Son inherits dad's 1966 Corvette

By Vern Parker MOTOR MATTERS | Friday, May 8, 2009
The Washington Times


Chevrolet built 17,762 Corvettes in the 1966 model year. One of them was shipped to the Greenwald Chevrolet dealership in Barberton, Ohio, where it was purchased by Michael Seifried.

"I can remember the day back in 1966 when my father brought home his pride and joy," Roy Seifried says. The base price for the 3,005-pound sports car was $4,084.

Eventually, Mr. Seifried's parents moved, with the Corvette, to Marathon in the Florida Keys, where the odometer tallied 108,000 miles.

"He was so proud of that car," Mr. Seifried says. "He babied it throughout the 17 years that he owned it until he passed away in 1983."

Just before he died, Mr. Seifried's father took the Corvette to Miami, where it was "freshened." The bumpers were replated with chrome and the exterior received a new coat of blue paint.

"Dad had said that he wanted me to have the car since I had admired it for so long," Mr. Seifried recalls.

He went to Florida and had his father's mechanic inspect the car. He reported no problems and thought the Corvette could make the trip back north just fine.

Mr. Seifried set off on the odyssey rolling along on the 98-inch wheelbase and had traversed almost the entire length of the peninsula and was within shouting distance of Georgia when "a rear wheel bearing gave out and got so hot it almost caught the car on fire."

The Corvette was left at a relative's house near Jasper, Fla., to await the needed parts for repairs. "Looking back, we realize what a mistake it was to try to drive the car all the way back to Ohio," Mr. Seifried says.

After the Corvette was repaired, Mr. Seifried's bother-in-law, Donald Douglas, volunteered to fly to Florida and drive it back to Ohio.

"We still had not learned our lesson," Mr. Seifried laments.

"On his way home, the heat from the engine caused a large family of Palmetto bugs to come out from their nest under the seats and crawl all over his legs," Mr. Seifried says, referring to Florida's euphemism for cockroaches. The car had to be fumigated.

The 1966 Corvette left the factory with a 327-cubic-inch V-8 engine that produces 350 horsepower. "It was amazing at the time," Mr. Seifried says, "in that it produced more than one horsepower for every cubic inch of displacement."

A few years passed before Mr. Seifried noticed that the engine was beginning to show signs of aging. By that time, he had moved to Howell, Mich., but he still remembered some superb mechanics in Ohio. In 1998, he trailered his Sting Ray back to Ohio, where both the engine and manual transmission were overhauled.

Before returning to Michigan, Mr. Seifried had a pair of full-length off-road exhausts installed along both rocker panels.

"I wanted to keep it in good shape," Mr. Seifried says. The safety-conscious owner was not such a purist that he would not employ parts like stainless steel brake linings or gas shock absorbers for improved safety.

Mr. Seifried's father also had been concerned with safety when he bought the Corvette.

"He had a right-side mirror installed for better visibility," Mr. Seifried says. "He was ahead of his time."

Seated in the snug driver's bucket seat behind the 160-mph speedometer, Mr. Seifried reports the odometer now has passed 132,000 miles. Currently, he takes his Corvette on brief cruises, when "there are no clouds in the sky."

Each year that he has owned the Corvette, Mr. Seifried says he has made at least one major improvement to his car, such as replacing the original wheels with identical, but unused, ones.

"Over the past 25 years, we have tried our best to keep it in good shape," Mr. Seifried says, "although at this point regular maintenance is all that seems to be needed. I know Dad would be proud."

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009