There are rare Corvettes, and then there are rare Corvettes. While owning one of the only 289 '77 Stingrays equipped with the factory-installed ZN1 trailer package could be considered rare, it's not, in all honesty, considered a really desirable Vette. Big-block, LS6-wielding C3s and 427-equipped midyears draw in the crowds as much as the first-generation, fuel-injected roadsters, but when it comes to collectors climbing over each other to get their hands on a Corvette, nothing surpasses the performance zeitgeist of the race-prepped, number-coded, Z06-optioned, '63 split-window Sting Ray.
Not only were these cars the first year of the wickedly attractive second-generation redesign, they were the only year for the style-over-function split rear window, and they were the first year the Z06 option was ever attached to a Corvette.
It would be nearly 40 years later that the moniker would be resurrected. Named after the striking lineup of blue-and-white louvered and gilled race cars that stormed Daytona and Sebring in 1963, the civilian version of the Z06 included the best handling and braking equipment GM had to offer, while requiring one of the fiercest powertrains the Corvette would have at its disposal.
Take into account that 21,513 '63 Corvettes were produced that year-10,594 of them brandishing the signature split-window roofline-and considering that only 14,531 Vettes were sold the previous year, that makes for one outstanding sales leap. Yet, of those 21,000-plus Corvettes built, only a miserly 199 came loaded with the Z06 RPO package- less than one percent (.925) of the total production count. Created to market a turnkey race car to the public, the Z06 option required the purchase of the 360hp, fuel-injected L84 327 engine, four-speed transmission, and the posi-traction rearend.
Once properly equipped, checking the box for the Z06 option included a unique dual-circuit, power-brakes system with sintered metallic linings (far larger than the standard metallic linings), vented backing plates, scoops to cool the front brakes, larger finned brake drums that featured cooling fans, and self adjusters that functioned going forward rather than reversing. The suspension modifications read nearly the same way, using a heavy-duty rear transverse spring (seven leaves rather than the stock nine), heavy-duty front springs, a heavy-duty front stabilizer, and specially calibrated shock absorbers.
Interestingly, the Z06 abounds with conflicting data. While it is commonly observed that the Z06 option included the installation of a 36-gallon fuel tank that consumed most of the area behind the seats, of the 199 built, only 63 are reported to have received the larger tank. The remaining 136 Z06's were ushered off the assembly line with the stock reservoir. In addition, it was once considered an unalterable fact that only coupes were allowed the option, but that was only towards the beginning of the production year. Convertibles would be offered the option, though final numbers of exactly how many droptop Z06s are hard to come by.