This 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window coupe is finished in the rare and correct Saddle Tan metallic over a Saddle leather interior. Under the hood, a correct and believed-original 327 cubic-inch, 360-hp, Rochester fuel-injected V8 is mated to a close-ratio Muncie M20 4-speed manual transmission and 3.70:1 Positraction rear axle. The car sports knockoff aluminum wheels, a rare AM/FM radio, and equally rare power windows.

No detail, no matter how small, was left untouched in the frame-off restoration of this expertly finished Split-Window.

 

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1963 327/360 Fuel-Injected Coupe
Years Produced:1963
Number Produced:10,594 coupes
Original List Price:$4,257 plus $1,000 for options present
SCM Valuation:$74,000–$142,000
Tune Up Cost:$250 (any problems with the fuel-injection system
Distributor Caps:$15
Chassis Number Location:Beneath passenger side dash along structural support
Engine Number Location:Pad on passenger side of engine forward of cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society 6291 Day Rd.Cincinnati, OH 45252-1334
Website:www.ncrs.org
Alternatives:1965–67 Chevrolet Corvette 396/427; 1968–69 Chevrolet Corvette L89; 1965–66 Shelby GT350
Investment Grade:A

This car sold for $121,900, including buyer’s premium, as part of the no-reserve Hammack Collection at Mecum’s High Performance Auction in Kissimmee, Florida, on January 30, 2010.

Chevrolet’s new, second-generation Corvette Sting Ray was immediately lauded in the period automotive press for its handling and overall performance, including its sheer power output. Car Life bestowed its annual “Award for Engineering Excellence” upon the car. Underhood, the press also thought the 327-ci V8 that had debuted in 1962 was even better in the new car.

This comes as little surprise, since only the Corvette offered so many different levels of performance tuning. At the top were two 360-horsepower engines: the Rochester fuel-injected mill, and the super-rare Z06 developed for the Grand Sport.

The 1963 Corvette competed with or even exceeded the amenities offered by the best European sports cars. With contoured bucket seats and available leather upholstery, telescopic steering wheel adjustment, large and visible instrumentation, as well as a heating and ventilation system that was able to cope with the greater extremes of the North American climate, the new Corvette had arrived in the top rank of sports cars.

The C2 scored in the performance departments as well, since the new independent rear suspension complemented the output available from the 327 V8 in providing better adhesion compared to the live-axle cars—not to mention much of the competition. In testing a duplicate of our subject car, a 4-speed fuelie with a 3.70:1 axle, Motor Trend reported 0–60 mph times of 5.8 seconds and a 14.5-second standing quarter mile at 102 mph. They also recorded better than 18 miles per gallon at legal highway speeds and an overall 14.1 miles per gallon, much of which was doubtless pedal-to-the-metal.

The Split-Window was a one-year-only car

The installation of factory options reflected the market’s demand for raw performance in sporting cars. Corvette’s optional power brakes went into only 15% of production, power steering into just 12%. Only 278 buyers for 1963 specified the hefty $421.80 for air conditioning, and the $80.70 leather upholstery was ordered on only about 400 cars. Even the Kelsey-Hayes knockoff alloy wheels at $322.80 were ordered by only a handful of buyers (and no deliveries were ever confirmed). However, almost 18,000 of the total 21,513 Sting Rays that left St. Louis had the 4-speed Muncie manual gearbox—better than four out of every five.

Since the 1964 car lost the twin-pane rear glass, the Split-Window was a one-year-only car. By contrast, a 1964 fuel-injected Corvette with 15 more horsepower, better rearward visibility, and arguably more of the first-year car’s bugs worked out has a value of $20,000 to $40,000 less than a Split-Window. Most Corvette aficionados will argue that the Split-Window coupe represents a purity of concept, if only for those two smaller panes of glass and a bit of extra fiberglass that obscured part of the traffic in the driver’s rearview mirror. When combined with an original fuel-injected 327, a Muncie 4-speed, and the desirable 3.70:1 rear end, a Split-Window would be hard to beat.

Here’s where our subject car comes under the microscope. I happened to be on the ground in Kissimmee in January where this car was offered at no reserve as part of the 50-or-so-car Hammack Collection consigned by Mecum well in advance of the auction.

Its restoration was evidently a comprehensive older one, done to the standards of a generation or two ago. Body gaps were production-quality or better, but the car’s paint finish had an atypical metallic mix and heavy clearcoat that emphasized the need for greater prepwork, and it also showed some shrinkage from age.

50,200 miles was a believable figure

Inside the jambs, some light cracking was evident, notably along the rain gutters behind the tops of both doors. The glass was original, and the rear panes exhibited some scratches. Chrome and brightwork were restored or replated as needed and exhibited few flaws. Inside, no aging was evident. The supple tan leather, correct carpets and trim were what one would expect from a well-executed restoration. The car’s odometer read just 50,200 miles, a believable figure.

This car’s engine pad had been scraped clean of paint, with both its chassis number and type designation stampings evident. Some thought the stampings “atypical,” while other experts found them “typical” or “real.”

The car card made no mention of a numbers-matching claim, and there’s a good reason for the absence of the assertion on Mecum’s paperwork. Mecum has clamped down hard on claims and beliefs about matching numbers, presenting an iron-clad contract to consignors who must stand behind their claims before and after the sale.

A friend brought two Corvettes to Kissimmee—a non-numbers-matching big-block convertible and an all-numbers-matching, NCRS-judged small-block coupe. He related to me the in-depth nature of Mecum’s contract with consignors as regards all-numbers-matching cars. Mecum is to be commended for this.

Mecum’s web site description stated that the car was “believed” to have matching numbers, and there was no mention of this at all on the car card. As we have noted in Corvette Market, with fifty-plus-year-old cars, it is often impossible to have “real paperwork” that authenticates a car. However, a Corvette sleuth in the audience reported to CM that the tell-tale bits that indicated this car was originally a fuelie were intact.

The real issue with this car is the paint. For the car to be judged at Bloomington or by NCRS, the heavy metallic base/clear “plastic” type paint would have to be completely stripped off. Metallics are hard to get right unless done in a lacquer-type paint.

Certainly this was a lot of money, but not ALL the money. Another $15,000 will get the paint and body issues into compliance for Bloomington and NCRS judging, and at that point, I would call this car well bought

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