When it comes to this '66 coupe, the numbers all add up for University of Colorado finance major Greg Strassberg. Four-hundred twenty-seven ci plus 425hp plus close-ratio four-speed transmission totals up to more fun than a Kappa Sigma keg party!
Even at his relatively tender age, Greg is certainly not new to the Corvette hobby. In fact, technically speaking, he has been involved with America's pre-eminent sports car for more than two decades. How can that possibly be? His car-crazy parents actually brought him home from the hospital where he was born in a then-brand-new Corvette.
The seeds of passion planted by that fateful ride home were nurtured throughout childhood by a steady stream of Corvettes in the Strassberg household. And while still in high school, Greg was the envy of his classmates on account of his '70 roadster. Naturally it was a big-block with do-it-yourself gears and air conditioning. Hey, you wouldn't expect someone weaned on Corvettes to settle for anything less, would you?
While the '70 was a standout ride, especially for a high school student, it doesn't compare to Greg's current set of wheels. His Laguna Blue coupe is one of 5,258 cars built in '66 with the L72 engine option. In earlier '66s this magnificent 427 was rated at a stump pulling 450hp, but after about serial number 3000 Chevrolet started quoting it at a more "conservative" 425 to appease the insurance industry and other meddling do-gooders.
The engine is built around a cast-iron block stuffed full of heavy-duty internals. At the bottom end a forged-steel crankshaft is anchored in place by four-bolt main bearing caps. Forged-steel connecting rods turn the crank's round and round into the piston's up and down. Like the rods, the pistons are forged for increased strength, only they are crafted from aluminum alloy for decreased weight. High domes with fly-cut valve reliefs give a stout 11.0:1 compression ratio.
Like the rest of the engine, the cylinder heads were designed to deliver super-high-performance. Their large rectangular ports and uniquely canted, oversize valves (which give rise to the nickname "porcupine") allow plenty of air and fuel to make its way into the cylinders. An aggressive profile, solid-lifter camshaft delivers power right up to the engine's 6,500-rpm redline. To match the high-revving powerplant's prodigious appetite for fuel, a big Holley four-barrel carburetor sits atop the original high-riser aluminum intake manifold.
In keeping with the L72's fire breathing character, there were a number of "must haves" and "can't haves" that went along with it when the original buyer placed his order. Mandatory inclusions consisted of a four-speed manual transmission, transistor ignition, and Posi-traction rear axle. On the mandatory exclusion list could be found air conditioning and Powerglide automatic transmission.
Aside from air conditioning and an automatic tranny, buyers could combine their L72 with anything else on the option list. Greg's car is equipped with a number of highly desirable extras, including factory original knock-off wheels, leather seat covers, AM/FM radio, and teakwood steering wheel.
The 427/425 engine and other options are only part of what attracted Greg to this particular car. Several years ago it was treated to a meticulous restoration by longtime VETTE contributor Dave Walters. In defiance of the trend among some restorers, Dave chose to rebuild and refinish the car's original parts rather than open a catalog and order bushels full of reproduction parts. The end result is a car that looks just as it did when it was brand new 35 years ago.
In testimony to Dave's workmanship, knowledge and attention to detail, as well as to the car's originality, it has earned the most prestigious awards the hobby has to offer. Its long list of accolades includes a national NCRS Top Flight, the Duntov Mark of Excellence Award, and Bloomington Gold certification.
While boxes full of trophies and certificates is certainly nice, it isn't enough for some people. Greg firmly believes that all Corvettes are best experienced insists that his restorations perform every bit as good as they look, and he went to great pains to make this coupe a genuine contender. Special attention was paid to all mechanical areas during the restoration process, especially the engine, which was precisely balanced and blueprinted to exacting specifications.
Thirty-six years ago the major automobile magazines tested L72-powered Corvettes and were universal in their praise of the cars' blinding acceleration and high top speed. Sports Car Graphic drove their coupe from a standing start to 60 mph in a blistering 4.8 seconds, and Car and Driver drove their hardtop-convertible to a 12.8 second quarter and 152 mph top speed.
Just as it could when new, this Laguna Blue beauty will deliver comparably fast stats, sprinting from 0-60 mph in the neighborhood of five seconds flat and turning a sub-13 second quarter-mile. This contention was aptly demonstrated at Englishtown's famous Raceway Park several years ago when it tripped the lights in 12.88 seconds at 114 mph.
Owing to Colorado's rough winter weather, Greg does not take the Corvette to school with him, choosing instead to store it back home in New York. During the school year he does, however, return to the Big Apple at regular intervals to visit friends, family, and, of course, his beloved Corvette.