30
Sep
08

Corvette History Part 2: A Fish Tale

Last week began the seven part series on the history of the Corvette, starting with the first generation of Corvettes.  This week, we’re looking at the Corvette’s next evolutionary leap:  the 1963-67 “C2.”

With an established reputation and a (finally) profitable product line, the guys in the Corvette design and engineering team got down to the business of building a second generation of “the poor man’s sports car.”  Japanese-American designer Larry Shinoda had already conceived a prototype, dubbed the “Mako Shark” after the deadly sea creature that inspired it, which toured autoshows across the country in 1961.  Thankfully, basing a sportscar around the shape of a fish worked out for GM’s design department, something that BMW couldn’t pull off forty years later with the “Moby Dick” shaped Z4 roadster.

Of course, with the mechanical wonders that Zora Arkus-Duntov’s team put under the ride, The General could have signed off on a goldfish-shaped car and still sold thousands.  Right off the line, the new ‘Vette featured four-wheel independent suspension, something that’s still not available on many rear-wheel drive cars.  Up front, engine options were limited to the 327 c.i. small block V-8, in both carbureted and fuel-injected versions, kicking out 260 and 350 horsepower, respectively.  1963 was also the only year to have a split rear window and fake chrome hood louvers, both of which had disappeared by 1964.

1965 came in with more goodies than a fat kid on Halloween.  For starters, the Duntov dream team had installed 4-wheel disc brakes on every single Corvette.  And in order to make use of the improved stopping power, Chevy offered the all-new Mark IV 396 big-block as a 425 horsepower alternative to the 327 small-block.  Within a year, the big engine was bored out to 427 cubic inches, and by 1967 came with an optional “tri-power” triple Holley carb setup, grinding the pavement with up to 435 h.p.  And if you were one of the lucky twenty buyers that year, you might have driven away with the L-88 427 c.i. engine package.  Although it was officially rated at 430 horsepower, most owners claimed the car felt closer to the 550-horse range.  Today, the L-88 has become the most sought-after Corvette, fetching over $600,000 at auction.

Although the Corvette was slowly drifting closer to its American musclecar roots than its European styling influences, the little coupe that could was quickly coming of age.  Zora Arkus-Duntov himself was even overheard saying “finally, a Corvette that I would not be ashamed to drive in Europe.”  And now, with a battle-hardened design and engineering team behind it, the Corvette was ready to enter the big-engine era of the North American automobile in high gear.

And here’s where I reveal my dirty little secret;  this fuel-injected ’63 split-window is the centrepiece of my own personal collection, spanning over 15 vehicles in almost every automotive genre.  I’ve always preferred to stay modest about my garage, but it’s time I came out and showed my loyal readers what I’m really all about.  In fact, here’s a picture of my ‘Vette parked in its usual spot:

Ok, so April Fool’s is a few months off, but for those of you who haven’t figured it out, this ’63 stingray is the centrepiece of my Hot Wheels collection-or at least the Hot Wheels that I didn’t completely mangle as a kid.  Not seen here is the Adam West-era Batmobile, a ’32 coupe in primer and flames, and enough 1/64th scale farm equipment to plant a good-sized crop.  For pictures of real (bitchin’) C2 Corvettes, come back Friday for our first “Free Wallpaper Fridays!”

If you’re not too angry about the “my Corvette” thing, stop by the shop and find out how to get prints made from any image on this website.  And if your walls are already full, we also have T-shirts and mugs ready to be printed with your favourite picture from this site!

Want this unique content in your magazine, newspaper, newsletter or website?  Contact Jordan Morningstar at (204) 997.8827, or jordan.morningstar-at-gmail.com to find out about licensing images and text for your media outlet.

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