This 1966 Corvette has been refinished in its correct Tuxedo Black color with black interior trim. It represents a complete, no-expense-spared, every-nut-and-bolt, frame-off restoration with a 427/425 engine, close-ratio 4-speed and Positraction rear axle.
It has had an extensive chassis detail with proper shim marks and stencils, and is optioned with factory side exhausts, power steering, air conditioning, teakwood steering wheel, cast aluminum knockoff wheels, 7.75-15 Goodyear Goldline tires, AM/FM radio with power antenna, and auxiliary hard top. The car is documented with the original bill of sale from Person Chevrolet in Memphis, Tennessee, and the second owner’s title and bill of sale from Union Chevrolet, also in Memphis, dating back to 1969.
|Vehicle:||1966 427/425 L72 Convertible|
|Original List Price:||$6,199|
|Tune Up Cost:||$150|
|Chassis Number Location:||Riveted to cross brace below glove box|
|Engine Number Location:||Pad on front of block below right cylinder head|
|Club Info:||National Corvette Restorers Society|
|Alternatives:||1965–67 Jaguar XKE 4.2; 1965–66 Shelby GT350; 1970 Aston Martin DBSV8|
This car sold for $94,600, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach Collector Car Auction in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 3, 2010.
“Son of a Gun—just what the Corvette needed, more power.” That’s what Car & Driver magazine said of the 1966 427-powered L72 Corvette in its November 1965 road test. “Last year’s 396 ‘porcupine head’ Corvette was cranking out quite a bit more than its advertised 425 bhp, and with 427 cu. in., the gap between advertised and actual becomes even broader. However, Chevrolet insists there are only 425 horses in there, and we’ll just have to take their word for it. Though we feel compelled to point out that these are 425 horses of a size and strength never before seen by man—horses as tall as houses, with hooves as big as bushel baskets. When you have this many of those horses exerting their full force against the small of your back, you are profoundly impressed, and you will most likely lose all interest in counting anyway.”
Car & Driver’s artful introduction to the L72 Corvette 45 years ago can hardly be improved upon, and neither can the big-block Sting Ray. Especially when it’s finished in the striking triple-black color combination like our Barrett-Jackson subject car, and possesses original documentation proving it was highly equipped with the desirable teak steering wheel, side exhausts, power steering, and even air conditioning.
As another positive, B-J’s Palm Beach car was properly restored by an NCRS judge, and while the engine is not original to the car, it is correct for this car and is still worthy of respect. Possibly with the original engine, and Top Flight or Bloomington Gold certification, this Corvette would have sold for closer to the high book for the model, somewhere around $125k, but nearly $95k is a good price nonetheless.
To put matters in perspective, just a few cars after this one crossed the block, a similar 1967 L71 435-hp convertible (lot 660.2) sold at $165k. That shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, because on average it will take $20k to $50k more to buy a ’67 L71 than a ’66 L72 of equal quality. In fact, since the 1980s, the 435-hp L71 has been one of the Corvettes to own for collectors, yet on the surface it doesn’t seem that much different from the 425-hp 1966 L72. Which begs the question: Is the L71 really worth that much more?
Last of the line often most precious
In truth, the ’67 model year was supposed to debut the third-generation Shark design, but internal battles over the roof delayed the new model until 1968. As a result, Chevrolet designers had to quickly update the C2 for one more year, and their work included the unique front fender vents and backup lamps located above the rear license plate. More famously, the ’67 427-powered cars got a redesigned “power bulge” hood with the now-famous “stinger” with contrasting paint stripe. The cast-aluminum wheels also lost their knockoff wing nuts in favor of supposedly safer hex nuts. So while one can easily defend the ’67 as the best looking of mid-year Sting Rays, its predecessors were hardly the generation’s ugly stepchildren.
Another reason the ’66 suffers value-wise is power—but this is more a matter of perception than reality. Because in reality, the famed 1967 L71 Tri-Power was basically the ’66 L72 with the addition of a triple-carb setup, and Chevrolet officially rated it at 435 hp—10 hp more than the L72. (Interestingly, the single four-barrel 1966 L72 was rated at 450 hp when first introduced. But about a month into production the engine rating was lowered to 425 hp, although the only known actual change was a revised horsepower sticker for the air cleaner.) As well, contemporary road tests indicated that the ’66 L72 was equal to, if not slightly faster than, the ’67 L71, though I’ve driven both and would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Clearly performance can’t be the deciding factor in the L71’s popularity.
The difference isn’t rarity, either. Chevrolet built 3,754 L71 Corvettes for 1967, compared to 5,258 L72s for the previous year, and even though this is a nearly 29% reduction, it’s still way too many cars to be considered rare. (The ’67 L71 production numbers were lower because the 427 engine was now spread among five different horsepower options, rather than just between a pair of 390-hp and 425-hp models as in ’66.)
So if it isn’t performance, style, or rarity, what makes the 1967 L71 such a must-have automobile—and the ’66 L72 not so much? At the end of the day, it’s because the ’67 was the last of the line and the end of the real Sting Ray era (despite the model name living on for another year in the first C3 Shark, before giving way to “Stingray” for 1969).
No original engine, not a problem
The fact that our subject car did not have its original engine is hardly a deal-buster. In fact, it’s quite common for high-horsepower Corvettes from the first two decades to have replacement mills (only three of the 16 1967 L89 Corvettes built still have their original engines, and these cars are all worth a small fortune). The seller should be commended for disclosing this, as he could have easily said that the car was “numbers matching”—meaning a carefully sourced replacement with correct date-coded components. Having a verified original engine certainly will increase the value of an older Corvette, but not as much as you might think.
The more I watch the Corvette market, the more I realize it’s much like the stock market, where fervor often trumps logic. Barrett-Jackson’s sale of this ’66 L72 and a similar ’67 L71—at sizably different prices—is a prime example. Both offer comparable performance, both have equivalent restorations, and both are striking in appearance and presentation. Indeed, the L72 is packed with some of the most desirable options of the era (and has the documentation to prove it), while the L71 is lightly optioned. Yet the L71 trumped the L72 by over $70k. Go figure.
Rather than lose sleep over such perceived market inequities, the new owner of our subject 1966 L72 Corvette should instead rejoice in owning an excellent show-and-go automobile with stunning performance and looks that will forever stop people in their tracks. Raising your paddle and ending up with this in your garage for under $100k? I’d call that very well bought indeed.