Have you ever tried to hide a Corvette where people are least likely to find it? That's what many Vette lovers have done over the years, when it comes to garaging their pride(s) and joy(s). But, when it comes to building a Corvette, especially a Vette Rod, how about hiding one Corvette inside the other? That's what Doyle Thomas did, and the result is the '66 "Z066" that you see here. Inspiration came from a familiar source. (HINT: You're holding a copy of it.) "We saw an article a few years back in Corvette Fever, about how Philadelphia Motorsports had done a C3," Doyle recalls. "We were really impressed by what we saw in the article, and we thought we'd take it a step further and do it with a C2. It's very impressive."
To start a project like this one, you need a donor car for the engine, powertrain and electronics, as well as a recipient that the new stuff all goes into. Doyle says they started with a 2003 Z06 that they weren't sure how many miles were on it. "It was an insurance/theft recovery, where someone had bumped the right-front tire, and that had knocked the wires out of the computer," he says from his Longview, Texas home. "When I bought it off of eBay, it was listed on there that the car would not crank or do anything, so nobody knew anything about the car. We could tell that it was low mileage, because the seats and carpets still looked good in it." It turned out that the Z06 had only 300 miles on it!
What came off the damaged Z06? Everything but the body and frame. "We used as much as possible," he says. We used every piece of wire, and we had to lengthen the fuel pump wire. We used the window regulator motors from the Z06, so the windows go up and down quickly. We used the intermittent windshield wiper motors, and the headlight motors-when you turn the headlights on, the lights pop up as they come on." Also donated by the Z06, along with its LS6 V8 and six-speed transmission: Traction control, air conditioning-the works!
You also need a recipient-in this case a '66 Sting Ray convertible that had been stored in a warehouse in Illinois with just 48,000 miles on it. "It was totally original, and it had never been apart," Doyle says. "It still had the little paper stickers on the springs, the correct shocks, even the correct hubcaps on the car." He sold the '66s complete chassis to someone in Florida who was going to restore their '66.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Motorsports welded up a round-tube chassis to fit under the Sting Ray's body. Once it was ready, Doyle says the swap was pretty straight-forward. "Being their first C2, there were a few minor adjustments that we had to work around, but there was nothing major. The exhaust was a minor issue on the chassis-we lengthened the side exhausts by about 3 1/2 inches to fit the body."
Once it was all together, thanks to the engineering and fabrication skills of Tom and Tommy Ames at Automotive Specialties in Longview, the result was a spectacular Vette Rod, one that is far from being a trailer queen. "We've put 8,000 miles on this car since it was finished late last summer," says Doyle. "We had a really good trip-we went up to Yellowstone, then over to the Bonneville Salt Flats, then over to Washington State and Oregon where we came down the coast into California and all the way to L.A., then we came back I-10 all the way back into Texas."
Before long, there'll be another "hidden Z06" in Doyle's garage. "We're in the process of doing a C3 on the same concept-all Z06 components," he says. "It's a '69 triple-black Stingray roadster. We have all the Z06 parts in place, we have the '69 in place, and all we're waiting for now is Philadelphia Motorsports to finish up the chassis."
Did this car inspire you to consider planning a Vette Rod of your own? Even if it won't be as elaborate as Doyle's "Z066," he has this advice: "Do it soon, as sooner is better than later. Once it's complete, and you drive it, you're going to love it. You're going to want to drive it all the time."
Data File: '66 Corvette Sting Ray Z066 Convertible
Owner: Doyle Thomas, Longview, Texas
Modified production '66 Sting Ray convertible
Modifications: C5 firewall, C5 door latches/handles, Philadelphia Motorsports conversion floorpan and rear quarter-panel flares
Bodywork: Automotive Specialties, Longview, Texas
Paint: DuPont Chroma custom silver basecoat/clearcoat; Paint preparation and applied by Automotive Specialties, Longview, Texas
Frame: Philadelphia Motorsports custom tube frame, powder-coated silver to match body
Suspension: (Front) 2003 C5 Z06 with Koni coilovers (Rear) 2003 C5 Z06 with Koni coilovers
Steering: Modified 2003 C5 Z06, power-assisted
Brakes: 2003 C5 Z06, front and rear
Wheels: 2003 C5 Z06 wheels, front and rear
Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1, 265/40R17 front, 295/35R18 rear
Overhead valve V8, GM Powertrain LS6
Originally built: GM Powertrain, Wixom, Michigan
Modifications: Custom air filter/ducting, custom ECM programming by Speed Scene Wiring, San Antonio, Texas, engine components polished by MPR/Bill Fell, Pritchett, Texas
Displacement: 346 cubic inches (5.7L)
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Cylinder heads: Production 2003 Z06, cast aluminum
Ignition: OEM Delphi coil-on-plug
Induction: OEM 2003 Z06 electronic fuel injection
Camshaft: Production 2003 Z06
Exhaust: Camaro LS1 ceramic-coated manifolds with Stainless Works custom 2 1/2-inch side pipes
Horsepower: 405 @ 6,000 rpm (Advertised)
Torque: 400 ft./lbs. @ 4,800 rpm (Advertised)
2003 C5 Corvette six-speed transaxle
Shifter: Hurst shifter (in modified C5 console)
Modified production 2003 C5 Corvette interior fitted to '66 body
Modified by: Automotive Specialties, Longview, Texas and Paul Adkins Interiors, Cullman, Alabama
Modifications: Everything-2003 C5 interior was "tailored" to fit into original '66 body
Seats: Modified 2003 Corvette sport seats with Torch Red leather upholstery by Paul Adkins Interiors, Cullman, Alabama
Carpets: Torch Red cut-pile
Instrumentation: OEM 2003 C5 Z06 (0-200 mph speedometer, 0-7,000 rpm tachometer with 6,500 rpm redline, plus fuel level, oil pressure, ammeter and coolant temperature gauges).
Sound system: OEM 2003 Delco-Bose AM/FM tuner/CD player with XM Satellite Radio receiver
Heater: OEM 2003 C5 Z06
A/C: OEM 2003 C5 Z06