When you see a Corvette that's represented as "restored," do you ask yourself if that restoration was back to the way the car was built by GM, or if there were any "improvements" or equipment upgrades included in the project.
Here's one Corvette-Bob Salerno's '66 Sting Ray convertible-where the restoration brought it back to original. This midyear is optioned with an L36 427, an M-21 Muncie four-speed, Posi-traction, F41 special suspension equipment, side exhausts, and not a whole lot else. No auxiliary hardtop, no power steering or power brakes, no knock-off aluminum wheels, no L72 427 or "Rock Crusher" M-22 Muncie.
"That was one of the things I loved about it. You get a lot of people that add the bolt-on, nontraceable options to a car, and they brag about how it has 19 factory options," says Bob, of the way previous owner, Dick Simonetti, restored it. "How hard would it have been to get a hardtop and drill some holes in the cover in the back? I think the restoration that was done on the car brought it back to new."
Even being a well-traveled Vette, this car still has less than 50,000 original miles on it. Its original owner, Harold Neilson, bought it in December 1965 from a dealer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while stationed at nearby Kirtland Air Force Base. Fifteen months later, another Air Force man, Herman Priddy, bought it from Harold, and the car was his until Dick acquired it in June 1989 and took it home to Rochester,New York. That's where the frame-off resto was done, from August 1992 to May 1994.
The following October, Dick took it to the Northeast Regional NCRS where the judges gave it 4,309 out of 4,503 possible points (98.7 percent), earning it regional Top Flight honors. In September 1995, at an NCRS chapter meet, it scored 4,441 out of 4,503 possible points for a 98.6-percent grade and a chapter Top Flight Award.
Dick advertised the '66 for sale in 2002, drawing Bob's attention. "I had to go to Rochester to look at it, and I couldn't get up there for about two weeks because it involved a two-day trip," Bob recalls. "Dick said, 'I have people calling me. A guy from California wants to come and he's going to fly in, but I told him that Bob said he's coming in two weeks, and I'm not doing anything until he comes.' So I went there, and I pretty much came home with it." Bob has nothing but good words not only for the restoration job Dick Simonetti did, but also for Dick. "The quality of the person that I bought it from and who restored it is as good as the car. It's hard to meet nice people when you're buying a car."
Nowadays, this midyear wears New Jersey plates, as Bob's garage-where this '66 has called home since 2002-is in the north end of the Garden State. Its stablemates include a C6 Corvette, a '55 Chevy gasser, and a Pro-Street '67 Camaro, as well as a 383-powered '67 Barracuda Formula S, and an A/MP '55 T-bird.
Bob says it's nerve-wracking taking his Sting Ray out into traffic. That subsides, however, once he gets away from the flood of daily-drivers on the road and can open up the 427 and make the side pipes sing-something different from his current-model Corvette. "I love to get into the old one and listen to the side pipes and the crummy AM/FM radio. It's really cool!"