Last week, we crowned the 1957 Corvette the king of the ’50s. This week we will be ranking on one of, if not the most, challenging decade of ‘Vette production, one that includes the entire run of what is arguably the Corvette’s best generation along with some of the better versions of two other generations. It is going to be tough but that’s why we make the big bucks.
Getting down to the four greatest Corvettes of the ’60s was relatively easy, as was picking our top two (though their order has yet to be decided), but choosing a third place between two easily disputable positions proved difficult. So, as a result of a best of three game of rock, paper, scissors (or roshambo if you are reading on parts of the West Coast or have spent some time playing Volleyball) we proudly present our third place 1960s Corvette, from smackdab in the middle of the decade, the 1965 Sting Ray.
The 1965 model year brought the best variety to the table (perfect for Thanksgiving week!) of any midyear vintage. Starting under the hood, the ’65 houses the most interesting pair of top tier engine options that we would see until 2009. 1965 was the final year for fuel injection in a Corvette until 1982. The 327 Fuelie went out with a 375 HP Bang and was selected by 771 customers.
This same engine may have been the alpha of the ‘Vette kennel in 1964 but in 1965, Chevrolet introduced the big-block V8 which in its first incarnation displaced 396 cubic inches and made a 426 Hemi-equaling 425 horses! This beast was called the L78 and although it wasn’t available until the middle of production, it ended up in 2,157 mid-midyear Corvettes before making way for a range of 427s in 1966. The other big milestone for 1965 was the inclusion of standard four-wheel disc brakes which greatly enhanced stopping and handling performance.
It is amazing to think that in the course of ten years the Corvette went from selling 700 units up to a new record of 23,564 in 1965 with a full range of six V8s that topped out at nearly 3x the power of the original ‘Blue Flame’ engine. Unlike its predecessor, the C2 Corvette could be had in two body styles, coupe and convertible. The convertible was still the more popular choice among customers with total production reaching 15,378 vs. the 8,186 coupes ordered in ’65.
1965 marked a turning point for the Corvette. What was originally imagined as an American take on the pure, light sports cars of Europe had continued to hone its “sporty” attributes but in 1965, it muscled-up and became the shock and awe brute that we have all come to know and love. If you have a modern Z06 or ZR1, this is the car that you can trace its lineage back to.
You have already guessed which two cars will be atop the ‘60s Corvette food chain but you’ll have to tune in the rest of the week to see which one ends up in first place.
Honorable mention goes to the 1969 Corvette which fixed some of the early foibles that customers experienced with first-year C3s, housed the highest number L88s (116, up from 80 in ’68 and just 20 in ’67), and, of course, featured the only two of the mythical all-aluminum versions of the L88 (RPO ZL1) ever shoehorned into a Corvette from the factory (the option added $4,718 to the Corvette’s $4,781 MSRP)!
See all of our Corvette of the Decade Features:
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.3 – The 1953 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.2 – The 1959 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1950s: No.1 – The 1957 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.3 – The 1965 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.2 – The 1963 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1960s: No.1 – The 1967 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.3 – The 1978 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.2 – The 1970 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1970s: No.1 – The 1971 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.3 – The 1982 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.2 – The 1986 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 – The 1984 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.3 – The 1996 LT4 Corvette
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.2 – The 1999 Corvette FRC
- The Best Corvettes of the 1990s: No.1 – The C4 Corvette ZR-1
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.3 – The C5 Corvette Z06
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.2 – The C6 Corvette Z06
- The Best Corvettes of the 2000s: No.1 – 2009 Corvette ZR1
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.3 – The C7’s Z07 Ultimate Performance Package
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.2 – The C6’s Z07 Ultimate Performance Package
- The Best Corvettes of the 2010s: No.1 – The 2019 Corvette ZR1
Photo Credits: CorvetteImages.com