A Simpson five-point harness...
A Simpson five-point harness and embroidered carpet mats are the only additions to the '01 Z06's interior.
That could have been the end of Tom's Z06 saga. By all reasonable odds, it should have been, since fewer than 1 percent of '63 Corvettes were built as Z06s. The Fates were not through with Tom yet, however. By today's standards, it is next to impossible to imagine getting your hands on not only one, let alone two out of 200 ultra-performance '63 Vettes from the factory. But that's what happened. Tom wrote a letter to GM detailing his misfortune, and it apparently struck a cord with the appropriate person in the corporate hierarchy. "In July, I received a call from Jack Schwirtz saying that General Motors wanted to know if I would like to have another Corvette, and of course I said yes!" Not just another Corvette, however...a replacement Z06.
Tom's luck was destined to be better on his second chance. His second Z06, a Riverside Red split-window with black interior, was built on July 23, 1963-Tom's birthday! It came off the St. Louis line with an AM/FM radio, clock, and heater for niceties, but it is nonetheless essentially a race car, with a super-stiff suspension that can rattle one's fillings out on a long drive. The Z06 was built with a 4.86:1 Posi rear, but Tom quickly downgraded to 3.70:1 gears for some drivability on the street. Within a few days of delivery, Tom added white competition stripes and nickel-plated steel wheels. The OE hubcaps that came with the Z06 instead of aluminum knock-offs are still in a box at Tom's house in Lewisville, Texas-they have never been on the car.
After nearly 40 years Tom still is not tired of the old Z06. It is completely original, unrestored, and in immaculate condition. Because the old Z06s were not very pleasant road cars, Tom's mid-year has collected less than a thousand miles per-year on average.
It has also been well pampered over the decades. The '63 has never been repainted, the interior is all original ("People at shows can't believe that is the original steering wheel because it looks brand new," Tom says.), it still has the original spare tire and windshield wipers!
The '01 Z06's LS6 makes more...
The '01 Z06's LS6 makes more power and is much more tractable than the '63 fuelie, but lacks the charisma and visual excitement of the 327.
In February 2000, Tom was asked to put his '63 Z06 on display in the National Corvette Museum. That July, after attending the NCRS national convention in Bowling Green, Tom's '63 took its place of honor in the Museum, where it would reside for the following year.
In the meantime, Chevrolet had just announced the brand-new '01 Z06. After a motivating BS session with a fellow Lone Star Corvette Club member, where they jokingly agreed, "I'll buy one if you buy one," Tom immediately ran out and ordered one. Just as in 1962, his decision was based primarily on rumors of what this super Corvette would be. The salesman who took his order on July 3, 2000 had not even heard of the Z06 option yet, nor did he have any literature, stats, a picture, or anything. He had to take Tom's word that there was such a car to order. It was a calculated gamble for Tom, but one that certainly paid off!
His '01 Z06, ordered to match the '63 in Torch Red with a Torch Red and black interior, was built a few weeks later on August 7. Thanks to the fantastic technological advances of the past four decades, the '01 Z06 substantially outperforms the '63 version, and feels like a luxury car by comparison. In the name of all-out performance some compromises in comfort are always required, but far less than before. Tom had his '01 equipped with electronic monochromatic mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD player and the Bose high-output sound system, a power six-way driver seat, and red floor and cargo area mats with the Z06 logo. Naturally, Tom ordered the R8C Museum delivery option.