Tent Find: 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray

Let’s face it, there are very few Corvettes so far gone that somebody isn’t going to want to restore them. They’re an object of desire for a great many Americans (though some Europeans are mystified). And this one here isn’t just any Corvette—in Libertyville, Illinois and here on eBay, it’s a very rare 1965 327 Sting Ray coupe with manual transmission and factory air conditioning. Only 2,000 ‘Vettes came with air that year. Bidding is at $21,411 with lots of time left on the auction.

For 1965, the Sting Ray added four-wheel disc brakes and a range of engines, all the way up to the L78 396 “big block” that developed 425 horsepower (and boasted transistor ignition). The 327 that was originally in this car came in a bewildering five variants, from 250 to 375 horsepower. This was also the last year for the fuel-injected L84 (375 horsepower). You couldn’t get fuel injection again until 1982.

The ‘Vette also added functional front fender vents in 1965, and 396s got macho power bulges. Grille bars were blacked out, and instruments got flat black faces. Side-mounted exhaust was available, but fewer than 800 customers ordered them. Other options were leather seats, a power antenna and power windows, and the aforementioned air conditioning (though not with the L78 or L84). The rarest accessory is the long-range 36-gallon fuel tank. Corvette sold 23,564 units in 1965, with twice as many convertibles as coupes.

Let’s face something else—the Corvette is rough. It has been off the road since the 1980s, presumably because of the very visible front-end accident damage that heavily messed up the driver’s side and shattered the fiberglass. It’s not that bad, though. Cars were more disposable in the ‘80s—today we wouldn’t even think of abandoning a car like this.

Two motors come with the maroon/maroon car, neither one original. Under the hood is a 327 that runs, but poorly. And the other is a 300-horsepower 327 that was reportedly rebuilt.

The interior is one of the car’s better features, since everything is still there, including one of those cool vertical radios only seen in Corvettes. The car was very well-equipped—the telescoping steering wheel is a rarely seen feature. The seats are torn up, but again not aggressively awful. Everything’s filthy—it’s a true barn find.

A restorer is going to have his or her hands full, but it won’t be for lack of parts. Everything on this Corvette is available new, used, or as reproduction. It’s based on mainstream mechanicals, with no great mysteries. A hand-it-over restoration requires only an open checkbook and patience. Doing it right takes time. ‘So what’s this Corvette worth once restored to former glories? A #1 car, ie, the best in the world, is worth $80,600, according to Hagerty. It has to be “groomed down to the tire treads.” In fair #4 condition, ‘65s are worth $31,400, though this one is not that good. In its favor are some rare accessories; against it is the missing original motor. It will be fairly easy to get underwater with this project. But it will certainly be a rewarding project in the end. It’s perhaps best approached if you can take it on yourself. Feeling handy?


  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    This one looks to have been run hard and put away wet IMO. It will take some deep pockets to make it good again, someone will likely do it as a labor of love rather than as something to resell. Hard to tell from the limited pictures but I suspect there will be substantial frame rust to deal with and that’s not saying anything regarding areas around places like the windshield. Then you have the obvious body damage.
    I hope it’s brought back but time and money will tell.

    Like 8
  2. redwagon

    anyone else thinking there is a lot of rust for a Texas car? Clark Chevrolet is in McAllen, TX a short drive from Brownsville. Does that make it close enough to be impacted from salty ocean air?

    Like 3
    • Phil Detweiler

      My guess would be that the rust on this one is the result of extended storage in a less than ideal climate. It doesn’t appear to have ever been registered in Illinois, so it may not have been exposed to a lot of that winter weather. As far as your concern regarding the proximity of McAllen to airborne salt while in its native habitat, that’s not really a problem. McAllen is +/- 75 miles inland from the Gulf, so salt-laden breezes aren’t a problem. The climate is hot and arid (most anything will grow here, but it requires heavy irrigation to do so, since there’s not sufficient rainfall for most ag crops). All in all, it’s pretty much an ideal climate in which to preserve a vehicle, with the exception of things like plastic or vinyl — interior or exterior — which can be destroyed by sunlight and heat.

