One Owner Project: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split Window Coupe

The 1963 Split Window Coupe is one of the most recognizable versions of the C2 Corvette, and spotless examples command eye-watering prices in the current classic market. This one needs a lot of TLC to achieve that state, but it is a one-owner car that could be a rewarding restoration project. It deserves nothing less than a frame-off approach, but that philosophy could see it command a six-figure value when the new owner downs tools for the final time. The Corvette is listed here on Craigslist in Los Angeles, California. The owner set their sale price at $80,000, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder T.J. for spotting it.

The story behind this black-plate Corvette is unclear, with the seller providing no information on why it has spent what seems to be years in storage. The Trim Tag confirms the owner paid an additional $80.70 above the sticker price to cover its panels in attractive Sebring Silver paint. This wasn’t an unusual choice, with 3,516 buyers selecting that shade. The paint has seen better days, but a repaint is only the start of the work required if the car is to present as it did the day the owner took delivery. The fiberglass exhibits minor flaws and defects, but the buyer has more significant body issues to consider. The owner added a 1967 front clip and a big-block hood, and both require replacement to achieve a factory appearance. The original wheels are gone, and the chrome would benefit from a trip to the platers. The single underside shot reveals the frame carrying a consistent coat of surface corrosion, but it and the birdcage are structurally sound. Combining these factors means the buyer faces a frame-off restoration to do this classic justice.

The mystery of this one-owner Corvette deepens when we open the hood. The physical condition of the engine bay suggests this classic hasn’t fired a shot in years or, possibly, decades. Everything wears a heavy coating of surface corrosion, and pulling the engine seems the logical plan. The seller states it is a 327ci V8, backed by a four-speed manual transmission. However, we receive no information on which version of the 327 it is, meaning the power output is pure speculation. The entry-level powerplant produced 250hp, although that figure could rise as high as 340hp if the buyer ticked the box beside the L76 version. Assuming this is the base engine, it would have allowed the ‘Vette to cover the ¼-mile in 15.2 seconds. The L76 would slash that figure to 14.3 seconds. Those numbers demonstrate that Chevrolet didn’t produce a genuinely slow version of the Corvette in 1963. We’re told the engine turns freely, but it isn’t clear whether it’s numbers-matching. Considering the financial investment involved in this project, I feel an in-person inspection to verify a few key facts would be justified.

If this Corvette can spring a surprise, that honor falls on its interior. The driver’s seat has some severe rips justifying replacement, but I would clean the remaining trim and upholstery before compiling a shopping list. Someone cut the door trims to fit aftermarket speakers, but I can’t see a matching stereo. There are no visible issues with the dash or gauges, and the console should present well with a deep clean. The owner ordered this beauty with power windows and an AM/FM radio. If spending $480 on a pair of seatcovers and $580 on a couple of door trims proves the most expensive part of the interior restoration, that will be beneficial when considering the investment potential of this classic.

I’m under no illusions about this 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe because the sale price means it can never be considered an affordable project. That is the tip of the iceberg because it requires a large injection of cash to return to its former glory. Depending on the originality and specifications of its engine, the finished product could command a value beyond $130,000. That raises the possibility that the restoration may not make financial sense as a short-term prospect, but with values climbing consistently, it may represent an excellent long-term investment. Would that thought be enough to convince you to pursue it further?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    80K doesn’t leave anything left to fix this mess and not go under water. Speaking of water, underside shot shows no rust on the fiberglass but the metal bits sure look like they took a dip into the Pacific ocean. Ask me how i know that. Owner obviously isn’t a car sales person.

    Like 16
  2. GuernseyPagoda

    SoapBox time! To the seller: Stop wasting our time too! One owner, but has been family owned the whole time……….? No paperwork, and you don’t know if it has its original engine or not? Replaced front clip, but won’t say why. Bob Hess is correct, you must not be a car sales person. “Don’t waste my time”. Don’t waste ours. Do a little research before throwing something on the internet for an $80k ask, and not being prepared to vouch for the asking price. Seriously. Rant over.

    Like 33
    • Jerry Bramlett

      I emailed the seller asking about rust in the birdcage. If it isn’t badly rusted, I’ll make him an offer based on his answers to a few other questions like engine i.d. and the way that front fiberglass was attached at the firewall.

      It’s not close to a $75,000 Corvette as-is. Actually, if the birdcage is rotted through around the windshield, it’s just a parts car to me.

      I do like the car though.

      Like 1
      • Jerry Bramlett

        I’ve received no response at all to my email.

        Looks like the seller knows a lot about “wasting time”. My money is moving on.

  3. DRV

    A 63 that needs everything and then some will cost 100k to make presentable in the split roof scene. If just a driver itay only need half that. At any rate this is a 45k car .

    Like 11
  4. Rw

    Way over priced my opinion,but cool hot rod not resto.

    Like 3
  5. Bargain Day

    Selective memory on Engine being original or not.
    The serial numbers are so easy to get on the block below heater hoses area.

    So one owner non matched hood, front end and needs tear down to restore.

    I hope this brings it to ensure my numbers matching 340 hp 4 speed white with red interior gets to 68 shelby 200 k mark.

    Good luck with sale.

    Fyi. I am guessing the little old lady had a bazillion church bulletins in the car where she only drove it 😉

  6. Grant

    Is that hood stock? If not, looks like something a kid would do, perhaps diminishing the credibility of the one owner story. This is too over priced, of course I say that a lot. Price speculation is going to kill the hobby.

    Like 4
    • Steve

      That’s the nicest factory hood from the wrong year on this car. Get informed sir

      Like 1
  7. grant

    The license plate is about to rust in half, but the frame and birdcage are fine… Sure…

    Like 7
  8. Keith

    That series California plate would have been issued in the late 1960s. If it is an original family owned car, where did it spend the first 6 years of its life?

    Like 3
  9. Steveo

    I know what I’ve got…

    Like 3
  10. gbvette62

    Funny thing, I’m usually more critical of car’s on here than many others, but this time I don’t think this car’s as bad as others seem too.

    It has a 67 nose, hood, grill, and an old set of mag wheels, but otherwise it looks pretty straight and original. If it’s structurally sound, it looks like a good restoration candidate to me. The price might be a little strong, but as crazy as split windows are, it’s hardly out of line. And unlike some other cars, the market for split windows hasn’t shown any sign of cooling off.

    Personally I don’t care for 63’s. I don’t like the split or the “egg crate” hood inserts, and mechanically 65-67’s are far superior, but there seems to be a mystic about that split back window, that keeps driving demand for them upward.

    Like 8
    • john vititoe

      There is your key word’s structurally sound, with all that rust in the engine compartment i bet the chassis is the same. I have seen cars like this and they always have been flooded out.

    • Jerry Bramlett

      I confess that I’d like to own it. But I’m not about to call the owner and potentially “waste” his time by asking important questions.

      He’s looking a rich stupid buyer who will just send a chauffeur with cash. I’m not rich, and my wife won’t go fetch project cars for me anymore.

      Like 4
  11. DA

    You cannot be serious!

    This thing is missing so much – needs so much – that the asking price is ludicrous. Who in their right mind would pay 80 grand for this rusty, worn plastic mish-mosh of a car?

    For an 80 grand premium, the car should be at least all original, but this will need a ton of work and likely still come up short. Documentation would help, but not much.

    Like 8
  12. Jonny

    I’d like to know where the writer got his data that says 3516 ’63s were built in Sebring Silver. There is nothing like a Marti report for Chevrolets, and, being a frequent attendee of collector car auctions, as well as Bloomington Gold, I rarely, almost never see a ’63 in this color. Anybody have any idea where someone could make a claim about this? Reason I’m so conscious about this is that I absolutely love silver on about any car, and on these Corvettes in particular.

  13. The Other Chris

    “If spending $480 on a pair of seatcovers and $580 on a couple of door trims proves the most expensive part of the interior restoration”

    It won’t be…

    Like 5
  14. queequeg

    “Ticked the box”.


