Validating An Original '66 Corvette


Validating and Documenting Original '66 Corvette

        Some day this Corvette may be represented as an all matching number restored Corvette and it may be in a venue where many other similar looking Corvettes are making similar claims. What sets this car apart from many others is that this car is mostly original, well kept, and has seen little use in forty four years. These facts became obvious to us during the restoration process so we documented what we saw for the owner's benefit. Factory build sheets affixed to gas tanks began appearing in late 1966, this one is an early, low serial number, car. All the more reason for our on the job documentation process.
  • Our photos show how this car was originally equipped from the GM factory with head rests, a very rare option, and not a store bought reproduction kit. Only 3% of total Corvette production cars were so equipped in 1966.

  • When the fiberglass body sections were produced, GM workers marked sections with a crayon to coodinate them according to options ordered. We noted and photographed the "443" markings found on the doors, firewall and cockpit rear. This car was obviously ordered without power windows. Their marking system prevented assembly of body sections with one power window door and one door w/o power.

  • Headlight motors still had the original Delco ink date codes. The housing stamped date codes coincide with the ink markings. Headlight motors had minor rust.

  • When replacing windshield washer harness we noticed reproduction hoses were larger diameter and were very difficult to feed through the firewall grommet leading to the squirters. We then cleaned up the originals and used them.

  • The original radio ground straps on the exhaust and motor mounts were good enough to clean and reuse.

  • When Replacing the deck lid vinyl trim strip we noticed the mounting studs were a slightly smaller diameter on the original than on the new reproduction requiring different size acorn nuts. We had repro deck strips in our back room dating back to the first ones reproduced 25 or 30 years ago. All had slighty larger studs, looks like they never were correct and had never been corrected. The original was in great shape after a little cleaning and was reused.

  • All carpeting was the original JP Stevens. The JP Stevens paper tags were also date coded and photographed and retained for documentation.

  • The original Irving manufactured seat belts were present and bore factory date coding. Also present were original early type retractors with the "patent pending" declaration.

  • Seat belt buckles were restored. One was nearly good enough to use as is. The other had some pitting. Both original "Bow Tie" stickers were removed for buckel repair. One sticker was flawed. We went to our inventory and found that all but one package had stickers with a slightly different finish around the "Bow Tie" shape. All packages were labeled "original". The original had a silver grey color around the "Bow Tie", the others had silver metalic color around the "Bow Tie". We reused one original and the new one that matched perfectly for our restoration.

  • When replacing a leaky heater core we photographed the date codes present on the inside of the heater housings.

  • Engine and trans matching numbers and appropriate date code castings were also photographed. Rear differential housing is date stamped     AM       2       10       66

  • All glass bore factory original codes VJ & YJ mfg nov, dec 1965 w/optional tint including windshield.

  • Original grill and both rocker panels were reconditioned and reused. The grill has some very minor pitting but is considered to be in excellent condition. New reproduction rocker panels have a satin finish which distinguish our use of the originals for this restoration.

  • Original paper vapor barrier was present under original door panels and were photographed. Door panels were in like new condition but had minor custom inserts glued inside of race track trim and had to be discarded. Seat covers also had minor custom work and had to be discarded.

  • Original exhaust manifolds had appropriate date code castings and looked their age.

  • Original alternator with proper stamped part number and appropriate date code.

  • Original wiper arms, blades, and rubber wipes, all bearing appropriate patent numbers and in like new condition

        The car was delivered to us with the last registered license plate on the back. The plate was from Minnesotta 1968 and had a 1969 paper sticker affixed to the upper right side. While removing the passenger seat we found some reseipts from Sears dated 1968 with the customer's name and address which was also from Minnesotta. The next step for us will be to contact Minnesotta DMV to track this vehicle's vin. We have done this before with success.

        When considering all of the above together it is difficult to argue that this car could be anything but The Real McCoy.

Car has original transmission

Driver door lock original #'s for getting ignition key made

Cleaned brake line & orig. motor mount ground strap

Rear Differential Ready To Install

Right Front Firewall (engine side) Factory Marking

Rear Bulkhead Factory Marking

Rt Door: Note "443" factory markings

Heater Housing Outer Date Coding

Wiper cowl detail

Restore original parts - washer harness

Original Irving seat belts & J.P. Stevens carpets date coded

Seat back w/factory upholstry & headrest & id tag

Original Headlight Motor Assemblies Cleaned

Headlight Motors Factory Date Stamp

Headlights, grill, & front bumper system installed

Original Right Door Panel Back MFG Date Code

Last Time on the road 1969

Servicing cracked lens dictates refurbishing cluster

Note dash cluster factory ink stamps: Feb 7 6 6064

Original clock: Dated 2136 - (Feb 13 1966)
Trans matching numbers close up

Original GM paper under door panel, very rare

Frame and adjacent components cleaned and painted

Suspension Parts restored

More suspension Parts restored

Left Front Fender Well, Frame, and Suspension

Heater Housings Inner Repaired & Outer Cleaned

Heater Housing Inner - Harrison Date Code Closeup

Removed paint from deck lid latches & cable

Left headlit housing & parts cleaned & greased

Early prod. seat belt retractor "PAT PENDING"

Seats installed, Headrests aligned

Original grill cleaned

Headlight Motors Factory Date Stamp

Delco motor ink number still viewable

Original Right Door Panel Back MFG Date Code

Rear restored. Note GM top, stamped "Regalite AS-6"

