The word “survivor” gets thrown around the hobby an awful lot these days. Depending on who you ask, it can mean anything from “a car that still exists,” to “fully restored.” Some organizations have tried to patent or trademark the word and apply their own definition to it. But to people who are wise in the ways of the hobby, it can mean only one thing - a matching numbers car that remains in original condition with factory components, finishes, and materials throughout. Not restored, but maintained.
Fortunately, that perfectly describes this extremely rare 1963 Corvette roadster: a matching-numbers factory L84 fuel injected car with two tops, a 4-speed transmission, original knock-off wheels, the most desirable color combination, and a ton of documentation. It doesn't get much better, folks.
They key to Corvette values is authenticity. Corvette enthusiasts are a wonderful bunch of guys and I have always admired their commitment to wanting the cars to be as they were, not as we want them to be. That means over-restored is wrong. It also means that an unmolested survivor is as good as it gets. Not only are the finishes and quality virtually guaranteed to be “correct,” but it serves as a road map for restorers working on similar cars. Without cars like this beautiful fuelie roadster, nobody would know what “over-restored” meant, and I respect that a great deal.
The other part of the equation with Corvettes is, of course, rarity. The more rare the options, the more valuable the car - simple, yes? With so many power-train combinations available in 1963, there were literally hundreds of different combinations. But sitting at the top of the heap in 63 (remember, these were the pre-427 days) was the L84 fuel injected 327. Making 360 horsepower from just 327 cubic inches was no mean feat in 1963, and the engine in this roadster is the one installed in St. Louis nearly fifty years ago. It has never been opened or rebuilt, and the 41,270 miles shown on the odometer are authentic. Only 2610 L84 cars were built in '63, making it by far the rarest of the engines.
At first glance, you're surely going to think this is a restored car, but I assure you it is not. That's factory paint, lovingly maintained by a handful of fastidious owners who knew exactly what they had in this red roadster. Never a daily driver or intended for racing, it was an expensive car when new and that likely meant an owner who could afford to drive something else when weather or traffic wasn't to his liking. The code 923 Riverside Red paint is almost all original, with perhaps a few touch-ups here and there, but never any substantial repairs or resprays. You can still see the bonding seams, which are a hallmark of correct, original cars, and if you'll recall what I said about cars being “too nice,” this one isn't perfect. However, it IS just like it was in 1963, which is even better. The paint is extremely glossy, but has a patina that only vintage single-stage paint can provide. And the Riverside Red is incredibly vivid, not bleached and tired like you might see on other red cars of this vintage. Someone has taken EXTREMELY good care of this car from Day One. It also includes a matching red hardtop, which is in the same outstanding condition as the body.
Chrome and other trim pieces are 100% original, from the gorgeous bumpers to the cool stainless mesh inserts in the hood. The glass is in good condition and shows very little wear for 47 years of life, and despite the hardtop, I'm guessing that this car hasn't seen much rain. Emblems and lenses are similarly excellent, further evidence that this is a very clean, low-mileage, exceptional car. And yes, before you ask, the headlights are fully functional.
The real story on this car is the power-train. As I mentioned, this is a 100% numbers-matching piece. How numbers matching? Here's a rundown on all the critical components and their numbers:
Engine pad: 311876 F0327
Suffix: RF (327 CI, 360 HP, Hi-lift camshaft, with manual transmission)
Fuel injection unit: 7017375
Water pump: 3782609
Clutch housing: 3788421
So if you're a Corvette numbers guy, you know this sucker's right - go ahead and look them up just to be sure. The engine has been cosmetically freshened recently, but as I said earlier, it has never been disassembled or damaged. Correct blue stripe hoses and original style hose clamps were installed at the same time, there's fresh Chevy Orange paint on the block, and the entire fuel injection system was cleaned, tuned, and detailed. Extra attention was given to original features, such as the decal on the air cleaner housing, ensuring that they would be preserved. Original “ram's horn” exhaust manifolds are in good condition, and you know they're real by the texture. If you look a little closer, you'll start to notice things that make the fuelies so special, including the oversized pulley on the alternator for high-RPM operation (this was the engine you got when you ordered the Z06 package and went racing), the correct fuel filter, and the correct clutch fan assembly.
Underneath, it's 100% original and unmolested. 1963 was the first year for the fully independent suspension on the Corvette, and all the original hardware remains in place. It's not detailed or restored, but looks exactly the way you'd expect a 41,000 mile piece to look. The original Borg-Warner T10 4-speed is still in place, feeding the fully independent rear. The fiberglass floors are clean and natural - no undercoating - and the frame is satin black from the factory. It has a recent and correct exhaust system that runs stock style mufflers for just the right sound. 4-wheel disc brakes would not appear until 1965, so this car runs 4-wheel drums which were enlarged over the 1962 model's, and were rebuilt with new lines and hoses within the past few years. A new gas tank hangs out back to ensure many years of happy motoring. The original knock-off aluminum wheels show only light wear and a few scuffs, while they are protected by new reproduction 6.70-15 Firestone Deluxe Champion whitewall tires.
Cockpit styling was a big deal in 1963, and General Motors more than most seemed to fall in love with "Jet Age" styling. Never was it more successful than on the C2 Corvettes. The interior in this Corvette, like the paint and body, is almost too nice to be believed, but it is indeed original. The red vinyl is wonderfully preserved, from the beautiful seat covers to the dash. Carpets show signs of some use, but nothing that I would call “wear” and it still presents very nicely. The dash is excellent, with some fading in the center section, but that's to be expected in a car that has probably spent a lot of days outside in the bright sun, and it isn't something that I would even consider replacing on a car as original as this one is. All the gauges are functional, the radio pulls in stations loud and clear, and the shifter for the T10 falls easily to hand. The original white vinyl top is in very good condition, with a single tear that's probably more due to age than to misuse. The plastic rear window is clear with only trace signs of yellowing around the edges, as is common. But again, like the dashboard, I do not believe replacement is the correct remedy.
Documentation includes an original owner's manual and a shop manual for the fuel injection unit. This car has also won more than a few awards, including Best of Show at the 2005 Dixie Shootout, Class Winner at the Route 66 Raceway Annual Tour in 2000, Best of Show at the Chevy VetteFest, and a Top 40 award at the Vettes at the Village show in 2006. It is poised perfectly for NCRS Top Flight, AACA HPOA, or any other preservation class that you care to enter.
So add it all up and what do you get? An investment-grade Corvette that's a screaming bargain compared to all the big blocks you see all the time. Numbers-matching, fuel injected convertibles don't get any nicer or more authentic than this one, and it's highly original condition will win it more fans than any flawless restoration would. Join the growing movement in the hobby to celebrate beautifully preserved cars like this one. As the old saying goes, they're only original once and it would be a crime to change one single thing on this 'Vette. Call now!
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