'66 Big Tank

The ad was in a Vintage Auto Trader and it sounded too good to pass up the drive out to see it, about an hour away in the townships south of Montreal.

The fenders had been flared, a big block hood, a rollbar, extra tailights, huge wheels and tires added. It was still the original colour and interior. I crawled all over it, under it, and through it, the owner was becoming annoyed.

I reluctantly left and when I got home I got out all my books and went through everything to check the numbers I'd taken off the car. Sure enough it was the real thing, I thought they only built NO3's for racing. I had to admit that I really didn't know that much about them, I'd never seen one before. Up until this point I had owned five Corvettes, and I'd felt sure that I knew almost all there was to know about them. Boy was I wrong!

The options were tinted glass, power windows, head restraints, posi, power brakes, transistor ignition, 327/350hp, 4-sp, 36.5gal tank, side exhaust, teak wheel, telescopic, power steering, knock-off wheels, goldline tires, AM/FM radio, hazard flashers, Canadian heavy duty coolant, and black leather interior with a Rally Red exterior, and only 37000 original miles. It didn't have the original block, it had been changed years earlier, but the intake, heads and exhaust manifolds were still original.

A quick decision was made, the car was just too good to pass on, so I headed back to pick it up, this time with a trailer, and the necessary funds. We decided to do some research on "Tank Cars". The seller had given us the name of the original owner in Noranda Quebec. A call to the long distance operator, turned up his phone number, I left a message. Later that day he called back and was quite surprised to hear that I had just bought the '66 Rally Red Coupe with a 36.5 gal fuel tank. He told me that back in the '60s he'd been the owner of Noranda Auto Sales and had indeed ordered the car with a "Big Tank" and every other option except for air conditioning, it's too cold in Noranda. It had been his personal car and had spent all it's life in this Northern town except for the last six months when it had been purchased by the guy I'd bought it from.

These cars were indeed rare, there were as many different optioned cars as there were personalities in the Corvette hobby. The most prominent being high horsepower big brake car packages. These were really common during the early years of availability due to the ZO6 option. Most of these cars were serious racers, driven by the likes of AJ Foyt and Mickey Thompson at Sebring and Riverside. Cars in the later years of availability seemed to be a mix of option combinations, most being high horsepower mixed with comfort options. The cars with the most options were invariably ordered by people who drove long distances or were just ordering "all the options". On another note there are only two big tank cars that have been recorded as being sold through the dealership system in Canada, this car and another '66 427.

There weren't too many tank cars made during the five years of production, a total of 210 and to date there have only been 110 found. This was becoming truly fascinating.

A few months later I received a phone call from a guy in Welland, Ontario, he'd found my number by calling the person I'd bought the tank car from. He'd worked as a mechanic in the shop at Noranda Auto sales during the time the '66 was new. He'd been the mechanic who'd installed the replacement block. The reason he called was to offer me the block or, if I wasn't interested he'd like to buy the car. Tough decision! I drove the 8hrs to Welland the very next morning with a friend where we picked up the engine and headed back to Montreal.

'66 Big Tank

Two years later we received an offer for the tank car that was just too good to pass up, looking back we probably made a huge mistake selling it, but hindsight's 20/20. We enjoyed it and loved it while we owned it........and we'd like to think the present owner is having at least as much fun with it as we did! :-)