Split Window Conversion: 1964 Corvette Coupe

There’s a bit of a mystery with this listing, but you shouldn’t worry about it too much—just accept this lovely car for what it is. The offering is for a very original 1964 Corvette in black with a 327 and a four-speed manual. It’s listed at $59,500 here on craigslist in West Babylon, New York—that’s on Long Island. Now here’s the kicker: It’s a ’64, but it was period-converted to having the sought-after, one-year-only 1963 split-window design.

The 69,000 miles on the odometer appears to be correct, which explains how this car manages to still be in very good condition, inside and out. The 300-horsepower V-8 and four-speed are original to the car. The ‘Vette retains its original black interior and gauges, too. The pictures could be better, but the car does appear to be as clean and original as advertised.

The owner likes capital letters, and here’s his assessment: “THIS CAR WAS NEVER totaled, stolen, or rebuilt IN ANY WAY… NOTHING LIKE THAT! It has actually never ever been in a fender bender, all bonding strips are PERFECT! YES, PERFECT!!! The paint is absolutely gorgeous.”

Now as to that split-window conversion, he says it was done in 1980 “to perfection.” So kind-of, sort-of in-period. It would be nice to know why this was done. Yes, the split-window coupes are more valuable, but if that feature is not original to the car the value presumably goes down.

LSX Magazine reports that designer Bill Mitchell loved sharks and Stingrays, and incorporated some of their natural beauty into the ’63 refreshing of the Corvette. The split rear window was part of that: “The fenders swoop to a gentle peak at all four corners, reminiscent of how a stingray’s fins wave through the water; subtle cues on the body hint to the car’s aquatic inspiration, such as the vents on the front fenders and B-pillars which create lines similar to a stingray’s tail; and (most obviously) the signature “spine” that dissects the body from bumper to bumper, resembling that of the fish and really solidifying the biomimicry theme. The split in the rear window is present to help carry this spine-like stripe down the Corvette’s body. When looking at post-’63 C2s, it’s immediately evident that the window split really ties the Stingray look together. On ’64 and later models, the ‘spine’ is lost and, consequently, a bit of the character that Mitchell worked into the car disappeared.”

Of course, I’ve also heard that GM simply gained some savvy in making curved glass, and by 1964 could execute a one-piece rear window. But this New York Times story adds credence to the idea that it was Mitchell’s design-savvy that dictated the split window, not any technical reason. Father of the Corvette Zora Arkus-Duntov evidently strongly opposed the concept, because he thought it impaired rear visibility. And that view ultimately prevailed.

“We got rid of the split window for the 1964 model year, but there was blood spilled over it,” Arkus-Duntov told Corvette Quarterly. “My blood.”

So if you side with Mitchell, and love how the split window holds the spine together—and don’t care too much about originality—this could be the car for you.

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Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    It’s ok by me. They used to remove the spines years ago, so maybe it’s kind of a payback. I like the look. One of the car shows built a removable split window roof, I believe that was a 64 also.

    Like 9
    • Kevin Kendall

      Fantomworks I believe was the show

      Like 1
  2. Mitchell G. Member

    Remember when 63 Split Window owners used to remove the window spine for better visibility? Pepperidge Farm remembers

    Like 11
    • GARY L

      Im 66 now,but,Kens Corvette shop was down the road when i was growing up in Shields Mich….I remember,johnny,the body guy took the split out his 63 ….i love the split window look….that trim around the windows is very expensive nowdays

      Like 5
  3. doug edwards

    Corvette owners are anal about originality. No mention in the article about the knockoff wheels. I have a couple classics which I use as my main wheels as long as the sun is shining. For me, it would suck to own an expensive classic that others would nitpick and I’d still be afraid to put any miles on it.

    Like 1
    • Frank Sumatra

      Not all of them are anal about originality. I saw a C6 Corvette at a Cruise Night yesterday with a split window addition. Each to his/her own! And then there was the Porsche 944 that was tubbed and had a blown Hemi installed.

      Like 2
  4. Will Fox

    Since this is only a ‘fake’ `63 split-window, it’s value should be reduced quite a bit. Why someone would do this rather than buy a REAL `63 is beyond me. Then all it amounts to is a ‘tribute’ car and nothing more, IMHO.

    Like 9
    • Jack M.

      This car is priced approximately 50% of a real 1963 Split Window. That’s a pretty good reduction Will.

      Like 27
    • Rkldesign Member

      I disagree, it’s about the aesthetic not the purist originality. I have never heard any 63 owner brag that his car is a 63. And if they did they probably don’t drive it as well.

