1963 Corvette Stingray Overview
1963 was “year 1” for production of the second generation Corvette. It took its inspiration from a previous concept car called the “Q Corvette,” designed by Chuck Pohlmann and Peter Brock. The C2 vehicle had an all-new look and styling compared to the first generation Corvette, with improved handling characteristics, more power and a novel moniker: Sting Ray.
Styling was further inspired by designer Larry Shinoda’s boss at GM, Bill Mitchell, who caught a mako shark while deep sea fishing, a fish which bears an unmistakable resemblance to the C2 Corvette Sting Ray. Handling was based partially on the Jaguar E-Type that Mitchell often drove, and the Corvette’s power and other attributes were taken from the “Mitchell Stingray,” a racing car Mitchell designed in 1959 when Chevrolet was not participating in factory racing.
The classic 1963 Corvette Sting Ray sports a distinctive split rear window and non-functional hood vents; in addition, independent rear suspension was introduced for the first time on the 1963 Sting Ray. A 327 cubic inch engine, which put out 250 horsepower, supplied the car’s power. Customers could purchase optional engines which increased power to 300 or 340 hp. Optional fuel injection upped this figure to 360 hp. For 1963, other customer choices included leather interior, an AM-FM radio, and air conditioning.
Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s chief engineer, had plans to build 125 lightweight versions of the 1963 Corvette (called the Grand Sport) to compete in Grand Touring racing events against cars like Ford’s Shelby Cobra. However, after GM executives discovered the project, they stopped the plans and only five of the cars were built. Such notables as Jim Hall, Roger Penske, Dick Guldstrand, and A.J. Foyt raced these 1963 Corvettes. Innovations included ultra-thin fiberglass body panels and steel tube frame construction. After some modifications were introduced, the racer’s handling problems were alleviated. A number of different engines supplied the power, the most prominent being a 377 cubic inch, entirely aluminum small block V-8 with four Weber side-draft carburetors. This motor put out 550 horsepower. The five Grand Sports produced in 1963 are among some of the most coveted and valuable of the world’s automobiles. Today they are in private collections.
Another version of the 1963 Sting Ray was called the Corvette Rondine (pronounced Ron-di-nay). This concept car was introduced at the 1963 Paris Auto Show.