The second generation, or mid-year, was created by Larry Shinoda, based on an unproduced design by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann named the “Q Corvette,” and styled by Bill Mitchell from 1963 to 1967. The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray was the debut year for a Coupé, with its characteristic split back window, non-functioning Hood vents, and independent rear suspension. Safety concerns led to the end of split rear windows in 1964. The hood vents were also removed because of their cluttered style.
In 1965, four-wheel disc brakes and a “big block” engine were introduced. Side exhaust pipes were optional on the 1965 Sting Ray, and then again in 1967 and 1969. In 1966, Chevrolet introduced a bigger variant, generating one of the most valuable Corvettes ever. Unofficial estimates suggest the actual output of the L-88 427 at 450 or higher. Only 20 of these engines were used in 1967 Corvettes, which can now bring up to $1,000,000 at auction. The 427 had Holley triple two-barrel carburetors from 1967 to 1969. The 1967 Corvette was supposed to be the first of the C3 generation, but delays forced the C3 generation backed up to 1968. This was also the debut year for the L-88 motor. Air conditioning, a telescopic steering wheel, and headrests were early C2 options.
The advent of the 425 hp 396-inch big block in 1965 spelled the end for Rochester fuel injection. The 396-inch option was $282.90, and the 327-inch engine was $548.50. Few could justify $248 extra for less. 1965 saw Chevrolet discontinue the program after only 771 were completed.
CORVETTE Second and Third Gens
Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s principal engineer, created a lighter C2 in 1962. Concerned about Ford’s Shelby Cobra plans, GM planned 100 Grand Sport Corvettes. Five of the planned ten were built. They were driven by legends like Roger Penske, A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand. But the Grand Sports had many flaws, and the aero kit made for a terrifying driving experience. A car that could lift the front wheels in all four gears, according to Delmo Johnson. Dick Thompson was the sole winner in the Grand Sport. He won an SCA race at Watkins Glen. Only five remain today, 001-005, all privately owned. This is a rare and costly Corvette.
Third-generation production began in 1968 and ended in 1982, based on Larry Shinoda’s Mako Shark concept car. This generation was introduced to the motoring public in an unconventional – and unexpected – manner. In 1968, Mattel launched its now-famous Hot Wheels range of 1/64-scale diecast cars. The “Custom Corvette”, a GM-approved replica of the 1968 Corvette, was released several weeks before the car’s official introduction.
GM increased the small block’s size in 1969 and the big block’s size in 1970. 1970 and 1971 were the pinnacle years for power, with the LT-1 small-block putting out and the 454 big blocks putting out. GM switched to SAE Net power measuring in 1972, resulting in lower values represented in HP. Aside from unleaded fuel, pollution controls, and catalytic converters, power continued to fall until 1975. The C3 generation ended in 1982 with the L83 engine.
Generational styling evolved slightly. The 1972 model has minor trim revisions. Its front chrome bumpers were replaced by a “5 mph” bumper made of Urethane compound in 1973. So, in 1974, the first chrome-less production Corvette was born. The convertible was discontinued in 1975 and reintroduced in 1986. The name “Sting Ray” was dropped in 1968 but returned in 1969 as a single word “Stingray” until 1976, when it was dropped. 1978 featured the first Corvette Indy Pace Car, a “quick back” glass rear window, and the highest manufacturing number until the C-5. In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic overhaul, reducing drag significantly. In 1982, only the Collector’s Edition Corvette had an opening rear hatch. The L83, a fuel injection carburetor hybrid, was also debuted that year. In 1982, it was the only engine available, with no manual transmission.