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1966 Chevrolet Corvette - What Dreams May Come

Harold Stamey finishes another man’s ’66, the right way

Ro McGonegal Dec 31, 2014
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It has been said that a car, regardless of its modifications or lack thereof, is an extension of its owner and that it reflects their personality. Speaks to their history. And while anything factory-built, no matter how precious it may seem, assures complete anonymity, the hot rod marks its owner, got their stamp on it, no other car quite like it. Ultimately, cars are only machines and otherwise inert until a human enters the equation and begins exploitation.

Ever since fire was respected, humans have gathered around it and become bonded by stories of triumph, sacrifice, and joyful participation. Harold Stamey has been doing cars for a while now, having horsed several incarnations during his 59 years on earth: ’33 Ford, ’55 Chevy, ’61 Impala, ’62 Corvette, ’65 Corvette, ’67 Chevelle, ’69 Camaro, ’71 Camaro, ’72 Camaro, and a ’07 ZO6 Corvette. Harold likes a good campfire and he tells a good story.

“There I was, watching another man’s dream car [a ’66 Corvette] being built at Norm’s Rod Shop in Conyers, Georgia. Norm has become a close personal friend and I frequently stop by to watch the progress of his latest builds. I have to admit that I lusted after this car.”

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“I had owned a ’64 coupe when I was in high school and had always wanted another. I watched every modification being made, even offered a few suggestions. I wanted to know every detail of the build. Then the day came. Norm said that the owner wanted to sell, mid-build no less, and I was offered first dibs. My wife, Dale, is also a car ‘guy’ and has always been into my various projects. However, I was pushing the limits. I had always told her that we did not have a collection, but as the number of cars in my shop continued to grow, I was having a hard time convincing her otherwise. She would say that I pleaded. I would say I persuaded, so the truth likely lies somewhere in between. I even promised I would sell two other cars just to own and complete this project. Is this where I should mention that the two cars I promised to sell still reside in my shop? Now you know the real reason I had to plead. Anyway, it was mine, or should I say ‘ours?’ We got it in time to make the final decisions regarding paint, interior, gauges, dashboard, steering wheel, as well as the wheels and tires,” said Harold, not the least bit sheepish.

Though the car rolled out of Norm’s shop in September 2013, it’s still pretty static and hasn’t moved past the show stage. Harold dropped the curtain at the Shades of the Past event in 2013. Then the C2 was featured at the Summit/Atlanta Motorama and copped Builder’s Choice at the 2014 Nashville Goodguys. Right about now, we think Mr. Stamey, Jr. must be itching to lay some rubber down.

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The Corvette wasn’t Harold’s first day in school. He’d worked with Norm Wizner before and had always come away feeling satisfied and refreshed. Since the vibe was at least tacit Pro Touring, Norm had already elected a sturdy Morrison chassis for the foundation (maximum resistance to torsional bending), while the rear suspension centers around a 9-inch-type housing infused with 3.70:1 gears and a limited-slip differential. Strange Engineering coilover shocks and a four-link suspension locate the banjo.

Custom A-arms are joined by Wilwood spindles and Strange Engineering dampers support the front of the Corvette, and the old cog box was replaced by a rack steering assembly. At each corner, Wilwood brakes sport six-piston calipers clamping down on 13-inch drilled and slotted discs. To be sure, the flashy big ’n’ little rollers are foils for the Corvette’s slick, silver bullet coat: Boyd SOB hoops measure 17x7 and 20x11 and support 225/40 and 295/45 BFG KDW friction agents.

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More than 550 lb-ft of nearly instant torque can be quite entertaining in a 3,000-pound envelope, and in this case, it pours out of a ZZ502 crate with forged rotating parts, the perfect score for a power-adder. But there is no power-adder on Harold’s engine. He loved the rather exotic short-stack signature of the electrified Hilborn port fuel injection that is governed by a Holley controller. Underneath it all, Norm’s Rod Shop balanced the assembly and bumped the compression ratio from 9.6 to 10.5:1. Aluminum oval port heads maintain 2.25/1.88 valves nudged by 1.7:1 steel rocker arms. A dual-row timing chain links the factory hydraulic roller (0.527/0.544-inch lift, 224/234-degree duration) with the GMPP crankshaft. The MSD timing module is set at 30 degrees. Waste gas and some unburned hydrocarbons are channeled through a Norm-built coated 3-inch system swedged into oval Flowmaster mufflers.

The intermediate drivetrain is composed of Richmond Gear five-speed transmission (1.0:1 final drive ratio) and an 11-inch Ram hydraulically activated pressure plate assembly. In Forest Park, Georgia, Drive Line Service tailored the aluminum propeller shaft.

As for the Corvette’s clothes, all parties deemed minor aesthetic changes but nothing that would sully the car’s classic silhouette. Rod Shop deleted the windshield wipers, removed the cowl vents, sectioned the big-block hood, tucked the bumpers closer to the body and sank some custom inserts in the hood lump. Norm’s agent anointed the carcass with House of Kolor Orion Silver base and clearcoats.

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When it came to the digs, Norm’s dragged the C2 north to Pro Auto Custom Interiors in Knoxville, Tennessee. The minimal buckets are the focal point of the interior and were built by Wise Guys Seats in Elkhart, Indiana. Lipstick Red hides coincide with matching carpets, door panels, and dashboard. Painless wiring supports the mille-joule brigade, including the Vintage Air HVAC and the whimsical Classic Instruments gauges. On the active side, Harold alters the gear spread with a Long shifter and put hands on a Billet Specialties split-spoke wheel over an adjustable steering column. As for aural gratification, Harold offers this: “There is no sound system. We prefer to listen to the 502.

“To say that this has been a dream come true is most definitely an understatement. To my wife and me all of our cars elicit memories of times past as well as make new memories for our future. This car is the crown jewel of our non-collection.”

Yes, discretion has always been the better part of valor. Dale Stamey appreciates that very much.

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