1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe L78 396/425 HP

The L78 engine was introduced in 1965 as the first big-block engine in the Corvette lineup. This 396 “Turbo Jet” was $556.65 over the base $4,321.00 price of a standard Coupe and was offered in 1965 only.

The L78 required extra clearance on the hood and they were fitted with a “power blister” scoop specific to this engine. GM also required the purchase of a K66 Transistor Ignition System ($75.35) and M20 4-Speed Manual transmission ($188.30) on top of the $292.70 L78 engine.

Included with the engine package was heavier front coil springs, a larger stabilizers and better rear suspension mounts.

For competition, race customers had a range of options available to them including the N03 36-Gallon Fuel Tank, closer rear axle ratios and the C48 Heater/Defroster Delete (-100). Most cars equipped like this came with either L78 or the L84 with Ram-Jet Fuel Injection.

All 1965 cars received new rocker panels, a blacked out grill with horizontal bars, a function vertical louvers behind the front wheels. Minor upgrades to the 1965 model year included a power antenna, redesigned seats, standard disc brakes, a telescoping steering wheel, new dashboard gauges and optional side exhausts.

Standard colors for the year were Tuxedo Black, Ermine White, Nassau Blue, Glen Green, Milano Maroon, Silver Pearl, Rally Red, Goldwood Yellow and Crocus Yellow.

Major options included Genuine Leather Seats ($80.70), Air Conditioning ($421.80), Powerglide Automatic Transmission ($199.10), M20 4-speed Manual Transmission ($188.30), Side Mount Exhaust System ($134.50), Cast Aluminum Knock-Off Wheels ($322.80) and an AM/FM Radio ($203.40).

Of the total 8,186 Corvette Coupes produced in 1965, 618 were equipped with the 396 L78 which was 13.24% of the production.

Story by Richard Michael Owen

In Detail

type Series Production Car
built at St. Louis, Missouri, USA
production 618
price $ $ 4,877.65
engine V8
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain Pushrod OHV, 2 Valves per Cyl
fuel feed Holley 4150 4-Barrel
displacement 6489 cc / 396 in³
bore 103.99 mm / 4.094 in
stroke 95.5 mm / 3.76 in
power 316.9 kw / 425 bhp @ 6400 rpm
specific output 65.5 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 297.41 bhp per tonne
torque 562.66 nm / 415 ft lbs @ 4000 rpm
body / frame Ladder-Type Frame
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Steel Discs
front tires 6.70×15
rear tires 6.70×15
front brakes Drums
f brake size 69.85 x 279 mm / 2.75 x 11 in
rear brakes Drums
r brake size 50.80 x 279 mm / 2.0 x 11 in
steering Saginaw Recirculating Ball
f suspension A-Arms w/Coil Springs, Anti-Roll Bar, Tubular Shock Absorbers
r suspension Half Shafts w/Lateral Struts, Radius Rods, Transverse Leaf Springs, Hydrualic Shock Absorbers
curb weight 1429 kg / 3150 lbs
wheelbase 2489 mm / 98 in
front track 1443 mm / 56.8 in
rear track 1463 mm / 57.6 in
length 4450 mm / 175.2 in
width 1768 mm / 69.6 in
height 1443 mm / 56.8 in
transmission 3-Speed Manual
final drive 3.36:1
top speed ~229 kph / 142.3 mph
0 – 60 mph ~5.7 seconds
0 – 100 mph ~13.4 seconds
0 – 1/4 mile ~14.1 seconds

Auction Sales History

1965 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe – sold for $46,000

In its first year of production the 396/425 HP big block-equipped 1965 Chevrolet Corvette was at its rarest in coupe form, a fact that today makes this beautiful example a rare find. It has been driven just 2,200 miles since the completion of its restoration in 2002, which included refinishing it in the original color combination of Nassau Blue with a Blue interior. Mechanical details include the professionally built 396 CI engine (suitable for running on pump gasoline) a rebuilt 4-speed transmission and rebuilt brake cylinders.

Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum

1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe L78 396/425 HP
1965 Chevrolet Corvette L78 396/425 HP 194375S121293 – did not sell for $100,000 One of only 618 “396” coupes built, this example is a true survivor with original paint, interior, engine block, heads and transmission. The car was fitted at the factory with a 3.70 rear axle ratio, M20 close-ration four-speed transmission and was shipped to Shellworth Motors (San Jose, California) as a radio and heater delete example. Due to a customer request, Shellworth Motors installed a radio.
Auction Source: 2006 Monterey Preview