Here’s one of the most in-depth and informative videos about the 1963 Corvette that we’ve seen.
It’s a segment of Jay Leno’s Garage in which the now retired “Tonight Show” host talks for about 20 minutes to master restorer Mike McCluskey about the 1963 Corvette Split Window fuelie he restored to original condition for the famous comedian/car lover. It’s just one of 24 frame-off restorations of Corvettes that McCluskey has done.
Mike tells us about the many unique features of the 1963 model, including, of course, the famous split window so beloved by Bill Mitchell and so detested by Zora Arkus-Duntov. Zora eventually won out, making the split window a one-year only classic, though Jay tells the story of how some folks eventually had it replaced with one piece of glass. Did you know, though, that the original hubcaps are made of 17 pieces and were only used one year, making them very hard to find these days?
Mike points out that Chevy designed a lot of things for the ’63 that proved very difficult to make work in actual production, and when it came to 1964 models, they made some subtle changes so the factory workers could actually assemble it. Some of those changes, in fact, actually came late in the 1963 model year. That’s why Chevy changed the side mirrors, for example, giving them a longer stem so they could actually be useful for drivers.
The best part about this segment of Jay Leno’s Garage, however, may be the special test drive that he takes with Mike in the passenger seat and talking more about the Sting Ray Coupe. It’s not very often that we get a look at a Split Window Coupe actually going down the road, not to mention the inside camera work that gives viewers an idea of what it would be like to drive one of these rare Corvettes. After all, only about 10,000 of them were ever built by Chevrolet.
This is the way the Sting Ray looked when Jay first saw one when he was 13 years old and it knocked his socks off back then, he says! In fact, this 1963 Corvette is probably one of the most correctly restored Split Windows around since Jay is a big believer in making his cars the way they were when they left the factory – no restomods for him!
Jay points out that they kept the car stock, including the exhaust, so driving it today gives you a realistic idea of what it was like to be behind the wheel back in the day.
“So there you have it, suddenly it’s 1963,” Jay concludes.