We love restomods and when we first saw Tom Hollinshead’s fantastic 1966 Sting Ray, we knew it was something special. The car is so cool on so many levels, with subtle yet radical mods everywhere, that one must gaze slowly and carefully over its shiny flanks to appreciate just how many tweaks this old ‘Vette employs.
Tom hails from Edmonton, Alberta and is a dyed-in-the-wool Corvette guy if there ever was one. He’s been involved in the Corvette hobby since 1977 and is currently president of the Northern Alberta Corvette Owners Club.
We all know that playing with Corvettes costs money and although somewhat retired, Tom keeps an “iron in the fire” as an accountant to support his Corvette affliction. When he’s not looking after his ’66, he has two kids and five grandchildren to keep him busy.
Tom has owned 22 Corvettes over the years but says, “This ’66 is the best Corvette I have ever owned and the one I have the most fun with.” If you think this car is a shrinking violet, you’d be wrong, as Tom regularly autocrosses the ‘Vette and it’s eligible for a wide spectrum of car events from hot rods to Corvettes.
His affinity for Corvettes began as a young man when he bought his first C2, a 1966 Roadster in 1978. With radiused wheel wells, and a 350HP, 327, it wasn’t perfect but as Tom recounts. “It was the most Corvette I could buy at the time.” Tom jokes, “After all these years, I still have a 1966.”
He bought his first new Corvette in 1998 while on a work stint in Nashville, TN and says “The C5 is a fantastic car and I loved it but I still longed for a mid year.”
In 2006, Tom was at a Goodguys show in Rancho Cucamonga, California, saw a beautiful Sunfire Yellow ’66 ‘Vette, and it became the latest addition to his collection. It was a 55k mile, numbers matching California car, original all the way down to the black plates and the air pump.
He loved the car and it drove great, but as most guys find after they get out of a new Corvette, it’s a bit of a let down. He was thinking about modding the Sunfire ’66 ‘Vette, but didnt have the heart because it was so pure and original.
In 2013, Tom got a call from a long time buddy, Lawrence Block from Western Corvette Service and Performance in Calgary, Alberta and said, “I’ve got your Corvette…” Apparently, a restomod ’66 ‘Vette–built in 2002–was part of an estate that had come up for sale and Lawrence said “You have first crack at it…”
Originally commissioned by Bruce Peacock and built by Alf Ebberoth of Performance Automotive out of Sand City, CA, the car was truly the “tip-of-the-spear” when it comes to restomods. When it made it’s initial appearance in a car mag back in the day, it was described as a “hybrid.” All we can say is this ‘Vette is one “hybrid” we can get excited about.
Tom went to see the car and was hooked. He bought it on the spot and drove it 200 miles home that day. He says, “It was mostly as you see it now, but had staggered wheel sizes, C5 bucket seats, base C5 wheels, and an ugly shifter…”
The car was running a Paul Newman chassis, a stock 350HP, LS1 V8 and a six-speed Borg Warner manual transmission with body and paint by Greg Thurmond of GTS Customs. All this goodness rides on a full C4 suspension, C5 front brakes and C4 rears, and GT rotors and C5 Z06 calipers. The rubber meets the road via a Dana 44 rear end with 3.90 gears.
Nowadays, a common restomod trick is to flare the rear wheel wells to accommodate big rubber, but this car pioneered the mod. In fact, it boasts the first set of flares body man Greg Thurmond ever installed on a C2. GTS now sells a flare kit as well.
From there, Tom set out to make the car his own.
He ditched the C5 seats and swapped them out for ’67 buckets and headrests upholstered in leather. On a custom car, sometimes you don’t know what you’ll run into until you start an upgrade. Tom ran into a roadblock with the seat swap.
Tom recalls the fix, “The ’67 drivers seat popped in just fine, but the passenger side wouldn’t fit. We found out the transmission tunnel had been widened to accept the new chassis, so we sent out the seat bottom, had it narrowed 2 inches and then it fit perfectly. “When Mid America Motorworks maestro Mike Yager saw the car, he picked it as his celebrity choice in 2014 at the Western Canadian Corvette convention.
Tom swapped the old wheels and tires for a set of chromed Z51 17 x 8.5″ rims shod with BFGoodrich G-Force Rival S’s because “That’s the biggest rubber I could squeeze in there.” Believe it or not, the tire swap alone gave the car it’s killer stance.
Tom liked the idea of redline tires and explored colored plastic rim protecters to acheive the look, but ended up with a unique solution, “I have some detailing experience so I bought an $8 roll of red pinstriping tape and after just a few hours I got the look I wanted.”
The redline accents really pop against the maroon color. You might think it’s Marlboro Maroon, but it’s really Cadillac Magnetic Red from 2000. We think the body color combined with the chrome rims and redline trim is absolutely drop dead gorgeous.
Next up was exhaust. Tom said, “To me, mid years look best with side pipes, so we swapped in a set of LS3 manifolds, custom plumbed some pipes and we got the look and sound I wanted.”
Tom also added “Fuel Injection” emblems to the front fenders and even though it creates confusion with some die-hard Corvette enthusiasts, Tom says, “It has fuel injection so they work, even though ’65 was the last year for a fuelie.”
As previously mentioned, Tom is an autocrosser and runs this car hard. He recently attended a 2016 Good Guys Colorado autocross event and ran 30 runs in two days! He also won the Roadster Shop sponsored Style and Engineering Award at the event as well.
Awards Won By Tom Hollinshead's 1966 Corvette Restomod
- 2014 – Canadian Council of Corvette Clubs (Quad C) Western Canadian Convention – Mike Yager Celebrity Choice
- 2015 – Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals – Award of Excellence and part of the 100 Car Indoor Display of Excellence
- 2015 – Quad C Western Region – Concours D’Elegance Overall Champion
- 2015 – Quad C Western Region Convention – Fan Favorite
- 2016 – Goodguys Colorado Nationals – Roadster Shop sponsored Style and Engineering Award
- 2016 – Mid America Corvette Funfest – Ken Lingenfelter Celebrity Pick
- 2014 and 2015 – Quad C Western Region Autocross Class Champion
- 2014 to 2016 – Numerous Local Car Show and Corvette Concours wins
The restomod movement has it detractors with some ‘Vette purists especially sensitive to modding out classic ‘Vettes.
Tom’s response sums it up nicely. “If a restomod is done appropriately and professionally, it will not detract from the car but actually augment it. The essence and timelessness of the original car remains.”
We agree. This ’66 Sting Ray has just enough automotive MSG to bring out the good parts while leaving the old applecart technology behind. It also creates visibility for ‘Vettes that otherwise might be squirreled away in garages, rarely driven or hidden away from the world.
Tom will trailer the car over long distances, but shows the ‘Vette regularly and puts it through it’s paces at events in the US and Canada, allowing people of all ages to see a C2 in action. For many, it might be their first glimpse at what a vintage ‘Vette looks like at speed.
For now, if you’re up in the Great White North and see a brutal C2 restomod running around, look for Tom behind the wheel with a big smile on his face.