13 customized Corvettes that soared over $250K this January

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Brandan Gillogly

The midyear Corvette—also known as the C2— was only produced for five model years (1963 through 1967) and is one of the most highly regarded designs in automotive history. Hardtop or convertible, the lines are gorgeous. The new body style came along with a new chassis for the Corvette’s second generation as well, with the move to independent rear suspension signaling that Chevrolet was serious about making the Corvette a true performance vehicle. Not only did the Sting Ray look like a world-class sports car, but the Grand Sport and Z06 in particular also backed up those looks with on-track brawn. All to say, it seems like a car that’s hard to improve upon.

It would seem collectors—at least those in Scottsdale and Kissimmee—disagree.

Not long ago, a perfectly restored midyear was the ultimate Chevy collector car. The fuel-injected small-blocks and triple-carbed big-blocks still bring a pretty penny, and cars with racing history or notable provenance draw especially impressive prices at auction. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that plenty of Sting Ray buyers want the beautiful lines wrapped around a more modern and highway-friendly package that skips all the carb tuning, valve lash adjustment, and high-rpm cruising in favor of modern fuel injection and overdrive transmissions.

This trend has been bubbling for a while: Hagerty valuation specialist John Wiley noted late last year that Corvettes were among the few models that it doesn’t always hurt to modify. But even we were surprised by the showing that restomod second-generation Corvettes have had at auctions so far this year. We spotted 13 midyear Corvettes that sold for more than $250,000 at the January auctions.

Before you pop twenty-twos on your C2, though, note that the big money goes only to certain builds. SRIII Motorsports in New Lenox, Illinois, built the chassis that underpins several of the top-selling C2s. Owner Mike Stockdale got his start updating chassis for hot rods and trucks when owners found that, even after restoration, “You’d get in them and they’d just drive terribly.” Owners of C1 Corvettes eventually sought him out with similar requests. Still, he didn’t think there’d be much of a market for a modernized C2 chassis.

“They already have an independent rear suspension, and by ’65 they got disc brakes,” he says.

Nevertheless, builders increasingly want to put miles on their Sting Rays and enjoy the drive with the comfort, grip, and power afforded by a modern suspension and powertrain. “Now 90 percent of what we are doing is C2s.” Stockdale said. His shop currently has orders for at least 40 more of his tubular C2 chassis, adding, “Anyone can buy a new C8, but if you want to stand out, a split-window with an LT4 … ”

It remains to be seen whether the demand for restomods will continue to grow. Over the long term, originality tends to win out—collectors who paid to have the roofs chopped off their Ferrari Daytonas in the 1980s might now pay to have them put back on. However, the convergence of younger collectors who may not have rose-tinted memories of how cars used to drive and older collectors seeking more comfort and convenience may be changing the paradigm. Every collector, of course, has the right to modify their cars as they wish, and we can always get behind owners driving more.

Here are the 13 C2s we mentioned, in ascending order of sale price:

1965 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1965 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Mecum

Mecum, Lot F148

Sold for $269,500

The wheels, mirrors, painted bumpers, and 1967 big-block hood are all cues that this 1965 Corvette isn’t stock. It’s sitting atop of a custom chassis from Street Shop and is powered by a 550-hp LS3 V-8 and Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission. The wheels don’t really hide the Wilwood six-piston brakes either, but their custom color, which matches the exterior paint as well as the upholstery in the tastefully updated interior, makes for a subtle overall package that wowed bidders in Kissimmee.

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1427

Sold for $275,000

This droptop retains the chrome bumpers and is wearing a matching ’67 stinger hood. It even has a single mirror, as it was originally equipped. Again, the wheels are the tell, as this midyear is riding on a Street Shop chassis that uses C7 Corvette front and rear suspension—plus, there’s no way that 15-inch wheels would be able to fit over those Wilwood brakes. Under the hood is a Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise powertrain that uses an LS3 and a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transmission. A custom oxblood leather interior includes Vintage Air, Dakota Digital instruments, and a Sony receiver that offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1444

Sold for $275,000

This restomod takes a decidedly different approach than most of the cars on this list, as it skips the modern, all-aluminum, fuel-injected engine and goes right to big-block power. A Chevrolet Performance Parts 502 churns out 535 hp and sends it through a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed. What it does have in common with lots of these builds, besides the stinger hood, is a Street Shop chassis and Wilwood stopping power. Inside, things are a bit more modern, as it uses C5 Z06 seats, Vintage Air, and Dakota Digital gauges.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Mecum

Mecum, Lot S84.1

Sold for $286,000

Built by interior specialist Paul Atkins, this split-window uses an SRIII tubular chassis with C4 Corvette suspension, Ridetech adjustable coilovers, and Wilwood brakes. It’s powered by an LS7 engine that uses a dry-sump oiling system and an individual-throttle-body injection intake from Speedmaster. The red and black interior is brought up to date thanks to a custom audio system and Vintage Air. This is a fresh build, with very few miles since completion. Although it was quite customized, the fact that it didn’t stray too far from the original style had to help it find a new owner.

