CC Capsule: 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Roadster – Trophy

As I write this, we are now in the first week of the last, full month of summer this year in the northern hemisphere.  It has been a great, memorable season for me that started with my first trip to the Indianapolis 500 over Memorial Day weekend.  There have been lots of other adventures with more still to come, including my first trip back to the big “Back To The Bricks” car festival after skipping a year, later this month in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.  Maybe seven weeks ago, I had spotted a final-year C1 roadster (or replica thereof) in Chicago’s financial “Loop” district while walking to work from my morning train.  I spotted our featured car last week, just one block away.

This gorgeous, fourth-year C2 is in one of my favorite, icy shades of my favorite color, called “Trophy Blue” from the factory.  To me, the color blue embodies summer, with the sky, swimming pools, and glistening Lake Michigan all being some shade of blue.  The contrast between the styling of this Sting Ray’s artfully sculpted, low-slung, fiberglass body and that of the slab-sided, high-waisted Toyota Prius taxi beside it serves to embody just what a radical design the C2 must have been when new.  Granted, the Prius, like the Chevy II compact that sat beside the Sting Ray in dealerships, is supposed to be boxy in its role as a practical, efficient, non-nonsense people-hauler, but I love that this Sting Ray just grabbed my attention in morning rush-hour traffic like a sucker-punch to my eyeballs.

Its driver looked roughly ten to fifteen years younger than me, which would make the car about twenty-five years older than him.  In my mid-to-late 20s, would I have driven even a ’56 Corvette around as a statement?  If I was making the kind of money that doing so would have required, the answer is a solid “maybe”.  Out of about 27,700 total Corvettes for 1966, this roadster (Chevy-speak) is one of about 17,700 convertibles produced that year.  The crosshatch grill inset distinguishes the ’66 from the ’65, and the “gills” on the ’67 number five instead of three.  I was somewhat shocked to learn that the convertible outsold the stunning fastback by a ratio of almost 2:1 that year.  I’m still torn as to which bodystyle I’d prefer, if money was no object.

Starting at a weight of almost exactly 3,000 lbs. in base form (and within twenty pounds of the fastback, which cost about 5% more than the convertible), the roadster’s standard power came from a 300-hp 327 V8.  Paired with the three-speed manual, the base car would be good for a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds and a 14.9-second quarter mile.  I love that this car’s color is fittingly called “Trophy Blue”.  This dynamic-looking performance car masterpiece from America’s space age must, indeed, be a trophy in the garage, and in the eyes, of its fortunate owner.  Like many historic buildings in the Windy City, the Sting Ray remains a monument to great taste and a fine, flagship representative of the litany of GM’s stylistic “Greatest Hits” of the Bill Mitchell era.

Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, July 31, 2017.

Related: Paul’s take on driving a similar ’67 Corvette convertible