By the 1960s the Corvette was beginning to hit its stride, especially in terms of performance. While the GM small-block reigned supreme initially, the 1960s would see the rise of the high-displacement big-block, complete with 400-plus horsepower. This was on par with the times, as the horsepower wars of the muscle car era were in full swing. This resulted in several extremely memorable power plants.
The 265 cubic-inch small-block served as the jumping-off point for further engine development. Chevrolet spent the following decade perfecting their earlier small-block, which eventually grew in displacement and became a testbed for early fuel injection technology. Further progress was made in 1964, with the release of the L76 V8. This potent small block proved quite reliable while dishing out more than enough horsepower.
In under a decade, GM’s small-block received a substantial boost in displacement while also becoming the standard-bearer for several new internal developments in engine technology. These developments ultimately produced a new crop of small-block powerplants based on Chevrolet’s new 327 cubic-inch engine platform. Of the four 327 cubic-inch small blocks available in 1964, none topped the output of the fuel-injected L84 V8.
For more than a decade after the Corvette's initial release it had small-block power. In fact, the 265 cubic-inch V8’s 1955 introduction was largely responsible for the Corvette’s validation as a sporty, performance-minded vehicle. However, by the mid-1960s, those behind the scenes at Chevrolet had begun developing a new powerplant. This engine would become the first big-block V8 to be used in Corvette production.