Unveiling the Unique 1966 ‘Tanker’ Corvette: The 427 Version

Reviving the Legend: Exploring the 1966 ‘Tanker’ Corvette and Its Racing Legacy

In the annals of automotive history, few names command as much reverence and fascination as the Chevrolet Corvette. Its legacy is a tapestry woven with innovation, power, and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Today, we embark on a journey back in time to the year 1966, a pivotal chapter in the Corvette’s storied evolution. Join us as we unveil the remarkable ‘Tanker’ Corvette, a rare and potent variant that not only pushed the boundaries of performance but also left an indelible mark on the world of sports cars. Step into the past with us and discover the captivating story of the 1966 427 Version, a true testament to the enduring allure of American muscle and craftsmanship.

This ex-racer C2 Corvette, sold for $275,000 at the Glendale Mecum event, and is one of the rarest you’ll find.
This ex-racer C2 Corvette sold for $275,000 at the Glendale Mecum event and is one of the rarest you’ll find. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction

Note: Last March (2023), this Corvette was sold at the Mecum Auction in Glendale for $275,000.

In the late-1962, Chevrolet introduced the world to the stunning new Corvette Sting Ray for 1963, marking the beginning of an era of relentless development led by Zora Arkus-Duntov and his engineering team. Their mission was to keep the Corvette at the forefront of high performance on both the road and the track. With the introduction of independent rear suspension in 1963 and 4-wheel disc brakes by 1965, the Sting Ray had become one of the world’s most formidable sports cars. But Chevrolet had more in store.

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The Big-Block Powerhouse:

Under the hood of this 1966 Corvette lies the formidable L72 427/425 HP V-8 engine, making it even more exceptional as one of a mere 15 units equipped with the close-ratio Muncie M22 'Rock Crusher' 4-speed manual transmission.
Under the hood of this 1966 Corvette lies the formidable L72 427/425 HP V-8 engine, making it even more exceptional as one of a mere 15 units equipped with the close-ratio Muncie M22 ‘Rock Crusher’ 4-speed manual transmission. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction

In 1965, Chevrolet unveiled the Mark IV big-block engine, and the following year, in 1966, it had upsized to a formidable 427 cubic inches, generating a robust 425 horsepower. This powerful mill, known as the L72 427, had not only provided the Corvette with raw firepower but had also opened doors for competing with the likes of Shelby’s Cobras and, soon enough, taking on Europe’s finest in FIA-sanctioned endurance racing.

The Rarity of the RPO N03 Big Tank Corvette:

Now, let’s talk about rarity. The Corvette on display at the Glendale Mecum show was not just any Corvette; it was one of only 66 RPO N03 Big Tank Corvettes produced for 1966. These Corvettes had been equipped with a long-range 36-gallon fuel tank, a feature favored by endurance racers for its extended range. But that hadn’t been all that had set this Corvette apart.

A Rarity Among the Rare:

What sets this tanker Corvette apart is its exclusive status as one of only 15 units produced in 1966, featuring the potent L72 427ci, 425-hp big-block engine mated to the close-ratio M22 Muncie 'Rock Crusher' four-speed manual transmission.
What sets this tanker Corvette apart is its exclusive status as one of only 15 units produced in 1966, featuring the potent L72 427ci, 425-hp big-block engine mated to the close-ratio M22 Muncie ‘Rock Crusher’ four-speed manual transmission. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
Anatoly 'Toly' Arutunoff, a prolific gentleman racer, originally purchased this Corvette from Capital Chevrolet in Nashville, Tennessee. Later, it found new life as a race car when Arutunoff exported it to Germany. Arutunoff, one of the rare privateer Grand Prix entrants, achieved an impressive fourth-place finish against factory teams.
Anatoly ‘Toly’ Arutunoff, a prolific gentleman racer, originally purchased this Corvette from Capital Chevrolet in Nashville, Tennessee. Later, it found new life as a race car when Arutunoff exported it to Germany. Arutunoff, one of the rare privateer Grand Prix entrants, achieved an impressive fourth-place finish against factory teams. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction

This outstanding Corvette had been even more scarce, as it had been one of only 15 crafted with the close-ratio Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed manual transmission. Its story had begun at Capital Chevrolet in Nashville, Tennessee, where it had been purchased new by the prolific gentleman racer Anatoly “Toly” Arutunoff. Arutunoff’s adventurous spirit had led him to export the Corvette to Germany, where it had found a new life as a race car.

