Man Drives to Iowa To Get a 1966 Corvette Parked for 31 Years, Finds Out the Sad Truth

1966 Chevrolet Corvette 9 photos
Photo: Dennis Collins | YouTube
1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette1966 Chevrolet Corvette
A classic car expert drove all the way to Grinnell, Iowa, to get a big-block C21966 Chevrolet Corvette, take it home, and restomod or restore it. A day later, he discovered the sad truth.
Gary is the owner of the 1966 Chevy Corvette. But the one who contacted Dennis Collins' team was the local insurance agent. He is the one who has been watching every episode of Dennis's YouTube show, until he decided to show up on one in the company of the 'Vette in his town, Grinnell, with less than 10,000 residents.

The Corvette had sat parked in the exact same spot, without moving a single inch, for 31 years. The last time it drove, the owner recalls, was sometime in the early 1990s, on his mother's birthday, on an August day.

The owner started removing parts from it at one point over the years in an attempt to protect them. That is why the car looks toothless right now. It is missing the eggcrate grille (a new addition in 1966), the bumperettes, and the side exhaust. They are all shelved at the back of the garage.

The owner has no idea if all those were original, but they were on the car when he bought it, together with a 427-cubic-inch engine. But it was not the original GM engine, but one sourced from a 1969 Ford, while the transmission was from a Pontiac, replacing the four-speed original. However, the original brakes are still in place.

1966 Chevrolet Corvette
Photo: Dennis Collins | YouTube
The GM 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 pumped out 425 horsepower and 460 pound-feet (624 Newton meters) of torque. But it was suspected of being capable of much more, going all the way to 450 or so. In the 1960s, automakers intentionally understated the output in an attempt to compress the hostile attitude of insurance companies when it came to big engines and high outputs.

Demand for small blocks melted when the big-block V8 arrived in the lineup, so Chevrolet reduced the offer. Having five small-block options no longer made, so they went from five to only two.

The owner of the 1966 Corvette says the car was originally white with a black top over a black leather interior. There are no headrests on board. They arrived as an option in the lineup in 1966. Buyers did not understand much of what they could do, so why pay extra for something they considered useless at the time?

However, a look at the car with the flashlight on, and it seems this Corvette was maroon when it came to life. However, it is a rare and coveted side-exhaust vehicle and the parts they find in the garage confirm the configuration.

1966 Chevrolet Corvette
Photo: Dennis Collins | YouTube
They inflate the tires and think it is a miracle that, after all these years, they still hold the air like in the good old times. Once the trailer is pulled into the driveway, as close as possible to the garage where the Corvette is waiting to be loaded, everything goes smoothly. The car is towed onto the trailer. It is the first time in 31 years the Corvette has seen the light of day.

Dennis is now planning to paint it Lynndale Blue, not Ermine White as he originally thought he would do. He is going to come up with a white interior instead of the black one that is currently in the car to match a future white top.

He is also going to plant a turbocharged 427-cubic-inch aluminum engine into the 1966 Chevy Corvette. And he is going to do something that purists won't like. He wants to convert it into an automatic! But the original side exhaust is going back on the car.

The dashboard is still the one that the Corvette rolled off the assembly line with, bringing back the raw and simple layout of what this car used to have in the 1960s. The gauges have gone matte over the years and are covered in dust, but the 160-mph speedometer and the 7,000-rpm rev meter are readable.

Dennis finds out the sad truth hours after he bought the 1966 Chevy Corvette

Dennis bought the C2 Corvette thinking it was a big-block example. The owner said it was. Or at least he thought so. However, later on, when he starts checking the codes on the 'Vette, it turns out that it did not drive through the factory gate with a 427-cubic-inch engine but with a small block.

1966 Chevrolet Corvette
Photo: Dennis Collins | YouTube
What a letdown! He is now sure that he won't waste his 427 aluminum engine on it and there is no way this is going to be restored to its stock specification. However, it would still make a nice restomod.

Dennis also finds a 1959 Corvette in Grinnell, Iowa. It is a two-top car that has been sitting for over 30 years. It is missing the original engine and transmission, and it has been converted from a manual to an automatic.

It doesn't have the original wheels anymore, and part of the chrome trim has vanished over the years. But it still looks like a great candidate for a restomod.

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