This is the history of the 1966 Corvette

Here’s the story behind the 1966 Corvette that was originally thought to be the end of an era. If you’re looking for one, we have some history and specifications for you. Cheers and Happy Hunting!

Hey Corvette Fans, we have the story behind the 1966 Corvette.

For Corvette enthusiasts, the 66’ model was one of their most loved years. Produced between Sept. 1965 and July 1966 at the St. Louis Assembly Plant in Missouri. They sold 27,720 units that year alone – a total up by 4200 over 1965’s numbers.

The ’66 was originally thought to be the end of an era but Chevrolet opted to continue production of the Sting Ray because they feared disappointing their customers with a lack of good quality control among other reasons (more on that later).

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To learn more about what was happening in ’66 and how it influenced America’s most iconic sports car please read this guide on the ’66 history which will give you all you need to know before starting your own search for one!

Earl & Susan Hesterberg's 1966 Corvette on display from the NCRS Texas Chapter at the Corvette Chevy Expo in Galveston, Texas.
Earl & Susan Hesterberg’s 1966 Corvette is on display from the NCRS Texas Chapter at the Corvette Chevy Expo in Galveston, Texas.
Earl & Susan Hesterberg's 1966 Corvette on display from the NCRS Texas Chapter at the Corvette Chevy Expo in Galveston, Texas.

What happened around 1966

The Vietnam War continued in 1966 and inflation grew. In addition, the Soviet Union and America continued their space race to land a man on the moon first. Race riots across America reached new heights and American National Guards were called in to restore peace and order.

In the pop culture of 1966, clothes reflected both American and British influences from cities such as London (Carnaby Street). Men wore patterned pants while women donned floral skirts which matched with patterned tops or tights. The new fashion trend – miniskirts – appeared for the first time during this year which saw an influx of plaids, stripes, polka dots, and gingham patterns.

Popular musicians of this era included The Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, and Beatles.

The changes in 1966 Corvettes

Tangier Shrine 1966 Corvette Delivery - St Louis October 15, 1965
Tangier Shrine 1966 Corvette Delivery – St Louis October 15, 1965

Small changes marked this model year for the new Chevrolet Corvette. The front end featured a decorative grill and there were some small aesthetic updates all around. This included chrome-plated exhaust bezels, spoke-style wheel covers, ribbed rocker panel moldings, and the removal of roof vents. 1966 marked the end of knock-off wheels and the introduction of shoulder harnesses and headrests. The engine on models with the 427 CID engine had a noticeable power bulge in its hood to show off just how strong it is. The 1966 Corvette was the first year to incorporate backup lights and tinted glass.

VIN numbers for this year range from 194376S100001 to 194376S127720 (For convertibles, the fourth digit is a 6).

Michael Robson's 1966 Sunfire Yellow Corvette at the Delaware Valley Run for the Ribbon Meet. Photo Credit Bob Cook
Michael Robson’s 1966 Sunfire Yellow Corvette at the Delaware Valley Run for the Ribbon Meet. Photo Credit Bob Cook

The 1966 427 V8 Engine

General Motors management had decided that no car line smaller than a full-size vehicle could have an engine any larger than 400 cubic inches.

But with the two-seat Cobra having a 427 V8 they changed their minds. Management now felt it would need a 427 cubic inch engine to compete. General Motors had overwhelming success with the 427 Sting Ray so perhaps it was an easy decision due to Carol Shelby’s competition. So, the 1966 Corvette would continue to feature big-block engines. When Chevrolet released its latest model for 1966, its new engine size was no longer a 396, but now it was the bigger 427 instead. Even though this new size only has 0 difference in horsepower, the torque has increased tremendously! It went from 415 pounds per foot of torque (at 4000 RPMs) to 465 pounds per foot of torque (at the same RPM). Engineers said that they were inspired by the thought of making even lighter cars, which led them to think about ways they could cut weight out of already heavy metal.

