1963 Corvette Grand Sport

L88/ZL1 Aluminum 540 - 5 Speed

Matt Garrett - Dallas Texas - 214-878-3823


1963 Corvette Grand Sport,  D&D  GS "lightweight" chassis #48 completed around 1996, real 63 regular corvette vin/title.   Late GS #003 L88 Traco inspired engine compartment.  Reconfiguration from prior early SBC 377 that was built for this car in 96 and shown nationally since then.   With less that 1500 miles on the chassis, we decided to change the car up in the most profound way.  Using the BBC "mystery motor" L88 Traco look of 66 with lots of L88 components give this near 25 year old substantial recreation a flair of authenticity representing the real car # 003 in a "should have been" big block around 66 career point in time on #003.  This was an "open checkbook" car, the best of the best of everything, but sticking to a level of authenticity in the process and using vintage parts where intelligently possible.  Engine has a vintage L88/ZL1 3198 winters intake, vintage holley, things like correct T/R bolts, linkage,  all proper TI ignition look from a worked in MSD system, cheater factory valve covers to hide the big stuff,  all worked over to function and feed what is discreetly underneath, a short deck 9.8" Merlin X aluminum 540 block and Merlin 3 345 cc square port heads. Comp Hyd roller 10:5:1 street engine with 697 flywheel power, dyno built and tested prior to installation.  (full overkill engine specs below)  Custom altered and coated Headman 2 1/8 primary headers, 4" sidepipes with minor resonators in (loud), incorporated factory 1967 powerdome L88 aircleaner system into the Daytona GS hood better than #003 ever thought of doing.   They did not have the time we did!   

Engine is held to the near exact GS lightweight copy chassis on custom made interlock engine mounting designed for the power and all race thought of applications and street capable driver.  Not drag race engine plates, but far from over counter solid oem type, this has vibration isolation and much stronger tie in geometry and mounting points.    All this is done with power steering on an Applleton race Steering rack linked to C4 running gear, 13' ZR1 PBR Rare Grand Sport Caliper brakes, full coil over fully adjustable suspension,  complete heim link components, ZR1 Dana 44 3:45 diff, lakewood bell housing hooked to TKO 600 Tremic, mechanically pushed Centerforce clutch, Vintage air and heat, fully functional at heat soak idle, mounted and pulled by a heavy duty custom bracket set (no over counter application exists anywhere to do this) hand made to work with all of this on Vbelts with HIGH INTEGREITY in mind for all high RPM endurance driving and hard idle low air flow conditions in mind having all pulley and components optimized on their rpms,  Cooled by an alloy stewart pump, griffin alloy 4 core, oil cooled by nascar oil cooler,  rear mount diff cooling system, drive belt systems use using the rare 400 67 factory BBC corvette short pump 3 belt and idle pulley tensioner to make what no one may have been able to do yet on one of these very tight lightweight large framed cars....  and that is have a high power street usable big block that can race and track down just about anything all with  AC/PS/PB and a full rack all in the car, weighing in wet at under 2800.... all looking vintage old school (simi) correct with no belt vibration or component integrity loss throughout the RPM range.  This is a D&D frame, but it is also a class legal SCCA full caged 8 point mounted protection system incorporated into the D&D "lightweight" Grand Sport frame when it was made originally, with a fuel cell inside the framing protected 4 sides and 4 points (not trunk)  as #48 was custom built as a race car in 96, but its never been... just a show car with all the capabilities, now being reconfigured to what is above with a usable RPM power range and power to weight ratio not seen too often.  Car rides on custom made Halibrand made magnesium 17x10' front 17x12' rear.  5 lug with knock off look for safety and power capability.   Tires are currently R compound 275/40 17 front and 345/40 17 rear.      Inside is full GS style, Pro-Comp 6 pack, lightweight lexan side and rear windows, that are power actuated.  Front window is OEM safety glass.  Working wipers with correct midyear arms and blades.  Correct T3 headlamps in car also.   Race seats with 5 point harnesses all regulation mounted.  

