The 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Aging gracefully, far from home

My first classic car review. I wrote this for my blog awhile back, while working with a classic car dealership.

The Poster-Car Era

The period between 1960-s and 1990-s gave us some of the most iconic cars ever made – Jaguar E-Type, DeTomaso Pantera, Lamborghini Countach, Honda NSX are only a few of the many marvelous automotive creations that blessed the world.

If you are a Petrol head, there is a good chance you have a poster of at least one of these cars on your wall. Sadly, in modern days, the number of poster-worthy cars produced has greatly decreased.

Thanks to “Chevron Auto Dealer” we managed to get up close and personal with one such car – a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible. Their showroom, located in Pieta, Malta has what must be the most interesting inventory in all of the local dealerships I have walked into. They focus mainly on classic and future classic cars. Corvettes, Vipers, Triumphs, Jaguars, Porsches and many other automotive gems can be found there.

The C2 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Corveette we had was a 1964, which is the second production year of the C2 generation. It is said that the most sought after version is the 1963 hard top, because of the split back window, which was a 1 year feature only. Every C2 afterwards had the whole rear glass.

The car has never undergone full restoration, and yet it still looks remarkably untouched by time. The well-sculpted fiberglass body immediately turns heads wherever we go. In rare cases when that doesn’t happen, the rumble of the push rod V-8 engine does the job. Our Stingray was equipped with a 327 cid (5.3 liters) Chevy small block pushing out 300 hp at the crankshaft, mated to a 3 speed automatic. The brakes are drums on all four corners, so that’s something to keep in mind when driving across Malta’s busy roads.

The Corvette was always the definitive American sports car. In times when 300 horsepower was considered out-worldly, the base Corvettes had that much. The most powerful C-2 version was the L-84, which had a Rochester fuel-injection and 375 hp. These units were known to be quite delicate so many of these cars were converted to carburetors. It’s worth noting however that back in those days, the only other car to feature fuel-injection was the Mercedes 300 SL.

Driving the Stingray

The driving experience can best be described as relaxing. The Stingray feels more like a sportier gran tourer than an actual sports car. The ride is surprisingly good and the steering and pedal inputs are not as immediate as you would want from a sports car.

You do feel the disadvantages of the body on frame construction. Body roll is present and chassis flexing is noticeable during more spirited driving. Needless to say, today’s hot-hatchbacks can put the C2 to shame in terms of performance. But a hot-hatch won’t take you back in time.

Driving and owning a classic is not about metric data and being faster than the guy sitting next to you on the traffic light. It is about the unique experience of driving a piece of history, and knowing that no new car can deliver the same level of involvement. It is also an investment, since classic cars like the Stingray are only appreciating in value.

As we said, the Corvette was always the high-end sports car of America, but if you want a classic performance car, perhaps you would be better off with the lightweight Porsche 911 or the more focused Ferrari 208. These days, the C2 Corvette is considered to be more of a boulevard cruiser that can also double as a decent sports car when you want it to.

Make no mistake! It can hold its own against the likes of Ferraris and Jags of the same era, but overall it’s a more relaxed car, especially with the 3 speed automatic gearbox ours had. It even has power steering and air-conditioning…in the sixties!

The Corvette, unsurprisingly shares the fate of most classic cars kept in original condition. What was once a striking sports car, has now become a stylish boulevard cruiser, brought out on casual weekend drives with the top down. Similarly to a former athlete who has switched to a more relaxed lifestyle after a brilliant career.

As cliche as it may sound, the Stingray really is a true American icon, and takes an honorable place among some of the most recognizable and desired cars in automotive history.

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Comments (8)

  • 1st ???? Who and how did it get to Malta? #2: next to the 63 split window the 64 convertible is the purest of Stingrays! Musta been a trip the cruise tropical Malta in a Vette convertible !

      1 year ago
    • How the car got to Malta is beyond me. The guy from the dealership did not go into much detail. He did say, a friend of his, traded it in for a Testarossa. The car is still for sale at Chevron Auto Dealer, in Malta, for around 80 000 EUR, if I remember...

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        1 year ago
  • In the US, the Corvette was pretty much the only game in town for nearly a decade. They were “expensive” ... wish I would have bought 10 of them back then. Would have made a significant contribution to retirement now. In the late 60’s MOPAR, GM, and FORD got into the game with “Pony Cars” barracuda, camarro, and mustang. They were considered the “poor mans” Corvette over here. Throughout the uninspired 70’s ... with the fuel crisis and after the US discovered all things EURO, the Vette was much maligned by many enthusiasts over here and for good reason. The car was not very impressive during that period. In ‘84, GM made wholesale changes to the entire Corvette platform and it was a watershed moment for the brand. Since then it’s been game on with GM positioning the Vette as serious contender. Only then did Europe start taking interest. Been a long strange trip for America’s only true “sports car” and fun to watch.

      1 year ago
    • Indeed, the mid 70s and the 80s were not good times for the American automotive industry. The later C3 Vettes had more plastic and less power, even though they still looked amazing. I'm glad that after the C4 (excluding the Lotus tuned C4 ZR1)...

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        1 year ago
    • Agreed ... For me ... the most glaring difference between US automotive production and German / Japanese built, boils down to fit and finish. Our cars fall apart ... planned obsolescence at its most advanced. It’s insulting and just plain...

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        1 year ago
  • It amazes me to find things out of place like a Corvette in Mazda or a Trabant that my buddies neighbor in Indianapolis is seen driving every so often.

      1 year ago
    • I know what you mean. Malta is full of similar cases. There are a couple of Gen 2 Vipers, some Gen 3s, lots of Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros, both classic and modern.

      Lots of British cars too, although that's not as unusual as their American...

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        1 year ago
    • hmmm ... methinks this phenomena speaks of a great deal of imported wealth, lol.

        1 year ago