Wil's driven the Corvettes...
Wil's driven the Corvettes he's owned to various Vette events over the years, including his '93 40th Anniversary Edition. He's also kept it factory-original.
His 2007-vintage C6s have some interesting stories behind them, starting with the yellow one. Per Wil, when Millennium Yellow was added to the Vette's color selection, it wasn't phased-in as new colors had been before. "What I told the customers was, `We're going to pull ahead new colors, and put them up front, because that's what people want," Wil says of the decision to make that bright yellow available from the start of the model run. And, what of his Velocity Yellow '07? Wil says, "It was a manufacturing-validation vehicle, from very early in the production phase." Wil drove it to Corvette events and, seeing not only how it performed but also Corvette lovers' reactions to it, made up his mind to add a yellow one to his collection.
His black '07 Z06 is no less historically significant. "That car has the first set of chrome wheels that we produced," Wil says,. "I was sportin' `em, and showing everybody." And, just like with the reaction to the yellow Z06, Wil said to himself, "I've got to have this one."
Along with a flip-top Cadillac XLR that was also built at Bowling Green, Wil has one other Corvette in his collection. But this one isn't filled with the latest advances from GM Powertrain or the latest styling from GM Design. What it is filled with is a full-tube, race car chassis and big block V8 power to make it competitive in NHRA's Super Pro and Super Gas categories.
Wil had this Super Pro/Super...
Wil had this Super Pro/Super Gas C4 built to fit him. He's run it in the 9s without nitrous (and might reach the 8s with it).
But Wil's 1/4-mile C4 Vette wasn't one that he'd been looking at. "Every time that I looked at a Corvette drag car, they all had firewalls moved backward, and every time there was not enough room for me," he says of the cars that barely--if at all--fit his six-foot-five-plus frame. "What I ended up doing is I had that car custom-made around me, just like you do a tailor-made suit." Brent Eubanks welded the custom-fit frame, while Lamar Walden built the engine and Wilson Competition assembled it into a turn-key race car. "They were looking into building full-body drag cars, and they decided that mine would be the first one that they'd do," Wil says. "They put a lot of wonderful detail in it, and it took a while to get it all done. They did a great job, as a show car and it runs great. I don't have any complaints about it. But at the end of my car's build, they said, `This is the first one--and the last one!'"
How quick is Wil's quarter-miler? "The best time on the car has been the low 9s," he says. "If I used the nitrous on it--I don't use it because I want to preserve my engine--you could probably put it in the high 8s. I figured if I can run in the mid-9s all day, I was happy!"
Does Wil have any advice for Corvette enthusiasts looking to turn their one-car devotion into a multi-Vette collection? "A lot of the love for Corvettes is often tied to some event in your life that you attach some significance to," he says. "When I came back from Vietnam in 1969--I left there that July--I'd been reading a lot of books and looking at a lot of cars. Theoretically, I could have stopped at the `69s if I wanted to." But he didn't, and he's got a very good reason. "What made me make my mind up (to focus on C4-later Vettes) was my contribution and my efforts in the Corvette Team and the awards, and things like that. What else can you really have drive you? All the quality awards that the fifth-generation Corvette got automatically makes it one of the most-celebrated generations of Corvettes."
And one that's at the heart of one Corvette man's collection.