Years ago, Ted Danson, as the fictitious retired baseball great Sam Malone, appeared in millions of Americans' living rooms every week for over a decade in the sitcom Cheers. A character tailored to fit the iconic American sports star, Sam Malone's life was wrought with fame, money, women, and fun. Included in his quiver of toys, aside from a weekly procession of gorgeous women into his neighborhood bar, was a pristine '67 427 Corvette Sting Ray he cherished over everything else. That '67, in the reality outside of TV-land, was then (and still is) owned by Bill Marquardt of Bloomington, Illinois. The Corvette was featured in two episodes of the show, becoming as much a part of Sam's life as Norm was part of that corner barstool.
Since its debut in Cheers, Bill has put his '67 under the wrench several times, ultimately ending up in this current manifestation. In May 1984, Bill purchased the coupe at the Rose Bowl Swap Meet in Pasadena, California. Up to that time, the Corvette had undergone a restoration by its previous owner, Rich Mason, in Nevada. Bill was a studio driver in California when his Corvette was "discovered." The show's producers immediately jumped on the Corvette, knowing it had to be the perfect car for Sam Malone.
Since then, Bill's '67 has been showcased all around the country, from the Petersen Museum in California, to the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, then back in front of the cameras for My Classic Car with Dennis Cage. Yet, what's far more exciting about this Sting Ray is what it carries underneath all that fiberglass.
A ZL1 aluminum 427 now resides between the fenders. The list of goodies installed and balanced by Domingo Garcia of Mega Motors and JBS Auto Services of Simi Valley, California, is daunting. The aluminum block was bored .020 over from standard. A GM Performance 454 crank was ground and heat-treated to stroke the motor, bolted to Eagle H-beam rods with ARP bolts fastening everything down. JE SRP 10:1 pistons pound out the streetable compression ratio as a Competition Cams roller bumpstick opens the AFR valves on time with Comp Cams rockers actuating aluminum AFR cylinder heads. A Weiand aluminum intake with Holley 3x2s tops off this amazing setup, which has helped reduce this Sting Ray's bulk to a meager 2,900 pounds.
Knowing the stock exhaust setup simply wouldn't allow his big-breathing 427 the flow it needed, Bill had custom 3-inch side pipes built with equally customized 3-inch mufflers manufactured by Chip's Muffler Shop in Simi Valley, California. The bulky headers matching up to the all-stainless exhaust system resonate like thunder as Bill drives by.
Receiving an OK from Zora Arkus-Duntov himself, Bill installed a complete Vette Brakes disc-brake system to bring his fire-breathing Corvette to a stop. The massive cross-drilled rotors spin the vintage Sunburst 15-inch wheels sporting Goodyear GS1 245/60-15s. The 3.55 Posi-traction works with a Keisler Automotive Tremec five-speed as Bill is banging the gears. Even with all these crazy go-fast parts, Bill has yet to open up this beast on the dragstrip to see how fast it can really go. We can only hope the bug will bite him soon so we'll get an update on how quick this little rod can burn up the 1320.
The Cheers TV show may be gone, left to live out its days in rerun purgatory, but this Corvette is alive and well, providing Bill Marquardt endless memories and future ones to come.