1966 Corvette Options

In 1966, there were four different power plants for the Corvette. Standard was a powerful 300 horsepower 327 cubic inch engine, with optional upgrades 327ci – 350HP Engine, 427ci – 390HP Engine, and the 427ci – 425HP.

In addition to this expansive variety of engines, you could also purchase an optional 4-speed manual (optional), or the 2-speed Powerglide (optional); 1966 came with the 3-speed manual transmission.

There are many rare options that come with the Corvette. In 1966, there were only 15 models made with the M-22 heavy-duty close-ratio transmission. These cars became the predecessor to the world-renowned L-88 that came out in 1967 – arguably one of the most sought-after Corvette transmissions in history.

A few of the rare options were: A85 shoulder belts (37 produced), C48 heater and defroster deletion (54 produced), C60 air conditioning (2,138 in coupes/1,382 in convertibles produced), J56 special heavy-duty brakes (382 produced), N03 36-gallon fuel tank (66 produced), P48 cast aluminum knock-off wheels (1,194 produced), and 4.56:1 ratio rear end (91 produced).

AM-FM radios were the most popular options in ’66, which were installed in 95% of all 26,363 cars. They cost an average of $199.10 each but they lasted a long time – way longer than today’s technology.

1966 Corvette Color Choices

There are many different colors you can choose from when getting a Corvette in 1966: 1,190 cars were made in Tuxedo Black; 2,120 cars were made in Ermine White; 3,366 cars were made in Rally Red; 6,100 cars were made in Nassau Blue; 2,054 cars were made in Laguna Blue; 1,463 cars were made Trophy Blue; 2,967 cars were made Silver Pearl, and 3,799 was the number of Milano Maroon. Eleven Corvette owners picked no standard color or primer.

1966 Corvette Specifications

Below are the 1966 Corvette options and option codes, production figures, original “window sticker” prices, and details.

Source: Corvette Black Book

For more specifications, you can order the Corvette Black Book HERE

RPO#DESCRIPTIONQUANTITY$ RETAIL
19437Base Corvette Sport Coupe9,9584,295
19467Base Corvette Convertible17,7624,084
——Genuine Leather Seats2,00279.00
A01Soft Ray Tinted Glass, all windows11,85915.80
A02Soft Ray Tinted Glass, windshield9,27010.55
A31Power Windows4,56257.95
A82Headrests1,03342.15
A85Shoulder Belts3726.35
C07Auxillary Hardtop (convertible only)8,463231.75
C48Heater and Defroster Deletion54-97.85
C60Air Conditioning3,520412.90
F41Special Front and Rear Suspension2,70536.90
G81Positraction Rear Axle24,05642.15
J50Power Brakes5,46442.15
J56Special Heavy Duty Brakes382342.30
K19Air Injection Reactor2,38044.75
K66Transistor Ignition System7,14673.75
L36427ci, 390hp Engine5,116181.20
L79327ci, 350hp Engine7,591105.35
L72427ci, 450hp/425hp Engine5,258312.85
M204-Speed Manual Transmission10,837184.35
M214-Speed Manual Transmission, close ratio13,903184.35
M224-Speed Manual Transmission, close ratio, hvy dty15237.00
M35Powerglide Automatic Transmission2,401194.85
N0336.5 Gallon Fuel Tank (coupes only)66198.05
N11Off Road Exhaust System2,79536.90
N14Side Mount Exhaust System3,617131.65
N32Teakwood Steering Wheel3,94147.40
N36Telescopic Steering Column3,67042.15
N40Power Steering5,61194.80
P48Cast Aluminum Knock-Off Wheels1,194316.00
P927.75×15 Whitewall Tires17,96931.30
T017.75×15 Goldwall Tires5,55746.55
U69AM-FM Radio26,363199.10
V74Traffic Hazard Lamp Switch5,76411.60