    Like 1
  15. stingroyer Member

    Yup it’s restorable and unless you do everything yourself, there’s every bit of $100k to be spent. The entry level is too high unless it was a fuelly or Z06 – maybe – and it’s not. In any case the amateur seller should be providing pics of the matching numbers on the block and trans as a minimum to prove any kind of value beyond a #4 car that needs everything. Closer pics of the Tach redline and oil gauge would help as well.

  16. GDTOKC

    Always hated those hoods. Never felt like it added a thing to the car.

    Like 3
  17. dogwater

    Y are right gbvette62 I think its over priced but looks like a great rebuild project I think a good price would around 30k

    Like 2
  18. Jay McCarthy

    This one’s rough and the price is going to be a tough pill to swallow

    Like 2
  19. Mark R.

    So sad that anyone would allow one of these to descend to this condition, along with the modifications.

    Like 4
  20. Poppy

    Seller’s ears must have been burning…price is now down to a low, low $75K!

    Like 2
  21. shelbyGT500 Member

    I think the seller should check

    and see what 1963 Vette goes for, I know this Vette doesn’t have the split window , but it’s drivable and in a decent shape.

    Like 2
    • john vititoe

      Don’t be a fool, the reserve is not met, this car will be 80/90 thousands if they sell it at that price. But the fact remains this guy must be retarted.

    • gbvette62

      The car in your link is a convertible. When it comes to 63’s that’s like comparing apples to pumpkins. There is no comparison, 63 split windows easily command twice the price of a comparable 63 convertible.

  22. Manny

    It was originally a 327/365 motor

  23. Jerry Bramlett

    I think the car may have some serious rust in its birdcage. If so, that’s a deal killer, even if the car was being offered at a realistic price. And it’s NOT. I believe $80,000 for a ’63 coupe with obvious chassis rust, a mystery non-running engine, and half a replacement body (from a ’67 no less) is complete crazy talk.

    But… the fit of the front end is good, and the dash has a high red-line tach. Maybe it was factory injected. The original colors, silver paint with a dark blue interior, are unusual. Power windows and a 4-speed are nice.

    The seller’s attitude won’t help at all in making a sale. He doesn’t want anyone to “waste” his time. Right back at ya, slick.

    Like 6
  24. Peter K

    $80K for this cancer bucket?! The owner is on crack! Based on its present condition, maybe $800 to $8000 but no more.

    Like 4
  25. JimS

    For that price shouldn’t you at least check the numbers to see if its original?

  26. bone

    Interesting how the car is listed as 1 owner car (then one family owned) ,but doesn’t know if the engine is numbers matching , or gives a reason why the car has a 67 front clip on it

    Like 3
  27. Steve

    Looks good from the back…

  28. Ronald Amon

    At least the transmissinon shifter hasn’t been snapped off as many of these abused ones were. Which led to 64s having an ugly thick shifter stick.

  29. john vititoe

    This to me looks like it had been in a flood. The way the rust has taken over the engine compartment. 80,000.00 way too much for a car that needs at least 40,000.00 in work.

    Like 2
  30. john vititoe

    Dreams are high on this one.

    Like 1
  31. Chas E

    If someone wanted this project the 1st money spent is for a plane ticket. looks like at least 50K+++ in work

  32. Mike

    Front clip replaced? Engine was probably replaced also . If he doesn’t get any takers, I’ll give this crazy person $15k

  33. Steven

    I agree with Bone, how can that be a one owner car and not know if it’s numbers matching, did you change the motor and transmission or not “plus” I’ve never seen a engine compartment that rusty without being underwater.

  34. greg

    Always wondered what it would cost to make a later year coupe into a split window just to have one. Any have an idea on cost?

  35. BJ

    There’s something suspicious about this car/story. I was told he has no documentation because original title and paperwork was lost in a house fire. However, the original owner didn’t have CA re-ssue title. Instead he had title re-issued in his name. More details that just aren’t adding up

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