It’s not every day that you meet the original and current owners of a 1963 Corvette split window coupe at the same time.
But Rick Costa, currently of Laguna Niguel, Calif., is your chance to do just that.
Rick was just a kid when he saw his first Corvette in 1953. He was instantly mesmerized by the car that he termed “a spaceship” parked on the midway at an amusement park in Massachusetts. He knew then that someday he would own one of the “unbelievable” cars, as he also described that 1953 model.
Ten years later, he was a student working his way through college waiting tables when the all-new Sting Ray came out. It was again love at first sight.
Rick knew that he had no business buying a sports car while he was trying to get his college degree, but try telling that to his heart. He was determined to make his dream come true, though, and despite high demand by others who also had fallen in love with the second-generation Corvette, he managed to find a Sting Ray at Park Circle Chevrolet in Baltimore in January 1963. It stickered for $4,710.
Now, some 51 years later, Rick – now 72 – still has his Corvette coupe.
“Think how much of the personality of the car and the design of the car is missing on a convertible and then picture the sexy back window and there was no choice, it had to be the fastback,” Rick says. “It’s the thing that made the car so iconic.”
(By the way, he must have a liking for spaceships as he is a semi-retired aerospace engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope, Saturn Cassini mission, and Mars Rover during his long career.)
His Silver Blue Sting Ray was nicely equipped with a 327/340 engine mated with a 4-speed manual transmission.
“The 327 340 is identical to the 360-horse fuel-injection engine except with a 4-barrel carburetor,” Costa points out. “I got the 340 because lots of people didn’t know how to work on fuel injection then. Less headache. It has a Positraction rear and, of course, heater, radio and all that good stuff.”
One thing that was missing, like virtually every other Sting Ray, is air conditioning. Out of the 21,513 built that year, only 278 had air.
He’s kept the car in immaculate condition, with the only non-original thing being the paint job, which was done in the 1970s and still looks great.
“Everybody looks at it, they just think it’s a brand-new car,” Rick says. “What’s really amazing is the fact that that car is all original. If you look under the hood, you see all the factory clamps around the wires and hoses. If you look into the interior, the seat covers are all original, the dash is impeccable. I raised my two kids in that car.”
Only fitting since his own parents were responsible for his trip to the amusement park where he first fell in love with Corvettes.
Rick’s car is full of memories, like the time he took the family on a vacation from Connecticut to Florida when his daughter was just 1 year old. Somehow they managed to pack all their luggage into the back of the car!
Rick also was a strong competitor in autocrosses for several years and drove his Sting Ray to Laguna Seca for the Monterey Historics for 34 years.
Nowadays, he mostly takes the car on cruise-ins and motors around town, always carrying the memories of 51 years of ownership in the passenger seat.
“My kids were born and raised in that car so it’s like it’s been a member of the family for 50 years now,” Costa says. “To them, that’s the car they have known since the day they were born.
I just enjoy it.”
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