Introduced in 1963, the Bill Mitchell-designed Corvette Sting Ray was a quantum leap in the Corvette’s ongoing development. Equipped with a revolutionary yet simple independent rear suspension conceived by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Corvette matured into a true sports car.

Continuously improved, the Corvette featured an ever-expanding list of available engine and transmission combinations, and offered high performance, nimble handling, and cutting-edge styling. The 327-ci small-block V8 engine was a highly developed and formidable performer, available in four levels of tune ranging from 250 to 375 horsepower in 1964. As a result, the Corvette was, and continues to be, the standard by which other sports cars are judged.

This truly outstanding 1964 Corvette convertible was originally built in December 1963. Today, it benefits from a concours-level restoration, and it is presented in as-new condition throughout. Finished in Ermine White with a Saddle Tan leather interior, the Corvette is powered by a small-block V8 with a single four-barrel carburetor and backed by a Muncie M20 4-speed manual transmission. Other very desirable features include P48 knockoff wheels, A31 power windows, the N11 off-road side-mounted exhaust system, and upgraded power disc brakes. It will certainly make a welcome entry into many competitive Corvette shows and events, and will provide a thrilling top-down driving experience.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 350 Convertible Resto-Mod
Years Produced:1964
Number Produced:13,925
Original List Price:$4,037
SCM Valuation:$39,000–$68,000
Tune Up Cost:$400–500
Distributor Caps:$25
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:1967–68 Shelby GT350, 1963–67 Austin-Healey 3000, 1964–67 Jaguar XKE
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for $71,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Classic Car Auction of Michigan in Novi, Michigan, on April 25, 2009.

Next to Mogadishu or maybe Baghdad, I can’t think of a worse place than Detroit to try selling a collector car last spring. With abandoned real estate available for virtually nothing, two of the Big Three teetering at the precipice of doom, almighty Pontiac and Oldsmobile in history’s dustbin, and the ugly specter of Big Brother further commanding the car business, it’s a wonder anyone had the jones to buy anything at all. But there it was—a bright-white ’64 Sting Ray small-block convertible, paddled up to an impressive $71,500 at the gavel.

Anybody who’s awake and alert is learning some valuable financial lessons these days, and the consensus in the collector car world is that top-quality, desirable models will hold more of their value for longer than iffy, lower-range cars, or any vehicle with stories. Another lesson is that there is still real money out there (witness the $12.4 million Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold in Maranello, Italy, on May 17); a lot of folks still have cash and credit available, and many others, such as scientists and lawyers and accountants, still have swell-paying jobs and are actually in a position to benefit from the recession. So despite the travails of the common man, these members of the fortunate elite now find themselves in an enviable position of cherry-picking some of the best and brightest cars at prices that have backtracked several years at least.

’64 Corvettes suffered the stigma of being “not enough”

Which brings us to the 1964 Corvette Sting Ray convertible that rolled on stage at RM’s Michigan auction as lot number SP07. Technically, this was a resto-mod done up to look totally stock but equipped to suit the builders’ opinion of what the best ’64 Corvette would have. Assembled by Paragon Corvette Reproductions using parts from the company’s own C2 catalog (see it at, the restoration was completed in 2007 from a donor ’64 with a reported 35,000 miles on the clock. About 700 miles were put on the car after restoration.

As pictured here, it was meticulously restored with a desirable combination of features, including Ermine White paint (the second most popular for the model year), tan leather upholstery, a later roller-rocker 350-ci engine bolted to a 4-speed gearbox (a 5-speed would have been better), plus the sidepipes (never my first choice), knockoff aluminum wheels (okay if you like ’em), and even power windows (unnecessary on any sports car). As was reasonably common during the period, it was also outfitted with a ’67 Corvette disc-brake upgrade (an excellent choice).

I found it interesting that someone liked this car well enough to pay real money for it, when a genuine disc-brake 1965 convertible could be had for a similar investment. Like the undernourished puppy of the litter, though, 1964 Corvettes have long suffered from the stigma of being “not enough.” Here’s why. In coupe form, the ’64 model lacks the distinction of the one-year-only 1963 Split-Window design, while both coupe and convertible precede the superior disc brakes and optional big-block 396-ci V8 that debuted for 1965. As well, the ’64s were neither first nor last in the Corvette mid-year lineage, and likewise lacked the halo of the optional 1963-only Z06 racing package. However, the truth is that most of this means squat to someone who simply wants to drive the car, and to this point the second-year ’64 is still a fine mid-year Sting Ray and highly rewarding to own and operate.

Upgraded components and drivability

The car sold here brought strong money for the right reasons: It’s a thorough and competent restoration using upgraded components to improve drivability, while retaining a stock appearance. Auction reporter Phil Skinner made a careful analysis of the car at auction. “Paint was very good; no signs of stress or other cracking but the right headlight pod needed minor adjustment,” he wrote. “Interior was proper, but there is minor wrinkling of the top material and the chrome showed a very slight patina or hazing. Underhood was very clean with no seepage found, and the undersides were clean enough to impress a cruise-in but needed some work for the ’Vette purist.”

On the value theme, he continued: “A couple of years ago, on a stage to the west, this might have seen six figures and been in the low $90k range in other places, but the market has pulled back, and while cars like this have dropped a bit, the seller should be quite proud of the dollars raised for this car. The new owner can expect appreciation on this purchase, but it might take a while.”

Until that happens, nice as this car was, given the current market conditions, I’d call it well sold

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