1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe - Comeback Car

This LS9-powered midyear marks a turning point for its builder

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At first glance, this spectacular '66 Sting Ray looks like the product of at least a year or two's worth of planning, work…and more work. But according to Mike Walker of Macon, Illinois' Street Rods Only (www.streetrodsonly.com), the car was constructed in just seven months.

Before then, Walker had a bigger concern. "Just before we started this [project], my shop burned down," he recalls. "I came home from Barrett-Jackson, and two days later it was gone. I had 11 cars in the shop at the time."

Undaunted, Walker found a temporary location and got to work on this '66. "We built it in my showroom, which is about two miles from my house," he says. "We didn't really have any tools like we usually do."

But they had this Sting Ray, whose owner wanted a Vetterod along the lines of the standout customs Street Rods Only had built before (including the split-window '61 featured in our Aug. '12 article titled "Splitting the Difference"). Accordingly, they weren't going to use an off-the-shelf chassis under it. "It's got a C5/C6 suspension with coilovers," notes Walker, adding that the setup was custom crafted by Liquid Cutting in nearby Windsor, Illinois.

Under the hood went an engine Corvette lovers could only have dreamt about in 1966: the C6 ZR1's LS9, with its all-aluminum construction, top-mounted supercharger, and 638-net-horsepower rating. Backing it is a Hurst-shifted Tremec six-speed manual gearbox, another item that would have been beyond the ken of Vette lovers during the midyear's production run.

Walker looked to another outside shop for help with the C2's cabin. "We took the interior to Cutter's Custom Stitchin' in Dillsboro, Indiana, and they did a beautiful job," he says. "My interior shop was burned down [in the fire], and we're not really back to doing interiors yet."

That said, Walker and Street Rods Only are very much back to the business of building hot rods, Vetterods, and restorations. "In fact, I have 10 cars going right now," he says. That includes another '66—this one a black roadster—that's getting the full Vetterod treatment. "It also has an LS9 in it, and a Kugel Komponents chrome rearend."

Not one to discriminate by generation, Walker also has a Vetterodded '53 in the works. "We put 12-inch-wide tires on the back, dropped it down to 5 inches, ran the pipes out the side, and [installed] a small-block Chevy with an eight-stack Enderle injection. Then we put a custom fastback on it. Wait 'til you see it—it's awesome!

1966 Chevrolet Corvette Kenwood Design 5/6

Unlike many customized midyears, this one doesn’t lack for “mod cons.”

"So, we've always got something we're trying to do," he concludes, somewhat unnecessarily.

If the "something" a shop like Street Rods Only can do sounds appealing, Walker recommends using a facility with a track record of high-quality Corvette work. The benefits of such an approach will become apparent when you drive the car, and even more so if you decide to sell it later.

"Two friends of mine, both of them with '59 Corvettes, just ran their cars through Barrett-Jackson, and they sold for between $200,000-250,000." he says. "So, if you build them nice and do the detail, there are people out there that still want them. [But] it takes hours after hours, and if there are any problems, they'll have to go back and straighten them out."

Seven months' building time (with Walker and one other man working full time) "straightened out" a lot with this '66 Sting Ray. Imagine what they can do for you and that Vetterod project you've been dreaming about.

1966 Chevrolet Corvette Passenger Side View 6/6

One thing that didn’t change: The classic lines of the second-generation Sting Ray coupe. Repro N14 side-mount exhaust hides 3-inch-diameter pipe.

Spec Sheet
Vehicle: 1966 Corvette Coupe
Owner: Mike Walker; Macon, IL
Block: Stock LS9 aluminum with six-bolt mains and cast-iron cylinder liners
Displacement: 376 ci
Heads: Stock LS9 aluminum
Valves: Stock 2.16-in titanium (intake) / 1.59-in sodium-filled (exhaust)
Camshaft: Stock LS9 hydraulic roller
Rocker Arms: Stock 1.7-ratio
Pistons: Stock forged aluminum
Compression ratio: 9:01:01
Crankshaft: Stock forged steel
Oil System: Stock LS3 dry sump
Rods: Stock forged titanium
Fuel Injection: Stock with 48-lb/hr injectors
Power adder: Eaton TVS2300 supercharger with integral intercooler
Ignition: Stock electronic coil-on-plug
Exhaust: Custom 3-in stainless steel with reproduction RPO N14 side pipes
Transmission: Tremec six-speed manual with Hurst shifter
Rearend: Stock C5 with 3.42 gears
Clutch: McLeod clutch
Driveshaft: Custom
Frame: Custom-fabricated, with Art Morrison framerails and a Downs Manufacturing back half
Suspension: C6 A-arms and coilover shocks (front); C5 IRS with composite monoleaf spring and coilover shocks (rear)
Brakes: C6 Z06 discs (front and rear)
Wheels: Custom EVOD billet aluminum; 18x10 in (front), 19x12 in (rear)
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; 245/40ZR18 (front), 325/30ZR20 (rear)
Mileage: Approximately 100

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