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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!