Second Generation Chevrolet Corvette
The second generation C2 Corvette, commonly referred to as the Sting Ray, was smaller than the first generation and was later referred to as mid-years. The car was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the “Q Corvette,” which was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the “Mitchell Sting Ray” in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of the C2 would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while fishing.
Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. Introducing a new name, “Sting Ray”, the 1963 model was the first year for a Chevrolet Corvette coupé and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck (a feature that later reappeared on the 1971 “Boattail” Buick Riviera) with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional hood vents, and an independent rear suspension. Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp (270 kW) and was raised to 375 bhp (280 kW) in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models. On 1964 models the decorative hood vents were eliminated and Duntov, the Corvette’s chief engineer, got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window.
Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a “big block” engine option: the 396 cu in (6.49 L) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optionally available in 1965, and continued to be offered through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp (317 kW) 396 cu in (6.49 L) big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in (6.49 L) option cost US$292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 L) engine cost US$538.00. Few people could justify spending US$245.00 more for 50 bhp (37 kW) less, even though FI could deliver over 20 mpg on the highway and would keep delivering fuel despite high G-loading in corners taken at racing speeds. Another rare ’63 and ’64 option was the Z06 competition package, which offered stiffer suspension, bigger, multi-segment lined brakes with finned drums and more, only a couple hundred coupes and ONE convertible were factory-eqyipped this way in 1963. With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option at the end of ’65n production, having introduced a less-expensive big block 396 engine rated at 425 hp in the middle of the production year and selling over 2,000 in just a few months. For 1966, Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cubic inch big block 427 cu in (7.00 L) Big Block version. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963), air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting Ray’s independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact.
1967 was the final year for the C2 generation Corvette. The 1967 model featured restyled fender vents, less ornamentation, and back-up lamps which were now rectangular and centrally located. The first use of all four taillights in red also occurred in the 1967 model; this all-four red taillight treatment continued on the first C3 Corvette in 1968 only and later returned on the first C4 Corvette in 1984, continuing on all Corvettes since. 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430 bhp (320 kW), but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp (420 kW) or more. Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple two-barrel carburetor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the cost for the high-performance 427). Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940 (8,504 coupes, off close to 15%, and 14,436 convertibles, down nearly 19%).
Duntov came up with a lightweight version of the C2 in 1962. Concerned about Ford and what they were doing with the Shelby Cobra, GM planned to manufacture 100 Grand Sport Corvettes, but only five were actually built. They were driven by historic drivers such as Roger Penske, A. J. Foyt, Jim Hall, and Dick Guldstrand among others. Today the five cars (001-005) are all held by private owners, and are among the most coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built.