How much of a gamble is this barn-stored ’63 Corvette?
“It was a great sale for gamblers, and some of them could’ve come up aces.” So said Dave Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide, of Gooding’s Estate of Mark Smith auction. He added, however, that other bidders may have bought into some cars that needed serious reconditioning before they’d be back on the road.
Which brings us to this 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, bought for $52,640, including fees. Did the buyer nab a winning hand with this nicely appointed second-gen Vette?
Let’s see how the deck stacks up. 1963 was a good year for Corvette. Chevy kicked off its sports car’s second generation with a design now considered to be among the best to come off an American assembly line. But that was the coupe with its famous split window; ’63 convertibles, while attractive, have never carried the same panache.
Despite that, this 54,000-mile convertible example acquits itself well with some attractive options. Equipped with air conditioning, a hardtop, and the 340-hp L76 327 cubic-inch engine—second only to the 360-hp Fuelie 327 that year—the Smith Corvette was an attractive configuration. From the photographs, the paint looked good from afar but showed its age up close. The interior appeared worn but serviceable, and the engine bay featured a mix of fresh-looking bits and items that could use some reconditioning. The real wildcard, however, was that the car’s mechanical condition, like that of many other vehicles in the auction, was unknown.
Values of condition #1 (concours-ready) L76 convertibles are up just 11 percent since 2018, to $136,000, but the condition #4 (Fair) values have been on the move, up 47 percent to $53,500. Factor in another $12,500 for this car’s optional A/C (likely dealer installed) and $3700 for the hardtop, and this car could fetch $69,700 if it were in #4 condition. It appears the sale price baked in at least some of the unknowns.
This car is a good reminder that the Corvette market has long been big enough to serve different enthusiast groups. Condition #1 values for a best-of-the-best 1963 Split-Window with a fuel-injected 327 cubic-inch engine is up 42 percent since 2018 to $327,000, while the condition #4 value is up 18 percent to $111,000.
Compare that to the values of the L76 convertible (and the knowledge that there are drivetrain options out there with even more approachable values), and it appears that the collectors are pursuing the perfect fuelie Split-Windows, while the drivers/home restorers are going for the convertibles.
We hope this one finds its way back to the road for some top-down fun.