At the heart of the Corvette legend is the midyear Sting Ray. No Corvette before or since has been so distinctively styled. To many, this edition of the Vette, based on Bill Mitchell's racing "Stingray," reigns supreme as the best-looking Corvette ever built.
The most radical was the coupe, which was based on the XP-720 project car finished in late 1959 by Bill Mitchell's GM Styling staff. The XP-720 was based on the Stingray racing car, but had a radical new fastback roof, a trick divided rear window, and additional styling above the beltline.
The looks came along in an era when performance was going crazy. The first big-block-the 396-arrived in '65, the 427 followed in '66, and Zora Arkus-Duntov's ultimate racer, the fanciful L88, made its debut in '67. The big-block engines provided such spectacular performance that they have tended to garner more attention than the sensational styling of the legendary C2. Today, Vette aficionados are rediscovering the midyear generation's striking "design for design's sake," especially evident in the lines of the revolutionary coupe.
Matt Slape recently put this Silver Pearl 327 A/C coupe back on the road. "The original owner was a girl in Lubbock, Texas, who wanted a new Corvette for graduation," Matt says. "Her dad bought her this new '65 coupe. She wasn't real keen on driving a stick shift and had another car for getting back and forth to college."
When Matt bought the car, it had about 17,200 miles, and most of the time it sat in the showroom of the family business, "Graffiti Graphics," in Levelland, Texas. In Matt's 16 years of ownership, the odometer has crept up a little more than 1,000 miles-to 18,346.
The vehicle has been garaged its entire life and has received exceptional care from its two owners, so this is an unrestored "survivor" Vette of exceptional factory character. "This is pretty much how we bought it," Matt says. "I put on a modern set of radials. I pulled the original carburetor, and I'm now running a modern Holley four-barrel until I can get the original Rochester rebuilt."
The Silver Pearl paint, which appears flawless, is original, though Matt confides, "I believe it's been touched up in a place or two where some rocks have hit it."
Power comes from a 350-horse 327 backed by the M21 four-speed and 3.23:1 gears in a Posi-traction differential. Matt says the original air conditioning still blows cold air, a necessity on the hot South Texas plains. Other options include side pipes, knock-off wheels, an AM/FM radio, a teakwood steering wheel, and silver leather seats.
Matt has no plans to restore the car in the immediate future and doesn't want to sell it. "One of these days, 15 to 20 years from now, I may look into restoring it," he tells us. "But the car has all the paper tagging under it and the original frame stencils, so it's an extremely clean car. For now, I intend to drive my coupe as much as I can. I take it to regular shows in the area and have gone as far as Dallas to the Super Chevy show. I've entered the car in the Survivor class."