"It is the hot setup."
That's how Hot Rod magazine Feature Editor Eric Dahlquist summed up the '67 Corvette he tested in March 1967. It was certainly a car that would generate a lot of lust, then and now—a convertible painted with a "fuzz-catching yellow and black paintjob" and equipped with the new-for-'67 triple-carbureted 427 under the handsome stinger hood, a four-speed manual transmission, 3.55 Posi axle, and a $5,350 as-tested price tag.
The specs on the L71 "were straight out of racing land," he said: 11.0:1 compression, 0.5197-inch lift solid-lifter cam, 2.195- and 1.725-inch diameter intake and exhaust valves, and three Holley carbs. In sum, those components earned the L71 a 435hp rating and produced some 460 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000 rpm.
"You don't really want to whack this machine away from the curb with vigor because you're just liable to find yourself in a big brody," he noted. "The rubber [7.75x15 U.S. Royal bias-plies] is not what one would call bitey." He had a few tips for those who wanted to maximize the Vette's dragstrip potential. One was to tune the Holleys to quicken their operation; another was to put a block of wood on the floor under the clutch pedal. Seriously.
"The first time we tried a 1-2 power shift, the pedal went down and stayed there. The problem is that centrifugal force keeps the pressure plate disengaged." Chevy racing teams had the same issue a few years earlier, he said, and solved the problem by adjusting the pedal so it would just disengage. The wood block was a less elegant solution, but it prevented the pedal from going too far.
"With these things done, plus removing all the accessory drivebelts, airing the tires to 36 pounds and ballasting with a full tank of gas, the Sting Ray ran a good 13.80-108, even then severely handicapped by a lack of traction. We say again, the one thing the car needs is better skins—period."
All that power did come with a penalty, Dahlquist pointed out: higher spring rates to handle the big-block's weight. "As such, the 427 model is strictly a smooth-road machine at posted speed limits. Granted, once you get wailing, the suspension evens out and sticks to the ground doing it, but there are few places left to run a hundred-twenty for sustained periods."
The weighty nose made the Vette tend to plow through corners, though that was easily remedied with the addition of throttle. Or better tires. "We know a fellow journalist who has one of these bombs outfitted with radial plies, and he claims this is the answer as far as he's concerned."
But better rubber would only take the Vette so far, Dahlquist felt. "No matter what you do with the car, it always comes back to the same thing; the ride is just too severe for any kind of protracted driving, which is a real shame because the Sting Ray's other attributes—steering, balance, adequate leg room, good seat-to-steering-wheel relation, disc brakes that are far superior to anything else we've tried, and, of course, the neck-snapping response—are just the right ingredients for a Grand Touring car in anybody's language."
That sounds like a slam, but just a few sentences later, Dahlquist summed up his evaluation with quite a compliment. To him, the L71-powered convertible was "a car that an owner can have fun with, get startling good gas mileage considering the tri-carbs (11-13 mpg), and not have to spend hours tinkering on. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Chrysler's street Hemi—when it's razor sharp, it's great, but when it's out of tune, it's terrible. The Corvette, like many of the Corporation's hot machines, will go on and on, shutting down would-be challengers with minimum maintenance. GM may not be in racing, but its divisions build the best darned line of production competition cars in the world. The 435 Sting Ray is kind of king of these kings."