Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams

This Sting Ray coupe was built in the third week of December 1962 and left the factory wearing 916A Daytona Blue paint over an 898A Saddle leather interior.

The car was equipped with the optional L84 360-hp engine package, M20 4-speed manual transmission, P48 knockoff aluminum wheels, A31 power windows and N11 side exhausts. Its first owner was a 16-year-old Florida teen named Sherry Morris, whose father had promised to buy her any car she desired on the condition that she sell her flame-painted 1956 Chevy sedan. Ms. Morris held her father to his promise, and would enjoy her blue Corvette for some 20 years before ill health forced her to sell it in August 1983 to its second owner, Jay Smith.

The car then went to Corvette expert Scott Marshall of Bountiful, UT, who performed a four-year, body-off restoration that encompassed some 1,300 man-hours of labor and cost $33,000. Interestingly, Marshall did not find it necessary to rebuild the engine, which has never been apart.

Bruce and Ralene Strauss of Irvine, CA, purchased the restored car in May 1989 for $50,000. The Strausses kept the car until early 2009, when Tony Hart bought it through Corvette Mike in Anaheim, CA. Hart says this fine Corvette, which has accrued just 27,621 miles at the time of cataloging, has “phenomenal power and torque.”

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Chevrolet Corvette 327/360 Fuelie coupe
Years Produced:1963
Number Produced:10,594 coupes (2,610 Fuelies)
Original List Price:$4,779.30
SCM Valuation:$96,000–$178,000
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$19.99
Chassis Number Location:Plate riveted to body below glovebox
Engine Number Location:Pad on front of block below right cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1953 Chevrolet Corvette roadster, 1957 Ford Thunderbird F-code, 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 79, sold for $209,000, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, CA, on August 14, 2015.

The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray was universally acknowledged as one of the most advanced vehicles of its time. Road & Track stated, “As a purely sporting car, the new Corvette will know few peers on road or track,” while even the stodgy British publication Motor opined, “In most respects the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray is the equal of any GT car to be found on either side of the Atlantic.” Well, almost universally acknowledged — Motor Trend named the AMC Rambler their 1963 Car of the Year.

Without equal

While not quite as advanced as the Jaguar XKE, for a mass-produced sports car, the 1963 Corvette was without equal. The striking body was penned primarily by Larry Shinoda. Countless people fell in love with Corvettes because of the Sting Ray, and as an impressionable 7-year-old, I was one of them.

It was the first front-engine American car with independent rear suspension, and the first since the iconic 1937 Cord to feature retractable headlights. The only advanced technology missing was four-wheel disc brakes, and those would come two years later. Only the engine was a carryover, but the 327 small block that the Sting Ray used was new the year before, and the L84 version, with Rochester mechanical fuel injection, produced an amazing 360 hp.

Of course, 1963 was the only year of the “Split-Window” coupe. GM VP of Design, Bill Mitchell, loved the divided window. Corvette’s Chief Engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, hated it, feeling it was superfluous and reduced rearward vision. The automotive press agreed with Zora, and Duntov eventually got his way with the 1964 model-year cars.

Convertibles slightly outsold the coupes in 1963, 10,919 to 10,594, and combined they sold almost 7,000 more units than in ’62, which was also a record-smashing year for sales. A total of 2,610 Sting Rays, both coupes and convertibles, came with the L84 engine in 1963.

Best options

Our featured 1963 Corvette has everything a collector could want: the unique Split-Window body, the legendary 360-hp Fuelie engine, “off-road” sidepipes and power windows. It also has just 27,621 documented miles. Yet there are a few items that could have reduced the sale price.

One might have been the Daytona Blue paint, which, with this car’s Saddle interior, side exhaust and alloy wheels, I find quite attractive. But the most popular color still seems to be Riverside Red.

Another issue is provenance. This car’s history is well documented, but proof of the vehicle’s as-sold options is missing. A window sticker, bill-of-sale, or build sheet would offer proof of how the factory built the car. The P48 knockoff wheels on this Sting Ray, for example, probably were not delivered from the St. Louis factory. Outside of some of the Z06 racers in 1963, few if any Corvettes were sold with these wheels due to manufacturing issues — and they most likely would not have been on a car built in December 1962.

Later on, these wheels were a popular dealer add-on, and that could be how they got here. But a build sheet found on this car, or a window sticker, would verify that.

There was also no mention of NCRS Top Flight or Bloomington Gold awards with this car. Although those organizations don’t claim to guarantee originality with their awards, having them does put buyers at ease while boosting the bottom line at sale time.

All in the details

Contrast this sale with a nearly identical Daytona Blue ’63 Fuelie coupe that RM Auctions sold for $236,500 in Phoenix in January 2014 (ACC# 232253). At the time, our ACC analyst said, “Equipped with L84 Rochester mechanical fuel injection, Positraction, metallic brakes, off-road exhaust and correct T-3 headlamps. Restored to perfection with correct chalk markings and tape holding shims on the frame. Fully documented with NCRS Top Flight.”

Although that car had many more miles on the odometer (81,646), it had what was missing here — docs and certifications to drive the price that much higher.

This is not to slight our Corvette in any way. No, just the opposite. This Sting Ray was missing a few of the details that typically drive a sale price sky-high, but it brought the money anyway. All in all, I’d call it a very strong car that was very well sold.

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.

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