The Chevrolet Corvette is America’s native sports cars. The “plastic fantastic,” born in 1953, is still fantastic more than half a decade later. Along the way, in 1992, it notched up a million sales, and it is still hanging in there.
Admittedly it has mutated over the years, but it has stayed true to its roots in one very important aspect. Other American sports car contenders, like the Ford Thunderbird soon abandoned any sporting pretensions, adding weight and middle-aged girth, but not the Corvette.
All Corvette fans have their favorite eras: for some it is the purity of the very first generation from 1953; others favor the glamorous 1956–62 models; but for many, the Corvette came of age in 1963 with the birth of the Sting Ray.
Corvettes from 1963 to 1967 were known as Sting Rays; the restyled 1968 model was renamed as Stingray, one word. The checkered flag on the front of the hood denotes sporting lineage, while the red flag bears the GM logo and a fleur-de-lis.
Twin, pop-up headlights were hidden behind electrically operated covers; more than a gimmick, they aided aerodynamic efficiency.
New chassis frame was introduced in 1963.
In 1965 the Sting Ray got four-wheeled disc brakes in place of all-around drums.
The Batmobile-style interior, with twinhooped dash, is carried over from earlier Corvettes but updated in the Sting Ray. The deep-dished, wood-effect wheel comes close to the chest, and power steering was an option.
Seats were low and flat, rather than figure hugging.
A MITCHELL CLASSIC
The Sting Ray was a bold design breakthrough, giving concrete expression to many of the ideas of new GM styling chief, Bill Mitchell. He reputedly regarded the 1963 Sting Ray as his finest piece of work. More than half of all production was in convertible roadsters, for which a hardtop was an option.
You can tell this is a “small block” engine— the hood power bulge was widened to accommodate the “big block” unit. Three-speed manual transmission was standard, with two-speed automatic and three types of manual four-speed shift optional.
Sting Rays came in three engine sizes— naturally all V8s—with a wide range of power options from 250 bhp to more than twice that. This featured car is a 1966 Sting Ray with “small block” 5359cc V8 and Holley four-barrel carb.
Fuel tank and spare tire took up most of the trunk space.
Until 1963, all Corvettes were open roadsters; but with the arrival of the Sting Ray, a fixed-head coupe was now also available. The distinctive two-piece back window used on the 1963 model makes it the most sought-after fixed-head Sting Ray.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (1963–69)
BODY STYLES Two-door sports convertible or fastback coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass body; X-braced pressed-steel box-section chassis.
ENGINES OHV V8, 5359cc (327cid), 6495cc (396cid), 7008cc (427cid).
POWER OUTPUT 250–375 bhp (5359cc), 390–560 bhp (7008cc).
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, opt’l. four-speed manual or Powerglide auto.
SUSPENSION Independent all around. Front: Unequal-length wishbones with coil springs; Rear: Transverse leaf.
BRAKES Drums to 1965, then discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 152 mph (245 km/h, 7008cc).
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 5.4 sec (7008cc)
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 13.1 sec (7008cc)
A.F.C. 9 –16 mpg (3–5.7 km/l)