Z06 Spec/Info - 1963 Model
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1963 Z06 Corvette - Factory Race Car
By David Van Weele - 6/21/2001
Many people, especially the sports car racers, anticipated the 1963 Corvette. The Corvette had been king of its class for years before winning many local and national championships and Zora Duntov, the late chief engineer for the Corvette, wanted something more. He wanted to move the bar higher and he did just that with the introduction of the 1963 Sting Ray in late 1962. He and Larry Shinoda, the man who sketched the first drawings of the ageless body style known as the Mid Years, work tirelessly to develop the car that would set the automobile world on it's heels. Part of the their plan was to develop a race car that could beat the best in the world.
The Special Performance Package, known as RPO Z06 was created to market a turnkey racecar to the public. The Z06 option included unique dual circuit power brakes which included sintered metallic linings, that were larger than the standard metallic linings, vented backing plates, larger finned brake drums, cooling fans in the drums, self adjusters that work going forward instead of the standard when backing. The suspension modifications included heavy-duty rear transverse spring (7 leaves rather than the stock 9 leaves), heavy-duty front springs and specially calibrated shock absorbers all around. A 36 gallon fuel tank that took up most of the area behind the seats and aluminum knock-off wheels were initially required as part of the package but were dropped from the list in January 1963. Besides the Special Performance Package, additional extra cost options were required before the package could be ordered. There was the 360 horsepower fuel injected engine, four speed transmission and a posi-traction rear end. By the time you left the dealer you'd spent nearly seven thousand dollars. The Z06 option at $1,818.14 plus the other required options added $661.75 to the base price of $4,252.
The 1963 Z06 could only be ordered in the Coupe body style, just like today's Z06 but only being able to order the option in the Fixed Roof Coupe. The original Z06 cars were also limited production cars with only 199 being built in five production runs. The first cars were built for established racers such as Mickey Thompson. Six cars were built in October 1962 and sold to the dealers that sponsored Corvette race teams. These cars were picked up at the factory in Saint Louis and driven on the road to California. Within weeks the Z06 Sting Ray had won its first race at Riverside. Those early racers learned about the scary brakes just as I did. The metallic linings, basically metal on metal had to be heated up for them to stop the car. Even then you never knew if the car was going to pull hard left or right depending on which brake warmed up faster. Once the brakes finally did get warmed and you got used to anticipating their behavior you were fine.
Chevrolet had a problem with the aluminum wheels holding air, the tires were tubeless and the wheels were porous. These wheels were never delivered on a customer ordered car until the middle of the 1964 production run. I ordered my car in October 1962 and took delivery in June 1963, the main reason being the wheel problem. I bought my car with the wheels and that is how I wanted it delivered. The Z06 option was only available in 1963 until the reintroduction of the 2001 model. Today it is estimated there are between 80 and 100 1963 Z06 cars remaining and the value of these cars has gone from the purchase price near $6,000 to the six-figure mark.
The 1963 Z06 was an outstanding car from the start. To drive the car on the street was very enjoyable and not many cars in their stock configuration could keep up with 63 Z. From the outside there was no way to tell that the car was a Z06, the badging was the same as the normal fuel injected Corvette. The best Vette yet? Well, ask any Corvette owner and they'll tell you which is the best...theirs.
The Complete Corvette Restoration & Technical Guide Vol.2 by Noland Adams. Published by Automobile Quarterly. This book has been out of print but Noland tells me that is now in reprint and should be available this summer. The section to read is in the 1963 Z06 option.
Z06 Sting Ray: Confronting the Cobra, Automobile Quarterly Vol. 25 No. 1 By Eric Gill, First Quarter, 1987. Good story by the Number one expert in the 1963 Z06 field. Eric has written many articles about 1963 Corvettes and in particular the Z06 of which he owns four. Two of the initial five built.
Corvette Racers by Gregory Van Dare. Published by Motorbooks International 1992. Many great pictures of the Z06's and Corvettes from the straight axles to the ZR1.
Admin Note: This story was written by an original owner of a 1963 Z06, and a good friend of Z06vette.com. For more information and to see more images, please visit his site: http://www.z06vett.com.
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