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Model year 1963 was the first for the striking new Corvette C2 Stingray styled by Bill Mitchell’s team (Larry Shinoda et al). The Stingray’s shape certainly turned heads, but could also fly (front- end aero-lift) if you went fast enough.
While stylistically interesting, the 1963‘s split rear window was not popular with owners, nor the Corvette Engineering Team (Zora Arkov-Duntov etc). The split window feature was dropped by the 1964 model year over the objections of stylist chief Bill Mitchell. A cottage industry developed in 1964-65 converting ‘63s to the later one-piece back window…..and decades later another industry developed to change them back again, as collectors coveted the iconic single-year 1963 look.
1963 was also the first new Corvette chassis since 1953 (itself an adaptation of the then-current, but-mundane, 1953 Chevrolet 150 / 210 etc). The biggest update in the C2 was the independent rear suspension. The stiffness of the coupe was also a big step forward from that of the C1 convertibles. The upgraded drum brake package continued to be available (see Sebring 1957), and the top 1963 engine was again the 360 hp fuel-injected 327 cubic inch “small block” V8.
New cylinder heads came in 1964 and disc brakes in 1965, while big block engines also arrived in 1965. The last fuel injected small block was the 1965 model (rated 375 hp).
More than 20,000 1963 Corvettes were sold, roughly half of them Coupes. Values today in Corvette C2s generally favor the convertibles, save for the 1963 model year. Among those 1963 Coupes the most sought after are the ~1300 with the top Fuel Injected engine…. and within those ~1300 Fuelies, the subset of 199 with the Z06 package…….which meant the car had Fuel Injection, 4 speed, HD brakes, HD suspension, HD rad etc. Among the 199 Z06s, the 60-78 with “Big Tank” version command a healthy premium over those with regular-sized fuel tanks. Not that the standard tank were undersized, but that the Big Tank cars were obviously spec’d for Endurance Racing.
Travertine is unique among calcites for its “air holes”. Some sculptors choose to fill these holes with a man-made material…….but to me that erases travertine’s uniqueness. This particular reddish travertine has a degree of yellow-gold banding and veining. I’ve picked up that color with the choice of gold marble inlays for the wheels, bumpers, and rocker panel trim.
I remember the impact the C2 Corvette (and Jag E-Type) had on me as a young boy. I hope an enthusiast who also had great early C2 Corvette memories gives this sculpture a great home.
The Split Window Corvette was my choice to represent the USA in my Exhibit at the Quail Gathering of Seven Nations – Seven Cars. As far as the most significant post-war American car I didn’t consider any other…….but in retrospect, the Viper, and the Avanti could also have been short-listed.