Similarly, when it came time to buff the painted body, Farrell applied a far more loving touch than it originally received. For example, the rocker panels and front valance panels got a full polishing, instead of being left dull as they were at the factory. On the other hand, Farrell left the door jambs completely unpolished; their matte finish is period correct. It is in this location that Farrell’s use of lacquer paint is most evident. The rest of the body is so perfectly polished that it looks like a modern two-stage urethane job.
The interior also received Farrell’s full attention, though it required far less work than the body. He did selectively redye some of the vinyl and applied some touch-up paint on the dash, but for the most part, it was a matter of thoroughly cleaning all the various elements. The original carpeting was retained, as was the original windshield. Farrell believes the latter’s weathered patina is part of the charm of the car, not to mention its value.
Having put in many long days through the fall and winter, Farrell began the reassembly process in the spring of 2010. The list of replacement parts he’d had to track down was short. Mostly it consisted of things like gaskets and retainers, but he did need to purchase reproduction side mirrors and taillights, the latter item being too difficult to refurbish. The original bumpers were sent out to be replated, as were a number of bolts. Unfortunately, some of the original bolts were lost by the refinishers. This minor snafu really irked Farrell. Perhaps a replating station will be added to his workshop in the future.
Farrell says reassembling the chassis went off without a hitch, as did reinstalling the rebuilt engine. The trickiest part of the restoration was reattaching the body. The actual body drop was not all that difficult, says Farrell; it was getting the completed body off its dolly and onto the hydraulic lift that proved to be the biggest challenge. The process involved a separate scissors lift and “a lot of patience.” It did not, however, involve any outside assistance. The only time somebody lent a hand was when is daughter, Kelley, helped him put the hood back on. She also helped bleed the Corvette’s brakes. Before the first heat of summer swept across the Nebraska prairie, Farrell finished the restoration and drove the big block out of his garage.
Farrell wasted no time in having the car judged, which, of course, meant his nine months of hard work would be coming under scrutiny. In May 2010, he entered the ’66 in a regional NCRS event in Des Moines, Iowa. As with most owners, his aim was to come away with a Top Flight award. Given the Corvette’s high level of originality and the careful way in which his restoration had aimed to preserve that originality, he felt like he had a good shot. He knew he would lose some points for over-restoring the body, but he was pretty sure the rest of the car could compensate for those indulgences.
That proved to be the case. He got dinged for a cigarette lighter that did not function properly and a windshield-washer pump that was incorrect. Those small deductions didn’t bother Farrell, but the number of points the car was docked for its paint job did. The Corvette received a standard 22-point deduction in this category, which is the same amount a car receives when it is repainted using a historically inaccurate two-stage urethane process. Farrell felt as though he had gone to all the trouble of using a one-stage lacquer yet received no reward for it. However, with his 96.3-percent rating earning him Top Flight, he wasn’t about to make a fuss. His mission had been accomplished.
Farrell’s mission today is to drive his ’66 more often. With he and his wife living part of the year in Florida, and the Corvette soon to make the journey to this milder clime, this should be a lot easier. “I know there is a certain amount of value that is lost when you add miles to a car like this,” says Farrell, “but I’m going to keep it.” The car’s first owner, Bonnie Jeffrey, says she was “tickled” to find out her ’66 had been restored to its original luster—“I could never have done what he has done”—and even happier to learn that Farrell plans to drive it. Now, he just needs to find a friend with a 289 Cobra.