C-2 Chevrolet Corvettes
"The Second Generation"
1963 1964 1965 1966 1967
The Corvettes built from 1963 through 1967 are today the models most desired by collectors. Sales in 1963 doubled from 1962 levels to about 25,000. Over the five years of their production run, approximately 125,000 were built, about equally split between coupes and convertibles. In 1964, production was 8304 coupes and 13,925 roadsters. Several engines were available in 1964. Amateur drag and road racing were popular in the late fifties and sixties. In recognition of the performance market, Chevrolet built its storied small block V-8 in two versions, a ”mild” one intended mostly for passenger car use, and more powerful “performance” versions that were robust enough to tolerate significant power increases when modified by customers.
For the 1964 Corvette, four engines were available, two “mild” versions, the standard 327 cubic inch motor rated at 250 horsepower, a 327-300 version that was an inexpensive option, and two high performance versions, a carbureted 327c.i. at 365h.p., and the fuel injected 327c.i rated at 375h.p.
The performance engines had substantial internal upgrades, including forged crankshafts instead of castings, four bolt instead of two bolt main bearing caps and solid instead of hydraulic valve lifters. In 1964, 7171 Corvettes were equipped with the 365 horsepower engine, which was a $107.00 option. Fuel injection engines were ordered on 1325 cars, for an additional $538.00. With the significant price differential between the two performance motors, it is obvious that Chevrolet would advertise the so-called “fuelie” as having 10 more horses. There probably was no difference. Most likely they produced the same horsepower and the marketing department simply lowered the advertised horsepower for the carbureted version. The fuel injection engine was preferred by road racers. On a hard turn or curve, the gasoline in the carburetor sloshes around which can result in fuel starvation to the jets and a couple of misfires. Fuel injection solved that problem. But drag racers preferred the carbureted version because a carburetor can flow more fuel and on the drag strip the carbureted version was king. The fuel injection system was also quite maintenance intensive. It was a mechanical system, today’s electronic fuel injection had not been invented yet, and the fuel injection pump was driven by a flexible cable which had a habit of breaking at all the wrong times. Many owners who used their “fuelies” for daily transportation ended up replacing the fuel injection system with a carburetor. Today, the “fuelies” bring a substantial price premium, but who could know that in 1964.
Chevrolet increased the horsepower on its two performance motors for the 1964 Corvette from the 340 and 360 horsepower ratings of the carburetor and fuel injection versions available in 1962 and 1963 to 365 and 375 respectively. Both engines were also available in the 1965 Corvette. However, in 1965, midway through the production run, Chevrolet introduced its big block motor as an option, 396c.i. and 425 horsepower, to keep pace with the muscle car explosion started by the Pontiac GTO. The new big block became the performance engine, and the 365h.p. and “fuelie” options were dropped after 1965. For 1965, only 5011 Corvettes were ordered with the 365h.p. solid lifter motor. A total of just over 12,000 Corvettes were equipped with the 365 horsepower engine of our featured Corvette, making it quite rare. Since these engines were in most cases subjected to hard use, it is not likely that many original versions survived.