body.

Likewise, the chrome “teeth” grill was replaced with a fine wire mesh insert that was finished in argent silver.

The round Corvette emblem that resided on the front nose of the car was replaced with individual block letters that spelled out the car’s name.  This was topped with a larger version of the Corvette’s crossed-flags insignia.

1961 Corvette Front
The Front End of the 1961 Corvette. (Note that the headlight bezels match the rest of the car)

Other improvements were made to the Corvette’s body as well, though some were not physical changes to the actual lines of the Corvette so much as an evolution in the quality of how those body lines were put together.

With improvements in fiberglass manufacturing combined with refined assembly processes improving the car’s fit and finish, the 1961 Corvette was quickly recognized by critics and enthusiasts alike as the best built Corvette yet.

While the exterior received subtle improvements to it’s overall appearance, the interior of the 1961 Corvette went virtually unchanged from it’s predecessors.

To increase space within the two seat cockpit, the transmission tunnel was slightly narrowed, though this single change did little to affect the overall appearance of the car‘s interior.

Cosmetically, even the color options stayed largely the same.  Four interior colors were made available: black, red, fawn, and blue.

Interior of a 1961 Corvette.
Interior of a 1961 Corvette.

Of course, as the Corvette continued to evolve, so did the standard features that came with it.  With a base price of $3934, the Corvette now included windshield washers, sun visors, a thermostatically controlled radiator fan and a parking brake warning light.

The installation of a heater was still an option in 1961, as was the addition of a four speed manual transmission.  With respect to the latter, nearly seventy five percent (75%) of all Corvette customers paid the extra $188.30 to purchase the four-speed manual transmission, which was now clad in aluminum that shaved fifteen pounds from the overall weight of the car.

Interestingly, air conditioning, power steering and power brakes were still unavailable, even as optional equipment, on the 1961 Corvette.  However, the “Wonder Bar” signal-seeking AM radio remained available, as did the Positraction limited-slip differential, “wide” whitewall tires, electric windows, and a power operated manual top.

DID YOU KNOW: The 1961 Corvette would be the last Corvette to offer a consumer the option of purchasing bodyside cover in contrasting paint colors. A mere $16.15 option in 1961, this was an option that most consumers readily ordered when purchasing a new Corvette. The 1961 Corvette was also the last model year to offer the option of “wide” whitewall tires as well as the last model year to offer the 283 cubic inch V-8 that helped launch Corvette into stardom!

Mechanically, the 1961 Corvette was much like it’s 1960 predecessor.  However, an aluminum radiator took the place of the previous copper-core unit.   By adding an aluminum radiator, Chevrolet improved the cooling capabilities while further reducing the car’s overall weight.  Side mount coolant-expansion tanks were added as a running change.

1961 Corvette Ad
GM Advertisement for the 1961 Corvette. (Image courtesy of GM Media.)

The available engines were essentially just carryovers from the 1960 Corvette.  There were five, different versions of Chevy’s respected 283 cubic-inch V-8 engine made available to consumers, of which two were fuel injected.

The three speed manual transmission gearbox remained the standard option but was now offered with a wider choice of axle ratios.   Powerglide automatic transmissions continued to be made available as an optional transmission, though the automatic transmission did not have enough sheer strength to handle the additional torque associated with the larger engines.

Besides, most Corvette enthusiasts were now actively seeking out manual transmissions, proved by the fact that nearly 90 percent of all the Corvette’s sold in 1961 were built with a manual gearbox.

While Corvette continued to delay the incorporation of an independent rear-suspension, this did nothing to hurt the vehicle in sales or in performance.

Automotive testers were enamored with the quality of the 61’s handling ability, and none of them identified any specific deficiencies or lacking in quality of handling due to the absence of an independent rear suspension.

By the standards of that time, the Corvette was now recognized as one of the most roadworthy cars in the world.

