1963 Chevrolet Corvette


  • Year of manufacture 
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For 1963, Chevrolet debuted the all-new Corvette Stingray, which featured a major redesign overseen by Bill Mitchell and, for the first time, fully independent suspension. That year GM also introduced the first official competition package for the Corvette: Regular Production Option Z06, described in factory literature as “Special Performance Equipment.” This package, which cost nearly 25% of the base price of a Split-Window Coupe, transformed the Corvette into a thoroughbred racer.

Included in the Z06 package was the 360 hp fuel-injected engine, a close-ratio four-speed gearbox, and heavy-duty suspension with upgraded coil springs, shock absorbers, and front stabilizer bar. One of the most important upgrades was the braking system, which was completely different from what was being used on production Corvettes. To improve cooling and eliminate fade, GM engineers developed special brake drums that incorporated impressive cooling fins, ventilated backing plates, metallic linings, and “elephant ear” scoops. This system also employed a dual-circuit master cylinder and vacuum power booster for improved operation under hard use.

The one-year-only Split-Window Corvette remains one of the most enduring and iconic designs in the history of the American automobile. As such, any one of the 10,594 Corvette Coupes built for 1963 remains highly desirable, but the 199 factory-built Z06s are simply in a league of their own.

This particular Z06 was produced in June 1963 and sold new through famed dealership Yenko Chevrolet of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The dealership’s principal, Don Yenko, is well-known to motor racing enthusiasts as he was an SCCA championship-winning driver with the famous Gulf Oil Corvette team and the visionary behind the legendary Yenko Super Cars, a limited run of highly tuned Corvairs, Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas.

As noted on a copy of the original window sticker – which was recently verified by the NCRS (confirmation letter on file) – this Split-Window Coupe was delivered in Ermine White with black vinyl trim and equipped with the Z06 Package, an AM-FM radio, and four-ply, blackwall tires, all contributing to a $5,812.15 sticker price.

The Z06’s first known owner was David Simpkins, a resident of Wheeling, West Virginia. Later, the Corvette was sold to fellow West Virginian Charles “Cookie” Knuth, an airline pilot who worked for US Airways and, in a private capacity, for Don Yenko. This connection to Yenko granted him special access to many unique cars, and he owned several noteworthy Corvettes including the famous 1956 SR-2 race car. During his time with this Z06, Cookie Knuth removed the rear Corvette badge, repainted the exterior, and added the custom “Fuel Injected” script that still remains under the hood.

In April 1974, the current owner, a Pennsylvania-based collector with a passion for original, unrestored Corvettes, purchased this Z06 from Cookie Knuth. It has remained in his care ever since. It was around this time that the consignor tracked down and acquired many of his most significant Corvettes. Unlike most collectors, who might restore such a car to show condition, the consignor has always preferred original, low-mileage cars and thus simply preserved his stable of C1 and C2 Corvettes in as-found condition.

In 2011, The New York Times profiled his remarkable collection in an article titled “A Quest for Corvettes Just as the Factory Built Them.” In the article, the current owner described the experience of driving his prized Z06: “When you drive it, it’s like a rock. That’s for cornering on the racetrack. And then it’s extremely powerful. It’s sort of like an animal. There’s a lot of vibration… It’s really an experience. The rear-end ratio makes the engine run about 4,000 rpm at 65 miles per hour, so it’s really cranking. It isn’t that great for trips. It really is a racecar.”

Today, this outstanding unrestored Z06 is being offered for sale for the first time in 47 years on behalf of its long-term caretaker. It possesses a wonderful, consistent patina; at the time of cataloguing, the odometer displayed just 49,161 miles. Repainted once in its original Ermine White, the Corvette’s interior remains in fine unrestored condition. The 1974 Pennsylvania registration sticker is still affixed to the windscreen and a service sticker dating from the early 1970s is located on the driver’s door jamb. The condition of the engine bay and undercarriage appear consistent with the relatively low mileage, the engine pad stamping appears correct and original, the Z06-specific brake booster is intact, and the original VIN and trim tags remain in place. The Corvette is offered with its original jack, a 1974-date Pennsylvania temporary registration, and a copy of its 1963 window sticker.

Never before exhibited, this well-preserved Z06 is eligible for the Bloomington Gold Survivor and NCRS Bowtie judging programs. Given its remarkable condition, long-term collector ownership, and important connection to Yenko Chevrolet, this car is bound to draw attention at any gathering of classic Corvettes.

Gooding & Company is delighted to present this rare, unrestored Z06 at auction and recommends it to any collector in search of a significant Corvette.