By 1963, the Chevrolet Corvette had established itself as a legitimate sports car, racking up racing success at the club, national and international levels. As the Corvette closed out its first decade, Chevrolet began production of a new C2 version for 1963. Dubbed the Corvette Sting Ray, it offered buyers the choice of convertible or coupe body styles.
While the car’s shape may have been influenced by the 1959 Corvette Stingray concept (and the identically-named sea creature), the body was the first Corvette to be tested in a wind tunnel prior to production. The new car’s chassis was significantly stiffer than the Corvette it replaced, thanks to the use of additional steel in the structure.
To offset the added weight, Chevrolet reduced the thickness of the fiberglass on the Corvette’s body, making the C2 lighter than the car it replaced. Weight balance was improved, giving the Corvette more weight on the rear wheels for added traction under acceleration.
The C1’s live axle was replaced by a new independent rear suspension, further increasing the car’s performance. Drum brakes were still standard-issue, but the diameter was increased for better braking performance. Aluminum drums, which offered lighter weight and better cooling, were an available option.
While all first-year C2 models came with the 327 cubic-inch V-8, buyers could choose from outputs ranging from 250 horsepower through 360 horsepower. By the time production of the C2 ended in 1967, engine options included the legendary 427 cubic inch Big Block V-8, good for as much as 435 horsepower.
Perhaps it was the C2’s limited lifespan or timeless lines, but no other Corvette model makes our hormones sit up and beg quite like the C2. By modern standards, its performance is merely adequate (except for braking, which is best described as “terrifying”), but the C2’s seem to have more soul than any other American car we can name.