See full 1961 Corvette Image Gallery

See Also 

C1 ’53 54 ’55 ’56 ’57 ’58 ’59 ’60 ’61 ’62
Gen C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1961 Corvette Specifications

1961 Corvette Main Specs

MODEL: 1961 Chevrolet Corvette
BODY STYLE: Two-door convertible, front engine, rear wheel drive
MANUFACTURING LOCATION: St. Louis, Missouri
CONSTRUCTION: Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP or “fiberglass”) body, steel frame with steel and chrome structural & chassis components.
VEHICLE NUMBERS (VIN): 10867S100001 – 10867S110939
VIN PREFIX: CQ: 4-BARREL CARBURETOR, 283 CUBIC INCH, 230 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CR: FUEL INJECTION, 283 CUBIC INCH, 275 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CS: FUEL INJECTION & SPECIAL CAMSHAFT, 283 CUBIC INCH, 315 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CT: 2×4-BARREL CARBURETOR, 283 CUBIC INCH, 245 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CU: 2×4-BARREL CARBURETOR & SPECIAL CAM, 283 CUBIC INCH, 270 HP, MANUAL TRANS
DG: POWERGLIDE & 4-BARREL CARB, 283 CUBIC INCH, 230 HORS, AUTOMATIC TRANS
DJ: POWERGLIDE & 2×4 BARREL CARB, 283 CUBIC INCH, 245 HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS
ENGINE BLOCK NUMBER: 3756519, 3789935 (LATE PRODUCTION)
HEAD NUMBER: 3774692:283 CUBIC INCH, 230HP, 245HP, 270HP
3782461: 283 CUBIC INCH, 275HP, 315HP
CARBURETOR NUMBERS: CARTER 2613S #3741089: 283 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, FRONT CARBURETOR, FIRST DESIGN
CARTER 2614S #3741090: 283 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, REAR CARBURETOR
CARTER 2626S #3744002: 283 CUBIC INCH, 245HP, FRONT CARBURETOR, FIRST DESIGN
CARTER 2627S #3744004: 283 CUBIC INCH, 245HP, REAR CARBURETOR
CARTER 3059S #3779178: 283 CUBIC INCH, 230HP
CARTER 3181S #3785554: 283 CUBIC INCH, 245HP, FRONT CARBURETOR, SECOND DESIGN
CARTER 3182S #3779178: 283 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, FRONT CARBURETOR, SECOND DESIGN
FUEL INJECTION NUMBER: ROCHESTER 7017310: 283 CUBIC INCH, 275HP
ROCHESTER 7017320: 283 CUBIC INCH, 315HP
DISTRIBUTOR NUMBER: 1110891: 283 CUBIC INCH, 245HP, 270HP
1110914: 283 CUBIC INCH, 315HP
1110915: 283 CUBIC INCH, 275HP
1110946: 283 CUBIC INCH, 230HP
GENERATOR NUMBER: 1102043: 283 CUBIC INCH, 230HP, 245HP, 270HP, 275HP
1102173: 283 CUBIC INCH, 315HP, FIRST DESIGN
1102268: 283 CUBIC INCH, 315HP, SECOND DESIGN
AXLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER AC: 3-SPD MANUAL TRANSMISSION, (3.36:1 RATIO)
AE: POWERGLIDE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, (3.55:1 RATIO)
AF: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, (3.36:1 RATIO)
AH: 4-SPD MANUAL TRANSMISSION, (3.70:1 RATIO)
AN: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, (3.70:1 RATIO)
AP: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, (4.11:1 RATIO)
AQ: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, (4.56:1 RATIO)
AS: 3-SPD MANUAL TRANSMISSION, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (3.70:1 RATIO)
AT: POWERGLIDE AUTOMATIC TRANS., HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (4.11:1 RATIO)
AU: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (4.56:1 RATIO)
FJ: 4-SPD MANUAL TRANSMISSION, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (3.70:1 RATIO)
FK: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (3.70:1 RATIO)
FL: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES, (4.11:1 RATIO)
FM: LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL, HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION AND BRAKES (4.56:1 RATIO)
PRODUCTION ENDING VEHICLE: SEP. 1960: 101052, OCT. 1960: 102301, NOV. 1960: 103355, DEC. 1960:104306, JAN. 1961: 105203, FEB. 1961: 105966, MAR. 1961: 106889, APR. 1961: 107804, MAY 1961: 108960, JUN. 1961: 110160, JUL. 1961: 110939

