1966 Chevrolet Corvette: Performs Great on Our Test Loop
July 8, 2015
Every car we test and rate gets driven on our approximately 115-mile evaluation loop that starts at a gas station near our Santa Monica headquarters, through the Santa Monica mountains, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Camarillo, then back to the same gas station near the office.
This loop has it all: city driving, highway driving, twisty canyon roads, rough pavement and smooth concrete. Although it's not what we consider a fuel economy loop, we often get an indication of how a car will compare to its EPA fuel economy estimates in real-world conditions.
So early one morning, Magrath and I set out for the loop. I was in the Vette, Mike in an Aston Martin Vanquish. Probably as a consequence of motoring in profanely affluent areas like Santa Monica and Malibu, the Vanquish wasn't a big deal to onlookers. The Corvette, on the other hand, was an attention-getter. On the road or at a Starbucks, the Vette turned heads, got thumbs-ups and drew people in.
The canyon section of the loop kept me busy at the wheel. Those bias-ply tires have the least amount of grip of any car I've driven. I wasn't driving it particularly hard, but it still needed some coaxing to place it precisely where I wanted it. You know what? It was fun.
I'd give the throttle a little goose here and there coming out of turns to see how the car reacts, and to no surprise, the rear steps out but probably not to the degree that anyone but the driver would notice. I had zero confidence bombing into a corner and late-braking it to the apex, so I kept entry speeds conservative. Our Black Plague 911 still remains one of my favorite older long-termers for bulls-eyeing apexes.
Out on the open stretches of Pacific Coast Highway, the Corvette really proved its worth. It's a great cruiser and the cool ocean breeze was refreshing. Inland, on the freeways, this wasn't the case. It got hot and rather uncomfortable, especially when we hit inevitable bumper-to-bummer traffic nearing Los Angeles.
The only notable part of that stretch was another driver in a brand-spanking-new Z06 who appreciated seeing the '66 out there.
We pulled back to the gas station and the Corvette took 8.295 gallons. According to the Vanquish's trip meter, we travelled 117.1 miles. That figures out to 14.1 mpg. After a short search on the internet, it looks like the Vette was rated at 14 city/16 highway back in 1966, so we're right where we should be. Without the slowdowns, I'm pretty confident I could've gotten to 15 or 16 mpg.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor