All of us are aware that nothing “just happens”…unless your work around the Vette offices! I came across some old photos and not immediately knowing the heritage I contacted Vette magazine “keeper of knowledge of old photos” Franz Estereicher to help us identify and get the background.
As is the case the backstory was both interesting and filled with tidbits of historical goodies. The original Z06 package found its way onto 199 1963 Corvettes with an uptick of $1,185.45, with a base price of $4,252.00 that was a hefty upcharge. Included were the knock-off wheels and Chevy records show 13 sets were delivered as regular production along with two of the 15 “specially assigned” Z06s. Both Sting Rays eventually made their way to Mickey Thompson and competed in February’s 1963 Daytona. One of the most memorable Corvette races was Mickey Thompson’s triumphant win earlier at Riverside Raceway on October 13, 1962. It was a glorious day for the new coupe with the late Doug Hooper tearing up the track and besting the Shelby Cobras. Of course, one would expect Zora Arkus-Duntov to be present and we have a photo of him standing alongside another racing legend Mickey Thompson at Riverside.
This info applies to the 1963 split-window (#119XP) seen racing, but what about the earlier photo taken back in January of 1962? (The “XP” designation was required after the car number as at the time the Corvette with the Z06 package wasn’t homologated at this point.)
Estereicher provides us with the backstory:
“In the November 1962 issue of Sports Car Graphic appeared an article on Chevrolet’s sleek new 1963 Corvette along with a “test mule” photograph that captured everyone’s curiosity. What is it a 1962 or 1963 Corvette? Well it’s a combination of both. The photo was taken in January of 1962 at Daytona International Speedway during engineering testing of “heavy duty” components, primarily Corvette’s new forward adjusting braking system. The photograph provided tantalizing clues: Cast and camber of the rear wheels (top of the tire cast inboard) the all-new 1963 independent rear suspension. The 1963 front end, unique hood grilles, windshield design, and the rear clip from the 1962.”
“To understand Chevrolet’s objectives the clock needs to be rewound to late 1961. Engineering is feverishly working on releasing a family of “Heavy Duty Components” as service packages to support factory and private race teams, most notably the 1962 Le Mans race coming up in June. Also, the Corvette needed to be homologated with competition hardware.”
“Now, the stage was being set for Corvette’s next evolutionary step, introduction of Chevrolet’s “Z06 Special Performance Package” as part of the 1963 RPO options, factory built race car.”