1961 C1 Corvette

1961 Corvette Price & Options

CODE DESCRIPTION QUANTITY RETAIL PRICE
867 Base Corvette Convertible 10,939 $3,934.00
101 Heater 10,671 $102.25
102 AM Radio, signal seeking 9,316 $137.75
242 Positive Crankcase Ventilation (California) $5.40
276 Wheels, 15 x 5.5 (5) 337 $0.00
290 Whitewall Tires, 6.70 x 15 9,780 $31.55
313 Powerglide Automatic Transmission 1,458 $199.10
353 283ci, 275HP Engine (Fuel Injection) 118 $484.20
354 283ci, 315HP Engine (Fuel Injection) 1,462 $484.20
419 Auxillary Hardtop 5,680 $236.75
426 Power Windows 698 $59.20
440 Two-Tone Exterior Paint 3,351 $16.15
468 283ci, 270HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) 2,827 $182.95
469 283ci, 245HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) 1,175 $150.65
473 Power Operated Folding Top 442 $161.40
675 Positraction Rear Axle 6,915 $43.05
685 4-Speed Manual Transmission 7,013 $188.30
686 Metallic Brakes 1,402 $37.70
687 Heavy Duty Brakes and Special Steering 233 $333.60
1408 Blackwall Tires, 6.70 x 15 Nylon $15.75
1625 24 Gallon Fuel Tank $161.40

1961 C1 Corvette

1961 C1 Corvette Exterior/Interior Colors

EXTERIOR TOTAL BODY COVE SOFT TOP WHEELS INTERIOR
Tuxedo Black 1,340 Sateen Silver – 429 Black, White Black Blue, Black, Fawn, Red
Ermine White 3,178 Sateen Silver – 385 Black, White White Blue, Black, Fawn, Red
Roman Red 1,794 Ermine White – 954 Black, White Red Black, Red
Sateen Silver 747 Ermine White – 159 Black, White Silver Blue, Black, Red
Jewel Blue 855 Ermine White – 419 Black, White Blue Blue, Black
Fawn Beige 1,363 Ermine White – 358 Black, White Beige Black, Fawn, Red
Honduras Maroon 1,645 Ermine White – 647 Black, White Maroon Black, Fawn

Exterior Color Templates

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Exterior Colors

Interior Color Templates

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Interior Colors

 1961 Corvette Powertrain Specifications

Description 4-barrel Carb Dual 4-barrel Carburetor Dual Carb w. Special Cam Fuel Injection
Fuel Inj w. Special Cam
Name Standard RPO 469 RPO 469C RPO 579 RPO 579D
Type: 90 V 90 V 90 V 90 V 90 V
Number of Cylinders 8 8 8 8 8
Displacement (cid): 283 283 283 283 283
Horsepower (gross @ rpm): 230hp @ 4,800 245hp @ 5,000 270hp @ 6,000 275hp @ 5,200 315hp @ 6,200
Torque (lbs.-ft. @ rpm): 300 @ 3,000 300 @ 3,800 285 @ 4,200 305 @ 4,400 295 @ 4,700
Bore Spacing (C/L to C/L) 4.4 inches 4.4 inches 4.4 inches 4.4 inches 4.4 inches
Bore x stroke (in.): 3.875 x 3.00 3.875 x 3.00 3.875 x 3.00 3.875 x 3.00 3.875 x 3.00
Redline (rpm):
Compression ratio: 9.5:1 9.5:1 9.5:1 11.0:1 11.0:1
Idle Speed (RPM) 475 in neutral w/3-speed 475 in neutral w/3-speed 475 in neutral w/3-speed 475 in neutral w/3-speed 475 in neutral w/3-speed
Engine Weight (Dry);  –
Automatic 785 775 775
3 Speed Manual 670 655 655 673 673
4 Speed Manual 677 665 665 685 685
Firing Order: 18436572 18436572 18436572 18436572 18436572
Cylinder Number System;
Left Bank: 1-3-5-7 1-3-5-7 1-3-5-7 1-3-5-7 1-3-5-7
Right Bank: 2-4-6-8 2-4-6-8 2-4-6-8 2-4-6-8 2-4-6-8
Recommended Fuel: 94-96 Premium Octane 94-96 Premium Octane 94-96 Premium Octane 94-96 Premium Octane 94-96 Premium Octane
EPA Powerglide -14 City / 18 Hwy
EPA 4 Speed 13 City / 19 Hwy 11 City / 17 Hwy

