1966 Corvette Restoration

Purchased in 2012, this 1966 Corvette Stingray roadster was very original and had seen little use in fifty years. Last registered in 1983, the odometer showed just 44,553 miles.

restore an old Corvette

The original exterior color was 'Ermine White'. The fiberglass body panels were straight and had not been modified.

Inside, there were black vinyl seats. The door panels and seats were in good condition, the dash had not been hacked, and all the original factory gauges were still there.

Restore an old Corvette

As far as factory options, this Corvette had just four; automatic transmission, power steering, AM/FM radio, and an auxiliary hardtop.

1966 Corvette hardtop on rolling stand

The removable hardtop was on the car when purchased. Rolling stands like the one pictured are offered by several aftermarket suppliers.


Back Story

In the early eighties, the previous owner of this car began a complete frame-up restoration. The body was taken off the frame, and the motor and transmission were removed. He also removed the front and rear suspension and brakes, painted the frame, then re-installed the suspension and brakes with all new parts.

Restore an old Corvette

While he was doing all this work to the chassis, the engine and transmission were being professionally rebuilt. Once done, they were re-installed on the frame. After the body was back on the frame, the bodywork was done and put in primer.

Sadly, the owner passed away before finishing the restoration. The car was kept in storage by his family for 26 years before they decided to sell it.

1966 Corvette Sting Ray restoration

The Purchase

When his family finally decided to sell the car, they chose to ask me first, because I had previously helped them with a few of their other vehicles, and they knew I owned and restored a 1982 Corvette.

1966 Corvette Sting Ray restoration


Moving The Car

As soon as we winched the Corvette out from the barn where it sat for 26 years, the front caliper seals began leaking brake fluid all over the tires and brake rotors.

1966 Corvette caliper leaking

Although rebuilding a Gen-1 Chevy small-block was far more rewarding than rebuilding old Corvette calipers, it's the brake system where this restoration began. Every brake component on the car was rebuilt or replaced.


Corvette Brake System Overhaul

Rebuild Corvette Calipers

Rebuild Corvette Calipers-Reassembly

Lip Seal vs O-Ring Calipers

Removing Riveted Brake Rotors

One of the safety upgrades was replacing the original single-reservoir master cylinder with a 1967-style dual master cylinder. This has become a popular choice with owners of 1963 through 1966 Corvettes who wish to upgrade to the safer, dual reservoir master cylinder.


Corvette Documentation

More so than most other cars, correct documentation will increase the value of a classic Corvette. There's several places to look for vehicle ID on old Corvettes. The body and trim plate will be on the left-side door pillar, and there's a VIN plate behind the glove box door.

Most classic Corvettes came with factory build sheets found on top of the gas tank. The VIN plate on this Corvette showed that it was built in November 1965, making it an early, low serial number 1966 model. Chevrolet did not start equipping Corvettes with factory build sheets until late 1966 production.

There are several Corvette sites that will help you decipher the VIN code. One of the easiest to navigate through is VetteFacts.com

1966 Corvette Stingray Production Figures:

  • Coupes: 9,958
  • Roadsters: 17,762
  • Total Production: 27,720
  • All 1966 Corvettes were built in St. Louis, Missouri


L75 327 Chevy

This Corvette still had the original motor, an L75 327 small-block rated at 300 horsepower. The numbers on the VIN plate matched the engine block, and the cylinder heads, intake and exhaust manifolds, and carburetor had the correct date-code castings.

The aluminum valve covers were the only non-original parts under the hood. They are from a 350hp 327, and presumably added on for looks.

Read: 327 Corvette Engine Build

66 Corvette Restoration

327 Corvette Engine Before and After Rebuild

spray painting engine


327 Bottom End Build

Install Camshaft in 327 Chevy

327 Cylinder Head Assembly

327 Chevy Valvetrain Assembly


Corvette Steering System Rebuild

Power steering was an option on Corvettes from 1963 to 1976, and became standard equipment in 1977. Although the pumps and gearboxes changed several times, the power steering control valve and cylinder remained pretty much the same. Rebuild kits for the P/S cylinder are the same for all C2 and C3 Corvettes (1963-1982).

how to rebuild a power steering cylinder

Read: How To Rebuild A Steering Cylinder

The four power steering hoses were replaced with new ones. Procedures for 1963-1982 Corvettes are virtually the same.

Replace power steering hoses C2 Corvette

Read: P/S Hose Replacement (C2 and C3)


After four years of on and off work, I had come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have the budget to restore this car the way that I wanted to. And I had other priorities anyways. So I sold it as is--in primer and lacking interior.