A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £51,667
Now in its seventh generation, the Corvette began life in 1953 with the C1 - a model that inspired a generation of young Americans and gave the Ford Empire a nine-year headache. However it was the C2, the immortal Sting Ray produced between 1963 and 1967, that really set Chevrolet's cash registers ringing and left us with the most desired and collectable Corvette to date. Designed by Larry Shinoda under the guidance of the legendary Bill Mitchell, influences on the Sting Ray's unique and unforgettable form are said to include: the E-type Jaguar, a Mako shark once caught by Mitchell, the 'Q Corvette' concept car of 1957 and the 'Mitchell Sting Ray' design exercise. By the autumn of 1959, elements of the two unique Corvettes had been built into XP-720 - the design programme that led to the production of the Sting Ray as we know it.
Amongst the design aims for the new car were improved passenger accommodation, more luggage space, and superior ride and handling and, with this in mind, a new ladder chassis was created for the car by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the most important element of which was the move away from a live axle to independent rear suspension, courtesy of lateral struts, radius rods and transverse leaf spring. The independent front suspension was much as before, as was the recirculating ball steering and there were a number of drivetrain options available including four small block V8 engines, three transmissions, and six axle ratios. One major innovation was that the C2 was available in both Convertible and Fastback Coupé form and the latter initially featured a dramatic split rear window, but rear vision was poor so this was discontinued a year into production. Detailed changes were made through the years, with the first of the big block engine options offered in 1965, the same year that four-wheeled disc brakes became standard.
When describing this remarkable 1966 Corvette Stingray, the keyword is undoubtedly 'originality'. Owned for 45 years by Stephen Ouvaroff of the American Car Centre, it has only covered 44,000 miles, substantiated by a raft of MOT Certificates going back for years and years, and remains amazingly unrestored. The Rally Red paintwork retains a lovely shine with no cracks, just the odd touch up of a stone chip or two, and the whole car radiates that, impossible to replicate, light general patina of originality. The black leather interior is original and unmolested and the distinctive 'turbine blade' wheels with three-eared spinners have recently been refurbished. It's still fitted with the 327ci/350bhp engine option and manual 4-speed box that was originally installed in Chevrolet's St. Louis plant in mid-1966 and, within the last 1,000 miles has benefitted from a new clutch. We understand that the electrics function correctly with the radio, aerial and headlights all behaving and, according to our vendor, the car "drives superbly".
When it comes to classic cars, the word "iconic" is seriously overused, however in this case, with a Beach Boys album cover and Prince's "Little Red Corvette" in its CV, we think the word truly applies.