Fuelie (Fuel Injected) Engine Component Specifications

Description (RPO 579 275hp) (RPO 579D 315hp)
Upper Compression Ring:
Material Cast alloy iron Cast alloy iron
Width .184 -.194 .184 – .194
Thickness 0770 – .0780 0770 – .0780
Gap .010 – 0.020 .010 – 0.020
Ring Clearance .0012 – .0017 .0012 – .0017
Valve Springs:
Length & Pressure
Valve closed 1.696@ 69 — 79 lb 1.696@ 69 — 79 lb
Valve open 1.306@ 159 — 169 lb. 1.306@ 159 — 169 lb.
Free length 2.08 2.08
Damper:
-Number of coils 3.874 — 4.12 3.874 — 4.12
-Free length 2.00 2.00
Tappets:
Type Hydraulic Hydraulic
Material Steel Steel
Manifold assembly, inlet:
Material Cast aluminum Cast aluminum
Fuel:
System Fuel Injection Fuel Injection
Make Rochester Products Rochester Products
Fuel Filter:
Make AC AC
Model GF43 GF43
Location Mounted on engine top cover Mounted on engine top cover
Camshaft:
Ramp inlet
-Opening .00474, 10° long .00474, 10° long
-Closing .00670, 15° long .00670, 15° long
Ramp exhaust  –
-Opening .00474, 10° long  .0107, 29° long
-Closing .00670, 15° long .0107, 29° long
Tappet Lift
-Inlet .26581 .2625
-Exhaust .26581 .2625
Valve Lift
-Inlet .3987 .39375
-Exhaust .3987 .39375
Valve lash (normal driving)
-Inlet Zero .008 hot
-Exhaust Zero .018 hot
Timing Diagram Data:
Inlet
-Opens (theoretical) 12° 30′ BTC 35° BTC
-Closes (theoretical) 57° 30′ ABC 72° ABC
Exhaust
-Opens (theoretical) 54° 30′ BBC 76° BBC
-Closes (theoretical) 15° 30′ ATC 31° ATC
Air Cleaner:
Make AC AC
Type Dry Dry
Filter Element Paper Paper
Oil Filter:
Make AC, Full flow AC, Full flow
Capacity (Quartz) 1 1
Dual Exhaust System:
Muffler Type Diffusion & resonance, reverse flow Straight thru
Body Size  24×4.06
Manifold Center take down each branch serving two cylinders
-Exhaust Pipe Size O.D 2.0
-Tall Pipe I.D 1.87
-Suspension Individual, rubber insulated
mountings.
Fuel System:
Fuel Tank Two stamped pans seam welded Two stamped pans seam welded
Capacity (gallons) 16.4 16.4
Mounting   Support by two straps attached to underbody behind seat Support by two straps attached to underbody behind seat
Filler In body left side, to rear of driver’s door In body left side, to rear of driver’s door
Cooling System:
Radiator core
-Make Harrison Harrison
-Type Aluminum cross flow Aluminum cross flow
Frontal Area (sq. in) 315.4 315.4
Capacity 16.5 qts. with heater 16.5 qts. with heater

