Collector Car Corner – Corvette lover remembers ’63 split-window; has mid-engine 2020 arriving soon

Collector Car Corner - Corvette lover remembers ’63 split-window; has mid-engine 2020 arriving soonFrom Pontiac GTO to Buick Gran Sport, everyone agrees that the 1960-decade was one of the most exciting when it comes to high performance and muscle cars. (1968 General Motors Advertisement)

Q: Greg, I would like to share a story that I think reflects the feelings of many from my generation (baby boomers). The 1960s in America was known as the decade of the muscle cars – Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro SS, Chevelle SS 396, and the ultimate and only true American-built sports car – the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

In 1964 when I was a 16-year-old, my family was living in a rented house in West Warwick, Rhode Island, and my dad was a mechanic working at our local Chevrolet dealership (former Webber Chevrolet). He eventually became the head of the new car department at the dealership and would routinely bring new cars home during his dinner break.

I will never forget the day he brought home a 1963 split window Corvette Sting Ray. It was a striking navy blue with a tan interior and was a beautiful car that people from around the neighborhood stopped by to see. I looked at the window sticker and noticed the price of the car was $3,600.

Collector Car Corner - Corvette lover remembers ’63 split-window; has mid-engine 2020 arriving soon
The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray (two words back then) ushered in the new C2 series, and featured an all-new body design with a split rear window. The engines available were carryovers from 1962, with 327 V8s in 250, 300, 340 and 360 horsepower designs. (Chevrolet Advertisement)

I went into the house and asked my mother if I could buy a Corvette.  My mother looked at me and said, “Wait, Dad and I will buy you two of them!” We were not a poor family but certainly could not afford to buy one. My dad would many times take me back to work with him, and I would spend many hours sitting at the dealership and dreaming that someday I would own a Corvette.

Well, I got married at a young age and had two children. The dream of owning a Corvette was put on hold, but I never lost the dream of someday owning one. At age 55, I decided that it was time for me to buy my first Corvette and I now buy a new one every year. 

After many years of development, Chevrolet is now building its first ever mid-engine Corvette and I expect to take delivery of my 2020 next month. I ordered it with a Torch Red exterior with Jet Black seats.  It is equipped with the 2 LT Package along with the Z51 performance package. I also upgraded to the GT2 seats while the wheel package is the Trident spoke wheels with red calipers. Also included are the performance exhaust system and the Bose performance series audio with 14 speakers, performance data and video recorder.

Collector Car Corner - Corvette lover remembers ’63 split-window; has mid-engine 2020 arriving soon
Bob Masse, a professor at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., is shown here a few years ago with his white Corvette Stingray. Masse has a brand-new mid-engine 2020 Corvette on the way and expects delivery in March. (Masse Photo Collection)

That day back in ‘63, I sat in that Corvette and dreamed of someday owning my own. That dream has finally come true and continues every time I get into my car and feel the power of the engine.

In ending, I just learned today that I should take delivery of my mid-engine 2020 Corvette in early March.  I am also told it will be one of the first 2020 Corvette deliveries in the state of Rhode Island. Thanks for your columns that I read in the Providence Journal. Sincerely, Bob Masse, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Bryant University, Smithfield, R.I.

Collector Car Corner - Corvette lover remembers ’63 split-window; has mid-engine 2020 arriving soon
The 2020 Corvette is now in full production at Chevrolet in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Reader Bob Masse has a Torch Red Z51 on its way as he awaits the all-new mid-engine ‘Vette. He has owned numerous Corvettes through the years. (Chevrolet Photo)

A: Professor, thank you for your letter detailing your family and your love of the Chevrolet Corvette. That 1963 split window Sting Ray (two words back then) your dad brought home for dinner sure started a lifelong appreciation for the car, and I’m sure happy you were able to live your dream with the many Corvettes you have owned.

Of note is that the 1963 to 1967 Corvettes were known as the C2 generation, and to this day command top dollar. SurprisinglyZora Arkus-Duntov wasn’tthat thrilled with the split window, and it was eliminated in 1964. Because of this one change, the 1963 will live on forever as the only split window on record and is one of the most popular Corvettes ever built.

The engine options for ‘63 were all small block 327 V8s along with three transmission choices. The carbureted 327s came in 250, 300 or 340 horsepower while the fuel-injected version came with a 360-horse rating, the latter which cost an additional $430.40 extra. Transferring the power included a 3-speed manual, 4-speed (Borg-Warner or Muncie M-20) or a two-speed Powerglide automatic.

In addition to Duntov, the ’63 Corvette designers and engineers included Ed Cole, who played a major role in the 265-V8 that debuted in 1955; and designers Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda. Mitchell, who spent his entire career at GM, oversaw designs that include the 1955-1957 Chevrolet, 1963 to 1967 Buick Riviera, 1961 to 1976 Corvette and 1970 to 1981 Camaro to name just a few. 

In ending, there may not have been a better car crazy era than the 1960s to early 1970s, but when you look at the cars available from the 1998 forward, the “muscle” today is better than ever, and these new muscle cars are by far much better than anything that was built in the 1960 era. Additionally, modern day Corvette, Challenger, Camaro and Mustang, all offer supercars with gobs of horsepower awaiting you in a car that is not only comfortable to drive, they offer all the modern amenities at a reasonable price.

The answer to this dilemma? Having a 1969 Chevelle SS396 in your garage sitting next to your new 2020 Corvette.

Thanks for your interesting letter Bob and good luck with your new ‘Vette.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions on auto nostalgia, collector cars and motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com.)  

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