1963 Corvette

The 1963 Corvette began the second generation of Corvette. According to the auto section of howstuffworks.com

For one the first time in the Corvette's history, wind tunnel testing helped refine the final shape, as did practical matters like interior space, windshield curvatures, and tooling limitations. Both body styles were extensively evaluated as production-ready 3/8-scale models at the Cal Tech wind tunnel.


The vehicle's inner structure received as much attention as its exterior aerodynamics. Fiberglass outer panels were retained, but the Sting Ray emerged with nearly twice as much steel support in its central structure as the 1958-62 Corvette. The resulting extra weight was balanced by a reduction in fiberglass thickness, so the finished product actually weighed a bit less than the old roadster.

Passenger room was as good as before despite the tighter wheelbase, and the reinforcing steel girder made the cockpit both stronger and safer. Symbolic of the car's transformation was the first-ever production Corvette coupe — a futuristic fastback that sported one of the most unique styling elements in automotive history — a divided rear window. This feature had once been considered for an all-new 1958 Corvette, and Mitchell thought enough of the back light backbone to resurrect it for the 1963 redesign.

The rear window's basic shape, which was a compound-curve "saddle-back," had been originally conceived by Bob McLean for the Q-model. The rest of the Sting Ray design was equally stunning. Quad headlamps were retained but newly hidden — the first American car so equipped since the 1942 DeSoto. The lamps were mounted in rotating sections that matched the pointy front end with the "eyes" closed. An attractive belt-line dip was added at the door's trailing upper edge, a result of cinching up the racing Stingray at the midriff.

Coupe doors were cut into the roof, which made entry/exit easier in such a low-slung closed car. Faux vents were located in the hood and on the coupe's rear pillars; functional ones had been intended but were nixed by cost considerations. The Sting Ray's interior carried a new interpretation of the twin-cowl Corvette dash motif used since 1958, with the scooped-out semicircles now standing upright instead of lying down. It was also more practical, now incorporating a roomy glovebox, an improved heater, and the cowl-ventilation system. Also on hand was a full set of easy-to-read round gauges that included a huge speedometer and tachometer. The control tower center console returned, somewhat slimmer but now containing the clock and a vertically situated radio with a dial oriented to suit.