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1963: 50 Years In The Rearview Mirror - Back In The Day

The Beginning of the "W"onderful Big Block Chevy

Doug Marion Jan 22, 2014
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One of the absolute wildest times in early Chevrolet performance was its 1956-1963 time period. This story concerns 1963. I’ve never hyped a given model year without substantiation. My take on 1963: It outdid 1962 (which was fantastic). It really got the ball rolling for future Chevy model years via class winning, championship performance. I competed at top Midwest dragstrips every weekend over the summer of 1963. I vividly remember walking the pits for close-up looks at the top Chevys. I also sat in the grandstands witnessing the very best in Chevrolet Stock and Modified Eliminator new cars, drivers and engines galore.

This magazine has always been about super V-8-powered Chevys. But in 1963, the Corvair’s opposed six-cylinder engine featured a turbocharger option, which made this economy car get up and scoot. A large ownership fan base quickly ensued. Big car 409s sold in unbelievable record numbers. Thank the Beach Boys for their hit song “409,” as well as all the winning 409 drag racers. Let us not forget the fabled ’63 409/427 factory-built drag car, the Z-11, aluminum front-end and all. Of the 57 said to have been built, 50 have been accounted for, as well as a few put-together examples from back in the day. Phoenix’s Frank Sanders was ranked number one in the Drag News’ door slammer rankings over much of 1963. Wait, that’s not all! Who could forget the all-new ’63 Corvette Sting Ray?

For the millions of others who could not afford a new Chevrolet just yet, what did we do in 1963? Just about everyone bought what they could afford. Namely a used ’55-’62 Chevrolet or Corvette. They then cherished it as-is or modified it to suit.

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Be on the lookout for our upcoming Super Chevy Platinum special issue, which will (in part) celebrate this magical year. It’ll knock your socks off and it’s on sale October 15.



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