Final Year Fuelie: 1965 Chevrolet Corvette

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Sometimes, a manufacturer will drop a specific option from its model range because it doesn’t sell in sufficient numbers to justify production. However, there are rare occasions where a new feature will undermine an existing one on price alone, leading to its demise. That was the situation that Chevrolet faced in 1965. Shoehorning a big-block under the hood of its Corvette provided unrivaled bang-for-your-bucks but instantly rendered the more expensive “Fuelie” obsolete. This ‘Vette is one of the last produced before the ax dropped. The seller recently revived this classic after twenty-five years of hibernating. It needs a new home, with the seller listing the Corvette here on eBay in Talbott, Tennessee. Heated bidding has pushed the price to $60,001, which is below the reserve.

The seller recently purchased the Corvette from its elderly owner, who had stored it over two decades ago. The environment must have been almost ideal because this gem hasn’t suffered from the experience. The Nassau Blue paint is the correct shade, with the car being repainted many years ago. It retains an impressive shine, but close inspection reveals the typical lacquer checking that often plagues this paint type. Most exterior surfaces are impacted, and a meticulous new owner might bite the bullet and perform a light cosmetic restoration. They won’t need to pursue the nut-and-bolt approach because the frame and birdcage are structurally sound and rust-free. However, leaving the exterior untouched and enjoying the car as what could be loosely termed a survivor is a valid approach. There are no fiberglass issues, with no evidence of prior damage, and the bonding strips are intact. The chrome and glass are in good order for a driver-grade vehicle, although the winning bidder may send items like the bumpers to the platers so that they really “pop” if they perform a repaint.

Lifting the hood reveals what raises this Corvette from a desirable classic to a genuinely special one. Buyers could choose from five optional engines to power their new purchase in 1965, and the company’s decision to add a big-block to the mix had ramifications few would initially envisage. The 396ci V8 produced 425hp and 415 ft/lbs of torque while adding $292.70 to the sticker price. This car’s original owner selected the 327ci “Fuelie” that produces 375hp and 350 ft/lbs. The lower output may have been acceptable if the Fuelie were cheaper than the big-block, but at $538, it most definitely wasn’t! Few buyers could justify the added expense for a motor that provided less power, which is why 2,157 people selected the 396, and only 771 ticked the box for the Fuelie. That was the beginning of the end, and the Fuelie disappeared from the range before the year’s end. The seller confirms this Corvette’s engine and four-speed manual transmission are numbers-matching. Over two decades of inactivity means they followed a meticulous revival process. This included treating the beautiful fuel-injection system to a professional rebuild and replacing the exhaust, tires, and water pump. They provide no specific information on how the Corvette runs or drives, but the visual indications are positive.

I initially thought this Corvette’s interior was original and unmolested, which is the case with the trim and carpet. However, I did spot what appears to be a Hurst shifter upgrade. This will undoubtedly provide a more positive ratio selection, but purists will probably want to reinstate the original item. Otherwise, it is unmolested. The passenger seat has a visible seam separation, but the remaining Black vinyl shows no signs of wear or distress. The carpet has faded areas, but the lack of wear would justify leaving it untouched if the winning bidder prefers to preserve its survivor credentials. The dash is in good order, and the factory radio is intact.

The thirty-seven submitted bids at the time of writing confirm that potential buyers like what they see with this 1965 Corvette. These are inherently desirable classics, but its Fuelie powerplant lifts that to a far higher level. The impact on potential value is profound, with a Fuelie typically commanding a price around 50% higher than an equivalent car with the entry-level V8. A numbers-matching big-block will give this car a run for its money in the market, raising the question of how high the price will need to climb before passing the reserve. I wouldn’t rule out six-figures, although recent market softening for anything but pristine examples makes a lower figure conceivable. Do you think it will get there, or may the seller need to compromise?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Jerry Bramlett

    I wouldn’t consider buying this car after reading that extremely weak ad.

    The description is full of mysteries. He says the numbers match, but doesn’t reveal the VIN or show clear photos of the VIN tag or engine pad stamp so you can confirm the originality of the stampings. It’s obviously been hit hard on the nose and poorly repaired, yet he claims all bonding strips are there. Maybe they are, but that car has still been smacked.

    He claims it has a very solid frame, but includes no photos to prove it. He says nothing about the interior. Maybe that’s because the passenger seat bottom is split and the right door panel pull-strap is falling off.

    He also says the FI unit has had a professional rebuild with no comment about how it runs. Yet the drive cable from the distributor to the gear pump is disconnected, and the plenum cover has at least one crack. He neglected to include a photo of the plenum data plate… maybe because it was made in Indiana.

    Flipper incoming! Run, Forrest, run!

    Like 10
    • Andrew

      Own a C3 and C5, that lacquer checking is HORRENDOUS! Agree with you 100%, something is definitely wrong here

      Like 1
  2. Billy

    Rather have the yellow one sitting next to it. Perhaps that is why this one is for sale. Huuummm…
    Too many questions for me!

    I’m out.

    Like 1
  3. Edward

    Collectors love fuelies. Unfortunately, those collectors are dying off and the market is shrinking. That’s why you see more of these cars “reserve not met.” Good luck to the seller.

    Like 1
  4. Dan

    Count me in as one of those “fuelie lovers”. When sorted out, this is a 6-figure car but the number of issues I see will make me pay no more than $50k here; just a repaint will cost 5 figures. There’s definitely a reason why this one and not that yellow ‘66 is for sale.

    Like 1
  5. Neil R Norris

    Mystery machine vibes here. Too risky IMHO ..

    Like 1
  6. Dan Heironymus

    At that price he can own it for a long time.

    Like 1
  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    Ended at $70,102, Reserve Not Met.

    Like 0

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