1965 396 L78 Corvette – The First Big-Block Corvette

The Latest Installment in VETTE Magazine’s “Illustrated Corvette Series” by K. Scott Teeters

Were it not for NASCAR Chevys trailing behind nearly everyone in the early ’60s, there may never have been a big-block Corvette. Fuelie Corvettes were doing very sell in SCCA sports car racing, but the NASCAR Chevys where in trouble. While GM was officially not racing in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Duntov and a few other Chevy engineers kept select Chevy racers supplied heavy-duty specialty parts for field testing. Engineers tried to help with the Z11 Impala option that made a 427 out of the 409 truck motor. The car performed well as a drag racer, but wasn’t a competitive stock car racer.

In the Summer of ’62, Chevy engineer Dick Keinath was tasked to design the next generation big-block Chevy engine. Since the 348/409 was called the Mark I, the new engine was named, Mark II. The new block was based on the thick bottom end design of the 348/409 for low end strength, and new free-breathing heads. Continue reading “1965 396 L78 Corvette – The First Big-Block Corvette”