Carburetor Engine Component Specifications

Description Standard 230hp RPO 469 245hp RPO 469C 270hp
Upper Compression Ring:
Material Cast alloy iron Cast alloy iron Cast alloy iron
Width .184 — .194 .184 — .194 .184 — .194
Thickness .0775 — .0780 .0775 — .0780 .0775 — .0780
Gap .010 — .020 .010 — .020 .010 — .020
Ring Clearance .0012 — .0017 .0012 — .0017 .0012 — .0017
Valve Springs:
Length & Pressure
Valve closed 1.696@ 69 — 79 lb. 1.696@ 69 — 79 lb. 1.696@ 69 — 79 lb.
Valve open 1.306@ 159 — 169 lb. 1.306@ 159 — 169 lb. 1.306@ 159 — 169 lb.
Free length 2.08 2.08 2.08
Damper:
Number of coils 3.874 — 4.12 3.874 — 4.12 3.874 — 4.12
Free length 2.00 2.00 2.00
Tappets:
Type Hydraulic Hydraulic Hydraulic
Material Steel Steel Steel
Carburetor:  –
Make Carter Carter Carter
Model 3779178  –
-front 3744002 or 3785554 3741089 or 3779178
-rear 3744004 3741090
Type 4 barrel, down-draft 4 barrel 4 barrel
Choke Automatic Automatic Automatic
Camshaft:
Ramp inlet
-Opening .00474, 10° long .00474, 10° long .0067, 18° long
-Closing .00670, 15° long .00670, 15° long .0067, 18° long
Ramp exhaust
-Opening .00474, 10° long .00474, 10° long .0107, 29° long
-Closing .00670, 15° long .00670, 15° long .0107, 29° long
Tappet Lift
-Inlet .26581 .26581 .2625
-Exhaust .26581 .26581 .2625
Valve lift
-Inlet  0.3987 0.3987 0.39375
-Exhaust  0.3987 0.3987 0.39375
Valve lash (normal driving)  –
-Inlet Zero Zero .012 hot
-Exhaust Zero Zero .018 hot
Timing Diagram Data:
Inlet
-Opens (theoretical) 12° 30′ BTC 12° 30′ BTC 35° BTC
-Closes (theoretical) 57° 30′ ABC 57° 30′ ABC 72° ABC
Exhaust
-Opens (theoretical) 54° 30′ BBC 54° 30′ BBC 76° BBC
-Closes (theoretical) 15° 30′ ATC 15° 30′ ATC 31° ATC
Type Semi-centrifugal Semi-centrifugal Semi-centrifugal
Air Cleaner:
Make and Type AC oil wetted AC oil wetted AC oil wetted
Capacity  –  –  –
Filter Element Foam Plastic Foam Plastic Foam Plastic
Oil Filter:
Make AC, Full flow AC, Full flow AC, Full flow
Capacity (Quartz) 1 1 1
Dual Exhaust System:
Muffler Type Diffusion & resonance,
reverse flow
Diffusion & resonance,
reverse flow
 Diffusion & resonance,
reverse flow
Body Size 24×4.06 24×4.06 24×4.06
Manifold Center take down each branch serving two cylinders Center take down each branch serving two cylinders Center take down each branch serving two cylinders
Exhaust Pipe Size O.D 2.0 2.0 2.0
Tall Pipe I.D 1.87 1.87 1.87
Suspension Individual, rubber insulated
mountings.
Individual, rubber insulated
mountings.
Individual, rubber insulated
mountings.
Fuel System:
Fuel Tank Two stamped pans
seam welded
Two stamped pans
seam welded
Two stamped pans
seam welded
Capacity (gallons) 16.4 16.4 16.4
Mounting   Support by two straps attached to underbody behind seat Support by two straps attached to underbody behind seat Support by two straps attached to underbody behind seat
Filler In body left side, to rear of driver’s door In body left side, to rear of driver’s door In body left side, to rear of driver’s door
Cooling System:
Radiator core
Make Harrison Harrison Harrison
Type Aluminum cross flow Aluminum cross flow Aluminum cross flow
Frontal Area (sq. in) 315.4 315.4 315.4
Capacity 16.5 qts. with heater 16.5 qts. with heater 16.5 qts. with heater

1961 C1 Corvette

Manual Transmission / Gear Ratios

Gear 3-Speed Close Ratio 4-Speed (RPO 685)
1st Gear: 2.47:1 2.20:1
2nd Gear: 1.53:1 1.66:1
3rd Gear: 1.00:1 1.31:1
4th Gear: N/A 1.00:1
Reverse: 2.80:1 2.26:1

 

Clutch Stats
Type semi-centrifugal, coil spring
Number of coil springs 9
Spring Pressure (lbs) 1620 initial
Drive Lug
Lining area (sq. in.) 90.72
Rated Torque capacity (lb. ft) 326

Powerglide Automatic Transmission RPO 313/ Gear Ratios

Drive 1.82-1.00:1
Low 1.82:1
Reverse 1.82:1

1961 C1 Corvette

1961 Corvette Exterior Dimensions

1961 Corvette Dimensions Hardtop

Exterior Dimensions Hardtop
Wheelbase: 102 Inches
Overall Length: 176.7 Inches
Total Body Width: 70.4 Inches
Overall Height: 52.1 Inches
Front Track Width: 57 Inches
Rear Track Width: 59 Inches
Min. Ground Clearance 6.7 Inches

 

Interior Dimensions Hardtop
Headroom: 36.9 Inches
Shoulder Room: 49.4 Inches
Hip Room: 59.6 Inches
Leg Room: 46.4 Inches

