There's a special something about the first Corvette that made a lasting impression on you. Maybe it was the combination of color scheme and styled body lines. Maybe it was an exhaust note that turned your head and had you saying Wow for the next month.
in the case of Kim Ian Madsen, owner of this '60 big-brake fuelie, it's the car his father wrenched on while it was ruling the road courses and hill climbs of the East Coast during the '60s.
Leader of the Pack : Steve...
Leader of the Pack: Steve Elfenbein's Corvette leads the pack at a road race in New Jersey in the mid-'60s. Behind the wheel of the Mustang on the right is renowned road racer Mark Donahue.
Kim's father, Doug Madsen, was a mechanic at Konners Chevrolet in Caldwell, New Jersey, and it was there that salesman Bob Wasserman ordered the car you see here. "He ordered this car as a demo for himself, then he sold it to Steve Elfenbein, who actually wanted a red one," says Kim. Steve, who was an engineer at Bell Labs, was looking for a car to go racing with on weekends. When he saw this one in early 1961, he decided not to wait the six to eight weeks (or more) for a specially ordered red one. Kim says, "He settled for Horizon Blue because he wanted to get racing.
Under the factory colors, this '60 had the RPO 687 big-brake and RPO 579D 290hp, fuel-injected 283, as well as a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed and a 4.11-geared, Posi-traction-equipped rearend, a radio, and heater (the latter two not typically ordered on big-brake cars). But unlike the later-production '60 big-brake cars, this very-early-production '60 also received the '59 Vette's competition suspension package, with shorter front coil springs and five-leaf bundles on each side in back.
Steve got it ready-with the help of Kim's dad, who was the only mechanic that worked on the car-for the road courses and hill climbs that made up the East Coast sports-car racing scene back then. From the first race, Steve ran up front and finished up front. In 128 races and hill climbs, the car won 73 times, placed second in 21 events, came home third 18 times, and only four times did it fail to finish!
Getting Some Air : Steve's...
Getting Some Air: Steve's Corvette spent a great deal of time in the air at many hill climbs as witnessed by this blurry photo.
In 1966, it was the first production car to break the one-minute barrier on the Giant's Despair hill climb in Pennsylvania, and it was a perennial SCCA Regional champion during its racing days against some very notable competition. "Elfenbein wasn't a Yenko or a Donahue, but he raced against them and won," says Kim. "And my father was right in the thick of it." He also raced-and won-while competing with drivers such as Ed Lowther, John Morton, Tony Fucchi, Al Loquasto, Harold Keck, Oscar Koveleski, and many more.
Still fairly early in its racing career, one major change was made to the '60. The original fuel-injected 283 was replaced by another small-block wearing Rochester fuel injection. This one-a '62-vintage 327-put out more than the 360 hp that Chevrolet rated it at. One reason is the fuel-injection system itself, which got some help from a noted Chevy tuner and racer. "That 327 has a Bill Thomas-modified plenum [on top of the fuel-injection system]. The power-to-weight ratio was pretty phenomenal," says Kim.