The C2 generation of Chevrolet Corvette was built between 1962 and 1967 for the model years of 1963 through 1967. It was the second generation of Corvette and was popularly known as the Corvette Sting Ray. The C2 naturally evolved from the previous C1 generation.
The 1962 Corvette -- the final year of the C1 generation -- offered a more appealing physical appearance as well as sharper handling and more horsepower than the rest of the first-gen models. Many of these design elements from the rear of the car naturally evolved into the C2's look.
Development of the C2
Like the last year of the C1, the new Corvette C2 featured a long nose, a compact cabin and a short back end with peaked fenders. The general shape of the car was the same. However, there were some marked differences as well.
The most prominent change was the appearance of the front end. The new C2 now featured folding pop-up lights whereas the C1 had four round headlights. The grille and bumper were styled differently as well, and the coupe had a rear split window.
The development of the Sting Ray came out of two different GM projects. These were the Q-Corvette and the racing Sting Ray, which was a project of three GM designers: Pete Brock, Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda.
The design program leading to the first model of Sting Ray was called XP-720, and its goal was to give the new Corvette a better ride, better handling and more room for both passengers and luggage.
The exterior of the Sting Ray stuck with fiberglass outer body panels but added significantly more steel support vs. the previous generation of Corvette.
The Sting Ray ended up with almost twice as much steel, but designers didn't want it to have increased weight, so they decreased the fiberglass thickness. This resulted in a Corvette that weighed even less than the previous one.
The wheelbase ended up being a bit tighter, but the interior room remained the same. A steel girder reinforced the cockpit for both strength and safety.
C2 Interior and Exterior Styling
Another new feature for the C2 generation was the availability of a Corvette coupe; the previous generation was a convertible only. The futuristically styled fastback had an interesting design element for the time in a divided rear window. Instead of one window pane, it was two separate panes with a narrow space of body between them. This was a feature only available on the 1963 model; subsequent model years switched to a conventional one-piece rear window. This limited availability of the split-window models has made the 1963 models highly sought after by collectors.
The C2's quad headlights from the previous generation were actually still present but hidden as folding lights. This was a Corvette design marker that would continue up until the C6 generation. The coupe doors were cut partially into the roof to make it easier to enter and exit the low profile car.
Initially, the designers wanted functional vents on the car's hood but were forced to turn them into faux ones due to rising costs. Inside, the car was a bit more practical than before. The glovebox had increased room and the dash sported a new set of round gauges, including a larger speedometer and tachometer. Even though the interior was roomier, the lack of an external trunk meant that luggage had to be loaded behind the front seats.
Although the striking appearance of the new C2 was more obvious than its improved chassis, the latter was at least as important as the styling to the eventual success of the Sting Ray.
Quicker Ball-Race steering and a short wheelbase made the C2 handle and maneuver better than the C1. A short wheelbase can contribute to a more jarring ride in some circumstances, but for the C2, it had improved weight distribution to reduce that. For example, the front wheels carried less weight to make steering easier while the rear wheels carried about 80 more pounds to improve traction.
The standard cast-iron, 11-inch drum brakes remained on all four wheels, but increased width made them more effective in braking situations.
Optional brake packages included power assist, finned aluminum drums and sintered-metallic linings. The latter two features were designed to keep the brakes cooler.
C2 Engines and Transmissions
The C2 offered five engines during its run. The 327 cubic-inch small-block V8 was available in the following year ranges and horsepower:
- 1963 through 1965: 250 horsepower
- 1963: 340 horsepower optional
- 1963 through 1967: 300 horsepower
- 1965 through 1967: 350 horsepower optional
- 1964 through 1965: 365 horsepower optional
The 327 fuel-injected small-block V8 was offered in 1963 with 360 horsepower and in 1964-1965 with 375 horsepower.
The 396 cubic-inch big-block V8 was offered in 1965 with 425 horsepower.
The 427 big-block V8 was offered in 1966-1967 with 390 horsepower and then only in 1966 with 425 horsepower.
Finally, the 427 big-block Tri-Power V8 was offered in 1967 in a 400 horsepower version and a 435 horsepower version.
The C2 Corvette only offered three transmissions during its run, including a three and four-speed manual transmission and a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission.
C2 Model Changes From 1963 to 1967
The 1963 Sting Ray came standard with a 250 horsepower, 327-cu-ft engine with optional versions that made as much as 360 horsepower. Acceleration was improved over the previous generation due to the lighter weight.
In 1964, the Corvette had only various small changes, including the elimination of the faux air intakes on the hood. On the other hand, the faux vent on the rear pillar was made functional on the left side of the coupe. The suspension was slightly improved for this year as was the sound insulation. Drivetrain choices remained the same, except that the 365 horsepower engine had a new four-barrel Holley carburetor instead of the previous Carter. Sales of the 1964 model improved slightly over the first year of the C2.
In the third model year of the C2, the 1965 Sting Ray added a totally new braking system and larger engine choices. The 396 big-block V8 made its debut with a huge 425 horsepower at the time. Another small-block V8 producing 350 horsepower was added with the modification of hydraulic lifters vs. solid. Another big addition for this year was four-wheel disc brakes. The hood styling was cleaned up with no indentations and the front fenders now had vertical exhaust vents that were fully functional.
The fourth model year was 1966 and the big-block V8 was now available in two forms: one with 390 horsepower and the other with 425. At this point, big-block engines were far more in demand vs. small-blocks, so Chevy cut the available small-blocks to two choices vs. the previous five. These two were the 300 and 350 horsepower versions. The front of the 1966 Sting Ray was slightly modified with an egg crate grille. A new emblem also now adorned the hood corner and on the inside, headrests were a new option.
The last year of the C2 was 1967 and with five years of tweaks under the hood, it was considered the best of the bunch. The overall changes were modest, however. The three large fender vents were replaced with five smaller ones and only one backup light was used right above the license plate. The optional hardtop for the Corvette convertible was outfitted with a new black vinyl cover, which was a popular fad at the time. The main engine change was the available 427 with Rochester 3x2-barrel carburetors called the Tri-Force. This engine was factory-rated at 430 bhp, but in truth, it was more like 560 bhp. The engine also required special racing fuel rated at 103-octane, which was not readily available. This engine was not marketed at the casual Corvette buyer, but rather at those who were seeking a competitive race car.
The Z06 was essentially a racing package and it was offered for the first time on the 1963 model Corvette. The options included in this package were:
- Vacuum brake booster
- Dual master cylinder
- A 20 percent larger front antiroll bar
- Stiffer shocks and springs
- Finned aluminum drums with cooling air scoops and vents
- Brakes with sintered metallic linings
- 36.5-gallon gas tank- 5.4 liter, 360 horsepower, 327 cubic inch engine with fuel injection.
This package was initially only offered on C2 coupes due to the larger gas tank, which wouldn't fit on convertibles. Eventually, the package was offered on both coupes and convertibles, and the gas tank was taken off the standard package but remained optional for coupes.
Grand Sport Racer
The Grand Sport Corvette was a secret project triggered by competition with the Ford Shelby Cobra. Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Corvette chief engineer, initially had plans to build about 125 models of the Grand Sport. However, the project was halted when GM executives found out. Only five Grand Sport cars were built in the end and they're all currently in private collections. The Grand Sport design included thinner fiberglass panels, and one of the engines used was an all-aluminum small-block engine that made 550 horsepower and 6400 rpm.