Our friend Jeffrey Wagner of the Facebook group Simply Corvettes shares with us this tale about a 1963 Corvette Z06/N03 that really made an impression on him. The words and photos in this article are his. Got a story about Corvettes you would like to share? Use the Contact form and let us know!
Being a Corvette fanatic, I love going to the big Corvette events such as Corvette at Carlisle, Bloomington Gold, and The Bash at the National Corvette Museum throughout the year. I enjoy arriving early before the crowd gets thick and just wonder the lots to watch as Corvettes of all different generations start to fill the grounds. With my camera around my neck, I always take more photos than I know what to do with. But you never know what may come up in the future that you might want to reference back to. Invariably, there are always special Corvettes that catch my eye and guide me in for a closer view. It could be a 1968 L88, a 1957 Fuelie Air Box or a 1963 Split Window that seems to always draw me like a moth to a flame.
A few years ago, I attended the 2016 Bloomington Gold event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had made my way to Gasoline Alley and the area they call “Legends Row” when I noticed something special. About 100 yards away I could see a C2 sitting at the end of the row with its front end up on a lowered trailer door as if it had just been rolled out. I made my way to the end and found a very rough looking 1963. Chrome in bad condition, paint was terrible, emblems missing, interior cluttered were just a few signs that this Corvette had been sitting for a long time. There were even some odd sticker or plaque with Canadian and American flags and the words “Canadian American Challenge Club” on the glove box door. After a little research, I found out that for short that is the Can-Am Cup which was a racing series with joint sponsorship of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the Canadian Automobile Sport Committee (CASC). Did this thing have a race history?
As usual, I pulled out my camera and took a few photos. You know the standard one; side shot, rear, motor, interior, oh and of course the split window.
This Corvette was really rough, but it was rare. First of all, it was a Z06. The high-performance package option. There were only 199 of these made. But what made this Sting Ray even more special was it had been ordered with RPO N03, the 36-gallon fuel tank known in the Corvette world as the “Big Tank” or “Tanker.” Only 63 of those were produced in 1963. This truly was a special car.
Now we have all heard of those special “barn find” cars that we would all love to stumble upon. After reading the info board with the Sting Ray, this is exactly what this Corvette was… a barn find. It had been stored in a barn/garage for 51 years. That’s right from 1965 until 2016. It was a survivor.
Fast-forward to January 2019. While a friend and I were visiting the Orlando area, we decided to go to the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, FL. It was just like going to a huge car show of about 3500 cars and trucks of all shape, sizes, makes and models. After passing literally hundreds of vehicles, we made it to what they call the “Glass Tent.” It is where they show off some of the finest stuff the auction has to offer before they are auctioned. Under the “Glass Tent” for this visit were a handful of Ferraris, Porsches, McLaren’s, Yenko Camaros, a 1965 Ford GT Le Mans racer and two styling Sting Rays owned by Harley Earl and Bill Mitchel along with many other special cars.
After taking what had to be over one hundred photos, I came across an Ermine White 1963 Z06. This thing was gorgeous. As usual, I pulled out the camera and started taking photos. I took a look at the window sticker the auction prints up and noticed this was also an N03 optioned Corvette…the Big Tank. What a treat, a Tanker. I ended up seeing two that day! My friend and I finished up our time at the auction and went on with our day.
A couple of weeks later, I was going through the photos from my Orlando visit and came across the white 1963 Z06. Reminiscing on how beautiful this Corvette was, I started clicking through the photos. As I re-read the 1963’s auction sticker, it said the car had been to Bloomington Gold and was part of the Legends Row Display. When I clicked on a photo that I had taken of the interior, I just about choked on the pretzel I was eating. Could it be? Yes, there are those two flags, the Canadian and American flags. I quickly looked back to the photos I had with info, one of the window sticker from the car in 2019 and the other of the info board from 2016. Both had similar information but the “Ah, Ha” moment was when I read from the Info board from 2016, “One Owner for 51 years” and from the 2019 window sticker “stored in garage/barn for 51 years. I start thinking to myself, “I think this is the same car.” Then there it was…the VIN! Both photos showed the same VIN 9344 with the last four digits.
What are the odds? Seeing a rough look Corvette in Indiana in such bad condition then turn around and see it by chance over 1000 miles away in Florida in immaculate condition two and a half years later to me seemed incredible. It was nice to see that someone knew what special piece of Corvette history this car was and brought it back to its former glory. It truly is a remarkable Corvette.
This experience validates why I enjoy going to these events with my camera and taking more photos than what I know what to do with. You never know when something will pop up and you might need to go back and reference. So get out to events wherever you are and be sure to take lots of photos. You might just catch a nice piece of history.
Text and Photos by Jeffrey Wagner