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Split Window Gamble: 1963 Corvette Coupe

1963 Corvette Coupe

Update 9/15/14 – It seems someone jumped on this Split Window. The seller has ended the auction early, so the new owner must have made an offer the seller couldn’t refuse. Bidding had reached $45,544 before it was removed. I will leave the speculation about what the buyer ended up paying to you guys.

From 9/13/14 – With all the recent Corvettes on the site, I wasn’t surprised at all to find a few Corvette submissions in out inbox today. One stood out above all the rest though, this 1963 Corvette split window coupe. Chuck F spotted it here on eBay and noticed that the seller didn’t upload any photos of the chassis. After reading about the problems Don had with his ’65 Convertible, you can read his cautionary tale here, Chuck thought it was interesting that even without photos of the underside bidding had already climbed to over $41k. For those interested in taking a closer look at it in person, it is located in Irvington, Alabama. Thanks to Chuck for pointing this one out!

Corvette Coupe Engine

Fiberglass bodied cars can be very deceiving, as the body won’t show any signs of possible rust hiding underneath. Even if the seller had included photos of the underside, there can be serious structural rust that is out of sight. This got me wondering if there are any ways to tell if one has serious rust without inspecting it in person. And the best answer I could find was “maybe”. You can at least identify cars to stay away from. If the fiberglass panels don’t lineup and look to be “sagging”, then it likely has problems. While this can help you identify a Corvette with issues, it doesn’t actually help to identify a solid car. It might look good, but be a complete mess underneath.

'63 Corvette Coupe Interior

While I appreciate the ’63 Corvette and its split window design, I’m struggling with where bidding is already. After just one day it already has 41 bids and reserve hasn’t even been met. For those that don’t know about the split window coupe, it was a one year only design that GM scrapped as a result of poor rear visibility. The limited quantity makes them quite desirable among Corvette collectors and has driven prices up. This one is also a very well optioned car, which may contribute to some of the bidding activity. The fact that it only has 56k miles and has been parked since ’73 could also be playing a role here.

Corvette Split Window

I have been intently watching the Corvette market for the past few years. Demand for these cars has always been high, but I’ve noticed a recent surge in demand. I’ve especially noticed an increase in interest for C2 Vettes, so perhaps this car will make a good investment for down the road. In his email to us, Chuck even commented about a friend complaining to him back in the ’80s about only getting $10k for his split window. If prices keep climbing, it’s hard to guess what this car will be worth in 10 or 20 years. For all any of us know this car could be rust free or completely rotted out. The only way to know for sure is to inspect it carefully in person or to take a massive gamble and find out after it arrives. So would you take the risk of buying this project or would you spend your money elsewhere?


  1. dj

    That car is located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. That should be your first red flag for a bad frame. The color combo is not the most sought after either. Gold and brown. But those colors are coming back. And that mileage don’t mean much of anything, it could be 156k. You don’t really know. Also, there are some crazy folks on ebay. That car is over $41k right now. That’s a lot of money to gamble on a car possibly needing a frame. Being a split window won’t be worth much with a non matching numbers frame.

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  2. Dolphin Member

    Now wait a minute, this was bought by an old lady who drove it all the way up till 1973 and then just poked a couple of real small holes in the front by mistake. That’s mostly from the ebay listing and mostly not made up. Doesn’t say whether the old lady was little, tho.

    So how bad can this car be, seeing as how it has was just driven to low miles by an old, possibly little, lady? It’s got the saddle tan paint and the 2-speed Powerglide to almost prove it.

    OK, just trying to lighten the mood here, folks.

    Good catch, dj. Irvington, Alabama is surrounded on 2 sides by the Gulf. Better treat this car as if it came from the rust belt until shown otherwise. It’ll probably still sell for big money, but the buyer should know what he’s in for.

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  3. Rakontur

    The guys fibbing a little as the cars got a used car dealers sticker,Calmes Motors from Baton Rouge,Its a good story though.

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  4. Don Sicura

    OK guys, my turn, I gotta confess that I have this overwhelming urge to empty my bank account once more, just kidding! I see a couple of things that concern me, first though, both previous comments are right on. What I notice is that there appears to be some rust bubbling up on the birdcage around the left door under the fiberglass. The car does appear to be fairly intact & nicely optioned, but too late for it to be a survivor because of the paint having been sanded in prepping for a repaint. However this would make a great driver, with a final restored value somewhere around 50K, but with the price approaching that in the auction just to buy it & the car showing that just about everything on the car needing replacing or refurbishing, I would have to say it’s a pass. JMHO

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  5. DRV

    The original gold and saddle interior colors are my favorite,on this coupe. The same were used on the dealer pamphlet advertising .
    Under hood looks correct excepting the valve covers which and lack of shielding. I would try to bring back the finish and redo all mechanicals and interior only, and it would cost 30Gs easy without including the frame.

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    The split window did not go away because of poor visibility. It went away because it was a quick and easy customizing modification at the time. This was the high point of the custom craze as promoted by : “Car Craft”, “Hot Rod” and “Rod and Custom” Magazines, which were also at their most popular in the mid sixties. So many of the split window Vettes were customized at the time that GM figured that maybe they should make the same modification in subsequent model years.

