You've heard of the split-window '67 Corvette Sting Ray coupe, haven't you?
Paul Comeau has. "Since I've been in his hobby for 35 years, everybody always talks about ‘This car that my father's brother's best friend's uncle's son had when he was killed in Vietnam,'" he says.
Comeau is owner and proprietor of The Corvette Shop in Montgomery, New York, and the split-window '67 became a challenge to the shop's crew, including Cher Marse (interior and trim specialist), Chris Hummel (body specialist), and Comeau himself. "We decided to build the car that everybody always talks about," he says of the project that resulted in the Deepwater Blue midyear seen here.
As is the case with many Corvette projects, he didn't start with an intact car. Rather, he began with a '63 coupe rear clip that was almost spliced onto a '65 Sting Ray. According to Comeau, a drag racer who'd bought the '65 new drove it for about 9,000 miles, then decided he wanted to make it into a split-window. He cut that car in half but died before completing the conversion. (It remains in two pieces to this day.)
Fast forward to when Comeau came across the long-abandoned project. Not only was the 1965 Sting Ray in pieces, but there wasn't enough of the '63 to build a complete car. What to do?
How about building the Corvette that, as Comeau mentioned above, was "the one everybody talked about"? And, while at it, why not make it like an FSO (Factory Shop Order) car, with anything and everything possible going on it, regardless of whether it was on the Corvette's—or any GM product's—options list?
That meant a GM Performance Parts ZZ4 small-block V-8, backed by a Muncie M-21 close-ratio four-speed gearbox and a 3.36-geared Positraction, for openers. Other chassis features that went on included stock '67 power disc brakes, a modified stock C2 suspension system with a single composite rear leaf spring and gas shocks all around, and a set of Kumho-shod American Racing five-spokes at each corner.
What else? Plenty, says Comeau. "It has more options on it than most people's new cars. It has air conditioning, a 500-watt sound system, back-up camera, touch-screen navigation, power steering, power brakes, power windows, and power seats."
It also has two features at opposite ends of the quietness spectrum. One is a massive blanket of DynoMat thermal/sound insulation—three boxes worth, Comeau notes—and the other is a pair of electronic exhaust dumps. "That's for when you want to block out the Harley next to you," he adds.
Once complete, Comeau had a Sting Ray that combined the classic exterior styling cues of the first and last midyears with all the features Zora Arkus-Duntov wanted to put on the Corvette—and more. He also had one that was quite a driver. "The thing's a joy to drive," he says. "I have an '08 Z06, and this thing's more fun to drive!" He adds, "It doesn't drive like an old car. At 80 miles an hour, you can drive it with one hand on the wheel."
And all this was done without an LS-series engine, or C5-or-later chassis hardware. Comeau says he avoided the later-model hardware for a reason. "Every one of these tube-chassis cars with late-model suspension that I've driven lost something [when] the new hardware went onto the old frame. They ride bad, and they really don't handle all that good."
As for the powerplant, Comeau says, "This engine makes more power than an LS1, and—like an old car—you can fix it by the side of the road with a screwdriver, a hammer, and Vise Grips."
One more reason why he does modified C2 Corvettes this way: cost. "You could price the car $50,000 less by building it this way, [as opposed to] a full-tube-chassis car," says Comeau. "There are a lot more people with $75,000 in their pocket than there are people with $150,000 in their pocket. I usually sell them as fast as I can build them."
By the time you read this, the split-window '67 will likely have a new home. But before then, Comeau took it to a cruise night near his shop. "A guy came up to me there and asked me, ‘Is that one of those '67 split-windows? My friend said they made those cars.' I agreed with him and said, ‘Yep, that's one of them.'
"I kid you not."
I have an '08 Z06, and this thing's more fun to drive!
|1967 Chevy Corvette String Ray Coupe|
|Block||GM Performance Parts ZZ4 cast iron with four-bolt mains|
|Heads||GMPP ZZ4 cast aluminum|
|Camshaft||GMPP ZZ4 hydraulic roller|
|Pistons||GMPP ZZ4 hypereutectic aluminum|
|Crankshaft||GMPP ZZ4 forged steel|
|Intake||Edelbrock Performer RPM cast-aluminum|
|Carburetor||Holley 670-cfm Street Avenger four-barrel|
|Ignition||CRT Performance HEI electronic|
|Exhaust System||McJacks "shorty" headers, custom side pipes with electric cut-outs|
|Transmission||Muncie M-21 close-ratio four-speed manual|
|RearEnd||Stock Positraction with 3.36 gears|
|Suspension||Stock C2 with Delco gas shocks (front), modified C2 with composite monoleaf spring and Delco gas shocks (rear)|
|Brakes||Restored RPO J50 power discs|
|Wheels||American Racing 2005; 17x7 (front), 17x8 (rear)|
|Tires||Kumho Ecsta; 225/55R17 (front), 255/50R17 (rear)|
|Current Mileage||2,100 since completion|