Instrument cluster rear - note excellent condition and factory ink stamps


Original door glass channel liner shows little wear

Validating Odometer Mileage - 53,179 Miles Indicated

        The above displays a car that was well kept and is still in pretty good shape after 43 years of use. When checking mileage for believeability we look for consistancy. One of the first things we look at are pedal pads. All pedal pads were original and showed very little use but the clutch pad showed a lot of wear. We coupled this fact with the fact that the right side, known as gutter side, of the car underside and right door inside had a lot of dirt or gravel present. The right front fender skirt undercoat was not as pristene as the left side also. We concluded that the car primarily saw urban use which would explain more use of the clutch pedal than brake as well as the predominant road gutter side use effect to the underside. This use also supports a low mileage reading on the odometer. In the above we look for date codes to fit the known rules of factory assembly sequence. The following facts support a compelling argument for the indicated mileage on the speedometer to be true and accurate:
  • The cracked oil pressure gage lens dictaded the removal and servicing of the instrument cluster. Most Corvettes we have worked on in our shop at Rowley Corvette have had the same gage lens cracked. When removing the instrument cluster we noted that the dash wiring harness was still fastened to the back of the cluster housing. The factory clips are plastic and are pretty much a one time clip, that is they break easily when detached coupled with the fact that the harness is fastened in an area nearly impossible to get at, we concluded this dash was never apart before.

  • Testing the speedometer with a cordless drill showed both the odometer and trip odometer still worked perfectly. We were suprised to see a metal odometer drive gear. Most speedos of this vintage had a plastic one which would prematurly wear out after 40,000 miles or so.

  • All black paint on the cluster face was original. Not only was there no evidence of masking, this paint has a bit of soft feel to it. It was probably enamel from the factory. Most original dash clusters show a substantial wear or absence of black paint just below the ignition switch. This is caused from the hanging keys brushing up against the dash and wearing the paint off. This car had very little paint worn off, nearly nothing.

  • All instrument and indicator lights worked.

  • No interior items were ever repainted, in fact the car body had only one paint job over the factory original.

  • All original pedal pads including gas pedal were original and whose use coinside with the mileage indicated. Original brake pad was left in place for this restoration.

  • Shift console was all original. Original ash tray cover was almost good enough to leave, (had a few miniscule pits).

  • Original door balls, rocker panels, door panel race track moldings, grill, dash pads, instruments, door and ignition locks, all original glass, chrome shift knob, and others were retained for this restoration.

  • Factory undercoat, sound deadening, still present throughout and showing little to no wear. With the left front undercoating looking like that of a new car with its distinctive factory mask lines still present, we look to the right front undercoating to either support or vacate the mileage indicated because of the pronounced gutter effect the roads had on this car. We expected to see most of the undercoat sand blasted off the rear of the fender skirt. Also most cars we work on require the repair or replacement of the frame end cap located just forward of the right rear tire. It's an area that gets sand blasted from road dirt. The frame of this car had all original factory paint present except for only the bottom surface of the right side. No rust or rot repair was done to this car's frame.

  • All brake rotors had the original factory rivets and appeared to be at factory thickness. They were replaced only because they were no longer true turning do to rusty cooling fins.

  • All ball joints had original factory rivets.

  • Radio needed nothing.

  • Original windshield washer harness was cleaned and reused.

  • Door panels and seats were original but had custom cloth inserts. Headrest coverings were original and showed little to no wear. Right door panel was perfect, left had one small crack next to arm rest chrome. Seat foam was tired, car was probably driven by a heavy guy.

  • Glove box door was excellent, tire pressure decal was perfect, light worked. Door was discarded because of small area of cloth glued over black paint.

  • Original driver side carpet showed little wear and still had JP Stevens stickers on the back.

  • Original oil cannister screen painted instructions visable and were located 1 1/2 inches below top edge.

Original brake pedal- Wear indicates little use

Original factory undercoat shows little use

Restoration Work - Combining New With Old

Original jack cover w/jack & posi instructions

New decals placed like original - #11 sticker transfered

Glove/spare tire & ingitn/door keys w/knock out & #s

Park brake assy & underside components renewed

Original horn relay needing refurbishing

Horn relay refurbished & installed

New left door panel w/some original trim

New left door panel fit & finish

Original carpets removed, orig insulation maintained

New carpet & NOS GM Glove box door w/correct rivets

Dash completed, teak wheel, NCRS reference manual

Original seat belt buckles restored, new leather seat upholstry

Orig GM top, only 3 weatherstrips needed replacing

Original 43 year old nuts & washers cleaned, restored

Original GM horns cleaned, painted & tested

Orig horns GM # 487, 488 Date Coded Oct 65, Dec 65

Original left spark plug shielding cleaned & installed

Original right spark plug shielding cleaned & installed

Rear body fit and finish

Firewall, latch, brake booster, bolts & clips restored

Original deck lid trim, new replacements have much larger mounting studs & acorn nuts

Door end detail

While it is nearly a 100 point car, it was rebuilt to provide improved riding comfort as an occasional driver. To that end we installed bolt-on knock-off wheels, (lug nuts hidden under cones), Delco gas shocks, monoleaf rear leaf spring, and Pirelli P4000 tires.

Original rocker panels restored, new replacements not exact

Bolt-on knock-off wheels and Pirelli P4000 tires

Front suspension rebuilt, frame painted

Rear suspension rebuilt, frame painted

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