When it comes to 1963–67 Corvettes, the 1964 model is just like a record screeching when the tone arm is pulled across it. It’s the mid-year that gets no respect.

It’s easy to say off the cuff that they are not a 1963 Split-Window coupe. But that doesn’t explain why 1964 convertibles sell for less than 1963 convertibles. Both years of drop-tops are quite similar. To get to the real reason for that, we have to look at all second-generation Corvette production.

Splitting hairs

When the 1963 Corvette premiered, the convertible was a given. It was the offering of a coupe that got everybody’s attention. Anyone who was sitting on the fence about the worth of a closed-body Corvette was wooed by the styling tour de force of the central roof crease continuing down uninterrupted back from the windshield to the body’s waist line, creating two distinct rear windows.

Yet one designer’s styling triumph was another driver’s distraction, so to create a clear unobstructed rear view, the 1964 Corvette coupe lost the central post and had a single-piece backlight, which cost the car a sizeable chunk of its charm. Yet on the other hand, period conversion kits were available in the aftermarket to cut out that center post to make your ’63 look like the current models — and to see that motorcyclist behind you.

In addition to the coupe losing its revered split rear window, all 1964s also lost some bright trim. The simulated hood vents were gone, but the recesses where they were mounted the year before were still there. Combined with fake scoops on the front fenders and B-pillars, there was a lot of broken surface area that wasn’t doing squat. In chrome-loving America, it looked like it was missing a lot.

In addition, A.O. Smith supplemented body production midway through the model year, which didn’t sit well with a few Chevy purists. Truth be told, A.O. Smith generally had better assembly quality than Fisher Body Division at St. Louis — sometimes if barely, other times by a country mile.

However, the 1964s did have a few advantages over 1963s. The big one was that knockoff alloy wheels finally became available as an option after the previous year’s false start. And overall, the ’64s couldn’t have been that horrible when new, as GM sold 976 more 1964s than 1963s.

Discs and big blocks

When the 1965s were introduced, the ‘64s fell out of favor almost immediately due to the introduction of four-wheel disc brakes — although 316 buyers in 1965 either didn’t trust those new-fangled discs or were so cheap they opted for drums at a $64.50 credit off the sticker. Real-deal front fender vents that actually pulled heat out of the engine bay also helped sales.

If state-of-the-art brakes and a cooler-running engine weren’t enough to woo you, then the introduction of the 396-ci Mark IV big block (taking the place of fuel injection when it was retired mid-year) pretty much sealed the deal for 1964 resale values. With the 396 giving way to the hallowed 427 for 1966 and 1967, the small-block-only 1964s were yesterday’s news.

All the while, a cult following was developing for the ’63 Split-Windows — despite some first-year product cycle issues with them, which were mostly rectified by 1964.

By the time the C2 was retired at the end of the 1967 model year, the die was cast for 1964s being the C2 to avoid. As such, values sank. When it came time for folks to look for a Corvette to make into a project car — be it mild or wild — 1964s were the low-hanging fruit. This even carried into the 1980s, when restoration and preservation became mainstream. 1964s were the uncoordinated nerdy kids picked last, which made them easy marks for modifications.

Mid-year upside

Thanks to nostalgia, fading memories, and the slackening build quality of later C3s, folks are taking a fresh look at 1964 Corvettes.

This is almost in the same way that the other sporty Chevy of that time — the Corvair — is now having a renaissance. The naysayers from those days are going slowly off to the great National meet in the sky, leaving younger generations to wonder why those cars got a bad rap.

To them, the lack of modern electronic engine management and modern conveniences tends to be more front and center than drum versus disc brakes — especially if they want to restore a car into concours-lawn-ornament condition and only show it. Besides, drums weren’t all that bad in 1963 and 1964 — at least they were self-adjusting, unlike 1962-and-earlier cars.

DIY fun

For those of us who want a mid-year to drive and are not interested in concours, a ’64 is a good buy. Disc-brake conversion kits — ranging from looking stock to street-racer six-piston setups — will make your ’64 stop better than the trailer-queen ’66 with an aging restoration. Put a reproduction set of knockoff wheels over them and you’ll have to really look to see the difference. With stock steel rims and wheel covers, the secret’s safe until you look under the car.

We’ve also now come around full circle to where conversion kits are available to put a center post back into your ’63 coupe — or make your 1964 into a “what if” phantom. As for convertibles, without that whole Split-Window thing, the better original build quality of the ‘64s makes them the hands-down top-down choice, unless you like getting blinded occasionally by the sun reflecting off that cool-looking ’63 hood trim.

No matter how you want to enjoy a mid-year Corvette, 1964s make a good entry point today. Most of the general public won’t know or care — you’ll still have a cool Corvette as far as they’re concerned.

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