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    • Clay Bryant

      The split window did go away because of visibility.You couldn’t get a replacement window for the conversion until the 64s came out and then most conversions started around 66-67.GM was told from day one about the problem not seeing out the rear view mirror.I was there in that lovely time period.

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        I stand corrected, thanks Clay (I was there in that time period also). The split window is still the definitive look as far as I’m concerned, so many other classics have much worse rear visibility.

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  7. Brian

    As much as I don’t understand it, it appears that we are getting to the point in the hobby that certain makes and models are so highly in demand that a segment of buyers are willing to pay five or six digit (or more) prices for cars of unknown quality (or even sight unseen) just for the distinction of owning one! I haven’t decided if this is a positive or negative for the hobby as a whole, as most of these mad money cars were beyond my means 20 years ago anyway. I think the negative falls when the outrageously priced muscle car start driving up prices on the lesser models. As example, I passed up (barely) a nice solid ’70 Pontiac LeMan 2 door HT, 350/TH350 on a used car lot back in ’91 for $450.00. Back then, the ’70 GTO were still obtainable, so no one wanted the LeMans. Today, had I bought that car, kept it running and stored indoors, I’d have no problem getting five grand for it! I’m not of financial means to consider buying cars unseen for 40 grand, or seen for that matter, but I don’t believe I’d do it even if I were! There are still so many less popular makes out there that can be bought … and very nicely restored … for far less than the asking price of the above car. Of course, I buy and repair a car because I like it and I want it (can afford it) and if it doesn’t gain in value, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. To each his own, and more power to those that enjoy buying cars this way … but the price of admission to this party is just too high for me!

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    • Al

      Brian I agree with your points. I went out to look at a 70 GTO that turned out to be a LeMans. Could not convince seller that since the ID # were different that it wasn’t a GTO. He kept saying that since he put all the GTO parts on it was a GTO. Another car I looked at a Cougar XR-7 the seller kept saying about how he saw on sold on Barrett-Jackson for so much and his was 1 year newer it should bring more. Explained to him how the sale car was completely restored and his needed a complete restore, but he didn’t see it. Like folks with basic 6 cylinder Stangs thinking they should get the same as a 65 fastback loaded. Market does get insane at times.

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  8. Art Fink

    Hi Guys, I’ve owned a few C2 Corvettes over the years, including a SWC. This one would scare me. It is totally filthy up, down, inside and out. My suspicion is this one was under water. The buyer needs to check all the nooks and crannies before taking this one home. Just My Two Cents, Art

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  9. Tim Moore

    I actually think this car is selling for what it should be priced at. It’s a low mile original split-window in a colour combo appropriate for the year. Just watch, in 20 years this car will be worth upwards of $150-200 grand

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  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    The Split Window Vette is one of my favorites, right next to the ’60-’62. I would love to have a chance to own/restore one but the E-bay craze pretty much negates any hopes to make that dream come true. I have to be realistic and say that despite how much I’d like to own one, it still has to be a realistic investment. If I was independently wealthy maybe I’d be willing to take a big chance but for the time being, I’m going to have to sit this one out.

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  11. rancho bella

    As much as I carp on the Corvette handling…….I am sucker for a split and would like to own one, but the prices are against my principals……….

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  12. Dan

    1963 was Anniversary Gold and used on all Chevys. I owned one back in the 80’s and the visibility stank……

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  13. ConservativesDefeated

    My Holy Grail! But couldnt agree more with all the cautionary comments. The Gulf Coast is rustville. Period. I would listen to Don Sicura who is the new gold standard in BarnFinds Karma..

    Besides which what happened to the perennial wisdom of buy a car thats been well taken care of? (btw, dont end a sentence in a preposition except on the net)

    Pass..but if you must put eyes on the real thing.

    Who cares what bidders on Ebay do

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  14. John

    300 hp and a two-speed Powerglide. I’m not sure that I would have recommended that combo even when the car was brand new. And if I’m not incorrect, I think the automatics had a slightly different frame which precluded a simple switchover to a four-speed.

    Finally, I have seen pictures of a Corvette that split its frame in half when it was put on a lift :) I’ll wait, Perhaps one of the original GT-40 roadsters will come up and I’d hate to have my money tied up. Right.

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  15. Don Sicura

    Hi John, about the difference in the chassis on the C2 & C3, it was the center crossmember where the transmission mounted to the frame that was different, the manual transmission crossmember was welded in place, but when the car was equipped with the auto trans, the crossmember was bolted in place, this was done for removal of the powerglide transmission without needing to remove the engine to do so, but both transmissions will bolt in with either crossmember. By the way, let me know when you find that GT40!

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  16. stillrunners

    And what dealer did the car come from ?…..that’s sure a fancy dealer sticker on the back ..

