Custom 16-inch seats were...
Custom 16-inch seats were designed to keep the look of '65 Vette thrones.
Once the top and bottom were together, there was still a cloth Al Knoch ragtop to be put on, and work to be done on the interior. With all the room the torque tube took up in the passenger compartment, the standard, 19-inch-wide C2 seats simply wouldn't fit, so Dawson had narrower, 16-inch seats custom made by Chuck Rowland of Tulsa and covered by well-known hot-rod upholsterer James Carter of Springdale, Arkansas. These were sewn up in ultra-leather, rather than leather, for durability reasons, along with a set of matching door panels. Dawson even used the material to cover the custom aluminum console he had cut out with a CNC water jet. The red-and-black theme is maintained inside and out and is accompanied by the Z067 logo, which appears on the seatbelt latches, wheel center caps, and rear diff cover.
Looking good isn't everything, though, and since Dawson had previously owned a business that manufactured air-conditioning components for the automotive industry, he contacted his former company for the custom tubes and hoses needed to optimize the A/C installation. Unlike an original C2, the Z067 will blow cold air at idle all day long and never overheat.
Dick Dawson with his Z067...
Dick Dawson with his Z067 roadster. The fifth midyear he's owned, the Z067 was planned to be the ultimate Corvette, combining C2 style with C5 performance. It worked. (Photo courtesy Dick Dawson)
One of the last things Dawson mentioned to me when I called to talk about the car was the radio. Not only was it reconditioned with digital circuitry, he'd had a line-in installed in the ashtray, along with a discreetly hidden toggle switch that takes the sound system from AM/FM to iPod compatible. The last thing he told me regarding the Z067 before I went to see it, though, was to drive it. And drive it I did.
The Z067 came alive with the customary cardiac throb, the factory-style side pipes emitting a slightly higher-strung cadence than you'd expect from a typical midyear. The six-speed trans slipped easily into First gear, and I handled the car with the amount of respect-no, make that fear-due a vehicle that weighs under 3,000 pounds and has more than 400 hp. Handled gently, it was surprisingly docile but also extraordinarily responsive: The lightest touch on the teak-and-rosewood steering wheel moved the car into the other lane, and even gentle pressure on the gas pedal brought it quickly up to cruising speed. More-authoritative footwork in Second and Third gears (frankly, I was way too scared of First) brought the fast-revving LS6 through its powerband to its shift points at preternatural speed, turning the world in the windshield into a blur. Shifts were fast and smooth, and the car felt ever-so-connected to the pavement, cornering as flat and stable as you please. Even to those accustomed to driving C5s, the feeling is entirely different-much more raw, untamed, and exhilarating.
When he was describing the Z067, Dawson referred to it as the culmination of his Corvette hobby. It's the culmination of many things, and you'd be hard pressed to find a car that does a better job of bringing the Corvette full circle-following its long journey from old-school elegance to today's technology, shoehorned back beneath the hood of what's gone before.