Courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers
  • 327-ci/375-hp L84 V8
  • Original numbers-matching engine
  • Last year for Rochester fuel injection
  • Original Muncie M20 4-speed transmission
  • First year for four-wheel disc brakes
  • Optional knockoff aluminum wheels
  • Presented in Nassau Blue
  • Pristine two-tone blue and white interior
  • Body-off restoration
  • Completely detailed
  • NCRS Top Flight Award winner

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1965 Chevrolet Corvette 327/375 Fuelie convertible
Years Produced:1963–65
Number Produced:15,378 (1965 convertibles)
Original List Price:$4,106
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $102,000
Tune Up Cost:$500 (estimated)
Distributor Caps:$35
Chassis Number Location:Cross brace under glovebox
Engine Number Location:On block in front of right cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1957 Chevrolet Corvette 270-hp convertible, 1963 Chevrolet Corvette 340-hp L76 coupe, 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 435-hp L89 convertible
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 5, sold for $112,200, including buyer’s premium, at Worldwide Auctioneers’ auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 18, 2017.

In 1965, if someone wanted a Corvette, a convertible is the style they likely bought. This isn’t just a matter of opinion, but fact. 1965’s production run was the largest yet in Corvette’s history, and nearly two-thirds of the production consisted of convertibles.

On top of that, this car’s attractive Nassau Blue finish was the most popular color for 1965, with more than a quarter of the entire Corvette run painted that shade. (This eclipsed Riverside Red, the most popular color of the previous two years.) And among the convertibles, most carried a white top like our subject car.

Fantastic Fuelie

Although this particular body style and finish were desirable in period, sometimes what was common then is less valuable today simply because there are so many of them out there. But not in this case.

Why? Because only 771 — just 3.3% — of the 23,564 Corvettes built for 1965 had the desirable Rochester fuel-injection option as fitted to this car.

Priced at $538 (a 13% premium on top of the convertible’s $4,106 base price), RPO L84 was the most expensive powertrain available for that model year, eclipsing the new and far more popular 396-ci 425-hp L78 big block by nearly twice the cost. (Incidentally, the L84 Fuelie would remain the high point in mid-year Corvette option pricing until the vaunted L88 arrived for 1967 at $947.90).

Unlike in most of the solid-axle years, there was only one fuel-injected engine available for 1965, and the L84 small-block was a terrifically sophisticated motor for the time. (“He’s hot with ram induction but it’s understood/I got a fuel-injected engine sittin’ under my hood” — The Beach Boys.) This was also the last of the fuel-injected engines until the third-generation Shark’s throttle-body injection arrived in 1982.

As such, the Fuelies were the unicorns of the Corvette spectrum then, and largely remain so now. This explains why the right ’65 Fuelie can pull from 50% to nearly twice the price of the carbureted small-block mid-years today. It’s also why in the ACC Pocket Price Guide, the Fuelie is the only 1965 Corvette other than the big-block 396-ci L78 to receive an “A” investment rating.

Superb detailing

This auction car had plenty going for it, including its original numbers-matching engine (meticulously detailed), the rare Rochester injection option (correctly numbered), and a hard-to-achieve NCRS Top Flight Award, which assures that all gauges, electrics and mechanical systems work correctly, the car drives well, and numerous other details are right.

All of this rides on top of a nut-and-bolt restoration that attended to features including date-coded glass, proper finishes on all fasteners, and correct belts, hoses and clamps. Even the build dates are known — February 12, 1965, for the engine and March 9, 1965, for the A.O. Smith-supplied body.

In any car, the aggregate effect of many small details can be huge for desirability. In this case, such niceties as properly plated stabilizer links visible under the front end, appropriately sized bias-ply whitewalls instead of newer radials, and most importantly, the uniform presentation of chrome, paint, trim and ancillary bits account for plenty. That is the beauty of a nut-and-bolt restoration where nothing is allowed to slide. In short, this mid-year presents virtually as-new (excepting a modern Interstate battery) and appears to have everything you’d want in a restoration.

Where’s the history?

However, a few things are a bit unsettling. The catalog copy mentioned nothing of the car’s history, including where it was originally sold, its ownership chain, its condition or integrity prior to restoration, or when, where and by whom the resto was performed. The Top Flight status greatly allays much of the concerns that come with this lack of historical information, but it would still be nice to know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.” You don’t fully understand what you’re buying until you do.

From a fit-and-finish standpoint, there was precious little to dispute: The right-hand grille trim and headlight door fit are a bit off; the left-hand exhaust pipe hangs lower than the right one; and the white sun visors are unevenly shaped and hang subtly differently. All are fixable, and it’s interesting that photos taken from a distance often reveal faults that aren’t visible from close up. Also, purely from a personal standpoint, white upholstery and door trim would not be my first choice, but all’s fair in love and interior color choices.

Besides the mighty L84 fuel injection, this car does not appear to be highly optioned. It has manual windows and radio antenna, lacks an auxiliary hard top, and there was no mention in the sales information of other important period options such as power steering, air conditioning or power brakes. None were visible in the underhood catalog photography, and their absence would definitely affect the car’s usability if its new owner chooses to drive it.

So perhaps together, the lack of history and relative scarcity of options (apart from fuel injection) partly account for why the car sold well below the pre-auction estimate of $130,000 to $160,000. That makes this otherwise desirable and nicely finished Fuelie look, altogether, fairly bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Worldwide.)

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