Sentimental Journey: Bill McElroy's 40-Year Sting Ray Odyssey
Bill McElroy and his 1966 Corvette Sting Ray coupe have been through a lot together over the past 40 years.
Back in 1971, McElroy, then 19 years old, found the car in a newspaper ad, advertised for just $1,600, nearly half what other folks wanted for similar Corvettes back then.
Of course, the car was a raggedy mess, but to Bill it was still a Corvette, and an affordable one at that.
Four years after the purchase, McElroy finally started a restoration process that focused mainly on the body.
He painted it black and added new seat covers and new carpet.
The car became his principal driver. “I drove the heck out of it,” he recalls, noting that it had 40,000 miles on the odometer when he bought it. Today it has about 150,000 miles on it.
Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a detour. In 1976, while watching TV at his home, he suddenly heard the distinctive sound of side pipes and four-speed gears grinding outside. His car had been stolen, but fortunately it was found about 25 miles away with only minor damage.
After developing an engine problem, the car was set aside, and McElroy even considered selling it. Then he came to his senses and decided he owed a second restoration to his old friend.
This time, he spent $15,000 on the restoration, redoing the suspension and transmission, installing new seats, carpet, and interior, and repolishing the moldings, replating the bumpers, installing new tires and wheels, and replacing the glass. This time he painted the car pewter.
McElroy, the longest continuous standing member of the Philadelphia Modifiers Club, doesn't drive the car as much these days but says he enjoys the attention the car gets when he does take it out.