Courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers
  • One of only 199 Z06 Corvettes built
  • Includes desirable 36-gallon fuel tank
  • Saddle Tan exterior
  • Saddle interior
  • Steel wheels with full covers
  • Period-correct black sidewall tires

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Split-Window Tanker
Years Produced:1963
Number Produced:199
Original List Price:$6,070.45
SCM Valuation:$505,000
Tune Up Cost:$500–$600
Distributor Caps:$35
Chassis Number Location:Cross brace under glovebox
Engine Number Location:On block in front of right cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1965 Shelby GT350, 1969 Camaro ZL1, 1968–69 Corvette L88
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 19, sold for $357,500, including buyer’s premium, at Worldwide Auctioneers’ sale in Pacific Grove, CA, on August 17, 2017.

When the original Corvette Sting Rays debuted for the public, they came out swinging. Four of them were entered in the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix support race for production sports cars at Riverside International Raceway in October 1962.

Truly street-legal race cars, the Corvettes had been driven to So-Cal from the assembly plant in St. Louis to break them in and give their drivers some familiarity with the new model before getting on track.

As one might expect with racers, there were various hijinks along the way. Escapades reportedly included liberal interpretation of speed limits and some dodgy drafting practice on open roads west of the Rockies.

The fun continued after arrival in the City of Angels, where Bob Bondurant, driving the Washburn Chevrolet car, was admittedly late to the race shop after detouring to West L.A. and dicing it up on Sunset Boulevard. Afterwards it was discovered the glovebox contained a rightfully earned speeding ticket.

On race day at Riverside, Bill Krause, in the lightweight new Cobra, at first outpaced the Corvettes. Eventually, Doug Hooper and his Mickey Thompson-entered Corvette Z06 outlasted the Shelby, which retired with mechanical problems to hand the Sting Ray its magnificent first win.

As a result, while some cars toil for years to break out, the Sting Ray and Z06 gained fame on their very first attempt.

The one to have

Following this illustrious debut for the new model, those in the know recognized the Z06 as the best production Corvette money could buy.

Originally offered for Sting Ray coupes at a price of $1,818.45, the Z06 “Special Performance Equipment” option was later dropped to $1,293.95 and made available for convertibles — although just one Z06 roadster is known to exist.

Regardless, all Z06s were 1963 models. By 1964, the Z06 option was gone, never to return until 2001 as a unique C5 hard-top model.

Among the Z06’s race-focused features were the fuel-injected, 360-hp L84 engine powering through a close-ratio 4-speed gearbox and a Positraction differential.

While the Fuelie engine was available on any 1963 Corvette, the Z06’s special suspension and brakes were highly exclusive. These track tools included heavy-duty coil springs and shocks — and an extra-stiff front stabilizer bar. Stopping the car were large, finned iron drum brakes with internal cooling fans and a modern dual-circuit, vacuum-assisted master cylinder.

Cooling ducts, nowadays affectionately known as “elephant ears,” directed air to the front brakes, which were fitted with race-spec cerametallic linings, a further upgrade from the more common optional sintered linings.

Rarest of the rare

While all Z06s contained a full array of components to form a true production race car, one additional trick component would ultimately become available as a standalone coupe option. The Z06’s big fuel tank, which carried Regular Production Option (RPO) N03, held 80% more fuel than the Corvette’s standard 20-gallon tank. That huge tank kept the car on the racetrack longer between refueling stops, which is a valuable competitive advantage.

Initially priced at $202.30, the big tank ironically survived as a coupe option right through the end of the mid-year era in 1967. However, it was not a popular option, as just 210 big-tank coupes were delivered during the mid-year Sting Ray’s five-year run. No convertibles ever received the N03 big tank.

All of these factors make our subject Corvette, a one-year-only Z06 with the 36-gallon tank, really special. All told, just 199 Z06s were built for 1963 (including that one reported convertible), and not all of them had the vaunted big tank.

Such cars are now known as “Tankers,” and they hold a very special and exclusive place in the collector market.

Bargain or burden?

Selling for $357,500, this subject car lagged the ACC Pocket Price Guide’s median value of $505,000 for the 1963 Z06 model by 29%.

There were some reasons for this.

One reason was the report that the Corvette had been crashed hard, and a significant amount of its original body had been replaced with 1967 fiberglass.

In addition, Z06s with their original engines still in place are rare and command a premium — perhaps 30% or even $200,000 — above cars that have replacement engines — even if they are period correct. The status of this wasn’t clear in the case of our subject car — at least by the time of publication for this issue.

Despite the price dip from the expected top value for Z06s, at its nearly $360k selling price, this particular Z06 flies in rarified Corvette air. It beats in value a host of esteemed ’Vettes, including the rare first-year 1953 model and all manner of Fuelies. It beats almost everything, really, except for 1967–69 L88s, the unicorn 1969 ZL1s and, of course, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s skunk works 1963 Grand Sport racers.

I like good bones — a real car with a clean, clear history and that has never been subjected to engine swaps, massive body reworking or wholesale parts exchanges. To me, even if seriously flawed, the completeness of an original car far outweighs the perfection of a restored or “re-imagined” example, no matter how desirable a model it may be.

So will this somewhat-of-a-bargain Z06 one day rise above to become as valuable as fully original cars?

If there were only five Z06s, such as the case of the Grand Sports, I would say perhaps yes. But with 199 Z06s built, people who have the kind of coin necessary to buy one will likely always have other options. And so, given this car’s apparently rocky history, despite its coveted “Tanker” status, I’d say it was quite fairly sold, with the advantage belonging to the seller.

(Introductory description courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers.)

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