1964 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1964 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Brandan Gillogly

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1364

Sold for $302,500

Chris Holstrom Concepts in Puyallup, Washington, recently finished the build of this custom coupe, which was a 2021 Chevrolet Performance Builder of the Year nominee as well as a Goodguys 2021 Pacific Northwest Builders Choice Top Ten award winner.

It’s easy to see why. There are many subtle modifications, including bumpers that have been trimmed to tuck closer to the body, wider front and rear fenders, and fender vents that are now functional. The car rides on an Art Morrison GT Sport Chassis with rack-and-pinion steering. It’s powered by a 7.0-liter V-8 from Blueprint Engines that’s based on an LS3 and is backed by a Tremec T-65 transmission. The engine is topped by CNC-ported heads and Borla stack injection. We were particularly impressed by the two-tone black-and-saddle leather interior that features diamond quilting in the seats and door panels.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1423

Sold for $308,000

Weaver Customs is known for building high-end custom cars and trucks with wild engine swaps and luxurious interiors. This split-window coupe is a bit different in that regard as it doesn’t have any instantly noticeable modifications. Closer inspection, however, reveals flush-mounted glass and a smoothed windshield cowl. The hood vents are now functional. Look even closer, behind the wheels and 14-inch Wilwood brakes, and you’ll spot the Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis. The exterior color is Torch Red from the C8 Stingray, which also lent the car its nickname. “Torch” is powered by a 525-hp Chevrolet Performance LS3 V-8 with a  4L65E four-speed automatic transmission.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

1963 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1373

Sold for $319,000

Noticing a trend with the hood? Like the other midyears on this list, this 1963 Convertible rides on a much-improved chassis, this time from Roadster Shop, one of the top custom-chassis builders in the country. It also one also uses Wilwood brakes, this time with 13-inch rotors all around. The chassis uses a Camaro ZL1 9.9-inch differential and C7 Corvette suspension with adjustable coilovers. It’s powered by a Camaro Zl1 LSA V-8 good for 580 hp and uses a GM 4L60 automatic transmission.

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Mecum

Mecum, Lot T214

Sold for $324,500

American Speed Shop in Bloomington, Indiana, gets credit for this build. It too sits on a custom chassis, this time using C5 front and C6 rear suspension paired with Z06 brakes. Under the stinger hood is an LS3 V-8 with Chevrolet Performance’s hot cam. It’s bolted to a Tremec five-speed manual transmission. Bright red upholstery is a perfect contrast to the Platinum Pearl exterior.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Mecum

Mecum, Lot S269

Sold for $330,000

The first car on this list without the trademark ’67 427 stinger hood is actually powered by a 427, but it’s not an old big-block. Nestled underneath an Edelbrock supercharger is a 427-cubic-inch LS7. A lightly modified red leather interior is home to low-back bucket seats, a hidden audio system, and a factory-appearing shifter linked to a Tremec TKO five-speed transmission. From the outside, everything besides the C6 Z06 wheels appear to be OE, but those wheels are covering up C4 suspension linked to a tubular chassis from Jamison’s Custom Corvette.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Mecum

Mecum, Lot S168

Sold for $341,000

Starting with a rigid tubular chassis from SRIII Motorsports as a foundation, this Corvette coupe is powered by a modern LS3 and a Tremec T-56 Magnum. It’s fitted with C4 front suspension and a multi-link independent rear setup that uses C7 ZR1 calipers and ZR1 carbon-ceramic rotors that are each roughly the size of a large pizza. The red upholstery on the ProCar Rally bucket seats matches the powder-coated chassis and calipers as well as the painted intake manifold.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1403

Sold for $550,000

This stunning split-window coupe retains all of the exterior and interior cues that makes a midyear so desirable. Appropriately, the billet aluminum wheels, 18 inches in the front and 20 inches in the rear, are Schott Split-Windows. The custom chassis uses C7 suspension with adjustable coilovers, and the drivetrain consists of a 525-hp LS3 V-8 fitted with a billet intake and paired with a 4L65E transmission. Inside, tall, well-bolstered bucket seats give both driver and passenger more support. HVAC from Vintage Air keeps them comfortable.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe

1963 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1363

Sold for $715,000

Factory Hot Rods kept the exterior dimension of the Sting Ray but pushed the floorboards rearward on this build to enable more legroom for taller drivers. It rides on an SRIII chassis that uses C7 Z06 suspension front and rear with adjustable Viking coilovers. The 14-inch brakes are from a C7 Z51 and are equipped with ABS. Power is provided by a 525-hp LS3 mated to a 4L75E automatic. Like the previous entry, this Sting Ray wears Schott billet-aluminum Split Window wheels.

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1367

Sold for $715,000

Jeff Hayes Customs completed this convertible late in 2021. The beautiful interior features Vintage Air HVAC, smartly redesigned door panels, and cream upholstery that matches the cloth top. It’s powered by a 540-hp LS3 paired with a 4L70E automatic transmission and rides on an Art Morrison sport chassis with Wilwood brakes. The light metallic blue paint is a perfect match for the Sting Ray’s lines and is very appropriate for the era. Along with the other builds commanding top dollar, this gorgeous build uses Schott wheels.

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