1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Using It Like A Camry
July 6, 2015
To and from work. A pizza run. A late night trip to CVS for Children's Tylenol. The ATM and drive-thru. 31 Flavors. The 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and I have done it all together. It has taken my kids to volleyball practice, to a school sports banquet and to their friend's houses.
Basically I've been driving our Sting Ray like a Camry.
So far it's only real use limitation has been its two seats. If there were more, it would have been sucked into carpool duty more than once.
Last weekend this was my car. My only car. And it was a blast. I drove my wife's Volvo XC70 only once, when our family of four went out to dinner Sunday night.
When we bought the car, many of you thought we were going to treat it like a museum piece, taking it only to car shows and driving it sparingly. It ain't happening. This thing only sits still when we've been fixing stuff. And if you use a 49-year-old car every day, you will be fixing stuff.
But that's winding down. After rebuilding the carb and distributor, replacing the battery and alternator, fixing the parking brake and a few other smaller items, the Corvette is solid. Twist the key and go.
I know many of you think that sounds like a lemon. But trust me, I own old cars. One of them is 11 years older than the Corvette. And if you buy one, even one of those big-dollar cars selling at auctions on TV, you will spend a few weeks and few grand debugging it ? especially if you plan to drive it every day. It's just the way it is and should always be calculated into the purchase price.
Meanwhile, the Corvette and I have bonded. Last Saturday I somehow talked my 10-year old daughter into spending the day with her daddy. We got up early, woke all of our neighbors as we fired up the Corvette and drove it 30 miles north up the Pacific Coast Highway, through the mist and fog, to the Malibu State Park.
The roads were wet. I drove cautiously. Headlights on. Wipers wiping. Bias-plies dancing. Traction from a dead stop was very easy to eliminate through first and second gear, and I spun them up more than once to show off for the kid, the roar of the side pipes overpowering the roar of the Pacific.
Malibu State Park is a few miles from the coast on a curving mountain road, and I took it easy once we were on that two-lane, easier than I would have in any modern car. No drifting. But the Corvette was keeping up with modern traffic just fine. Turns out most people drive Priuses and crossovers like a 50-year-old car on 50-year-old tires.
Jane and I left the Corvette inside the park and hiked about six miles to and from the location once used as the exterior set of the TV show M.A.S.H, which is almost as old as our ride.
It was still early when we arrived and the cloud cover remained, keeping the temperature around 60 degrees. Perfect for a long walk. When we returned to the car hours later, the marine layer had burned off and the sun had been baking us and the Corvette for about an hour.
We were hot. We were tired. Hungry. Neither of us were in any mood for a finicky old car. But the Corvette was perfect. Camry-like. I twisted the key and it fired up. I turned on the air-conditioning and it quickly cooled the Sting Ray's heat-soaked interior and its occupants.
We stopped for a burger and then headed home back down PCH, now dry. My 10-year-old fell asleep and I soaked in the incredible feeling of driving one of the coolest cars of all-time along one of the greatest roads in the world.
I may have been using our Corvette like a Camry, but the experience has been anything but.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief