What do you get when you take an already very nice 1963 Corvette roadster, and do a complete frame-off restoration that's exact down to the molecular level? This amazing triple black stunner that has already scored 94 out of 100 points at an NCRS show, making it an easy Top Flight winner. Sporting a correct 327/340 powerplant and a 4-speed manual transmission, it's also a lot of fun to drive. Simply put, this is a wonderful, fully sorted Corvette roadster that can show up just about anywhere and be immediately competitive.
Triple black is this car's original color combination, and on the Sting Ray body, there aren't many finishes that look better. Imagine it's late 1962, and you see Larry Shinoda's masterpiece rolling down the street next to the stodgy Buicks and Plymouths of the era—it must have been mind-blowing. This car was stripped to bare fiberglass and rebuilt from the substrate up, resulting in the almost flawless surface it has today. Panel gaps are way better than new, and you can see from the restoration photos that they took extra time getting things like the headlight doors to fit properly. The body was actually removed from the chassis for the entire process and placed on a custom-made body buck to hold it in shape while the work was performed, and there must be hundreds of hours just in block sanding the bodywork, aligning the panels, and finishing the paint. The topcoat is modern urethane, which gives the black a deep, rich finish that vintage paints couldn't match. If you ever want to paint a car black, use this one as a guide for how to do it right.
Doing it to NCRS Top Flight standards also means you don't overlook the details. Almost all the chrome was all refinished to concours standards, including the cool screened inserts in the hood and all the bumpers. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the crossed flag emblem on the nose is an original piece that has been restored, and there's absolutely no loss of detail, which is impressive. The aluminum rocker panel extrusions are beautifully finished, tying the car together with the look of side pipes without the risk to clothing and flesh. All the glass appears to be new, and carries a soft tint that is period correct.
The engine is what the National Corvette Restorers Society calls a “restoration block,” meaning that it's correct for the period and the car, and according to their rules, it's OK to re-stamp the block with the correct engine numbers as long as you're up-front about it. The L76 was a popular option, costing just $107 and with the overwhelming success of the Sting Ray styling, 6978 were sold. It cackles and burbles like you'd expect, with a wonderful rumble on the overrun at high speeds. Detailing is phenomenal, with the most vivid coat of Chevy Orange on the block that I've ever seen (or maybe it's just the black paint around it that makes it pop so brightly). There's show chrome on the air cleaner and ignition shielding, which is part of why the engine looks so wonderfully detailed. The finned valve covers are bright and crisp in their details, wearing correct reproduction decals proudly advertising the engine's horsepower. Lovely ram's horn exhaust manifolds show crisp details and casting numbers, but not a trace of rust thanks to a high-tech coating that should never burn off. Reproduction blue stripe hoses and tower hose clamps add an air of originality, and a heavy duty radiator and clutch fan keep the hot small block running cool under all conditions. This engine bay is beautifully done.
Restoration photos also show the chassis stripped to a bare frame, and that frame sandblasted to bare steel to be completely refinished from there. The satin black on the frame itself, as well as the suspension components, is just the right shade, and though you can't see many of the markings anymore, all the factory stampings and stencils were reproduced on the frame rails. New hardware, new bushings, fresh lines and hoses, and correct paint daubs were used throughout, resulting in a factory fresh car that looks like new. Someone took REALLY good care of this car since it was completed. The 4-speed shifts like it should, and the newly independent rear suspension uses a correct steel transverse leaf spring to hold the car up. Bare fiberglass floors are in superb condition with no signs of damage or accidents, and the exhaust system fits better than it did off the assembly line. The original steel wheels wear full wheel covers with spinners for a pure 1963 vibe, and the only concession to driving the car are the modern 205/75/15 Firestone whitewall radials.
The interior is so beautifully detailed that you're almost afraid to sit in it. Almost. The black buckets, door panels, and carpets are all brand new, and their condition masks the fact that the car has been driven—they look like new. The dash is full of some of the most beautifully detailed restored gauges I've ever seen, with markings so bright and clear that I'm wondering if it was even possible to make them look that good back in the '60s. All the brushed metal trim on the dash and console has been properly restored, not too shiny, not too dull, and the shifter falls easily to hand just inches from the thin-rimmed steering wheel. Looking at this interior, it's no surprise that demand far outstripped supply when the Sting Ray debuted, and it's a triumph of General Motors design. Overhead, there's a matching black vinyl top that folds effortlessly into the well behind the seats.
I've been talking about the restoration photos on this car, and it comes with a wonderfully detailed and presented photo album of the entire project—clearly Ken and Lois Watts were enthusiastic Corvette owners and restorers. We also have an original owner's manual and all the judging sheets from the 2010 NCRS show where this car was awarded an NCRS Top Flight award. Looking over the scoring, there are very, very few issues with this car and all of them could be corrected without a lot of effort. Impressive.
Restoration on any car is a pricey proposition, and the price differential between a merely nice car and an NCRS Top Flight winner is sizeable. On a car as desirable as the '63 Sting Ray, it's understandable that you spend every cent it takes to make it right and seeing the results in person, you know it's worth every penny. Still, the price on this car is like buying ¾ of the restoration and getting the car for free, and what you end up with is one of the nicest triple-black Sting Ray roadsters in the country, highly accurate and nicely documented. If that doesn't represent value in today's world, even at this price, I don't know what does. The small block cars are great to drive with plenty of power and a thrilling soundtrack, and this one needs no fussing or sorting to be ready to go today. Don't wait, I'm banking on this one disappearing in less than a week. Call today!
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