      Like 1
  3. 70SuperSport

    Rust and green on the suspension tells me it was sitting wet for a long time. Door jambs are crusty. This one is a bit scary to me.

    Like 6
  4. Francisco

    Jim, the DeTomaso Pantera also had a vertical mounted radio.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      So did the Chevy Citation. I don’t know about the BOP versions.

      Like 1
  5. Classic Steel

    I love the Hagerty price comparison on vettes and history .

    The original engine missing shatters that list of pricing. The bolts in the hammered fender are not “classic” to me…
    The A/C add is nice but driving over tge pursit.

    This baby is rough with Illinois salty roads and tough beater up bringing making it a hard pass. One cpuld get original cheaper if its going back body original etc.

    Its and open canvas to a possible frame swap (high probability rusted) and big block swap and new repo fender.

    Like 2
    • Classic Steel

      Wow my thumb With IPhone typing is horrendous today..

      I love the Hagerty price comparison on vettes and history .

      The original engine missing shatters that list of pricing. The bolts in the hammered fender are not “classic” to me…
      The A/C addition is nice but not driving over the purists to purchase .

      This baby is rough being owned in the Illinois salty roads environment. Its a rough beater making it a hard pass. One could get a original model cheaper if their going back restoration to make the body original etc.

      Its an open canvas to a possible frame swap (high probability rusted) and big block swap and new repo fender.

      Good luck on the sale!

      Like 3
    • Stephen Vosler

      Yes, it has potential but the rule of thumb is you should start with something and that means this one would be a real challenge because it’s something is somewhat questionable. It only takes a couple of real beaters dragged from the field to establish this fact. A barn find is so much better and one that has been cared for sublime for restoration purposes.

      Like 0
  6. carlosvette

    Hello very original car chassis not so bad worked on some were worst but have to pull the body to be sure factory air not aftermarket adds $$$ plus other options. The missing engine bad if you want completely original nice project if you know and like working on vettes.

    Like 1
    • Bob

      My 65 had factory air. It worked very well, except in hot weather!

      Perhaps it could now be modified to work better.

      Like 0
  7. jokacz

    I like the telescopic steering wheel, don’t see many of those. ;-)

    Like 1
  8. jokacz

    Why the Hurst shifter? (if it is a Hurst) Old drag car? Not that it would make any difference given its current condition.

    Like 0
    • Russell Ashley

      Some people didn’t like the t-handle shifter that came in Vettes. I had a nice totally original 64 Sting-Ray convertible and when I sold it in 1969 the buyer mentioned that he would put a better shifter in it. It surprised me as I was fine with the original one.

      Like 2
      • jokacz

        The 63 and older shifters were terrible, but once they put the Muncie box in, the shifter was much improved. You could even adjust it for a shorter throw which made it damn near as good as a Hurst. Unfortunately this was not the case with Camaros and other Chevies, they used to say their shifters looked like a Hurst but shifted like a Ford.

        Like 2
      • SamM

        Almost as bad as Ford, but not nearly as bad as the mopars of the same era. Noodle-linkage guessagear Shifter,, quite famous,,, eeerrr infamous

        Like 0
  9. William Voss

    Looks like 350 replacement engine under the hood

    Like 0
  10. Penguinjb

    Don’t see the telescope tab behind the steering wheel so it does not have the telescope wheel.

    Like 0
    • jokacz

      There was no tab that year, the center of the wheel was a knob that you turned to lock or unlock the wheel.

      Like 4
    • Jon

      Yes, it is a telescoping wheel. I owned one 66 and the column / wheel was the same.

      Like 0
  11. TimM

    $21,411 seems like an awfully lot of money for a car that needs total restoration!! It is a factor A/C car but nevertheless it needs every nut and bolt addressed!!

    Like 3
  12. 1-MAC

    do not worry about “matching numbers’ The engines are routinely restamped to match. Corvettes when new often lost their original engines within the first year due to abuse and missed shifts. Most have had engine swaps over the years.

