Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray – 1963

Chevy’s Corvette (designed by the legendary Harley Earl and launched in 1953) had been a sizzling success, but by the early 1960s a completely reworked model was in the pipeline. After an exhaustive design process the C2 (officially named the Corvette Sting Ray) took its first bow in 1963 — to thunderous applause.

Public reaction was so positive that the St Louis factory had to run a double shift and still couldn’t meet demand. A waiting list built up and eager buyers were willing to pay well over list nearly new Sting Ray. So what made this car so special, and desirable?

Had Bill Clinton been asked to answer that question, his answer would have been ‘It’s the design, stupid’. For the Sting Ray was stunningly beautiful, with two styles to die for — a purposeful coupe with a distinctive split rear window (a feature dropped in 1964) and a roadster that simply cried out to be driven for thrills. As the production run unfolded, the fabulous open-topped version sold best, though the coupe eventually reached annual parity just before the next model update, which saw the C3 ‘Shark’ introduced in 1968.

In addition to breathtaking styling, the Sting Ray had mechanical enhancements like independent rear suspension, also retaining expensive options like fuel injection. Further development took place during the production run, delivering disc brakes all round and options like a telescopic steering wheel and external exhaust pipes. But the big news (literally) was in the engine department.

A big-block 6.5 litre V8 appeared in 1965, followed by a massive 7 litre power plant in 1966. To drive the best, go for the tuned L-88 version of the latter — found only in the most collectable Sting Rays that carry a price tag around the million dollar mark.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

USA

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1963 (until 1967)

ENGINE:

5.35 l(327 cid), 6.5 I (396 cid) or 7.0 I (427 cid) V8

PERFORMANCE:

With 7.0 I engine – top speed of 147 mph (237 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Around 110,000 C2 Sting Rays were produced and they are considered to be amongst the most collectable Corvettes built during the model’s 50+ years of life – and the Sting Ray regularly comes out towards the top in polls that rank test Sports Cars of the 1960’s.

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