1965 is an important year for Corvette. A long desired and needed
upgrade - disc brakes - became standard equipment. The good news is that they appeared on all four corners, not just the front
as was common practice of the day. Racers were particularly happy with this latest development as they had long been suffering
with drum brakes. Although special sintered metallic linings had been available, fade under racing conditions was still a
problem. Jaguar had been offering four wheel disc brakes on their more expensive E-Type and it wouldn't do for the Corvette to be playing second in any area. The unloved drum brakes were still available
as a deletion credit (RPO J61, -$64.50) and 316 Corvettes were so equipped.
A new era was ushered
in when a leading edge class of engine, fondly known as the "Big Block" was introduced late in the 1965 model year. At the
time a huge horsepower race was taking place industry wide and the 396 cu. in. Turbo-Jet was the Corvette's ticket to the
party. Rated at 425 hp, it furthered the Corvettes' Bad-Boy reputation. It also represented the first time a Corvette motor
was rated at over 400 hp.
A new hood was required to clear the massive motor and a handsome new "bubble hood" design was introduced.
Top: Functional vents in the side nicely broke up the area. Indications are that due to supply problems at the time, a number
of small block Corvettes left the factory with the big block hood.
Most of the horsepower advantage in the new motor could be found in the design of the heads which were
nicknamed "porcupine heads", a reference to the way the valves were located at odd angles similar to the quills on a porcupine.
The entire big block Corvette was thus sometimes known as the "fiberglass porcupine".
The physically much
bigger engine required an enhanced cooling system. There was another drawback; approximately 150 lbs. of added weight, all
of it on the front wheels. The weight distribution changed to 51% front / 49% rear, a handling disadvantage compared to the
better balanced small block alternative.
396 side signals signified new respect for impromptu Grand Prix stop light contestants.
A close examination
of the specifications and the options list reveals an interesting fact that makes the 1965 'vette particularly interesting
to car collectors. 1965 was both the first year for all wheel disc brakes and the last year for the fuel injected engine.
The two magic performance features would not appear together until 17 years later in the 1982 Corvette. In 1965, fuel injection
cost an extra $538.00, adding over 13% to the price of a convertible. The 396 cu. in. motor added only $292.70 to the bottom
line yet was rated at 425 hp; 50 more than the fuelie. With the fuel injection system's reputation for complexity and maintenance
requirements well known, the days were numbered for the option that first shook the automotive high performance world in 1957.
The 1965 Corvette
introduced three functional brake vents behind the front wheels, a feature that would be shared on the 1966 model.
were available via the Comfort and Convenience option (RPO Z01) costing $16.16.
Side pipes made
their inaugural appearance in the 1965 Corvette. They included mufflers that in reality did little muffling and were clothed
in handsome bright aluminum heat shields which, in addition to looking good, prevented the occupants from burning their legs
as the exited the car. They were also very loud and so were labeled as "off road" probably to deal with whatever noise regulations
that might appear. Some body modifications were required for installation.