This ’66 ‘Vette Packs a Punch

April 12th, 2011

Text and Photos by Travis Noack

Dr. Walter Kushman, 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, Lubbock, TX

In the world of ‘60s performance cars there are few rolling masterpieces more coveted than the Corvette Stingray. Its lines revolutionized a performance era that had just begun to hit the red line, and their lightweight fiberglass construction made them prime candidates for road racing and all sorts of high-speed track situations. Fast-forward 48 years, and the 1963-67 body style Corvette is still a prime player in the world of full throttle performance.

Dr. Walter Kushman had always had an affinity for the early ‘Vettes, and when a numbers-matching ‘66 Stingray with a 327/four-speed combination popped up for sale, he had to have it. Ownership of the ‘Vette was a dream come true, but the factory blue hue and the small-block were not at the top of the Doc’s checklist. He wanted it painted “arrest me red,” and it had to have a big-block.

To get the power plant portion of the project underway a 502 big-block was delivered to Brian Teal at Teal Automotive in Lubbock, Texas, and punched to 509 ci. A custom ground roller cam provides the perfect lift and duration for the large-valved Brodix cylinder heads, as Wiseco slugs pinned to Manley custom fit rods are pushed and pulled by a Scat crank. The block was fully machined at Sunset Race craft in Lubbock before Brian assembled the stout mill. The engine was then delivered to Ricky Pope in Lubbock, where the Hilborn electronic fuel injection was installed and expertly tuned. Engaging the classic Muncie four-position box is a Centerforce clutch ensuring smooth gear transitions when the Doc is off the clock. Hooker Headers side pipes ventilate the 509-ci tire roaster when Wally dumps the clutch and mashes the pleasure pedal. Joe Flynn at A&B Muffler in Lubbock modified the side pipes to allow the engine to breathe deep, and the leg burner microphones were coated in HPC black high-temp coating for durability and good looks.

The custom-mixed PPG Red applied by Jason Hill flows over the classic glass as the custom Hooker side pipes coated in high-temp black scream performance.

Once the power plant was in check, this classic glass was delivered to Hill’s Hot Rods and JD Glassworks to put the shine on the surface and between the doors.  Jason Hill designed the build concept and the project was underway. The transformation began by setting the attitude of the car with an adjustment of the stance. The car was brought down 3 inches in the front thanks to a slightly trimmed 2-inch dropped coil spring and the weight of the big-block. In the rear, the distinctive Corvette tail section fell 4 inches by way of a Composite Mono-Leaf. The car was then planted over 17 x 8.5-inch front and 17 x 10-inch rear bonspeed Quasar billet wheels mounted on Michelin Pilot rubber. A pair of P245/35ZR17 front and P315/35ZR17 rear Michelin donuts takes punishment after the Doc’s stressful work day with Wilwood six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes, ensuring there are no on-road emergencies.

When it came time to massage the 45-year-old glass, Jason Hill of Hill’s Hot Rods and Jimmy Davis of JD Glassworks teamed up to give the Corvette a retro, yet modern, chiseled look. The Doc wanted flares for a bit of ‘70s styling, but the guys at Hill’s and JD tweaked the typical Corvette flare to better complement the lines of the car. In fact, a custom set of flares was designed from scratch that were penned up by Jason Hill and shaped and grafted in place by Davis. Once the custom-designed fender flares were ‘glassed into place, the body sculptors at Hill’s sanded and smoothed every curve to perfection, and the car was blocked and smoothed. Hill loaded up his spray gun and smothered the vintage glass in PPG custom-mixed red.

A one-off custom dash by Jimmy Davis, with the gauges relocated to the center, conceals much of the midrange audio, while Torch Red leather and loop carpet take us back in time.

After the paint and body portion of the Doc’s big-block-powered street terror were completed and the ‘Vette glistened like a fine diamond, the interior and audio system were next on the list. Davis custom-built a rear cockpit-mounted enclosure for the subwoofers featuring two ARC Audio 8-inch subwoofers, an ARC Audio KS-125.4 channel amplifier and an ARC Audio KS-500.1 one-channel amplifier. Another ARC Audio KS-R5.2 two-channel amplifier kicks in some additional fire power. Helping the Doc relax on his flat-footed drive home are ARC Audio KS-6026 6.5-inch two-way speakers rocking in the dash, ARC Audio KS-4626 4×6 two-way speakers in the rear, and two ARC Audio KS-6936 6×9 two-way speakers filling in the space between bass hits. In addition to his audio installation trickery, Davis knocked it out of the park with a one-off custom dash with the Auto Meter American Platinum white face gauges relocated to the center. The 6.5-inch speakers were hidden behind each side of the dash for a stealth install, yet positioned right on the fire line for optimum listening pleasure. A 6×9 was mounted in the center at the top of the dash for good sound distribution throughout the Corvette’s tight confines. A one-off custom console built by Davis flows between the original buckets trimmed in a torch red interior kit with leather seat covers. Torch red loop carpet was tacked to the floorboards. Commanding all of the audio power is a Kenwood KOS-V1000 radio delivering signals to a Kenwood KOS-432 4.3-inch LCD screen and a Kenwood KDV-S250P DVD unit. Davis finished off the audio installation with custom wiring linking all of the ground-pounding audio components together. The big-block awakes via a custom dash ignition switch from Watson’s Street Works.

Dr. Walter Kushman has one slick big-block ‘Vette on his hands, and thanks to the custom work from Hill’s Hot Rods and JD Glassworks it looks as dynamite as it runs. After a full day in the hospital you can bet Dr. Kushman is ready to pound on the shifter and stomp on the skinny pedal. We can’t imagine a cooler doctor’s ride.

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