How much of a gamble is this barn-stored ’63 Corvette?

Dave Kinney

“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?

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray rear
Gooding & Company

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.

1963 corvette convertible 327 sale gooding 2023
Gooding & Company


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    Absolutely no real risk at this price point. Odds are good with low miles it is numbers matching. It is not modified for racing or hacked up.

    Any needs are cheap or easy to fix even a rebuild of the engine. Repo parts are available for nearly any and all trim needs.

    In fact they may be able to flip this easy at a better attended auction.

    You literally could rebuild this car easily and values keep going up. Being an AC car is a big deal as few were.

    Very good buy here.

    Even of the frame was rotted away you can buy them new today.

    But if all ’63 Corvettes had a split rear window, the picture clearly shows that this car was butchered up to remove the split, to make it look like a ’64. Too bad for this vehicle…..

    Hi Bob;
    This car is a convertible, not a coupe. It was not butchered coupe made to look like a 64. In the picture it is wearing its hardtop.

    Wow, you did not think your comment through very well did you?! It states right in the text to the article that the car is a roadster/convertible. Also the removable hardtop is there. Why would you try to be critical and bring up that it is “butchered up”, when that is not the case as it is NOT a coupe/hardtop? Really? Not a Corvette guy huh?

    Hey Bob, We will let you think about your comment after re-reading the entire article and the complete 1963 Corvette specifications guide, including options and give it another try; Cool with that?

    FINISH THE STORY. Is the car in running? Automatic or a 4 speed, What power options if any, Windows and door locks. Too many stories with not enough info, or (Selected Info) Kind of like..(“Main Stream Media”) If you get my drift.

    I see what you mean David. I feel like more and more of these stories are getting a “click bait” feel to them. It would not have been that difficult to add more info.

    Agree. is the a word count limit now for a Hagerty web page? Otherwise why leave so much out? Even if there were a word count limit substituting a picture of the cockpit for the mirror would answer a lot of the questions.

    Thank you. Not enough info to even consider if it is a bargain. The dealer AC assumption for one is strange. Why assume anything? Manual? Powerglide? Power steering? Looks like a glass rear window on the hardtop. Was that offered in 63? My 63′ had a plastic rear window. Too much missing here. I would like to see a more in depth story on this car. It does look clean and they are original only once.

    Agreed about more info required. I restored a Corvette to NCRS Top Flight condition and you can spend quite a bit of money just making an original car safe and reliable to drive. I was in for alot of money prior to addressing paint and interior. Unless previously addressed suspension work, leaky brakes/engines/trans are easy to fix but costly. AC guess is just a guess. If Powerglide it won’t be a good driver. Frame rot would take frame off to fix and impact originality.

    In at $52K isn’t bad at all, given the likelihood of matching #s and relative originality, but as usual, more info would help an assessment: 4-speed ? original paint ? Condition of undercarriage ? Originally a Western car, or PA (rust) ? Yup, AC seems to be a big deal on C2s. Daytona Blue is a good color as well. Seems to me the C2 market is strong and ever-appreciating.

    Unlike most imports who as standard operating procedures installed all air conditioning units (in so doing the imports were epa mileage rated as they came in which gave them higher ratings) dealer installed A/C was not a common procedure. As a Chevrolet dealer I do not believe we ever installed any.

    I worked at a Ford dealer in the early ’70’s and we would have aftermarket airconditioning added to new and used cars. I believe that ARA was the brand.

    In 1963 few cars came with AC from the factory, lots of dealer installed under dash units. Every manufacturer had a make badged setup, usually made by someone else (standard aftermarket unit with automaker badge). Some makers used more than one aftermarket company, regionally sourced. Now you can hardly find a passenger car that doesn’t have AC, maybe a special ordered fleet vehicle…

    Key questions are whether the engine turns over, is it stick or auto. Engine and trans will need at least refresh. Good paint guys can do wonders for refreshing finish. Assume that you are doing overhaul of suspension, brakes and such. Goal would be a #2 or 3 driver.

    Is there any sense in approaching this car in terms of NCRS “Survivor” status – original unrestored @ 57,000 miles? The car looks decent and would presumably only have to be returned to reliable driving condition.

    Re transmission, something tells me this car has a 4-speed – just a guess.


    This whole discussion is a non-issue. Why bother to rebuild the engine/transmission when it will just sit in someone’s collection and never ever get driven? People will be afraid to add miles to the odometer or be afraid to drive it on public roads. It will just be a paperweight in a museum or in a garage. It is so sad because these cars were built to be driven, but nobody seems to want to do that any more.

    I think it’s a good deal. I always liked that year, and I know a good corvette wrench. I’d put it back on the road.

    I don’t believe the Powerglide was available behind the higher horsepower engines in 1963. I believe that the base 250 and the 300 hp engines is where you could get the PG. The cam in the higher hp engines typically needed to idle at a higher rpm and wouldn’t play well with the torque convertor and I don’t believe that a higher stall convertor was available from the factory.

    You are correct. According to my Little Black Corvette book, the only 327s with an AT were the 250 hp and the 300 hp.

    My father was a foreman at Harrison Radiator. At dinner one night he remarked that he had one employee who’s only job was to assemble Corvette heating units with A/C. She did only 1 or 2 a day.

    My father was a foreman at Harrison Radiator. At dinner one night he remarked that he had one employee who’s only job was to assemble Corvette heating units with A/C. She did only 1 or 2 a day. The time frame is the early 1960’s.

    1963 Corvette with factory A/C is highly sought after and rare as this was the first year for the option and production did not begin until spring of 63. However, A/C was only available on the hydraulic lifter engines it was not available on the 340 HP engine, so one (or both) of those options on this car will not be factory. A factory air convertible is very rare, and would be a good buy here, but no need to look any closer, it will not be a factory air car.

    Hi Gary;
    Your correct, this is not a factory a/c car. You can tell by the picture which shows the front dash, above the clock has no A/C register (vent). I purchased a 63 convt. in 1976. I paid $2,300.00 This is more about the value of the dollar. Back then, gold was 120.00 an ounce, today it is over 2,000.00 an ounce.

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