It is very hard to argue the attraction of a big block, tri-power, solid lifter, Mid-Year Corvette roadster. If there were illustrations of examples of the definition of ‘macho’ in the dictionary it’s likely the Corvette would be there, alongside avalanche-busting and cage fighting.
There is nothing, in the least, subtle about 427/435 Corvette. Rude, loud and unruly only mildly describes the engine and drivetrain’s characteristics. In a coupe the sound and furor were contained within the passenger compartment. In the roadster it was all out there in the open.
Constraining their excesses is a challenge. Their noise, tenderness, and elemental sensations are in pointed contrast to the quiet luxurious climate controlled refined sport cars that have redefined ‘sporting’ in the 21st century’s first decade.
Today, however, it is those very characteristics that endear the rudest wildest Corvette to collectors.
Many people think of the 1967 Corvette as the best Corvette ever built. Its reputation owes at least something to the fact that Chevrolet never intended that it be built at all.
Chevrolet’s stingy allocation of engineering resources for the Corvette delayed the third generation Corvette. There wasn’t time for the usual model change tweaks, so the ’67 Corvette was remarkably clean, functional and free of the fussy stylist touches that tend to clutter up the final years of a generation.
One in four 1967 Corvette buyers opted for tri-power 427s under the hood and their popularity has been affirmed by collectors ever since.
A sporting individual in 1967 who wanted the ultimate in performance with just a hint of sybaritic (devoted to pleasure and luxurious ease) accommodations, chose the 1967 Chevrolet Corvette roadster and checked off L71 on the order form. It added $437.10 to the invoice but in return the prospective Corvette owner got the 427 cubic inch/435 horsepower engine with solid lifter camshaft and three two-barrel carburetor intake. The progressive throttle linkage fed the engine off the center carb most of the time but suddenly opened up the other two-barrels when the pedal was matted.
It was in many respects the best of both worlds. Fairly docile low-and mid-range performance in everyday use while running on the center holley two-barrel with the sure and certain knowledge that another quarter inch or so of throttle movement would unleash the furies.
The powerglide automatic is a matter of personal preference, but for any Corvette collector who finds the heavy clutch of a big block four-speed to be a challenge it is a shining opportunity.
The freedom to choose from vast options list has resulted in some very unusual, and sometimes unique, combinations, especially among relatively low production models like Corvette.
That’s an attractive concept and it has continued to demonstrate its attractiveness in the subsequent 40 years until today the 427/435 hp big block Corvette is one of the most desired and avidly sought after of all collector cars.
**SOURCE: Bonhams & Butterfields Auction Catalog, Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, Friday, August 17th, 2007