1963 Corvette Sting Ray with the split rear window
Bill Mitchell, chief designer at General Motors, had a skin-deep fancy for flamboyance, straight crisp lines, swanky planes and sharp angles. His style was all the more evident in his design of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which perhaps became one of the most controversial Corvettes of all time.
In designing the 1963 Sting Ray, Mitchell wanted to display his love for crisp lines and for this particular Vette, he wanted a line running right from the tip of the car’s nose, over the hood and roof, down to the rear window to create a scandalous split window design.
Vette enthusiasts and the auto-press were equally split in the middle about the ‘split window’ design, with some calling the ‘63 Sting Ray the ugliest, most impractical Corvette while others hailed Mitchell’s gutsy, design genius for creating a classic masterpiece.
To be sure, the ’63 Sting Ray was the first all-American production car of its time and was sportier and faster than other Vettes in its generation, thanks to its hidden independent rear suspension. Compared to its convertible counterpart, the ’63 coupe boasted open exhausts and could easily do a genuine 155 mph on the streets.
All sentiments aside, the Chevrolet Corvette was designed to be a driver-friendly car with a focus on function and performance so the introduction of a split rear window did not help toward this goal. The b-pillar already presented a huge blind spot for the 1963 Sting Ray and a rear split window design heightened the visibility issues of this car.
Chevy did go ahead and produce the split window Sting Ray for a year before halting production. Never again has there been such a controversial attempt to design a split window Corvette, making the 1963 Sting Ray a rare edition in the history of the Vette. Few collectors can boast of a 1963 split-window coupe in their garage but those who can, can unashamedly plaster a sticker of not less than $150,000 for a well-kept car.