You almost have to believe that Zora Duntov's tombstone bears the inscription "Corvettes are meant to be driven." Sure, as the Corvette's first chief engineer, Zora appreciated seeing the thousands of restored Corvettes pass before his eyes for so many years at NCRS meets. Hey, yougotta feel good about people appreciating and restoring your life's work. But knowing how much he thrived on speed and hard driving, we're pretty sure Zora reserved a special place in his heart for those Corvettes and their owners who drifted "outside the box" and pushed the car beyond the performance limits originally prescribed by GM management. "If you're still in control," Parnelli Jones once noted, "you ain't going fast enough." We can just imagine Zora nodding in agreement.
That's why we think Zora would love this slick '66 roadster. It's no NCRS show car, but then, it's not supposed to be. What this Ermine White Vette can do is haul, thanks to a package of engineering upgrades thatfuse vintage looks with high technology. It's what you might call "The Perfect Driver."
The heart of the Perfect Driver starts with the chassis. Designed and built by Street Shop, in Athens, Alabama, the perimeter frame is constructed of 4x2x0.120-inch mandrel-bent tubing and was CAD designed to exactly duplicate the measurements of a stock '63-'67 frame but reinforced in ways the original one wasn't. The frame was powdercoatedin semigloss black and drilled to accept front and rear '89-'96 Corvette suspension components. Since the frame uses the stock midyear track width, it allows for the installation of standard-offset wheels.
To simplify engine and transmission installation, the crossmembers were located in the correct positions, with provisions for removing the transmission member if necessary. The clutch pivot bracket was also located in the stock position. Mounts are provided for installation offront and rear bumpers using factory midyear brackets. The locations of the core support, engine, and transmission are all to stock specifications. Dropping an original body on this frame is a snap, since the body mounts are in the stock locations. Even the No. 2 and No. 3 body mounts have captured nuts, just like the factory's mounts.
The frame underpinning the Perfect Driver received the front suspension from a '96 Corvette, while coilovers were installed in the rear. The brakes are from the same '96, as is the independent rear. Big 9.5x17-inch Vision wheels are mounted on redline 245/45ZR-17 tires. The ride height is just about stock, and there's no tire rub. This Vettetruly handles as if it's on rails.
Under the big-block hood is a stock Corvette LS1 delivering 345 hp. It's mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A Vintage Air compressor spins off the engine's right side. For the braking system, a '71 Corvette master cylinder is linked to an aftermarket vacuum booster. The correct-appearing chambered side pipes rumble with just the right amountof basso profundo. Catalytics? We don't need no stinkin' catalytics in the Perfect Driver.
Inside the Perfect Driver is a mix of old and new, stock and modified. The instrument panel was stripped of the stock gauges, and black-on-white Classic Instruments gauges were installed in their place. A rare radio-delete center stack was used with a Classic Instruments clock. "Who needs a radio when you have this kind of music coming out ofthe pipes?" owner Rick Treworgy laughs. He did leave the stock antenna in place, just in case he decides to install an audio system in the future.
Between the seats is a custom-made console with Formica top and no ashtray. "It took two consoles to make this one," Rick says. "We moved the shifter back 21/2 inches to accommodate the six-speed." Rick also cut down a late-model shifter 3 inches for faster throws and a more comfortable position. The surprise is it looks like the original Muncieshifter. The stock seats were replaced with a set of C5 seats. "I had the seatbacks lowered to look period-correct," Rick explains.
On the nose of the Vette is a C5 emblem, while the fenders sport Z06 badges. All of the stock '66 emblems have been removed--a subtle hint that this is not your average Top Flight Sting Ray. Rick has a hardtop he attaches when the Florida heat gets a little too unbearable, but the rest of the time it's top down, full boogie on the throttle, and carving through the curves--just the way Zora would have wanted. What else could you expect from the Perfect Driver?