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'63 Corvette

One of the Rarest Corvettes You’ll Find on the Road

Ronnie Hartman Jan 1, 2002

Step By Step

The ’63 split-window has long been widely recognized as a classic Corvette. With styling based on the Mitchell Sting Ray, a one-off race car, Larry Shinoda was encouraged by Bill Mitchell, legendary GM vice president in charge of design, to create this masterpiece. GM gets the credit for producing 10,594 coupes (along with an almost equal number of convertibles). But it was to be a one-year wonder. Safety concerns, voiced early on by Zora Duntov, eventually dictated that the rear window allow for better visibility, and the split-window disappeared forever. Since then, these cars have been highly coveted.

This breathtaking Saddle Tan/Saddle Tan specimen is owned by Dennis Spaulding, founding member of the NCRS and a high school and college social science teacher from Cream Ridge, New Jersey. It stands out, even among other top-notch split-windows. It’s one of 2,610 327ci/360hp fuel-injected models produced that year, and Dennis’ research shows this car is one of only approximately 1,300 coupes. Its low serial number, 00299, means it was produced during the first two weeks of production in September 1962, making it a very early production fuelie with all of the early ’63 configurations.

Dennis bought this Corvette in Michigan in 1974 for $2,000. He’s the car’s third owner. The original owner told him he’d bought it new for $5,783.55, but Dennis says it was a “basket case” when he found it. He spent the first 20 years taking it apart, and the next six putting it back together, restoring it to NCRS specs while using a minimum number of reproduced parts. As you can see, it makes a spectacular presentation.

The car has a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed transmission and a Posi-traction 3.73 rear axle, power windows and brakes, a Wonderbar radio, “early frosted” wheel covers, 6.70x15 Firestone Deluxe Champion tires, and still sports the original whitewall spare tire. This singular Corvette has not only captured many awards, including an NCRS Top Flight, Bloomington Gold, Gold Spinner, and Triple Crown, but it was also measured and photographed by the Danbury Mint for the production of one of its models. Dennis would have every right to be proud, even if this Corvette spent the rest of its life under glass. But here’s the best part—he drives it! Not every day, he admits, but to shows and events. It was honored in the special display this year at Corvettes at Carlisle.

Although Dennis has owned 17 Corvettes, this one is his favorite. He never married, and claims this Corvette is the reason why. He seems to have found the perfect trophy wife.



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