No Expense Spared: 1963 Corvette with LS9 Power

Even though the Corvette stumbled out of the stable in 1953 with poor performance and a high price, it quickly became known as a sporty bargain roadster. Today it is one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in the automotive marketplace in any guise and has become a world-renowned icon in the car world. The ZR-1 is the pinnacle of Corvette performance, with 638 pavement pounding horsepower, it is the world’s most affordable supercar. It can easily keep pace with Ferraris and Lamborghini’s that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

The heart and soul of the ZR-1 is the supercharged LS9 engine. But for some people, going out and buying a Corvette supercar is too cliché and boring. Joe Bongiorno from Long Island decided he’d much rather have the classic shape of the famous 1963 split-window Corvette with the modern power and amenities of the ZR-1. He approached Anthony Luca of Anthony’s Rods & Customs to build what could properly be called the ultimate ZR-1 tribute car.

The car isn’t too far along yet, but we’re excited enough about it to start talking about it now. First and foremost, this is a real ’63 Corvette body, not some reproduction. Many of the parts for the project are actually being sourced from the ZR-1 itself. This includes the 638 horsepower supercharged LS9 engine, the complete ZR-1 ceramic brake package, and the dual-disc clutch and six-speed Tremec transmission.

Of course, that much power would likely twist a 50 year old chassis into a pretzel after a few hard launches. So instead of strengthening and weighing down an original chassis, the project is utilizing an SRIII round-tube frame chassis for increased strength and lightened weight. This chassis was designed for hard cornering and racing and offers more engine room as well to fit the beefy LS9 engine. A Dana 44 rear end will back up the engine to hold the 604 ft-lbs of torque without blowing apart while mini-tubs will fit what are sure to be some massive, meaty rear tires. An Air Ride Technologies suspension will provide a smooth, secure ride for the project when it is completed later this year.

The project will also incorporate several nods towards the ZR-1 in its construction. Anthony is working on a way to integrate the ZR-1’s glass hood on to the ‘63’s hood without disfiguring the classic lines of the Corvette. The custom interior will get saddle leather and all the accruements one would expect from a modern supercar like cruise-control, air conditioning, and a kicking sound system. This is the plan.

Right now, the project isn’t much more than a collection of parts waiting to be assembled. The Corvette body has been soda blasted (Mr. Pib or Pepsi?) and is ready to be prepped for paint and assembly. The body is in surprisingly good shape with little rust and mostly solid metal, and when it is time for paint it will be colored a Lexus Dark Blue similar to the popular Jetstream Blue of the ZR-1. There isn’t much else to talk about this project yet, but we’ll bring you updates as it comes along. We’re really looking forward to seeing it on the road (and getting a ride too!)

About the author

Chris Demorro

Christopher DeMorro is a freelance writer and journalist from Connecticut with two passions in life; writing and anything with an engine. This has led him to pursue a full time career as a freelancer with a focus on motor vehicles of all kinds.
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