Arutunoff, one of the few privateer Grand Prix entrants, had achieved an astonishing fourth-place finish against factory teams. He had raced alongside legends like Bob Bondurant, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Dan Gurney, Ak Miller, and Carroll Shelby.

A Meticulous Restoration:

This car has undergone a meticulous body-off restoration, featuring authentic original parts. It's equipped with J56 heavy-duty brakes, J50 power assist, and a suite of other options including the essential L72-mandatory K66 transistorized ignition, F41 Heavy Duty suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, A82 headrest seats, and a C48 heater delete.
This car has undergone a meticulous body-off restoration featuring authentic original parts. It’s equipped with J56 heavy-duty brakes, J50 power assist, and a suite of other options, including the essential L72-mandatory K66 transistorized ignition, F41 Heavy Duty suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, A82 headrest seats, and a C48 heater delete. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction

Before gracing the Glendale Mecum event, this 1966 Corvette had undergone a comprehensive body-off restoration. The build team had painstakingly hunted down hard-to-find original GM parts, including door panels, seats, headrests, seat belts, and numerous other components.

This ’66 model boasted a host of additional features, including the J56 heavy-duty brakes and J50 power-assist options. Don’t forget about the L72-mandatory K66 transistorized ignition, F41 Heavy Duty suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, A82 headrest seats, the A02 tinted windshield, and C48 heater delete.

And for the speed enthusiasts, there had been a 200 MPH speedometer and a tachometer with an 8,500 RPM redline. To add a touch of racing flair, this Corvette came with a flat-black hood, exhaust headers, rear-exit exhaust pipes, and a racing roll bar.

Unveiling the Documentation:

To complete the package, this Corvette had come with a treasure trove of documents, including copies of an NCRS Certificate, the original bill of sale, a Statement of Origin, and a Homologation Recognition Form. These papers had added to the allure of this fascinating and extremely rare L72, 4-speed, Big Tank 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe.

Conclusion:

This Corvette had been more than just a car; it had been a piece of automotive history that had once roared on the racetracks and had been poised to capture the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts. Its legacy came to life once more last March in 2023 when it commanded the stage at the Mecum Glendale Auction, ultimately fetching a staggering $275,000.

ODOMETER READS: 20 miles
VIN / SERIAL: 194376S123329

Features:

  • Bought new at Capital Chevrolet in Nashville, Tennessee by Toly Arutunoff and exported to Germany and put into service as a race car
  • Copy of NCRS Certificate
  • Copy of original bill of sale
  • Copy of statement of origin
  • Copy of Homologation Recognition form
  • 1 of 66 N03 Big Tank Corvettes produced in 1966
  • L72 427/425 HP V-8 engine
  • 1 of 15 with M22 4-speed transmission
  • K66 transistorized transmission
  • 1 of 382 with J56 brakes
  • J50 power brakes
  • F41 heavy duty suspension
  • G81 Positraction rear end
  • A82 headrest seats
  • A02 tinted windshield
  • C48 heater delete