1961 Corvette Dimensions Softtop

Exterior Dimensions Softtop
Wheelbase: 102 Inches
Overall Length: 176.7 Inches
Total Body Width: 70.4 Inches
Overall Height: 52.2 Inches
Front Track Width: 57 Inches
Rear Track Width: 59 Inches
Min. Ground Clearance 6.7 Inches

 

Interior Dimensions Softtop
Headroom: 37.1 Inches
Shoulder Room: 49.4 Inches
Hip Room: 59.6 Inches
Leg Room: 46.4 Inches

 

Capacities Specs
Passenger Capacity: 2 Passengers
Curb Weight (LBS/KG):
-Manual 3,035 (3-speed)
-Automatic 3,135
Interior Passenger Volume (cu.ft):
Interior Trunk Volume (cu. ft): 12.09
Fuel Capacity (gallons): 16.4 (24 with RPO 1625)
Engine Oil Capacity (qts.): 5 (capacity of crankcase less filter – refill)
Coolant Capacity (qts.): 16.5 (with heater)
Battery: 12 volt, 54-plate, 53AH, Delco 1980458

1961 Corvette Brakes, Wheels & Suspension

Suspension – Front

Unitized, Independant, Short and Long Arm

Front Springs: Chevrolet, coil
  Make & Type Chrome alloy steel .547 — .550
  Material & Gauges Total 9.75; active 7.94
  Number of Coils Outside 4.30; pitch 3.752
  Diameter Free 13.45; working 9.62@ 1245 lb.
  Height 9.72
  Height Under Curb Weight 800 lb.
Capacity At Ground
Deflection Rate
-At Spring 300 lb.
-At Wheel 110 lb.
Front Shock Absorbers:
Make & Type Delco, direct double acting
Mounting Vertically from lower control arm through coil spring to front suspension crossmember
Model Number 538F
Valve Code 3.5G6/axr/P 1.25
Piston Diameter and Travel 1.00×4.68

Suspension – Rear

Outrigger mounted semi-elliptical leaf springs

Rear Springs: Specs
Make & Type Chevrolet, semi-elliptic
Material Alloy steel
Length & Width 51×2.0
Spring Slips Clinch type = 3, Bolt type = 1, Total = 4
Number of Leaves 4
Leaf Thickness Number 1 & 3 = .282, Number 2 = .313, Number 4 = .262, Total = 1.159
Capacity At pad = 575 lb., At ground = 725 lb.
Rear Shock Absorbers: Specs
Make & Type Delco, direct double acting
Mounting Stem attached to slotted holes in flanged “U” shaped rear crossmember, eye attached at bottom to an anchor bolt on rear spring “U” bolt and shock absorber anchor bolt plate
Model Number 560P
Valve Code 4D6/oxh/j 1.25
Piston Diameter and Travel 1.0 x 7.44

 

 

Brakes: Specs
Type: Servo – 4 Wheel Hydraulic (Heavy Duty, RPO 687)
Power brake type: None
Drum diameter, front (in.): 11
Drum diameter, rear (in.): 11
Effective area (sq. in.): 157 (Heavy Duty 114.6)

 

Wheels/Tires Specs
Wheel Type (Standard): Short Spoke Disk, Pressed Steel
Tire Size 6.70 — 15 — 4 Ply Tubeless (standard), 6.70 — 15 — 4 Ply Whitewall
Front & Rear Wheels: 15″
Tires, type: Rayon Cord
Revolutions at 30mph: 760
Inflation (cold) 24 lbs. Front & Rear

 

Steering Specs
Type: Semi-reversible worm and ball bearing sector
Make: Saginaw
Ratio: 16.0:1
Wheel Diameter (in): 17
Turns, Stop to Start 3.7
Turn Diameter (curb to curb) 36.5 ft. right — 37 ft. left (outside front), 38.5 ft. right — 39 ft. left (outside front)

