Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
  • 5.7-L, 405-hp LS6 engine
  • Tremec 5-speed gearbox
  • VBP suspension
  • 1963 body panels and doors
  • 1967 stinger hood
  • 1967 sidemount exhausts
  • 1967 turbine wheels
  • NVU programmable instrument cluster
  • Vintage Air a/c system
  • AM/FM Bluetooth radio
  • Less than 1,000 miles since completion
  • “Rebuilt” title

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Chevrolet Corvette Custom convertible
Years Produced:1963–67
Original List Price:$4,037
SCM Valuation:$44,000
Tune Up Cost:$200 (estimated)
Chassis Number Location:Cross brace under glovebox
Engine Number Location:Left rear side of engine block (LS engine)
Alternatives:1963 Corvette 327 L75 coupe, 1965 Corvette 396 L78 convertible, 1967 Corvette 427 L36 coupe
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 693, sold for $99,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas, NV, on October 5, 2019.

Valuing classic, original Corvettes isn’t always straightforward, but when those cars are largely original, coming up with an apples-to-apples comparison — and therefore a barometer for value — isn’t challenging.

But while the market prices for stock collector cars are sliced, diced and defined to a fare-thee-well, all bets are off when it comes to valuing modified cars.

Everyone has their own definition of automotive art — meaning that if a particular blown In Violet ’Cuda, slammed Chevy C10 or Pro Street bullet-nose Studebaker really twangs your strings, you’ll pay what’s required to get it and the seller wins. But resto-mods can be dangerous, too: If that same modded mound of Americana strikes no one’s fancy but the builder’s, why, he’s got himself a nice, shiny money pit. Dig?

Mystery machine

Chevrolet’s St. Louis plant pumped out more than 21,500 first-year Sting Rays for ’63, including 10,919 convertibles like this. And I say “like this” because this fairly stock-looking ’Vette is anything but.

According to the American Car Collector Pocket Price Guide, the median value for these drop-tops ranges from $44,000 for a 250-hp base convertible to $250,000 for the factory race-spec Z06 (if you can find one). Leaving the unicorn Z06 off the table then, the next highest ’63 Sting Ray convertible is the 360-hp L84 Fuelie at $88,000.

What does this mean insofar as the $99k sale price of this B-J auction lot is concerned? Sometimes more information lies in what is not said on the auction card rather than what is said.

For starters, we don’t know what the car’s original engine was, nor whether it had a Powerglide automatic or 3- or 4-speed manual transmission. Likewise, we don’t know how much of the body — or frame, for that matter — is original, and we don’t know anything of the car’s history.

This mosaic of missing data suggests that this auction lot was built up from the remnants of a wrecked or castoff convertible (as suggested by its “rebuilt” title and non-Chevrolet VIN). The build was completed in 2018.

Due to the public display of this presumably difficult past, I think it’s pretty impressive that this ’63 custom ’Vette garnered almost $100k at auction — but that says a lot about today’s resto-mod marketplace.

The price Barrett-Jackson achieved is more than the median value for any other 1963–64 Sting Ray convertibles (Z06 excepted), and is identical to ACC’s value assessment of the 1965 big-block 396-ci convertible and the final-mid-year 1967 427 coupe. Those changes from stock helped a lot here.

An expert amalgam

As outlined in the bullet points in the intro, this ’Vette was resto-modded to look like a mid-year convertible with different elements from 1963 to 1967. So it’s faithful to its era in that regard, and yet still packs a larger and more powerful engine underhood.

Otherwise, this resto-Vette was spec’d, equipped and built to be driven, with a more flexible 5-speed Tremec gearbox, power steering and disc brakes (the latter of which didn’t appear on the ’Vette spec-sheet until 1965), electronic instrumentation, aftermarket air conditioning, and Bluetooth-enabled audio, so you can stream “Tach it up, tach it up/Buddy gonna shut you down” from your smartphone anytime. And then go shut somebody down.

I like that the car has been kept authentic, generally using components and design elements that were available in period — powertrain excepted. Even the admittedly “Hey, lookee here!” Nassau Blue racing stripes over Arctic White paint aren’t over the top. With safety equipment, roundels and numbers added, this car wouldn’t be too out of place in a NASA race.

Big red “R”

At the end of the day, this is a nicely done first-year Sting Ray with carefully selected mods that a well-moneyed Corvette enthusiast might have done in the day — plus some, thanks to the engine, 5-speed, electronic instrumentation and modernized suspension and radial tires.

Unfortunately, this car also has a vacuous past (i.e., no history records, and missing its original build sheet), a non-Chevrolet VIN, a title loudly tattooed with a big red “R” (for “Rebuilt”), and zero information about the period-authenticity of, well, anything on the car — even the body panels and frame rails. It’s as if this lovely creation is as ethereal as a ghost.

Ninety-nine grand for a ghost? That would definitely give me pause — not because of the car itself, but because of the questions I wouldn’t ever be able to answer for my friends. But I’m not everyman, and I recognize that lots of folks respond to “the thing” more powerfully than they respond to “the thing’s history.” This is especially true with customized, modernized cars.

Plus, if you wanted to build something similar, you’d have to spend close to $40k for a donor car and then do all these mods, making the total spent much higher than the price paid here.

All things considered, for a cool driver, I’d have to call this adopted orphan well bought. Let’s just hope the buyer asked some good questions at auction though, because they’ll need the full story on that serial number when it comes time to sell the car.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

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