It’s an understatement to say the second-generation Chevrolet Corvette was a significant departure from the original “solid axle” Corvette. Sporting a fully-independent suspension and a chassis blueprint benefiting from years of racing experience from GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, and with designer Bill Mitchell’s all-new fastback coupe body (convertibles were available) reminiscent of the Stingray fish, the C2 set the standard in Corvette engineering for many years to come.
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I own a very nice Rally Red Big Block 396 cu in (with a single Holley four BBL Carb) convertible with Factory Side Pipes and Knockoff wheels. So I know the C2 line pretty well. The first part of that production year (1965) the Big Block 396 cu in engine was not yet ready (it was on the option list, but not available until in the second half of the production year). But you could still order the FI small block 327 engine if you wanted the most HP in early months. After they sorted out the 396 Big Block issues, they dropped the "Fuelie" small block 327 engine. The "Fuelie" gave a good HP kick, but they were hard to keep tuned, setup, and running right (In the days before the on-board computers we have today to manage the current FI engines, it was shall we say an "analog" setup).
So then the 396 cu in Chevy Big Block led the way to the high horse power Corvette top engine offering. And BTW, there was a Chevy Corporate rule that limited ALL passenger cars to less than a 400 cu in engine up to the 1965 model year. This was lifted for the 1966 model run and the 427 cu in engine was introduced. The 427 cu in engine did not have a lot more HP (only 10 HP more, but yielding more torque). And it was also simpler and cleaner engine to build for production. When it comes to "one year only" features for Corvettes, the first year Big Block featuring the 396 cu in engine is fairly rare and unique (and to many people very desirable).
Some people preferred the handling available from the 327 engine due the lower weight that engine put on the front wheels, but the Big Blocks (396, 427, and latter followed by the 454 in the C3 generation) offer the most power that the Corvette line would see for many, many yer. Just my two cents worth.
Two small errors in the info on the '67 Corvette. On the exterior, the Corvette name was not removed from the rear deck as stated, and on the interior description, a change that was not mentioned was that all the control knobs were different from previous models.
Isn't it interesting that just about any high performance C2 is worth more in the market than a brand new C8?...this says something about the timeless design and performance options that has made the C2s the one to collect and cherish long term
Nice summary! However, the top-performing 427 in 1966 was the 425hp L-72; the L-71 you noted as a 1966 option wasn't introduced until 1967, and had 435hp with 3x2 carburetion.
One error you made in the 1966 Corvette is the N14 Off Road Exhaust System as you called it. The Off Road Exhaust System was RPO N11 and was routed under the car. N14 was called the Side Mount Exhaust System and obviously ran down each side of the car. This is a common mistake many people make.
The '65 full sized Chevy also had to wait until mid-year for the 396. That's why they continued offering the 409 until the 396 replaced it. The only year you could see both 409's and 396's...
Thank you for your well written article on the great C-2! I have been the proud owner of my early Saddle Tan 63 coupe. Mine came off of the assembly line in September 6th of 1962. So I have fiberglass headlight buckets and a spot for tools under the drivers seat along with a different yoke and a Borg & Warner T-10, 4 speed with power steering, brakes and windows. She came with the L-75 the 340 h.p. 327. I pulled that and installed a 500 h.p. stroker motor in her and added vintage a/c and cross drilled, slotted disc brakes on the front. And I put Kelsey Hayes knock off rims on her. But relax! looking to I retained all of the original parts. I bought her back in 1988. The lines of the C2 are beautiful, however I think that the 56 and 57 vettes are the best looking of all vettes. I am currently looking to add a 57 with onyx black and silver concaves with either dual quads or a fuelie to my garage.
Ditto on the article I have a 66 L72 [425hp] Nassau Blue coupe for about 20 years my Dad owned it since 71 [prior he had a 63 triple black 300HP roadster ]the motor has been balanced and blueprinted these are awesome engines able to run around at relatively low speeds but you better be pointed in a straight line when you nail it. A few minor suspension mods really help these cars ,Ive had mine at speed on Road Atlanta and am totally awed by anyone who raced these monsters back in the day they are a handful. That said they are very reliable and there is tremendous parts support ,I removed the turbine wheels and added 7" rallies with the short caps as I like that look better. My car was McGuyvers side kick Jack's car for a couple of episodes lots of fun.
Keep up the good work .