On the latest episode of Leno’s Garage Jay takes viewers for a ride in one of the greatest American Icons of all time: the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. His Stang Ray was restored by Mike McCloskey a former Naval Aviator and drag racer who has personally performed 24 frame-off restorations of C2 Sting Rays.
Like many of his other purchases, Leno bought the car sight unseen without any research or inspection. The car was mechanically sound, however, it had been hot rodded and Leno – who already owned a few hot rods – wanted a factory correct ’63.
The 1963 was the first year of the C2 and it brought on many firsts of its own. It was the first year with an independent rear suspension and the first year for pop-up headlights. The 1963 was essentially a production concept car for the C2 platform that included many one-off parts.
These included the door mirrors (which were useless as they were blocked by the post) the gas cap locking mechanism, and wheels which believe it or not were made up of 17 different pieces. Early ’63s had two tool boxes under the seats that where a pain to reach, as the seats had to be removed to access them. To accompany these boxes, the ’63 had its own exhaust system that wrapped around them.
1963 was the birth year for the Z06 package which included Rochester injection and a 36.5 gallon gas tank which earned the Z06 the nickname “big tank.” The fuel injection system helped the 327 produce 360 horsepower.
The system was fairly advanced for 1963 as it ran off of barometric pressure. When the pressure increased the injectors sprayed less and when air pressure decreased they sprayed more, this was done to maintain a balanced air fuel ratio for maxim performance. At the time, many mechanics found the Rochester injection confusing. This led to many of them removing it and replacing it with Carburetors.
21,000 of these machines were built with silver – not red – being the most popular color (almost a quarter of ’63s were silver). McCloskey estimates that at least half of the 1963 Corvettes have survived due it being viewed as a special car on its release. This is in contrast to the early C1 Corvettes (53-55) which people treated as common cars due to being underpowered.
Leno has the 1963 Corvette ad made into a painting with himself put into the add climbing out a Corvette at valet parking “It took my 50 years but bygoly I got one!”, he said.