With such a dialed-in and balanced chassis, a behemoth motor isn't necessary to run blistering lap times. Gary says less than 2,000 LT1 engines made their way into Corvettes in 1971, so it's not surprising that he stored the original short-block away for safe keeping in his garage. In its place is a 355ci small-block Chevy based on a four-bolt block and a forged rotating assembly. It breathes through World Products iron cylinder heads, an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, and a Holley 750-cfm carburetor. As a tribute to the original LT1, a COMP 248/248-at-.050 solid roller camshaft provides plenty of duration for high-rpm operation. The old-school combo lays down a respectable 362 rear-wheel horsepower, which is more than enough to get the job done. "The autocross is not about horsepower. It's about being smooth and making the most of the power that you've got," Gary opines. "I've only been autocrossing for four years, but I've learned that you can't be scared to drive your car hard. I don't care about hitting cones because the scuff marks will come right off. If I break the car, hey it's just a 1971 Chevy, not some $100,000 trailer queen."

Considering everything these early C3 Corvettes have going for them, the fact that you can buy one for such a reasonable price is a paradigm of irony at its finest. They may have been far more expensive than the typical F-body or A-body during the 1960s and 1970s, but 40 years later market demand had dictated that Vettes are now the cheaper cars. The hierarchy has reversed, which means that the lumbering solid-axle yachts of yore command a premium over their agile independently suspended stable mates. Of course, anyone can do a lot with a lot, and even yachts can handle well with a catalog full of parts, however if the goal is to build a car that can rip through an autocross or road course on a budget, the less expensive C3 Corvette—and its far more sophisticated suspension—promises to do a lot for a little.

1971 Chevy Corvette
Gary Lackore
Frisco, TX

Type: Chevy 355ci small-block
Block: factory iron bored to 4.030 inches
Oiling: Melling pump; Canton pan and Accusump
Rotating assembly: Scat forged steel 3.480-inch crank, GM rods, Sealed Power 11.0:1 forged pistons
Cylinder heads: World Products Sportsman II iron castings with 2.02/1.60-inch valves
Camshaft: COMP Cams 248/248-at-.050 solid roller; .525/.525-inch lift; 110-degree LSA
Valvetrain: COMP Cams valvesprings, retainers, lifters, pushrods, and 1.6:1 rocker arms
Induction: Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, Holley 750-cfm carburetor
Ignition: Mallory distributor, coil, and plug wires
Exhaust: Hooker 1.875-inch headers/side pipes, Spiral Turbo baffles, dual 4-inch outlets
Output: 362 hp and 366 lb-ft at rear wheels

Transmission: Muncie M22 four-speed, Spec aluminum flywheel, McLeod twin-disc clutch, Hurst shifter
Rear axle: factory independent rear suspension with 4.11:1 gears, 31-spline axles, and limited-slip differential

Front suspension: stock with Koni coilovers and urethane bushings
Rear suspension: VBP 420-pound leaf spring and traction bars; Global West strut rods, Koni shocks
Brakes: stock GM 11.75-inch discs with EBC pads, front and rear

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works V40 17x8, front; 18x9.5, rear
Tires: Nitto NT555; 245/45R17 (front) and 285/40R18 (rear)