1961 Corvette Performance

Performance Results Standard RPO 469 RPO 469C RPO 579 RPO 579
3-Speed Transmission
Performance weight (lbs.) 3335 3320 3320 3340 3340
Pounds/gross horsepower 14.50 13.55 12.30 12.15 10.60
Pounds/cu.in. piston displacement 11.78 11.73 11.73 11.80 11.80
 Gross horsepower/cu.in. displacement .813 .866 .954 .972 1.113
 Power displacement (cu.ft./mile) 230.3 230.3 230.3 230.3 230.3
Displacement factor (cu.ft./mile) 290.1 209.1 209.1 209.1 209.1
 0 – 60 mph (seconds)
 Top Speed (mph)
Powerglide Transmission
 Performance weight (lbs.) 3435 3420
 Pounds/gross horsepower 14.93 13.96
 Pounds/cu.in. piston displacement 12.14 12.09
 Gross horsepower/cu.in. displacement .813 .866
 Power displacement (cu.ft./mile) 220.9 220.9
 Displacement factor (cu.ft./mile) 128.6 129.2
 0 – 60 mph (seconds) 7.7
 Top Speed (mph) 109
 4-Speed Transmission
Performance weight (lbs.) 3350 3335 3335 3335 3335
Pounds/gross horsepower 14.57 13.61 12.35 12.20 10.65
Pounds/cu.in. piston displacement 11.84 11.78 11.78 11.86 11.86
Gross horsepower/cu.in. displacement .813 .866 .954 .972 1.113
Power displacement (cu.ft./mile) 230.3 230.3 230.3 230.3 230.3
 Displacement factor (cu.ft./mile) 137.5 138.1 138.1 137.3 137.3
 0 – 60 mph (seconds) 5.9 5.5
Top Speed (mph) 131 128

See Also 

C1 ’53 54 ’55 ’56 ’57 ’58 ’59 ’60 ’61 ’62
Gen C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

 

1961 Corvette VIN Numbers

VIN Range 10867S100001 – 10867S110939
1 (First Digit) Model year (“1” for 1961)
0867 (Second thru Fifth Digit) General Motors identification/series code for Chevrolet Corvette.
S (Sixth Digit) Location of the Assembly Plant.  S – St. Louis, Missouri
1XXXXX (Seventh thru Twelfth Digits) Production Sequence Numbers (or Unit Number).

The last six digits begin at 100001 and run thru 110939. Each Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is unique to an individual car. For all 1961 Corvettes, the location of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is stamped on a stainless steel tag and secured to the steering column in the engine compartment.
1961 Corvette VIN

1961 Corvette Factory Options

CODE DESCRIPTION QUANTITY RETAIL PRICE
867 Base Corvette Convertible 10,939 $3,934.00
101 Heater 10,671 $102.25
102 AM Radio, signal seeking 9,316 $137.75
242 Positive Crankcase Ventilation (California) $5.40
276 Wheels, 15 x 5.5 (5) 337 $0.00
290 Whitewall Tires, 6.70 x 15 9,780 $31.55
313 Powerglide Automatic Transmission 1,458 $199.10
353 283ci, 275HP Engine (Fuel Injection) 118 $484.20
354 283ci, 315HP Engine (Fuel Injection) 1,462 $484.20
419 Auxillary Hardtop 5,680 $236.75
426 Power Windows 698 $59.20
440 Two-Tone Exterior Paint 3,351 $16.15
468 283ci, 270HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) 2,827 $182.95
469 283ci, 245HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) 1,175 $150.65
473 Power Operated Folding Top 442 $161.40
675 Positraction Rear Axle 6,915 $43.05
685 4-Speed Manual Transmission 7,013 $188.30
686 Metallic Brakes 1,402 $37.70
687 Heavy Duty Brakes and Special Steering 233 $333.60
1408 Blackwall Tires, 6.70 x 15 Nylon $15.75
1625 24 Gallon Fuel Tank $161.40

Base Corvette Roadster (867)

  • The base price of the 1961 Chevrolet Corvette without any optional equipment.
  • This base option price included a 283 cubic inch, 230 horsepower V8 engine, 3-speed manual transmission, vinyl interior trim, and a soft top.

Heater (101)

  • An interior space/ cockpit heater.

AM Radio, signal seeking (102)

  • A standard Delco, signal seeking AM radio with conventional volume and selector bars.

Positive Crankcase Ventilation (242)

  • This PCV was applied to all Corvettes sold and delivered to California.

Wheels, 15×5.5 (276)

  • Optional wheels that were one-half inch wider than stock.
  • Featured small, passenger car hubcaps instead of standard, full wheel disc covers.

Whitewall Tires (290)

  • Original tires were either U.S. Royal Air Ride, B.G. Goodrich Silvertown or Firestone Deluxe Champion.
  • All tires were wide-whitewall type, with whitewall widths varying from 2.5 to 3 inches.