1966 Exterior Color Codes

CODEEXTERIORQUANTITY
900Tuxedo Black1,190
972Ermine White2,120
974Rally Red3,366
976Nassau Blue6,100
978Laguna Blue2,054
980Trophy Blue1,463
982Mosport Green2,311
984Sunfire Yellow2,339
986Silver Pearl2,967
988Milano Maroon3,799

1966 Corvette Interior Color Codes

CODECOLOR
stdBlack Vinyl
402Black Leather
407Red Vinyl
408Red Leather
414Bright Blue Vinyl
415Bright Blue Leather
418Blue Vinyl
419Blue Leather
420Saddle Vinyl
421Saddle Leather
426Silver Vinyl
427Silver Leather
430Green Vinyl
450White and Blue Vinyl

1966 Corvette Engine Suffix ID Numbers

HD:327ci, 350hp (air injection reactor, manual transmission)
HE:  327ci, 300hp (manual transmission)
HH:327ci, 300hp (air injection reactor, manual transmission)
HO:  327ci, 300hp (automatic transmission)
HP:327ci, 350hp (manual transmission, power steering)
HR:327ci, 300hp (air injection reactor, automatic transmission)
HT:  327ci, 350hp (manual transmission)
IK:427ci, 425hp (manual transmission)
IL:427ci, 390hp (manual transmission)
IM:427ci, 390hp (air injection reactor, manual transmission)
IP:427ci, 425hpi450hp (manual transmission)
IQ:  427ci, 390hp (automatic transmission)
IR:427ci, 390hp (air injection reactor, automatic transmission)
KH:327ci, 350hp (air conditioning, air injection reactor, manual transmission, power steering)

1966 Corvette Engine Block Numbers

38.58174: 327ci
3892657: 327ci, Ip (uu)
39D43’il: 427ci (Ip)
3869942: 427ci
3855961: 427ci, ep (uu)

1966 Corvette Head

3782461: 327ci, 300hp,350hp
3873858: 427ci, 425hp
3872702: 427ci, 390hp

1966 Corvette Carburetor

Holley R3247 A #3886101: 427ci, 425hp
Holley R3367 A #3884505: 327ci, 300hp, 35llhp
Holley R3370A #3882835: 427ci, 390hp
Holley R3605A #3890499: 327ci, 300hp, 350lhp, ar
Holley R3606A #3892341: 427ci, 390hp, ar

1966 Corvette Distributor

1111093: 427ci, 425hp, ig
1111141: 427ci, 390hp
1111142: 427ci, 390hp, ig
1111153: 327ci, 300hp
1111156: 327ci, 350hp
1111157: 327ci, 350hp, ig

1967 Corvette Alternator

1100693: 327ci, 427ci
1100694: 327ci, 427ci, ac
1100696: 327ci, 427ci, ig
110750: 327ci, 427ci, ac, ig, uu

1966 Corvette Coupe “COPO Brass Hat Car” once owned by Joe Pike

Joe Pike, the former Chevrolet national sales manager, introduced many clubs relating to Corvettes such as NCCC (National Council of Corvette Clubs). He then went on to found GM’s Corvette News Magazine where he served as editor for 8 years before becoming inducted into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame. Moreover, it turns out he is one of Chevrolet’s most well-known ambassadors and certainly an asset when it comes to his contributions to his community.

1966 Corvette Coupe "COPO Brass Hat Car" was designated as company car for Chevrolet's National Sales Manager Joe Pike.
1966 Corvette Coupe “COPO Brass Hat Car” was designated as a company car for Chevrolet’s National Sales Manager Joe Pike. This is the only known as Sliver Pearl/Bright Blue Leather in 1966
Joe Pike's 1966 Corvette with the L79 327-350 HP engine and M21 4-speed transmission
Joe Pike’s 1966 Corvette with the L79 327-350 HP engine and M21 4-speed transmission

You might also want to check out our blog post on the Mecum Kissimme Auction (2022). At the end of the post are the auction results. There were 19 1966 Corvettes that went across the auction block. CLICK HERE FOR THE AUCTION RESULTS

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