|Classic Used Oil Generators: 1963 Split Window Corvette|
By Vern Parker
The owner of the Blackley Chevrolet dealership in Hornbeak, Tenn., was related to a salesman there. A half century ago most of the dealership sales involved pickup trucks and durable sedans.
Regardless of that fact the salesman ordered as a demonstrator one of the freshly redesigned Corvette Sting Ray split window coupes.
He selected a new color that was offered that year – saddle tan – for the new Corvette. Because he considered the sleek Corvette a manly sports car he ordered the car with no power brakes, no power steering, no power windows, no automatic transmission nor air conditioning. All such features, the salesman explained, merely added weight and consumed horsepower.
Four variations of the 327-cubic-inch V-8 engine were offered. This particular Corvette is equipped with the 340 horsepower version. Also available was an engine that developed 250 horsepower, one that produced 300 horsepower and a fuel injected, 360 horsepower V-8. The 340 horsepower V-8 under the hood of this Corvette is fed fuel via a Carter four-barrel carburetor.
Optional equipment that was initially ordered on the car includes:
* Four-speed manual transmission........$188.30.
* Signal-seeking AM radio......................137.75.
* 340-horsepower V-8.............................107.60.
* 6.70x15-inch four-ply tires....................31.55.
After a year-long test drive the 14-foot, 7.3-inch-long car was purchased by the dealer's son-in-law who lived near St. Louis, Mo. There the car served as a daily driver. Jim Board, the grandson, nephew and son of the aforementioned men is now the proud owner of the Corvette. He remembers family trips in the car with his parents in the front bucket seats with he and his sibling in the seatless back.
"We watched the world go by through those split windows,” he recalls. He says that he couldn't see out the sides of the windows, only a straight up view was possible.
From a styling perspective racing was foremost, Board admits, from the aerodynamical style hidden headlights to the smooth coupe styling. "I get the styling, Board says, "They got it right.”
In 1982 the family moved to Austin, Texas where the roads lent themselves to long-legged driving. From there the trail led to northern Virginia where the still presentable Corvette served well.
By 1990 the car was placed on jack stands in the garage where for 20 years, sad to say, it became an unofficial shelf for who-knows-what gets placed in the garage.
Board's wife, Linda, was instrumental in getting the restoration in gear. Together the couple decided the, unmolested, car was a prime candidate for restoration.
The couple shopped around for a good, reliable restoration shop until they settled on the Bow Tie Shop in Billerica, Mass.
When the restoration of the Corvette began the odometer had registered 83,364 miles. Because the entire car was totally renovated Board had the odometer reset to zero. It now has recorded 1,250 miles since restoration, all of those miles compliments of the four-speed manual transmission. The speedometer tops out at 160 mph.
Board reports achieving gasoline mileage in his split-window Corvette of at least 13 mpg. The 7000 rpm tachometer redlines at 6500.
Since his car left his grandfather's dealership and became his uncle's demonstrator and then later was purchased by his father, young Board says the Corvette has remained original in character from the overlapping windshield wipers to the 98-inch wheelbase and the 36-foot turning circle made possible by the 3.4 lock to lock turns of the steering wheel.
Whenever Board slips into his 49.8-inch high Corvette that is snug at 59.2-inches wide he is pleased that the family heirloom remains pristine.