1963 Chevrolet Corvette - Darwinian Split Window

A Mid-Year That's Evolved With The Times

Bob Wallace Mar 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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There was no way that an Arkansas college kid could've imagined that the $1,100 used Chevy that he bought for transportation in 1970 would evolve into a treasured possession, or that said '63 Chevrolet would still be an integral part of his household over three decades later. Of course, when that old Chevy happens to be a Corvette, a Split Window coupe, well, we doubt many folks would not understand how such a thing could occur.

The college kid's name was Jeff Montgomery, the Corvette was a two-owner silver coupe with about 85,000 miles showing on the odometer, and the '63 spent the next four years functioning as a transportation module (yeah, but what a transportation module!). After Montgomery's graduation, he kept right on using the coupe as his daily driver for another three years. And, at the same time, he began modifying and personalizing it, both to suit his tastes and to keep up-within reason-with the latest trends.

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Sometime in the early '70s...

In the '70s, that meant flared fenders and gold Imron paint, 8-inch wide Cragar SS wheels, and, after pulling out and carefully setting aside the original 327, an assortment of small-blocks ranging from a 302 to a 377-inch stroker. Jeff showed the first inkling of what would develop into his process of refining and evolving the Sting Ray with updates from newer model Corvettes, when he bought a wrecked '65 coupe (for $400!) and updated the "Split" with the slightly newer donor car's four-wheel disc brakes, Muncie four-speed, the rearend and springs, and the seats.

Come the '80s and it was time for another round of updates as well as some serious refurbishing, as the odometer in Jeff's Vette was on its third go-round (the old Sting Ray had amassed over 200,000 miles). And by this time, applying bits of technology from the latest model Corvette was becoming a habit for Jeff. It was also "time for a new look."

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... the mid-'80s...

The "new look" was also a kind of "old look" with the car being returned to its original Sebring Silver, and the interior getting restored. However, the flares stayed. Additionally, Jeff added chrome-plated Hooker side pipes, a set of A/P chromed wire wheels, a repop L88-style hood, and deleted the front bumpers. This round of reworks and updating cost about $5,000-a sizable sum in the early '80s-and readied the 'Ray for another decade, and another 50,000 miles of enjoyment.

Enter the '90s. Another decade and, in Jeff's words, "...it was time for a new look, again." This time the "new look" was definitely a look back, as the flared fenders were replaced by stock contour panels, the stock hood was re-installed, and the chromed wires were deep-sixed in favor of reproduction factory knock-offs. Jeff took the original engine, complete with its factory-installed shielding and numbers-matching parts, out of storage, freshened it up, and slipped it back into its old home in lieu of the latest in a string of hot rod engines. Montgomery's back-to-almost-original movement (the '65 brakes, Muncie, and other miscellaneous parts stayed) was capped with the fitment of a factory-style exhaust system in place of the side pipes.

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