1962 Chevrolet Corvette Engines - Rhapsody In Red

Everlasting Ecstasy With A Top Flight '62

Bob Wallace Oct 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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What is it about certain years of Corvettes that make them more appealing to more people than some other years? Sometimes there are distinct mechanical upgrades from year to year on cars that look the same.

The '56 and '57 models are a good example-essentially identical looking, but the V-8 engine grew from 265 cid to 283 in '57, a four-speed gearbox became optional, and the '57 was the first to offer the now-legendary Rochester fuel injection. There were a lot more '57s produced than '56s, yet even when comparably equipped and in comparable condition, '57s are worth substantially more than '56s.

Sometimes one model year is more sought after than another, even though the differences may be very minor and, in some cases, strictly cosmetic. It seems as though almost everyone likes '67s better than '66s, but they are almost identical in alot of respects. There's just something about the detail differences, the "look" of the '67, that sets it apart and above the '66 in the eyes of many Corvette zealots.

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At first glance the '61 and '62 Corvettes appear to be virtually the same, unique unto themselves because of their completely restyled rear as well as being separated from their earlier siblings by virtue of no longer having a "toothy" smile up front. The '61 and '62 Vettes were the only ones with exposed headlights that weren't framed by some sort of chromed bezels. But when you compare a '61 with a '62, some significant visual differences pop up.

The most notable is the coves. From '56-61, Corvettes had front fender coves that were adorned with bright metal trim, and contrasting colors (for a two-toned effect) were offered as RPO 440 for those six model years. The cove remained on the '62s, but was surrounded with a raised, formed lip rather than bright trim strips. And with no trim strips to separate the contrasting colors, the two-tone paint option was dropped. The simulated vent within the cove was changed from the '61s triple spear look to a single faux louver. And, for the first time, rocker panel moldings were part of the '62 design package. The moldings were purely decorative on the '62s, from '63 through the last of the '82s, the rocker moldings covered the sides of the frame and hid the otherwise unfinished lower body.

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However, the major and significant differences between '61 and '62 Corvettes was in the mechanical arena. The small-block, then entering its eighth year, grew from 283 to 327 cubes, thanks to a factory take on the old hot rodders' tricks of both a bigger bore (from 3.75 to an even 4 inches) and increasing the stroke from the 283's (and 265's) 3.00 inches to a full 3.25. Naturally, that displacement boost brought about a commensurate, across the board, increase in power. The base engine picked up 20 horsepower, to 250, while at the high end of the scale, the fuelie jumped from 315 to 360hp. The lesser output fuelie (275hp in '61) was dropped, and 1961 was the last year that dual-four barrel carbs were offered on Corvettes.

Sales of the "Last Solid-Axle" jumped from 10,939 in 1961 to 14,531 in '62, a gain of nearly 33 percent. Prices, for equivalent condition and as close as possible equipment seem to be almost identical for the two model years, yet, at least by our observations at Corvette events all around the country, '62s are all over the place and '61s are rarely seen.

John Marsico of Arvada, Colorado, has his own every specific rationales for favoring '62 Corvettes over all others, and those date back to 1962. A much-younger Marsico was starting his junior year of high school when the '62s went on sale. We'll let John take it from here.




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