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1963 Corvette

The Corvette Sting Ray of 1963 was a marked departure from the 1962 which preceeded it. Styled along the lines of the Corvette StingRay racer from 1959, the cars exterior attributes mimicked those of the racer. To gain a larger audience, the new car could now be had in a first ever coupe form, and the look was further characterized by the controversial split rear window. Numerous styling touches abounded, with rotating hidden headlamps, false "grilles" inset into the hood, and dual simulated front fender vents. The rear of the car was much like the 1962's, except now Corvette would no longer have an exterior trunk opening, due to the placement of the fuel filler which moved to the rear reck surface rather being contained behind a panel, aft of the driver's door. Back up lamps were available for the first time a option T86, however not many Corvette buyers felt the need as only 316 left the factory with them in 1963.

This could be considered the first all-new Corvette since 1953, although powerteams were shared with the 1962. Underneath the new body was a chassis which utilized an independent rear suspension. Gone was the live or "straight" axle, replaced by a European inspired suspension system. The Chevrolet Corvair had featured an independent rear since 1959, but Corvette's did not include the "swing axles" which had been deemed a handling issue. Corvette used trailing arms and lower lateral links for axle location and a single transverse multi-leaf spring. The rear axle assembly was bolted to the frame to reduce unsprung weight.

The second generation Corvettes had a unique feature to the steereing system as two steering ratios were available with one steering box. Where the tie rod ends attached to the steering knuckels, they could be positioned at one of two points. If attached to the inner point, you ended up with the the standard or "Steet" 20.2:1 ratio and 3.4 turns of the steering wheel, lock-to lock. By choosing the outer point, the "Fast" ratio steering with a 17.6:1 ratio and a half turn quicker 2.92 steering wheels turns, lock-to-lock, was available.

Corvette powerteams remained relatively unchanged from the 1962's. The 327 was the only dispalcement available, but was available in four different horsepower ratings. The base engine was rated at 250hp, and for $53.80, a 300hp version could be ordered. These were the only two engines available with the optional Powerglide automatic. If you didn't mind (or preferred) the tick of a solid lifter engine, 340hp was yours for $107.60. If You wanted a Corvette with the most powerful engine offering, the 360hp fuel-injected engine relieved your wallet of $430.40, more than 10-percent of the base price.

Transmission choices for the new Sting Ray were a base three-speed manual, optional two-speed Powerglide automatic, or a four-speed manual (Borg-Warner supplied the gearboxes for early cars, Muncie the later). For 2008, Chevrolet makes a big deal about a 2.73 optional gear ratio for Corvettes with the automatic transmission, however in 1963, there were five gear ratios available. A "highway" 3.08, typical gearing of 3.36 or 3.70, a hardcore 4.11, and finally, what one would call extreme today, a wild 4.56 final drive. With no overdrive transmissions, a 4.56 geared Corvette at max revs coupe maybe attain 120mph top speed. But the throttle response. Wow.

Wheel treatment had been debated, debunked, and discussed. The base wheel covers were a 5-spoke design, crafted from stainless steel. Of this, there is little discussion. The optional aluminum wheels are of great debate as to when they were actually released. On the cover of Road & Track's October 1962 issue, there they were. But did any actually leave the factory that way? Perhaps they did, if not Chevy dealers must have had a good supply from their parts departments. The rumor is the early aluminum wheels cars had two-bar spinners, with three-bars installed on the later cars.

Comfort & convenience features were increased. First and foremost was the offering of factory installed Air Conditioning. When Corvettes were all convertibles, A/C wasn't a major issue, but with the confines of the coupe, it was almost a necessity. Air conditioning was late to arrive, with less than 300 being produced with it. It would be a safe guess to say there are more than twice that many "factory installed" air conditioned 1963 Corvettes running around today. Power steering and power brakes were added to the option list although just over 3,000 opted for the two options out of the 21,513 Corvettes produced in 1963.

Even though the U.S. automobile manufacturers had declared racing off limits, that didn't stop programs with underlying racing intentions from happening. For the 1963 Corvette, RPO Z06 was just one of those programs. The "big brake" package (RPO 687) offered in 1962 was migrated in principle to the Z06 package. Officially termed "Special Perfomance Package", the option was priced at $1,293.35, nearly twenty-five percent of the base price. Included was the 360hp fuel injected engine (RPO L84), four-speed manual transmission (RPO M20), Positraction rear axle (RPO G81). Other non-orderable options included a dual circuit master cylinder wit power assist, special metallic brakes, and HD: shock absorbers, springs, and stabilizer bars. Chevrolet records show only 199 Corvettes were built with the Z06 option.

The Corvette was continuing to be more modern as later in the model year, the FM band was added to the optional radio. As with all Corvette radios until 1978, the radios were unique to Corvette.

As modern as the Corvette was, brakes were still the tried and true drums, something that would plague the car in the performance arena. There was an optional Z06 RPO which enhanced the cars performance as well as providing brake cooling "ears", but this was still no match for the all-disc brake systems of the European competitors.

Inside of the new Corvette was the familiar twin cockpit, with the vertical center instrument panel extension containing a vertical mounted radio and climate controls. The instrument panel flowed into the floor console, dividing the new bucket seats whose backrests now folded forward to allow access to the newly configured storage area behind the seats. Leather interior could now be specified, but was limited to saddle trim.

When the 1963 model was shown to the public, Zora Arkus Duntov, accredited Cheif Enginieer for Corvette, nor Larry Shinoda, the head of the design studio for Corvette, could have been able to contemplate the icon they had unleashed.

Total Production - 21,513
Model Number Description Production
837 Corvette Sport Coupe 10,594
867 Corvette Convertible 10,919

Engine Codes
RPO HP @ RPM Fuel System Trans Block Code
Base 250 @ 4400 4-bbl Carter Manual RC
Base 250 @ 4400 4-bbl Carter Auto SC
L75 300 @5000 4-bbl Carter AFB Manual RD
L75 300 @5000 4-bbl Carter AFB Auto SD
L76 340 @ 6000 4-bbl Carter AFB Manual RE
L84 360 @6000 Fuel Injection Manual RF

Exterior Color Codes Interior Color Codes
Code Color Code-Coupe Code-Conv Color/Material
900 Tuxedo Black Std Std Black Vinyl
912 Silver Blue 490A 490B Blue Vinyl
916 Daytona Blue 490C 490D Red Vinyl
923 Riverside Red 490E 490F saddle Vinyl
932 Saddle Tan 898A 898B Saddle Leather
936 Ermine White
941 Sebring Silver
Interior color codes as reported described in Chevrolet product manual.
Dimensions
Corvette Coupe Corvette Convertible
Overall Length 175.3 175.3
Height 49.8 49.8 Soft Top / 49.3 Hard Top
Width 69.6 69.6
Wheel Base 98.0 98.0
Track F / R 56.3 / 57.0 56.3 / 57.0
Curb Weight 3015 3037 Soft Top / 3043 Hard Top
Dimensions are in inches, weight in pounds unless otherwise noted.

1963 - Sting Ray & Split-Window
1964 - Function to the Form
1965 - Debut of the Big-Block
1966 - Cubic inches replace Fuel Injection
1967 - End of a Dynasty

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Cover of October 1962 Road & Track magazine is the property of Road & Track.