Exploring the Powerhouse of a 1960 Corvette with a Mighty 348 Big-Block W-Motor


Just like most of the cars this 1960 Corvette evolved throughout the building process and many of those steps were chronicled on the pages of early hot rod magazines.

The project started by purchasing a fairly complete body and chassis with no motor or transmission.

Sometime in the cars storied past it had morphed into an amateur drag racer, former owners say it had a 396 big-block and four-speed hooked to the original non-posi third member.

This budget racer was no threat to track records. In the process of installing the big-block the X-member was cut up badly but overall the car was off to a good start.

When we get to my house, we start to work on the car and remove the body from the frame.

The X-member had been badly cut up so we set about repairing the front legs of the X-member with one-inch box tubing. This open style X-member made room for the 2-1/4-inch exhaust system and custom fabricated mufflers by Lou Burger.

The old front suspension got unbolted and then replaced with a complete bolt-in suspension from Martz Chassis.

Out back that original non-posi rear axle was replaced with a new Currie Ford 8-inch housing filled with a posi-traction unit. We opted for the 8-inch rear because it would clear the spare tire well in stock form. New leaf springs from Corvette Central and lowering blocks from Summit Racing get the ride height picture perfect.

A set of QA1 adjustable shocks dampen the springs and a second set of Wilwood brakes whoa things down. The crowning touch to rolling the chassis comes in the form of ET III Sebring wheels wrapped with BFGoodrich tires from Coker Tires. The great thing about these wheels is the backspacing can be ordered to precisely fit your car, not to mention the amazing fit and finish of the wheel.

Under the hood the plan was to go with a typical small-block, but we came across a 348 W-motor on a motor stand and next thing we knew we had a 348-Chevrolet motor in our truck and the theme of building a big-block 1960 Corvette was born. If Chevrolet had offered a big-block option in 1960 it would have been the 348 W-motor as the 409 would not arrive until 1961.

If Chevrolet had offered a big-block in 1960, we think they would have offered a dual-quad option too.

To that end an Offenhauser intake was combined with two throttle body EFI units from FAST. We topped them off with factory style Corvette air breathers for an authentic look. A Pertronix distributor provides spark with timing controlled by the FAST computer.

One big obstacle to building a big-block ’60 Corvette was mounting the accessories. Happily, Billet Specialties built a TrueTrac system for the W-motor that mounted our Vintage Air A/C compressor and the Powermaster alternator. We opted for the black powder coated TrueTrac system. Billet Specialties also builds the TrueTrac in polished aluminum. The accessories mount low and tight giving the W-motor a nice clean look.

Everything changed from paint to inside the car, the project took around 2 years to be done completely inside the shop in our home with the exception of the paint and bodywork.

After all these changes it was left to just drive the amazing car, sliding in and out of a C1 Corvette with a hardtop is not as easy as it once was but after getting behind the smaller steering wheel there is ample room.

The 348 motor provides plenty of power and torque and the TCI tranny handles the shifts perfectly, while the Wilwood brakes inspire confidence when slowing things down. The combination of Martz/QA1 front suspension and the stock leaf springs with sway bars on both ends keep the car flat in the corners making it a fun car for spirited drives. To date we have racked up a little over 4,000 miles on the car and we are still wondering what if Chevrolet had built a big-block Corvette in 1960?

We think it would look a lot like this car. Vette.

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