The Big Block Era Begins
BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments
The popularity of the Corvette continued to grow with the
introduction of the 1965 Corvette. The 1965 set a new
production record of 23,562 units. Roadsters continued to be
popular with buyers and 15,276 were built – 1,453 more than the
Although the basic body style did not change for 1965, numerous
changes were added to the model designed to enhance its comfort
and convenience, performance and stopping power. Comfort and
convenience additions included a telescopic steering column for
a mere $43, and an inside day/night mirror coupled with a backup
lamp package for $16. And, a teakwood steering wheel was
offered at $48.
The 327-250 motor with a 3-speed manual transmission was
included in the base price of the Coupe and Convertible…no
change from the 1964 models. Performance additions included an
array of high performance motor options that were selected by
89% of the buyers. The majority selected the 327-300 HP version
at $54 over the base 327-250 HP motor. New in 1965 was the 396
motor that was introduced and marketed as the 425 HP Turbo Jet.
At an option price of $293, 9% of the buyers ordered this
powerhouse, which was capable of a top-end speed of 140 MPH.
The 0-60 acceleration time was reported at 5.7 seconds. Fuel
consumption on this “big block” during normal driving was 9-12
miles per gallon! This year was also the last of the 375 HP
Fuel Injected motor option, that sold for $538 and was ordered
by only 3% of the buyers.
Stopping power was enhanced by a new four-wheel disc brake
system that was a standard feature of the 1965 model.
The 1965 model can be distinguished from the 1964 model by a
redesigned, three slot front fender louvere that was
functional. The grill was similar to the preceding years,
however, the center bars are black and the outer trim reflects a
bright finish. Also, the hood indentations that identified the
1963 and 1964 models were removed. A special bubble hood with
functional side louvers was added for the 396 motor option.
The base list price of the Roadster was $4,106. A neat
enhancement was the removable hardtop that was offered at a list
price of only $237. It was selected by over 50% of the buyers.
Today, our database reflects the average price of the 1965
Roadster is at $27,900, which is a 1% increase over the previous
year’s average price. However, our five-year appreciation
figure is at 16%. Our statistics reflect a current low price of
$19,900 and a restored “big block” can command $75,000. In
fact, at last year’s Bloomington Gold Auction in St. Charles,
IL, a restored, Red, 396-425 Roadster with removable hardtop and
knock-off wheels was a NO SALE at the bid of $75,000.
The 1965 Coupe was introduced at a base list price of $4,321.
Our 2003 edition of the Vette-N-Vestments Corvette Pricing Guide
reflects an average price of $27,200 for the 1965 Coupe. This
is a 5% increase over the previous year. High price in the
Price Guide for the 1965 Coupe was $61,000; this was also the
bid price at last year’s Corvettes at Carlisle Auction at
Carlisle, PA. The Coupe was in mint condition, Red in color,
had the 396-425 motor and 43,000 original miles. At the other
end of the spectrum was a street-driven Coupe with a non-
matching 327 motor that sold for $18,200.
From an initial advertisement standpoint, the text of ads told
the entire story. Following is the copy from one such ad in
1965 for the 1965 Coupe:
“Corvette is America’s one true sportscar, has been for
But Corvette is also two body styles. Five engines and three
transmissions available. Plus enough other equipment you can
order to make any kind of sports car you want.
For aficionados, there’s the snarly Corvette, ordered with a 375
HP and RAM-JET fuel injected V-8, 4-speed, fully synchronized
shift, Positraction, Cast Aluminum Wheels, special goldwall
tires, genuine wood-rimmed steering wheel, telescopic steering
column, special front and rear suspension, and special exhaust
For boulevardiers, there is the plush Corvette. Ordered with a
300 HP, V-8, Powerglide, power brakes, steering and windows,
tinted glass, genuine leather seat trim, AM/FM radio, and air
And if you are a bit of both, aficionado and boulevardier, you
can get all kinds of in-between Corvettes, part snarly and part
Every Corvette gives you 4-wheel disc brakes, fully independent
suspension, retractable headlights, and a sumptuous bucket-
seated interior as standard. At a very reasonable price
compared to any car near its class.
Now you know why America has only one sports car; with all those
different Corvette versions, who needs anymore?”
Rare options definitely include the one-year only 396 motor and
the last year for the fuel injected motor option. Together these
motors were only ordered by 12% of the buyers. Factory knock-
off wheels were only ordered by 5% of the buyers, another rare
option. In today’s market these original knock-off wheels will
add $4,000 to the price of a 1965 Corvette. Air-conditioning
was available of $423 and ordered by only 10% of the buyers – as
was the leather seat option at $81. Probably the more rare
option was the 36-gallon fuel tank for the Coupe commonly
referred to as a “tanker”. This option was ordered by less than
Our price call for the future is continued appreciation for the
Roadster and Coupe in the 5% range. We also look for higher
prices for restored “big blocks” and air-conditioned Coupes and
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