The Sting Ray is Born
BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments
The 1963 Corvette was to be a record setter in many respects. This was the first year Corvette would be available in two models, the Coupe and Roadster.
At introduction time, the general public immediately gave high reviews to the 1963 model, especially the Coupe. The futuristic design of the Coupe would become one of the most recognized and sought-after Corvettes. Even today, almost 37 years later, the design lines of the Coupe appears to be a drawing board show model.
The public raved about the neat design of the rear split window; however, the press was very critical, and common complaints of poor visibility surfaced. The split window was a one-year only feature which was replaced by a single window in 1964. To combat complaints, Chevrolet introduced a one-piece replacement rear window which would resemble the 1964 Corvette Coupe. Numerous owners converted their split window to the one-piece unit, which destroyed the future collectibility of their car.
No changes were made in motor offerings for 1963. They were a carryover from 1962 when the all new "327" was introduced. The base motor was a 327-250. During 1963, the majority of buyers selected the 327-300 motor at a cost of $54. Close behind was the selection of the 327-340 at $108. Only 12% of the buyers selected the 327-360 fuel injected motor at a cost of $430. In 1963, this was an expensive selection since it represented 10% of the base price of the Corvette. However, today an original fuel injected 1963 Corvette will command an additional $10,000 over the average price!
The response to the 1963 Corvette was truly outstanding. Buyers were waiting up to 60 days to take delivery on a purchase. The St. Louis assembly plant started a second shift to keep up with the demand. Before long, the entire model year was sold out. And of course, the 1963 Corvettes were being sold at list prices. (Note, we said list, not thousands over, which frequently happens today when a "hot" car is introduced).
Those were the days when Roadsters were extremely popular, and the public was also impressed with the styling lines of the '63 Corvette Roadster. Demand for the Coupe and Roadster was comparable, and Chevrolet set a production record by building over 21,000 Corvettes, which was virtually double that of any previous model year. To be exact, 10,594 Corvettes Coupes were built, and the final number on the Roadsters was 10,919.
Also on the drawing board in 1962 was a 1963 four-seat Coupe, which reached the completed clay model stage. This model had 10 inches added between the front and rear wheels, in addition to a higher roof line for rear headroom. This configuration certainly did not enhance the classic lines of the standard Coupe, thus the idea was scrapped. It's interesting to note that Jaguar took this approach with their E-type models. In today's market, the 2+2 Jaguar is the least desirable in the E-type series.
The 1963 Corvette Coupe was introduced at a base price of $4,257. We went into our price database and noted the average price of the Coupe in 1981 was $9,700! From a price perspective, the 1963 Coupe commanded top dollar when compared to the other Coupes in the 1963-67 series. Again, it was the split window mystique that made the 1963 Coupe a collectible. By 1985, the Coupe had reached $14,500 in average price and was poised for additional appreciation. We've noted that during the following three years, the 1963 Coupe had increased approximately $3,000 per year in average price. The average price reached $26,400 during early 1990. This was a time when all sports cars reached their peak prices.
Today, the average price of the Coupe is $27,500. The high sale price reached $55,000 for a restored fuel injected Coupe. At Bloomington Gold this year, another '63 Coupe with the fuel injected motor sold for $41,000. And as reported in this issue, at the Mecum Auction, a '63 Coupe with the Z06 package and big tank was a no sale at $130,000! At the low end of the spectrum were two in need of paint and interior work. They sold for $18,000 and $19,250, respectively. This is the only Coupe in the 1963-67 series which commands $4,000- $5,000 more in average price than the Roadster.
The 1963 Roadster was introduced at a base price of $4,037. On a comparative basis, it was priced at one dollar less than the 1962 model. Those were the days! In 1981, the average price of the Roadster was $7,400. The average price during the mid-'80s was stagnant in the $10,000 range. However, during the late '80s, we noted the 1963 Roadster picked up appreciation momentum. By 1990, the average price of the Roadster reached $20,600.
Today, the average price is $23,600 with a high price of $44,000. At Bloomington Gold, we recorded a number of '63 Roadster sales at a price range of $15,700 to $38,000. Also, at the Mecum auction, there was a "pilot" 1963 Roadster which was a no sale at $130,000.
From a rare option perspective, only 63 buyers selected the "tanker", a 36 gallon fuel tank that was only available on the Coupe at a cost of $202. Also, a special high performance package, Z06, was offered at a price of $1,818. Included was the fuel injected motor and 36 gallon fuel tank. It was selected by only 199 of the buyers. A last rare option was the factory air-conditioning. Only 278 were ordered with the price tag of $422.
We look for modest appreciation in both models for the upcoming year.
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