Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
  • GM LS3 with 540 hp
  • GM 4L70E automatic overdrive transmission
  • Lokar shifter
  • Art Morrison sport chassis
  • Strange Engineering self-dampening shocks
  • Six-piston polished Wilwood front brakes; four-piston Wilwood rear
  • Power windows
  • Air conditioning
  • 18- and 20-inch Schott wheels with Toyo Redline tires

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-Window Resto-Mod
Years Produced:1963
Number Produced:10,594 Split-Window coupes
Original List Price:$4,252
SCM Valuation:$371,250 (resto-mod 1963 Corvette Split-Windows)
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$12.99
Chassis Number Location:Under the glovebox on the instrument panel brace
Engine Number Location:Passenger’s side front cylinder head
Club Info:The Corvette C2 Registry
Alternatives:1963 Porsche 911, 1963 Aston Martin DB5, 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Split-Window coupe (stock)
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 240, sold for $357,500, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s May Online Auction.

This resto-mod 1963 C2 is a good-looking car that sold for huge money in comparison to original 1963 Corvette Split-Window cars. But is it just another cookie-cutter build?

A resto-mod for the masses

The Corvette C2 has been an auction staple for years. They’re a fairly reliable sale, with many of them pulling in six figures and some even going (or at least listing) for over a million dollars.

But the market is changing. These cars are still out there and changing hands, but the examples you’re seeing are a bit different than they used to be. Are full restorations still the way to go, or are we just going to see more and more resto-mods?

Dollars and sense

Let’s begin with the basics: There were a little over 20,000 C2s made in 1963, with a roughly 50/50 split between convertibles and coupes. Their relative rarity — especially for the Split-Window coupe — is part of the appeal, as are the timeless looks. But because the cars have been around for so long, there’s a lengthy history of them appearing on the auction block.

From a collector’s perspective, one can understand the angle. Seeing all these huge paydays come down the pike sure is attractive. And if you’ve got yourself a 1963 C2 of your own — especially a special Split-Window coupe — thoughts might turn to restoring it, then selling it and buying a new yacht or a stately manor in rural Montana.

Were this five or 10 years ago, we might agree. But now? Well, not so much.

See, the audience for these cars is changing. Lots of people out there buy the rides they wanted from their childhood — or the ones they had when they were first learning how to drive. It’s all about nostalgia. And if you fit into the early-Baby Boomer market, you would’ve been around 17 when the iconic ’63 Split-Window first hit the scene. Today, you’d be 74. Is that the right time in your life to spend six or seven figures on a car? Sure, maybe — or maybe not. It’s possible that if you want your nostalgia fix, you’ll just pick one up for under $100k and be just as happy.

And there’s another factor here, too. These C2s have been around for 57 years, as has the C2 in general. Which means a lot of people have messed around with them, customized them in one way or the other, and that makes it even harder to find good versions that are all-original.

Enter the resto-mod

This brings us to the resto-mod scene. You have to be a certain type of person to find them appealing. You’re not a numbers-matching collector, and you don’t care how many owners it’s seen. What you do want is something that looks and performs amazingly well — perhaps with the brakes and handling of a modern car. Maybe you just want a really pretty car — and that’s it. Is it original? Who cares? It lays down a mean patch of rubber and looks like it belongs in a Hot Wheels collector case. That’s all that matters.

This car is clearly a resto-mod. And, frankly, it’s beautiful. No, there wasn’t a clinical restoration done of the car with the perfectly rebuilt, numbers-matching engine, but will it get looks? Absolutely. And if you’re the type who drives their cars (or even just shows them off parked), then yeah, this is a perfect car for you. It would stand out in a crowd of similar hot rods, but not overpower anything in the garage. It’s just a clean, pretty car that gets attention. And who doesn’t want that?

About that price …

This car brought a ton of money — well over the current SCM Median Value of $78,000 for a standard 1963 Corvette Split-Window coupe. In fact, this resto-mod sold for more than the SCM Median Value for a 1963 Z06 Split-Window coupe — which is the holy grail for many Corvette collectors.

This brings us to the next sticking point — the price. Is $357,500 fair for this resto-mod car? Possibly.

Let’s go to Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction on January 13, 2020, where a black 1963 Corvette Split-Window resto-mod sold for $385,000 (SCM# 6922270). When you compare the two cars, they’re awfully similar. Both have the same wheels, the interiors are both red and they have almost identical drivetrains and suspensions. The big difference? One is black and the other is white — and that black one earned an extra $30k on the block. That all tracks, as the cars were both built by Jeff Hayes Customs and completed months apart.

You could chalk all this up to chance, but these resto-mod Split-Windows are often selling for bigger bucks than an original Split-Window. But is this really what you want?

A look into the future

What does this all mean then? Well, it seems like there’s an industry out there for building resto-mod Split-Windows. If you buy one, you’ll get a beautiful car like this one here, but it may share some traits with another one that follows it on the block. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because a good-looking car is a good-looking car.

But it’s not really unique — there are other examples that are very similar. How much that matters to you is what’s important. At the end of the day, spending over $300,000 on a car is a big investment. Spending this kind of money on a resto-mod has backfired many times when owners go to resell the car. In the past, the resale market for resto-mods — no matter how well they’re done — has been shaky.

You may get your money back — and you may not. Collectors who value original Corvettes — a big part of the Corvette collecting world — will hate your car and will never buy it.

But if you’re good with that, then a C2 resto-mod like this one isn’t a bad deal. ♦

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