Powerglide Automatic Transmission (313)

  • An “optional” two-speed automatic transmission developed by GM.

283 CI, 275 HP Engine (Fuel Injected) (353)

  • A “high output” version of the standard 283 CI, 230 HP engine.
  • 118 of the 1961 Corvettes were built with this engine.

283 CI, 315 HP Engine (Fuel Injected) (354)

  • A “high output” version of the standard 283 CI, 230 HP engine.
  • 1,462 of the 1961 Corvettes were built with this engine.

Auxiliary Hardtop (419)

  • An optional hard-top that replaced the standard convertible top.
  • Although the Auxiliary Hardtop is shown as an option, customers could swap the convertible top for the auxiliary hard top at no additional cost.  Of the 5,680 Corvettes sold with this option,  2,285 of them were the result of this substitution.

Power Windows (426)

  • Electronically controlled windows which could be raised or lowered during vehicle operation.

Two-Tone Paint Combination (440)

  • A second, optional paint color that was used to highlight the bodyside coves.
  • A total of 3,351 Corvettes featured the two-tone paint scheme in 1961.  Of these, 954 were painted Roman Red/White, 647 were painted Honduras Maroon/White, 385 were painted Ermine White/Silver, 358 were painted Fawn Beige/White, 429 were painted Tuxedo Black/Silver, 419 were painted Jewel Blue/White, and 159 were painted Sateen Silver/White.

283 CI, 270 HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) (468)

  • A “high output” version of the standard 283 CI, 230 HP engine.
  • 2,827 of the 1961 Corvettes were built with this engine.

283 CI, 245 HP Engine (2×4 Carburetors) (469)

  • A “high output” version of the standard 283 CI, 230 HP engine.
  • 1,175 of the 1961 Corvettes were built with this engine.

Power Operated Folding Top (473)

  • Electronically controlled convertible top that could be automatically raised/lowered.
  • Unlike the 1953-1955 Corvette Roadsters, which had an optional top that could be attached to the car, this convertible top was an integral part of the design, allowing the 1961 Corvette to be classified as a true convertible.

Positraction Rear Axle (675)

  • A “limited slip” rear axle that engages both rear wheels as drive wheels.
  • For 1961, RPO 675 required that the Corvette have a manual transmission.

4-Speed Manual Transmission (685)

  • An optional four-speed, close ratio, syncromesh manual transmission.
  • This option included a “T” handle with positive reverse lockout.

Metallic Brakes (686)

  • Optional sintered-metallic brake linings which increases braking effectiveness.
  • They comprised of three pairs of lining segments that were riveted to the primary brake shoes and five pairs of slightly thicker segments for the secondary shoes.
  • Drums were finless with this option but were flared at their open ends to enhance cooling.
  • The sintered linings made braking less harsh than the Cerametallic material and needed far less warming up to provide maximum braking effectiveness.
  • They were developed by GM’s Delco-Moraine Division.

Heavy Duty Brakes and Special Steering (687)

  • This option was designed to increase brake and steering performance and included the following:
  • Special front and rear shocks
  • Air scoops/deflectors for front brakes and air scoops for rear brakes
  • Metallic brake facings
  • Finned brake drums with cooling fans
  • Quick steering adaptor
  • Required: RPO 354 or RPO 468, and RPO 675

Blackwall Tires, 6.70×15 Nylon (1408)

  • Optional black sidewall tires to replace the standard white sidewall.

24 Gallon Fuel Tank (1625)

  • Special fiberglass fuel tank that allowed for greater fuel mileage by reducing weight.
  • Replaced standard tank.

1961 Corvette Dealers Sales Brochure

1961 Corvette Dealers Sales Brochure

Download this 1961 Corvette Dealers Sales Brochure for a quick look at the features of the car.

Download 1961 Corvette Dealers Sales Brochure

See Also 

C1 ’53 54 ’55 ’56 ’57 ’58 ’59 ’60 ’61 ’62
Gen C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

Source Material:

  1. The Pocket Book of the Corvette: The Definitive Guide to the All American Sports Car – Copyright 2003, Barnes & Noble
  2. CORVETTE: Sports Car Superstar – Copyright 2005, PIL – Publications International, Ltd
  3. Source: 0-60 and top speed times from Car Life, September 1961

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