The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray took the sports car world by storm. Derived from Bill Mitchell’s 1957 SS racer and XP-720 prototype, it had hidden headlights, a knife-edge front and horizontal rib round the car. New fastback coupe bodywork featured a split back window and doors that cut into the roof. The frame was four inches shorter than the 1962 model as well as lighter and stiffer. There would be no opening trunk lid until 1968.
The 327 cid Chevy small-block OHV V-8 carried over from 1962, with 250 bhp up to 360 bhp with Rochester fuel-injection. Top speed ranged from 118-150 mph and 0-60 mph from 9.1 to 5.8 seconds. Transmission was 4-speed manual or 2-speed Powerglide automatic. Power brakes, steering and windows were optional, as was air-conditioning. Suspension was now fully independent with front coil springs and a frame-mounted rear differential, transverse leaf spring and u-jointed half shafts.
Corvette sales jumped 50 percent from 14,531 in 1962 to 21,513 in 1963 – 10,594 coupes and 10,919 roadsters, which were available with an angular hardtop. While 199 Special Performance Equipment Coupes (aka the Z06) cost almost $2,000 over the $4,252 base coupe and are now highly collectible, the five competition Grand Sports are some of the most valuable Corvettes today, worth millions.
Documented, matching-number “Split Window” Corvette coupes are the most desirable model of the five-year C2 series. Only the first year had the divided rear window. Later cars had a one-piece rear window and lost the “barbecue grille” faux intakes on the hood. Knock-off wheels and side-pipes would also be later additions. Early cars had an AM radio, later ones had AM/FM. Early 4-speeds were by Borg-Warner, later ones by Muncie. Original cars are prized above all, but rust and crash damage must be checked closely. Despite its radical appearance, the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray is lively, easy to drive, and quite forgiving, not to mention straightforward to maintain.