    Like 0
    • jokacz

      I had a new 65 Vette with a 396 that lasted about 2 months before it started spinning bearings. Got a new short block under warranty. So much for matching numbers. Unfortunately the replacement was no better, those early 396’s were famous for spinning bearings. On a good day they had 30 pounds of oil pressure cold, went down after they warmed up. Back in the 70’s and 80’s before prices got crazy and people did their homework, blocks were restamped all the time. I’ve turned more than one 365 horse into a fuelie with an injection unit and a rf number restamped on the block. Easy profit back in the day.

      Like 1
  13. GDTOKC

    One big question. Who cares if the Europeans are mystified? Oh gee, I didn’t get their permission to buy my F150. How embarrassing for me. The Euros are out of the equation as far as I’m concerned. Hope they ponder that

    Like 2
  14. Bob

    were backup lights available on a 65?

    Like 0
  15. Clay Bryant

    They shouldn’t have left the windows down when it was underwater or maybe they were going for the catch of the year to sneak into the next bass tournament..

    Like 0
  16. Stan Marks


    Like 1
  17. dogwater

    I would have to look at the car in person B4 buying, bird cage, etc, price is a little high

    Like 0
  18. Blueanalyst

    With respect to the opinion about Chevys that shifted like Fords, I would like to offer the following observation. My Cortez Silver 69 Camaro Z28 with the DZ302 came stock with a spring loaded Hurst 4 speed. With the springs properly adjusted, that was the smoothest, fastest shifting four speed I ever owned. Going from 2nd to third, I just had to push the shifter in that direction and it would jump into 3rd. Slam it down to 4th and with the stock 411 rear end you were hauling the mail son!

    In a quarter mile or street race, you couldn’t touch it, including Corvettes. Couldn’t beat much on the highway though, those damn 383 Road Runners with the higher geared rear ends would eventually walk away from me after I got over a hundred miles per hour. With that 411, I was tached out!

    Like 0
    • jokacz

      I had the same car in 69. It came with a cheapo Hurst shifter that was nothing special, but I lived with it and put a Hurst T handle on it. I bought it out of dealer stock and it came with 3.73 gears and wide ratio trans. It stayed up with most cars until the 3 to 4 shift, where it fell flat on its ass. I never took it to the strip because the axle tramp was so terrible and I didn’t want to put traction arms on it, so I never knew what times it could turn. I always said it was a great engine in a mediocre car.

      Like 1
  19. JOHN Member

    I can’t speak to the Camaro, but on the early GTO’s with the Hurst shifter, they were based on the Competition Plus, but the actual shift arms that bolted to the transmission and the linkage rods themselves were GM parts. The stock installed shifter also lacked the stop bolts that the aftermarket Competition plus came out of the box with. It was fairly common to purchase the hurst arms and rods, and if you were inclined, to drill and tap the shifter to install stop bolts. Back in the day one of the first things you did with your car was to install a Hurst Competition Plus shifter, it was a day two modification for sure. If you were inclined to cut up your floor a little bit, the Hurst Super Shifter was one of the best shifters you could install. The shift rods were much thicker, and straight, so it sat higher up on the transmission. If you had a console, it wouldn’t work. Either one was made even cooler with the reverse lockout… that red ball sticking out of the boot said you meant business!

    Like 0
  20. Bob

    I had a 65 coupe, the same color as this one. 350hp engine with air. I loved the stock Chevy shifter. I had a 61 Pontiac 4 speed and that lever felt like it was made out of coat hanger wire, but the Corvette was fine. I have one on my 62 that’s in the shop.

    I don’t remember any axle tramp. I do remember driving it in the rain and the tires would slip on the white painted lines.

    Like 0
  21. Anthony

    A large collector friend of mine owns this car and had it in his Texas warehouse for years. The frame was undercoated when new and is in great condition. Was never in the Illinois elements. He has too many projects, and decided to let this one go. The spare engine is a rebuilt motor but not date correct.

    Like 1
  22. Diversguy

    Don’t forget shipping…

    Like 0

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