      Like 1
  5. A.G.

    I wouldn’t use the term ‘very original’ to describe this car for obvious reasons. According to the ad the “car is a revin car done in New york state because of criminal reasons.” There’s another piece of originality which will never be regained. A couple of questions are why was a new VIN assigned by NY state and when did it happen?

    Another question is what else was done to the car at the time of the conversion? Today such a conversion would be relatively easy considering the number of after-market kits offered. Were these popular or even available in 1980? I’ll hazard a guess that along with the conversion the car underwent some form of restoration/refurbishment. It is possible the odometer was reset to zero which would account for a 55 year old car having only 69k miles.

    Like 6
  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I know it’s a fake 63 but it does look pretty good. Rear window conversion, hood grill work. Not sure about the side pipes and rims if they were available on a 63 but they look pretty good.
    Based on pictures only, if being non original is ok, then this looks like one worth having a look IMO.

    Like 4
    • Radford

      I really leaning on buying this. The revin has me puzzled. Will I have a problem getting it retitled in another State?

  7. Terrry

    There’s a great reason why the split-window was only made for one year. Simply at the time it wasn’t popular. Now, since it’s one year only, it’s highly collectible, even though the single window is better looking.

    Like 2
  8. MorganW MorganW Member

    Wow, what a can of worms!

    Like 2
  9. Jeff

    Something smells fishy. Ad says: “The car is a revin car done in New york state because of criminal reasons….THIS CAR WAS NEVER totaled, stolen or rebuilt IN ANY WAY….NOTHING LIKE THAT! ”

    Well, what other “Criminal Reason” would there be for the NY DMV to issue a state VIN on a car, if it was NOT stolen, or a rebody, or a cobbled together mixture of 2 or more wrecked cars????

    With the state VIN, being a rebody (using a 63 shell) would make a lot more sense than the Seller’s (non)-explanation.

    Like 5
  10. Bamapoppy

    One of the Corvette club members of mine back in the day told a story of a ‘63 at the Chevy dealer where he worked that the owner couldn’t pay for repairs do the guys in the shop were allowed to cut the split out and build a drag car out of it. I can’t imagine why a dealer would do this but as the saying goes, ‘stranger things have happened.’

  11. fran

    Why would you do that?
    That is like a Mustang coup conversion to a fastback! Then again its as dumb as “clones”

    Like 2
  12. Bob

    It also either has a 63 hood or the 63 fake vents/grills have been added to the 64 hood. I rather like it. I never saw a 63 with side pipes, when new. I never saw the knock off hubs until I saw them on a 67.

    Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    “…or rebuilt IN ANY WAY…” BS !
    No longer original, price reduction. This guy will never go 4 that – see use of caps for some insight on who he is).
    I’m out any way – just like ’56/60 & ’63 hrd top (if seeking a non-vert).

    Like 1
  14. Jackie Hollingsworth

    I see no problems with the conversion.I like it.To each their own…..live and let live.If you don’t like it then do not buy it.

    Like 10
  15. John Hailer

    Car looks great! Only question I have is about the engine. Is that a crack on the valve cover? Sure looks like one to me.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      That is a casting mark on the valve cover John.

  16. Joe

    It would be revinned if STOLEN or 2 wrecks MADE INTO ONE! it is NOT original seeing he had to cut the body up to do it. Price is WAY to HIGH for those reasons.

    Like 1
  17. Newell Roundy

    I happen to own a 63 split window now for 35+ years and drive it when I feel like doing so. It’s in good shape and I’ve always disagreed with the premise that you can’t see out the rear window(s). It’s never been a problem, even for an old guy like me…

    Like 5
  18. bucky66

    So this is what a “highly original” car is? A 64 with a state issued vin, converted to look like a 63 split window, side pipes that were not available until 65, knock offs of which 806 or just over 3% of the 64’s had, so highly unlikely this was one of them, and the hood off of a 63, not to mention the likelihood of all the other changes that can’t be seen. Car would be overpriced at $35,000.

    Like 2
  19. Bob

    I think it looks great! I’d go for it, except that I have a 62. I’d want to look at the chassis, because there’s a C2 convertible around here that if you drive behind you can see that the chassis is way out of alignment.

    Like 2
  20. Robert Jennings

    I’m amazed at the amount of people that don’t know the difference between a Sting Ray and a Stingray. Sting Ray, 1963 to 1967. Stingray from 1968 to 1976.

    • R.M.R. Tempel

      Robert Jennings, I’m amazed that you don’t know that a 68 Corvette was not a Stingray, just Corvette. The 69 was the first Stingray.

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