And yet the Sting Ray feels far from short-changed with the 300bhp 327, able to leave almost every contemporary car behind and even taking up the gauntlet with cheeky challengers in modern traffic.
With 360lb ft of torque, there is always enough pulling power under the pedal and in almost any gear.
To accelerate in a 427 is an unforgettable, brutal, spectacular experience, but the 327 is smoother and more harmonious than its rather violent sibling.
It is also 35kg better off, and reverses the weight distribution from 52:48 front to rear to give a surprising rearward bias.
The C2 Corvette’s ‘Turbo-Fire’ badge on the V8 engine is somewhat misleading – there’s no turbocharger
There is an immediate feeling of lazy, long-stroke American V8 thrust when you set off in the C2, its easy performance, stirring soundtrack and the sense of the longevity for which these engines have earned their fame giving it a wonderfully relaxed attitude.
The technology is simple: pushrods, eight spark plugs, 16 valves, a cast-iron block and no fuss.
The V8 can be stirred into giving a donkey-kick response, yet the gentle biting point of the clutch means you can sweep away surprisingly gracefully.
The gearbox, too, makes for easy changes in comparison with the heavier, more mechanically stressed affairs of later ’Vettes.
The C2 Chevrolet Corvette convertible has a plush cabin
Fast cornering can be a challenge, however.
Even a 327 gathers pace more rapidly than you expect, and communication from the chassis isn’t immediate, particularly on radial tyres.
The power-assisted steering is light and feels as if it’s not connected to anything at first, but as soon as you begin to pick up speed it returns some sense of feedback.
It is also fairly quick, with ratios between 19.6:1 and 17:1 that can be adjusted at the steering arms.
‘There is a feeling of lazy, long-stroke thrust, the easy pace and stirring soundtrack giving it a wonderfully relaxed attitude’
Although there is always a certain vagueness to the helm, you soon begin to sense how those tall tyres are bending.
Ultimately, the Corvette needs a bit of space to be stretched with real confidence.
Like in a Cobra, you don’t gain time in the corners with a Sting Ray, but on the stretches of road that connect them.
Once you accept that, it really performs and offers driving pleasure in abundance.
Behind it are the qualities of a legend: a true Stateside original, with massive performance and glorious looks.
Daring, successful and unsurpassed among Corvettes, the C2 might just be America’s greatest sports car.
Images: Luuk van Kaathoven
Chevrolet Corvette C2
- Sold/number built 1963-’67/117,964
- Construction steel perimeter-frame chassis, glassfibre body
- Engine all-iron, ohv 5356cc V8, four-barrel Carter AFB carburettor
- Max power 300bhp @ 5000rpm
- Max torque 360lb ft @ 3200rpm
- Transmission three/four-speed manual or two-speed auto, RWD
- Suspension independent, at front by unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar rear transverse leaf spring, lower links, trailing arms; telescopic dampers f/r
- Steering recirculating ball, optional power assistance
- Brakes drums (discs from 1965)
- Length 14ft 7¼in (4450mm)
- Width 5ft 9½in (1765mm)
- Height 4ft 1¾in (1264mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 2in (2490mm)
- Weight 3053lb (1385kg, coupe)
- Mpg 14.8
- 0-60mph 7.5 secs
- Top speed 130mph (coupe)
- Price new $4252 (1963, coupe)
- Price now £50-70,000*
*Price correct at date of original publication
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