1966 Tanker Corvette 427 – Photo Gallery: Credit Mecum Auction

This captivating Corvette coupe stands out for its exceptional rarity as one of just 66 RPO N03 Big Tank Corvettes manufactured in 1966, featuring a long-range 36-gallon fuel tank cherished by endurance racing enthusiasts.
This captivating Corvette coupe stands out for its exceptional rarity as one of just 66 RPO N03 Big Tank Corvettes manufactured in 1966, featuring a long-range 36-gallon fuel tank cherished by endurance racing enthusiasts. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
his 1966 Corvette showcases the results of a meticulous body-off restoration, painstakingly completed using rare, original components such as door panels, seats, headrests, seat belts, and various other intricate details.
his 1966 Corvette showcases the results of a meticulous body-off restoration, painstakingly completed using rare, original components such as door panels, seats, headrests, seat belts, and various other intricate details. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
With a price tag of only $312, the 425-horsepower L72 427 proved to be the perfect powerhouse for the Corvette, enabling it to challenge rivals such as the Shelby Cobra and ultimately enter the prestigious realm of FIA-sanctioned endurance racing in Europe.
With a price tag of only $312, the 425-horsepower L72 427 proved to be the perfect powerhouse for the Corvette, enabling it to challenge rivals such as the Shelby Cobra and ultimately enter the prestigious realm of FIA-sanctioned endurance racing in Europe. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
This exceptionally rare L72, 4-speed, Big Tank 1966 Corvette Coupe comes complete with a comprehensive set of documents, including copies of an NCRS Certificate, the original bill of sale, a Statement of Origin, and a Homologation Recognition Form.
This exceptionally rare L72, 4-speed, Big Tank 1966 Corvette Coupe comes complete with a comprehensive set of documents, including copies of an NCRS Certificate, the original bill of sale, a Statement of Origin, and a Homologation Recognition Form. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
This 1966 Corvette, once a seasoned racer, underwent an extensive body-off restoration, with the dedicated build team meticulously tracking down rare, original GM components like seats, belts, door panels, and a myriad of other elusive parts.
This 1966 Corvette, once a seasoned racer, underwent an extensive body-off restoration, with the dedicated build team meticulously tracking down rare, original GM components like seats, belts, door panels, and a myriad of other elusive parts. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
This Corvette is a rare gem among the 382 produced in 1966, featuring J56 heavy-duty brakes and J50 power assist. Notable extras and enhancements encompass the essential L72-mandatory K66 transistorized ignition, F41 Heavy Duty suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, A82 headrest seats, an A02 tinted windshield, and a C48 heater delete.
This Corvette is a rare gem among the 382 produced in 1966, featuring J56 heavy-duty brakes and J50 power assist. Notable extras and enhancements encompass the essential L72-mandatory K66 transistorized ignition, F41 Heavy Duty suspension, G81 Positraction rear end, A82 headrest seats, an A02 tinted windshield, and a C48 heater delete. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
Additional highlights encompass a sleek flat-black hood, performance-oriented exhaust headers, rear-exit exhaust pipes, and a race-inspired roll bar.
Additional highlights encompass a sleek flat-black hood, performance-oriented exhaust headers, rear-exit exhaust pipes, and a race-inspired roll bar. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
The 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Tanker 427 embodies an iconic slice of American automotive history and stands as a prized collector's gem. Boasting the Mark IV big-block engine with a power boost for 1966, this monstrous V8 powerhouse churns out an impressive 425 hp, catapulting the Corvette down the drag strip with a lightning-fast 4.8-second 0-60 mph time. This special edition C2 Corvette stands at the pinnacle of its lineage, a racer's dream come to life.
The 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Tanker 427 embodies an iconic slice of American automotive history and stands as a prized collector’s gem. Boasting the Mark IV big-block engine with a power boost for 1966, this monstrous V8 powerhouse churns out an impressive 425 hp, catapulting the Corvette down the drag strip with a lightning-fast 4.8-second 0-60 mph time. This special edition C2 Corvette stands at the pinnacle of its lineage, a racer’s dream coming to life. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
Additional intriguing features comprise a 200 MPH speedometer and a tachometer boasting an 8,500 RPM redline.
Additional intriguing features comprise a 200 MPH speedometer and a tachometer boasting an 8,500 RPM redline. Photo Credit: Mecum Auction
1966 Tanker Corvette 427 - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1966 Tanker Corvette 427 – Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1966 Tanker Corvette 427 - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1966 Tanker Corvette 427 – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

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