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Big John Mazmanian One of the First to Customize a Split Window Corvette

From the Archives

Drew Hardin Apr 26, 2017
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That cover line on the May 1963 issue of Rod & Custom may not have been literally true—it would be hard to prove, especially five decades later. But there’s little doubt that since Petersen lensman Pat Brollier shot these photos in December 1962, John Mazmanian’s split-window Sting Ray was certainly among the first, if not the first, of the new-generation Vettes to go under the knife.

The car was still a work in progress when Brollier took these pictures. The crossed-flags badge on the car’s hood had been removed, as had the front bumper. Two more taillights joined the stock four, and the Corvette Sting Ray badge was removed from the rear fender.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear 2/7
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Wheel Tire 3/7
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Engine 4/7

Once the body mods had been made, House of Kolor sprayed a pearl-based candy red paintjob that looked stunning, especially against the polished American Racing mag wheels. Blackwall Firestone 500s contributed to the contrast.

The black/chrome look of the wheel-and-tire combo was echoed inside. Ed Martinez restitched all the upholstery in black Naugahyde, in contrast to the newly chromed interior moldings.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Interior 5/7
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Front Grille 6/7
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Three Quarter 7/7

It was underhood where progress was still ongoing. Mazmanian planned to chrome out the fuelie mill (like he did his ’61 drag-race Vette we featured in this space in July ’17), but when Brollier came around to shoot the car, all he had time to do was install “an Isky cam, valves, and mag.”

The R&C article suggested Mazmanian and his cousin, driver Dick Siroonian (the dapper guy posing with the car), would go hunting for “more drag and show trophies” in this custom Vette, as they did in the ’61 model. But there aren’t any records of him racing this car, likely because 1963 was the year he entered the Gasser Wars with a candy red ’41 Willys.

Photos: Pat Brollier, Petersen Publishing Co. Archive

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