• Iconic Split-Window design
  • Ideally preserved, unrestored example with 60,000 documented miles
  • NCRS Top Flight and Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals Heritage Award Winner
  • Desirably optioned and impressively documented
  • Offered with window sticker, owner’s manual, Protect-O-Plate and 1963 brochure

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Chevrolet Corvette 327/340 coupe
Years Produced:1963–67 (second generation)
Number Produced:21,513 (1963)
Original List Price:$4,257
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $108,000; high sale, $242,000 (1963 coupe with L76)
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$10
Chassis Number Location:Plate riveted to body under glovebox
Engine Number Location:Stamped pad in front of passenger’s cylinder head
Club Info:NCRS
Alternatives:1957 Ford Thunderbird D-code, 1963–64 Studebaker Avanti, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Fuelie
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 147, sold for $110,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction in Pebble Beach, CA, on August 21, 2016. It was offered at no reserve.

Born on the first of July

The year 1963 is synonymous with the second-generation Corvette. Larry Shinoda’s brilliant vision, coupled with Bill Mitchell’s design sense and Zora Arkus-Duntov’s engineering prowess finally produced an American sports car truly worthy of the name.

The 1963 Corvette was the first to bear the Sting Ray badge, and no one could call it empty bragging. The Corvette was offered with a selection of carbureted 327-cubic-inch V8 engines at 250, 300 and 340 horsepower, or the 360 horsepower Rochester fuel-injected Sting Ray that inspired the Beach Boys. The Corvette came with the buyer’s choice of a standard 3-speed floor-shift manual transmission, an optional 4-speed manual transmission or a 2-speed Powerglide automatic. It’s no surprise that 84% of all Corvettes built in 1963 came with the 4-speed.

All told, 10,594 coupes were built for the 1963 model year, plus 10,919 convertibles. The base price was $4,252 for the coupe and $4,037 for the convertible. Buyers who really wanted it all could order the brand-new Z06 option for $1,818.45 and receive vented power brakes, heavy-duty shock absorbers, a larger sway bar, a Positraction limited-slip rear end, and the 4-speed gearbox. The only engine available with that package was the hotter injected 327.

The summer of ’63

Our subject Corvette came off the line in St. Louis, MO, on July 1, 1963. It was the 18,592nd Corvette to be made for the model year, just a few thousand cars from the end.

This particular Sting Ray came with the Corvette’s most potent carbureted engine, the L76 with 11.25:1 compression and a 4-barrel carburetor yielding 340 horsepower and 344 pound-feet of torque. Predictably, this car was part of the majority equipped with a 4-speed transmission, and being one of the last of the 1963 cars to be produced, it came with the Muncie M20 rather than the Borg-Warner T10 used earlier in the year.

As the auction program notes, this car came with a good set of options, including the Positraction limited-slip rear axle at $43.05, the 4-speed transmission at $188.30, the L76 engine at $107.60, nice leather upholstery at $80.70, whitewall tires at $31.55, power windows at $59.20, and the highly desirable sintered metal brakes at $37.70. Note that the AM/FM radio option cost the original owner an eye-watering $174 — a lot more than the engine upgrade. All in, the original sticker price on this Corvette would have been $4,935.75.

A good buy

Statistically, there’s a lot to like about this Corvette. The leather upholstery turns out to be the rarest option — only 1,114 of the 1963 Corvettes received that treatment. But with the 4-speed, the upgrade engine, the Posi rear end and the better brakes, this particular Sting Ray was quite the hot rod.

But today, the real value in a vintage Corvette is in its originality, and that’s where this car stands out. The car had been perfectly maintained, from the undercarriage and mechanicals right up to the seemingly original Saddle Tan paint and upholstery. It has all the documentation back to the original window sticker.

While modern eyes might slide right by an unfashionable beige car and fixate on another one repainted in Resale Red or Daytona Blue, the paint on this car appears to be all original as applied by the factory. The original body seams are showing through the paint, which happens as Corvettes age and the seam glue shrinks up under the original finish. Repainting the car typically fixes this flaw, so visible seams are an excellent indication that you’re looking at either an original-paint car, or one painted long ago. The signs here pointed toward originality.

National Corvette Restorers Society judges have recognized this car’s pedigree. The NCRS has twice bestowed the Top Flight award on this car. To get that award, a Corvette must be “preserved or restored to the highest level of achievement.” An NCRS Top Flight Corvette must achieve 94% or higher on a scale of 4,500 points covering all mechanical, interior, exterior and physical aspects of the car.

Evaluating the sale

With all that in mind, this car was expected to sell for something between $120,000 and $150,000. The American Car Collector Pocket Price Guide lists the 1963 Corvette with this engine at a median price of $108,000, which includes pricing on acres of those Resale Red and Daytona Blue repainted examples sold at auction. Highest all-time sale for a similar example was $242,000.

This was a top-shelf car in terms of its originality, but the actual sale price was $110,000 — just a bit over the ACC median and well below what you might have expected considering how the market has been viewing originality as of late. So what happened?

First up is that color combination. Original or not, gold over tan isn’t setting the world on fire.

And second, take a step back and look at the bigger Monterey picture. Of the cars at the Gooding auction in Pebble Beach, only a handful sold for more than their pre-sale estimated prices. Many sold toward the low end of their estimated ranges, while most of what sold brought less than their estimates — this Corvette among them.

Gooding certainly had a great selection of desirable cars, so aside from the subjective color question, the only other conclusions are that the market was broadly lower in Monterey this summer, or Gooding’s estimates were hopefully high. Regardless, I’d call this Corvette very well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)

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