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    • Clay Bryant

      Stillrunners,now you have ME going back to the Ebay listing to look.In case your computer can’t pick it up,it came from Calmes Motors “brand spankin’ new”.On the sticker it says “The 2-door Hardtop Home” in Batton Rouge,Louisiana. Some new car dealers at the time would put fancy stickers on their cars but this one went the country mile and put the ultra deluxe sticker on it.The Calmes sticker probably derived from the strung out wording of “Calm me” from someone getting a good deal from the Chevy dealer and then watching him slap the “deluxe”sticker on.In Nebraska there probably would be salesman’s blood on the car(maybe chunks of skin too depending on method of disposal) as he yelled “Calm down!Calm down!!!”

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  17. Clay bryant

    Having looked at 63 Corvettes for over 50 years(only owned 1 SW) I can’t say I’ve ever seen the interior on one “take off in the direction” like this one.I look at the little things like the screw on the back of the driver’s seat and the peeling around the chrome on it with rust or whatever and I really wonder.I do know mudlines on a tire and see that.The front “pop” on the passenger side came from low and off to the side and caused the “kilter” in the front end.Seams seem pretty good except the hood on the corner that got popped.Would have to look in person at the fit on the passenger door on the top part.At a current 45.5 grand on Ebay we’re at the point where we say two fools are meeting.Must have been hot enough in that interior at one time to roast a chicken with the shift lever rubber being gone like that.

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  18. Tim Moore

    Man, there sure are a lot of “experts” out there.. Csi fail ^^

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  19. Scott Allison

    Alabama Car
    Filthy Car
    Probably a Survivor.. of Katrina! This car was most likely underwater and I would want to go over every inch of it before laying down any cash! But 40K for a car is this shape? NO WAY.

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  20. ed

    So its been sitting since 1974 been through how many hurricanes since then, no photos of frame and the price is climbing toward 50 grand. But you say they don’t make them any more, well they might start reproduction at $75,000.00.

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  21. Don Sicura

    If GM were to start reproducing these things, I’d be first in line!

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  22. ruck

    The whole story stinks…as does the car. Bought new by an older lady? Then why is there a “car lot” sticker on the rear (Calmes Motors, the two door hard top home, Baton Rouge, LA)?
    The car had minor frontend damage and repair (sanding) was started…but also sanded on the rear. What happened to the exhaust? The power steering belt is gone, ignition parts scattered, the interior is a mess for 56k miles. I call BS. The auction ended at $45.5k…about $15k too much.

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  23. Ghostrider47

    I am seeing a trend in the last couple of years. Folks want to sell a classic such as this then price it by taking the top end money deducting the low estimated cost the replacement parts required to just fix it and arriving at the price they want. They do not take into consideration the time and labor costs involved in bringing it to a good driver quality. So when it is all said and done you have 80k invested in a 55k car. Then you get to put into your add ” My loss is your gain ” when you decide to sell it in a year or two. Don’t get me wrong I love to restore antiques and classics yet practicality should play a part in any choice to invest in a project. If your ok with a small profit or breaking even so you get to enjoy it for a while afterwards then go for it. But do you really want to start out in a hole so deep it will take 20 years to break even? Might as well buy a boat, at least you know from the start it’s going to be a sucking vortex of financial need from the start.

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    • Don Sicura

      Ghostrider, your take on this is dead on, except for a couple of things, no one except for the guy one pays for the resto & the auction house will make money on these things, if you happen to acquire an antique auto, it is going to cost lots of money never to be recovered, we’d be better off, putting the 100 or 200K into a bank account that pays 1% & withdraw it in say 20 or so years, you’d see more of a profit. Just about everyone of these sellers today see the perfect cars being sold on TV & think that they should get just as much for their less than perfect non auction car! In my opinion, the car auctions on TV are making the collector car hobby beyond the reach of 99% of the population.

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  24. Don Sicura

    Hey Guys, this story just made CorvetteBlogger.com

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  25. BrentF

    This car is in very bad shape. Plus it’s a automatic. At $45k someone overpaid big time relative to today’s market values.

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    • Clay Bryant

      It was an Elvis car,he sold it to Steve McQueen and John Wayne traded in his 53 on it but without the documents,I wouldn’t go over 20 grand on it.(but the nice thing is,it has 1972 air in the tires and a good snort of smog-free air down on the coast is priceless.)

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  26. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Sold for $45,544 with 43 bids!

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  27. OhU8one2

    Sale price is insane. Buyer beware,oh and I have 21acres on the beach that is up for sale in Arizona. Listed at $135,000 an acre. Water,sewer,electrical right up to the street. Great Pacific Ocean sunsets. Possible trade cash/classic car? Interested?

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  28. Jason

    If you are concerned about your financial investment, your in the wrong hobby. This hobby is for folks wanting to find/restore/drive these long-lost gems. I for one have paid a lot of money for cars that aren’t worth it. I paid for the history… But I can afford to!

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  29. chris

    You people are out of this league. At that price condition doesn’t matter AT ALL.

    1963 Corvette Split Window Sells for $275,000 at Mecum’s 2013 Kissimmee Auction


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    • Don

      Ahhhhh, finally someone who really knows it all about everything………..lol

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  30. Jack Quantrill

    Looks like it came out of the “Mad Max” movie! Mean looking, as is.

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