 All these photos are always a complete car but always an ever changing "work in progress" when new ideas are thought of and interesting history discovered, rare parts found, and incorporated into the car.   Being that I have been heavily involved in corvettes since the 70s, and I have owned this car for about 20 years......   The things I have learned on the GS are still filled with mystery, hearsay and subjective opinions no matter what you do or who you talk to or which book you read.   The 5 originals were changed up every moment of their short racing span and every recreation, and restoration of an original is an interpretation of a "point in time" of one of the 5 originals. (5 Million dollars each value)    There is a right way and a wrong way to do a car....  but on a grand sport, the wrong way is just cutting corners....  there is no set "right way" on interpretation, even the 5 originals are forced to pick a point in time and interpret that...   With that said, I have seen originals, have seen some of the best recreations....  but as a matter of "subjective" opinions, and a small percentage of the fact I own this one... have configured most all of it in many forms....  the quality that is in this car really cannot be duplicated in any of them.   They will build one in a few months, where it takes me a year to just do a good aspect.... and that is not because I am slow....  Its because I make sure its right....  Many "GS" replicas you see for sale are just "visuals" with many loose ends and lots of corners cut to just make them "get to the show", others are photos of "we will build this for you" and are not done, and its a wildcard to what you get....  others are kits that cost over 100K, then its up to you to take this hard road and learning curve to get your own interpretation out of it.... that will end up being priceless to you in the end but its not an easy road no matter how much money you spend and how many "gurus" you consult ..    But there are some good GS you never see for sale, and they have many a 100K put in them with countless years of benevolent work, some more authentic using early parts of lower performance.... and some a mix of the best but still old school vintage in nature.... this is that car.... no holes barred.   The performance this car boasts is total race car territory on a conservative scale with its power to weight ratio, and it is still a vintage type engine looking correct.   The suspension is sorted and not sorted to just move... but turn both left and right in acceleration and deceleration/braking conditions, the car will do more than I want to push it to... but when I get the chance to push it a little, the car returns flat out bliss with a level of integrity that represents the countless year of work in it... This car would have been the "world champ" if we could time travel it back and give Duntov this one in place of the real GS #003 or 004.  Will be in Dallas Autorama Feb 2019.

Click here for Idle Video

Click here for Idle Video 2

Click here for Running Gauge View

Click here for Street Drive Video

Click here for Sunday Street Drive Video

Below, L88 engine compartment but with a 540 aluminum Merlin engine under it.

Below:  Factory L88 Powerdome air cleaner system.

See the pro comp 6 pack, in center is vintage air controls.

5 point racing harness both sides.

Engine compartment with side mounted brake booster and master..  GS correct.

The undercarriage is a work of art itself.  Using the best of the C4 ZR1 hardware tied into the 63 Grand sport tube chassis

Below, visage MSD unit working in car.  This was the unit they came out with after the factory midyear TI amplifier.

Quick fuel race cap

Below GS correct doors, hidden power windows in them with lexan "glass"

Front 275 40 17  Rear 345 40 17 R Compound all 4 corners.   

Below, T3 headlamps

See the aluminum fins.  This is GS correct

Below.... Yes, AC on a race car!   Works like the car performs too.   No slouch!  Vintage Air with oversize condenser.

Below,  cantilever brake booster and master cyl.  GS correct.  Gets brakes away from engine for heat and spacing.  C4 PBR system is used.

Below; GS front, GS alum grill, below the GS lightweight tube frames tow points labeled

C4 running gear but GS steel half shafts

Below, red is the Jaz fuel cell, 25 gallon. has a low floating pickup for any track condition, mallory comp pump/filter/reg, 1/2 fuel lines supply and return

Differential is C4 Dana 44 Zr1 3:45.... yes a real ZR1 had to die to get this.

Below 4" side pipes with heat shields.

Below,  a stance not often seen on these that is right.. including the real 5 of these.  Usually too much wheel gap, sunk or too far out wheels,  this did not happen by mistake.  Took lots of trial and error to get a stance than looks proportional,  will track or drag, will drive right and look like a steam roller that backs what it looks like.

Below, caged in fuel cell.  Date is when this car was built in its first point of time configuration, during 96.  See the fuel lines, the correct rear mount battery with vintage era correct topper.

If you ever get behind this car on the road or at an event.  Its one intimidating machine.

Rear equipment bay... GS had no trunk floor.  This is proper.

Below TKO 600 with lakewood housing, manual link clutch, centeforce clutch system.


Custom headman headers, 2 1/8 primaries.

Daytona hood looking down.

Battery Master below

Tremic TKO 600

Above, rear deck with more of the cage shown, cross bar is tie in for 5 point racing harness, the 5th point is under car to frame. Fuel filler pipe also showm.

