Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

1961 Corvette With A 400 V8!

1961 Corvette

I’d love to know the full story behind this Corvette. The seller doesn’t offer much information about it or its history. They state that they’ve owned it for 10 years and that it has a 400 Chevy engine. It looks like it has spent the past 10 years sitting outdoors, but as long as the frame is solid it probably isn’t a huge issue. I’m more concerned about the engine situation and why it has a 400 instead of it’s original 283! I’m sure there is an interesting story behind it, but the seller doesn’t offer it. You can take a closer look at the ad here on eBay in Running Springs, California with bidding up to $26k.

1961 Corvette 400 Engine

Obviously a few bidders aren’t too worried about the engine and after doing some research I can kind of understand why. The Chevrolet 400 wasn’t ever meant to be a performance engine, it typically could be found in trucks and big family sedans. However, they are torque generating monsters and can easily be modified to crank out some serious power. A 350 might be a bit easier to squeeze more horsepower out of, but these engines are so durable, produce so much torque and respond so well to customization that they were quite popular with the hot rod crowd in the ’70s. The seller doesn’t say what all has been done with this one already, but it looks like someone has already done a few upgrades.

1961 Corvette Interior

The interior looks fairly stock, although the shifter looks a bit off to me. It might just be the angle of the photo, but I wonder if the transmission was swapped out for something meant to handle more torque?

1961 Chevy Corvette

With the right modifications, the 400 could be a drag racing monster! Of course you won’t really know what this engine will perform like until you have it running and driving again. Hopefully it isn’t a major disappointment when you do get it going. I guess 283s, 327s and 350s are plentiful enough that you could always swap it out for something built for performance to begin with. So what do you think, would you leave the 400 or would you return this Corvette back to original? I’d also like to hear from any of you that have had experience tuning the 400!


  1. dirtyharry

    It says in the Ad, it is also a 5-speed. No mention of the original drivetrain and not enough photos to make any judgment. I could see just getting it clean and running again and call it a day. Yes, it has to be fast with dual quads. I bet there is some cam and head work hiding in there too.

    Like 0
  2. Pat lamb

    It’s probably for sale because that hot California blonde who owned it now looks like this…

    Like 0
    • krash

      Funny, Pat…!

      …nice rendition..

      Like 0
      • Pat lamb


        Like 0
  3. ccrvtt

    Some of us remember the grainy photos of a ’61 Corvette owned by “Big John” Mazmanian, a drag racer of some repute. I for one thought his car was beyond cool, with the goofy rear wheel cutouts, the huge slicks, and the blower sticking out of the hood. I would make a clone from this car, minus the wheel cutouts.

    Like 0
  4. David Montanbeau

    They are pretty when clean. My friend that bought this 62 brand new and still owns. 340 fuel car.

    Like 0
  5. Lane

    Well known in the c1 and c2 circle, he knows what he has, for him it was probably yard art.

    Like 0
  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    The ’60-’62 Vette is my all time favorite of the lot. I like this car although I’m really scratching my head trying to figure out why the 283 got replaced by a 400 SBC. Our dealership sold a lot of 400s but they were confined to 4x4s and vans. They did NOT have a good track record. They did OK in the vans but the 4×4 applications seemed lucky to make 50K miles. I had one that didn’t even make it back from the PDI toad test before it was knocking. Then I thought I should’ve had my own head examined when I ordered a new ’79 GMC 4×4 with a 400. However I went 300K miles and the truck was pulled off the road because the suspension and transfer case chain were worn out to the point where the truck would start hopping. It’s one of my restoration projects at present and it looks like .030 oversize will clean up the cylinders just right. I might add that 400s are chronic oil burners. A quart per 1000 is the best you can hope for although I heard of some that were marginally better.

    Back to this car. I’d still be interested but I’d be searching for a 283…

    Like 0
    • ljg

      Why would a 383 “stroker” be such a beast, but the 400 “mouse motor” not? Over stroked and undersquare? I remember it being a base engine in the 1973 Caprice. It was NOT a performance engine. Then there was the 396 -402 rat motor engine in the 1970 Camaro,Chevelle. THAT remained a performance engine

      Like 0
    • Mike

      I’ve got all 283’s or 327’s you could ever hope for even got a small journal 327

      Like 0
  7. Rick

    Back in ’84 I bought a ’73 Caprice Classic Estate (wagon) think I pd $100 or $150, anyhow I was in my mid 20s and not a conservative driver, and this wagon had the 400 sbc w/ a 2 barrel, and was still a total screamer, think it was 265 horse but I could be wrong, had lots of torque, guess what I’m trying to say here is I’d leave that 400 and its 2X4, in the ‘Vette bet it hauls ass!

    Like 0
  8. David Montanbeau

    We build up the 400 for our dirt circle cars. They hold up better than the 350. Go figure!!

    Like 0
  9. 68 custom

    SB 400 will respond to go fast parts as good or better than a 350, just don’t overheat it!

    Like 0
  10. David Montanbeau

    We build the Mopar 360s for derby use and we build them loose. They will go longer than any other with no water. Don’t over heat any engine. Especially the SBC 400

    Like 0
  11. Brian

    This car is in Running Springs in the San Bernardino mountains. If this was outside, it has seen 10 seasons of snow and freezing temperatures. Definitely needs to be inspected in person.

    Like 0
  12. Moxman

    Since this car is already not a numbers matching car, I’d be inclined to put a 383 stroker short block in it and use the intake, exhaust and heads that are already there. The best of both worlds. Lots of power but no worries about the chance of overheating the 400, with its thin cylinder walls.

    Like 0
  13. Idiot Boy

    It is awesome. Fantasy daily driver. Torquemaster 400 5-gang OD is a-ok

    I want it I want it I want it I waant it

    You can’t have it!

    Like 0
  14. whiskey runner

    i have always liked the 400 sbc… when you have it out of the car go ahead and re-drill the (steam holes) out a bit bigger.. open the intake and exh a bit… then hang on..:)

    Like 0
  15. Blyndgesser

    The siamesed bores in the 400 are a major obstacle. Better to stroke a 350 out to 377/383.

    Like 0
    • 68 custom

      actually the 377 was created by de-stroking the 400 with a 350 crank.

      Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.