Fun Stuff

AutoTrader Find of the Week: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette is Best Corvette

Insinuating that any example in the over 70-year history of the Chevrolet Corvette is the undisputed best of the breed is by its nature inflammatory. Not least because there are simply many, many contenders for the title of “Best Corvette.”

There are some wicked-fast Corvettes. There are Corvettes that conquered the world of motorsport. There are Corvettes that are objectively fantastic performance bargains. And believe it or not, despite the incessant assertions of every Corvette owner that they do indeed have a very rare one, there are even some very special, rare and unique examples out there.

But did it ever get more iconic, more beautiful, more refined or just plain cool than a 1963 split window coupe with a 4 speed manual transmission?

You can keep your C7 ZR1s and C8 Z06s. I’ll take a woodgrained steering wheel, pop-up headlights, crank windows, analogue gauges, doors that cut into the roofline, a potent small-block V8 under my right foot and the ability to change my own gears with my left. It never got better than that. And it never will.

The “split-window” – referring to the rear glass which is split by the actual bodywork of the car – is, of course, a one-year-only feature. It makes the ‘63 ‘Vette not only unique from every other Corvette which followed, but uniquely beautiful. Inspired by real-life animals like mako sharks and stingrays, the way the spine of the car continues down from the roofline through the decklid makes the car look almost biomechanical – like something H.R. Giger might have dreamt up.

Ironically, while the split-window is obscenely desirable today, it was a design and engineering headache to figure out, it was unpopular amongst buyers, and Chevy cancelled it after just a single model year.

Right now there are two pristine, numbers-matching examples for sale on Autotrader.ca.

 

 

If you’re in the east, the Summit Classic Collection in Toronto, ON. presents this pristine example in Wimbledon White. While the paint has undergone a full restoration from the metal up, everything else is original. It features all the correct interior instrumentation, and even the original headliner, door panels and carpet. Notably, this car features the LS6 variant of 327 V8, which was good for 340 horsepower. The only option higher would have been a 360 horsepower fuel-injected unit (code named, L84).

Summit is so confident in this ‘Vette’s pedigree and quality of restoration, they’ll sell it to you with a full dealer certification and even qualify it for their financing program. You can buy it as if you were buying a brand new Corvette.

On the west coast is this equally impressive though notably different example from Auto West Classic Garage in Richmond, BC.

 

 

Refinished bumpers, polished trim, as well as new glass, badges, hood grilles, door handles and light bezel topped off a full, frame-off paint and body restoration. The low bucket seats were reupholstered in black leather and the carpets were also replaced.

A full engine rebuild, a new clutch, new wiring and drivability upgrades including a composite mono-leaf transverse rear spring setup, Bilstein shocks, adjustable rear control arms and front disc brakes help make this ‘63 a classic you can enjoy as often as possible.

While it features the lesser LS5 327 V8 producing 300 horsepower, it is certainly no less beautiful finished in Sterling Silver. It also has the desirable, optional woodgrained steering wheel.

Fun fact; “woodgrained” is not a word. Nevertheless, Chevrolet marked option N:34 on the a Corvette order sheet as “woodgrained steering wheel” – a $16.15 USD option at the time.

Neither of these classic beauties comes cheap. Both will set you back well over $200,000. And if anything is a credit to the Corvette as a brand, the fact that these are expensive Corvettes really says something. Nobody raises an eyebrow at a $200,000 Porsche.

But I don’t think you buy a ‘63 just because you want a Corvette.

If you want a Corvette, any Corvette, there are a hundred C5s for sale right now that won’t lighten your pocketbook too much. If you want to impress all the other sun visors at the golf course, or need to make a scene in front of a nightclub because you’re too dull to talk to, just wait for your C8 to get here.

But if you’re a real auto connoisseur, someone who wants the absolute best example of one of the longest-running sports car nameplates to ever exist, then you have to get one of these. There simply are no substitutes, because there will never be a Corvette as good as the ‘63 split-window.