See the above head cage, 8 frame mounts

Matching the vintage modified winters L88 intake to the Merlin III 345CC heads.
Massive 345/40 17 R compound tires on 17x12 Halibrand rears

Engine Specs for the 540 BBC  (4.5x4.25) 10:5:1 CR

Block - 9.8" short deck World Products Merlin X Aluminum 4.490" bore Mark IV BBC specs

Heads - Merlin III Alum rectangle port - 345cc runners, 119cc chambers, 2.3 Intake 1.8 Exhaust,  full CNC ported, Manley SS valves

Cam - Comp Hyd Roller - 576/576 Lift   254/260 Duration  114 Centerline -  Scorpion 1.8 roller rockers (giving 610/610 Lift), Comp Camps Hyd Rollers and Matched Springs & push rods

Eagle 4340 crank 4.25 stroke (445442526385) , Eagle 6.7" rods, Mahle pistons/rings 270500D13, Clevite H Bearings

Moroso 20401 Pan, Moroso 710-22162 pump

Intake Vintage GM L88 Rectangle Port Winters Aluminum 3933163 dual plane, port matched to Merlin III heads

Holly 4150 850 CFM 19170095 GM Performance double pumper, rear meter/power valve, 78/82 Jets #65 power valves  1" spacer, elect choke added.

Dist, MSD ECurve with vintage MSD 5 in rear bay using standard GM cap, MSD blaster black coil with GM decals, Real Packard 8MM wires, like GS had in red. 38 Total timing, 10deg Vadv, 15 start retard.  (nice feature built into this distributor)   The top of engine looks like vintage L88 big block as most of it is, if not its made to match!

GM Performance High Torque Mini starter, SFI Race Balancer, Lakewood Explosion proof bell housing,  Stewart EMP 41203 Stage 4 BBC short water pump (o-ring rear plate),  Jones racing PS pump, Sanden (vintage Air) Compressor, Corvette 427/400HP AC crank/water pump pulleys and 3rd belt tensioner system, GM 140 amp single wire corvette reproduction alternator

Cooling done by Griffin alum rad with elect fan, Oil cooled by GM Mark IV oil cooling adaptor from 454 1 ton (thermo and bypass), alum front mounted oil cooler, AN10 hoses Aeroquip fittings, Appleton race rack and Jones PS uses C4 fin power steering cooler.  Rear diff, GS rear mounted cooler with SW fluid pump (switched inside car)  Vintage air uses oversized condenser, proper pulley geometry for idle to 6000 running.  Works like a new car AC.   Car will parade idle if needed with air on in summer 90-95 deg.

Dyno below with single plane non ported intake.   The combo of this modified winters intake shows to match or even exceed the single in many test cases, but the dyno was not on this intake.  All else the same as time of dyno.   697HP at 6000, 659 TQ at 4400 

Car weight wet with 170 lb driver:  2925

Flywheel HP:  697 - 15% = 593RWHP (+/- 2%)

Pounds per HP =  5.0

V Belt system uses 67 400 air pulley and tensioner
Harrison decal... make the Griffin 4 core look like original.
Griffin Race radiator disguised as GS Harrison alum.  Of course this 2x the size of original.
Rare 96 only GS "corvette" Big Brake System, only fitting to be on this car!
Halibrand 2 piece, 17x10 and 17x12, centers are magnesium, barrels Alum..  No leaks! Custom made in 96
Midyear Headlight Vac Tank used for reservoir for Vintage Air Vac controls
Full C4 Zr1 running gear and Diff with Aldan coil overs Heim links, rare Gillstrand raced C4 sway bars
Rear suspension all C4 proper mounting but much stronger chassis points
Alum race car oil cooler, all fittings Aeroquip AN10
Modified GM Mark IV oil cooler on Merlin Engine, thermostatic and bypass 

Below; Appleton/Sweet race rack.. driven by Jones BW style pump

Below, the first gen MSD, technology taken from the early corvette TI ignitions, which MSD built

Below: The guys who get credit on this car.  Brent Baer (left) has been with the collection for over 20 years and has been responsible for the daily upkeep and detail on almost all the cars you see.  Tom Johnson (Right) comes with a level of creative imagination and know-how that is priceless.   Put the team together and we can build some incredible cars like this!

Click here for Idle Video

Click here for Idle Video 2

Click here for Running Gauge View

Click here for Street Drive Video

 Click here for "Sunday" Drive Video

 Click here for Historic Info on Dallas' Delmo Johnson owner/driver of GS #004

 Click here for Info on the Historic Grand Sport Corvette

Some historic photos


You can email me at Cadillacman@mcsmk8.com

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