For collectors, the best Corvette is an original Corvette, but asking a car to stay fully intact for half of a century is a tall order. Some cars are torn apart and rebuilt from scratch in an attempt to recapture that showroom feel. Others, like this 1963 Corvette roadster, have received a lifetime of care and maintenance good enough to minimize the need for restorative efforts. Over the course of 50 years and 69,324 miles, the body and frame have stayed together, motivated by the same 327ci V8 installed at the St. Louis assembly plant. With an updated Muncie 4-speed and partially restored interior, the car presents with authority without sacrificing aesthetics. Regardless If you’re looking for a nice, mostly-original weekend cruiser or a great foundation to join the NCRS crowd with, this ’63 roadster is a perfect option.
According to the trim tag, this roadster was scheduled to leave the assembly line during the second week of April. Dressed in code 912 Silver Blue paint with a code 490K Dark Blue interior, the car shows today much like it did then. The beauty of this C2 is the fact that is has never been fully torn down and restored – just pieces here and there to maintain the integrity of the classic design. The biggest update came in 2010 when the car underwent a full re-spray. These are notoriously tricky cars when it comes to paint and body work, but the top coat looks great from all around, complementing the crisp lines below. Should the car ever see inclement weather again, a new black vinyl convertible top is in place to keep the elements where they belong. From the looks of it, the top was added not long after the paint and fits like a factory piece.
While paint and body make a great first impression, a closer look reveals equally impressive details. From nose to tail, the car features a great blend of new and original pieces. Both front and rear bumpers were re-chromed when the car was painted so, needless to say, they look still look showroom fresh. Other updates included new door handles, weather-stripping, and taillights. The emblems have a look that can only come with age and the simulated hood vents appear to be original as well. If you’ve ever rebuilt (or paid someone else to rebuild) the headlight motors in these cars, you’ll be pleased to know that task is already handled. Both lights work as they should without fuss. With the exception of the windshield, all glass in the car is date coded and the original stainless trim still looks great. Overall, this is an impressive piece.
As mentioned, the car carries its original 327ci/250hp V8 and one look is all it takes to confirm that. From the perfectly aged orange paint on the block to the lengthy list of correct pieces that surround it, authenticity is on full display. A closer look at the small block reveals a 3782870 casting number, an April 3, 1963 assembly date, and an ‘RC’ suffix code that verifies its basic credentials. A chrome-lidded air cleaner assembly conceals a single Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor which bolts to a stock cast iron intake manifold. At either side, classic finned aluminum valve covers fit over stock GM heads. There are no luxury items like power steering or air conditioning present here, so the belt drive focuses its efforts on a date-code correct 1100628 alternator (exclusive to non-A/C cars) and a five-bladed fan. The front of the bay is occupied by a Harrison aluminum radiator which feeds coolant through a correct GM hose. Exhaust gases are swept out through correct cast iron manifolds while, below, bright spark plug wire shields pair with the chrome ignition cover for a bit of style. Details like the keg-style expansion tank and reproduction tar top battery round out the compartment.
Looking around the undercarriage, things appear largely original. As often as these cars are restored (and often over-restored), that’s a refreshing sight. The fiberglass pans are just as solid underneath as they are up top and display their original finish with pride. In the center, a Muncie M21 4-speed has been chosen to handle shifting duties. According to its P8B20 stamp, the transmission was put together on February 20 of 1968, making it significantly later than the car but a perfect match to the 327 up front. Around the drivetrain, the suspension remains largely stock with the standard double A-arm front with radius rods and a transverse leaf spring around a fixed differential. The JRS leaf spring is an obvious update, as is the stainless exhaust system. When the road gets twisty, manual steering provides direct feedback, while four-wheel drum brakes do an impressive job with reining in the small block. At the corners, 15-inch wheels with full covers meet the road through 205/75R15 Starfire radials.
The honest theme carries into the interior which places new and original pieces side by side. Open the doors to find fresh door sill plates anchoring correct loop style carpet replaced in 2002. The seats have also been recovered and present as new both in look and feel. Aside from those pieces, originality reigns supreme. The aircraft-inspired instrument bezel features all original gauges that monitor the small block’s vitals from within nicely aged surrounds. The patina continues on the aluminum console plate which looks to have been spared from restoration efforts entirely. The piece flows in the center section of the dash which houses a Delco AM/FM radio alongside fan controls and center-mounted clock. All the knobs and pull switches appear to be original as does the dash itself. Driver input is fed through a sleek three-spoke aluminum steering wheel and a chrome shifter while clean pads top the pedals below. A small storage area behind the seats provides room for the necessities while the fuel tank occupies the closed space where a trunk would traditionally live.
Documentation for the car include receipts that provided a great insight into updates and restorative efforts invested over the years.
Like the old saying goes – “it’s only original once”. There is no shortage of over-restored show queens out there but sympathetically revitalized pieces like this 1963 roadster are an increasing rarity. With its original 250hp 327, Muncie 4-speed, and list of carefully chosen replacement pieces, this is a car you can show and drive just as General Motors intended. If that sounds like a good way to spend your Saturdays, don’t miss the chance to make this roadster your own.