Corvette buyers used to face a dilemma-they could order something potent, of course, like a fast "fuelie" or a monster big-block. Problem was, comfort items such as air conditioning or an automatic transmission were not available with these powerplants. If you wanted comfort, you had to order a lower-horsepower engine. Most buyers didn't mind the compromise, but some Corvette fans wanted it all-speed and comfort.
Fortunately, a compromise did exist. In 1965 and 1966, a sassy 350hp or 365hp small-block could be ordered with air conditioning. With 100 hp more than the base 327-inch Vette engine, and 50 horses more than the mild L75 option, the L79 delivered stirring performance along with the ease of maintenance offered by hydraulic lifters. The L76 option added another 15 hp, bringing total output to within 10 horses of the fabled L84 fuel-injected small-block. Sure, the 425hp L78 396 produced infinitely more power than the L79 and L76, but at an even greater sacrifice in drive-ability and comfort. The L79 and L76 engines hit that "sweet spot" compromise between pampering and performance like no other Corvette had. Unfortunately, few buyers took advantage of these cars, and only 4,716 L79 and 5,011 L76 cars were ordered in 1965. Incredibly, only 337 L79 Corvette buyers took advantage of the A/C option available that year.
Ron Nettesheim, of Sussex, Wisconsin, has always admired these cars for their wide-ranging abilities. He first saw this air-conditioned Goldwood Yellow L79 coupe in 1985 and tried to convince the owner to sell. It wasn't until 1997 that Ron's persistence paid off-he's now the proud owner of a 52,000-mile L79 that's almost totally original. And he can do what most early Corvette owners could not-enjoy stunningly hot performance and sweltering weather, all at the same time.
'65 Corvette L79 with A/CTotal '65 Corvette Production: 23,562'65 L79 Production: 4,716'65 L79 Production with A/C: 337
RPO L79 Engine
Displacement: 327 cubic inches
Horsepower: 350 at 5,800 rpm (SAE gross)
Torque: 360 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Carburetor: One Rochester four-barrel available Transmissions: M22 wide-ratio four-speed manual; M22 close-ratio four-speed manual