Editor’s note: The ClassicCars.com Journal will be covering all of the action during Arizona Auction Week in Scottsdale, Arizona. Check out our other coverage here.
What looks like the ultimate man-cave accessory for any Chevy fan will be sold at no reserve during Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in January.
The object in question is the cutaway display model of Chevrolet’s revolutionary Turbo Jet 396 big-block V8 Corvette engine that was shown at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Housed in a unique rolling showcase, the display piece was part of the General Motor Futurama Pavilion at the international exposition.
The cutaway engine is the potent 425-horsepower RPO L78 solid-lifter version of the 396 V8, showing its innards through removed portions of the housing and under specially made clear valve covers. This was not a static display, though, because the engine would revolve slowly through its mechanic ballet powered by a starter motor.
In its display case, the L78 engine is attached to a Muncie M21 4-speed manual transmission, with the bell housing cut away to show the heavy-duty flywheel, clutch and pressure plate required all that engine power. Most internal parts of the engine and clutch assembly are chrome plated.
“As part of the Futurama exhibit at the World’s Fair, presenting the world’s most advanced technology, GM engineers were eager to showcase this new engine they were introducing in mid-1965, which produced 425hp with 396ci – more horsepower than any of the other 396 engines manufactured from mid-1965 until production ended in 1969,” Barrett-Jackson says in its catalog description.
“Ultimately, this engine spelled the end for the Rochester fuel-injection system, as the carbureted 396/425 option cost much less than the fuel-injected 327/375. However, by the time the Cutaway Corvette and Cutaway Engine displays were complete, they were both obsolete. The Fuelie Corvette was not produced after 1965, and the 396 was immediately replaced by the 427 to keep up with the competition.”
The 425-horsepower version of the 396 was produced only for the 1965 model-year Corvette, though 325- and 375-horse versions of the 396 were produced for full-size Chevys through 1970. The cutaway display therefore represents a unique short-lived piece of Corvette history.
Barrett-Jackson’s 47th annual flagship auction at WestWorld in Scottsdale takes place January 12-20, 2019. For more information, visit the auction website.