|Number Produced:||8,168 1965 coupes; 15,376 1965 convertibles|
|Original List Price:||$4,106|
|SCM Valuation:||$27,000-$40,000 (without fuel injection)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$225 (fuel injection problems could triple this)|
|Chassis Number Location:||On passenger side beneath glove compartment door, in interior of car|
|Engine Number Location:||On a pad in front of passenger-side cylinder head|
|Club Info:||National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS), 6291 Day Road, Cincinnati, OH 45252-1334; 513/385-8526|
|Alternatives:||Iso Grifo, Jensen Interceptor, Intermeccanica Italia|
This car sold for $168,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Mecum Fall Premier in Crystal Lake, Illinois, on November 3, 2000.
The introduction of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray brought a marked change from prior models. The only significant remnants from 1962 were the engine and transmission-just about every other component was new. The Corvette now came as either a convertible or coupe, and the option list had grown to include luxury touches such as leather, power steering and air conditioning.
Performance was not forgotten, as the horsepower race of the ’60s was just starting to rev up, but styling was the key element of the new-look Corvettes. Bill Mitchell, GM’s Vice President in charge of design, as well as chief Corvette stylist Larry Shinoda and Corvette legend Zora Arkus-Duntov, were all instrumental in the birth of the 1963-67 body style. The bodywork changed little during the production run, really only seeing the replacement of the split rear window in the 1963 car with a single piece of glass in the ’64 -’67 models.
While most collector cars achieve their value ratings through a combination of equipment, condition and mileage, mid-year (C2) Corvettes are different. Here the ranking goes by equipment, equipment and more equipment, followed by condition, with mileage furthest back. Decent 327/300-horsepower mid-year Corvette convertibles can be found below $30K. Add original air conditioning or a rare option and the price goes up. Add fuel injection and the price of the base car can double or triple.
Why is it that indicated mileage is not as big a factor on these early cars? Quite simply, the odometers on this series of ‘Vettes were short lived. I’ve seen dozens of cars with the odometer showing a permanent 32,000 to 42,000 reading. Added to that, the mid-year ‘Vettes were bought and sold as used cars during a time when it was not against the law to roll back an odometer.
The fuel-injected, 375-horsepower, 327-cubic-inch engine was $538-not a lot of money now, but a hefty percentage of the base price of a Corvette convertible, which listed at $4,106. As such, only 771 cars (both coupes and convertibles) were equipped with fuel injection in 1965.
It took a serious Corvette enthusiast to purchase, equip, and store the car shown here. With only 1,577 miles, and with documentation to support the penurious odometer reading, this Corvette is a “time machine,” used by Corvette owners and restorers to determine what is and is not original equipment on similar Corvettes. But $168K?
It is the unique combination of a convertible, equipment, color, miles and condition that makes this car a Corvette lottery winner. By pulling four to five times what a standard convertible might, it showed us exactly how much more than a standard ‘Vette it is worth. Today’s collectors continue to be willing to part with what seems like huge amounts of money for very special, documented cars. However, you’re unlikely to ever see this car outside of a car show or concours. Imagine the incredible depreciation it would suffer with each revolution of the wheel as it rolled down the road. I suggest buying a beater ’65 for Corvette cruise-ins, and leave the big green guy in the garage.-Dave Kinney
(Historical data and photo courtesy of auction company.)