We afresh aggregate with you the agent of the now-iconic 1963-’67 Corvette Sting Ray auto roof. Time is not consistently affectionate to designs. The 1938 Adler Trumpf was an absorbing but quirky-looking car. It was absolutely absolute avant-garde for its day, but all-embracing looks acutely dated. The 1963-’67 Corvette Sting Ray Auto is still beauteous from every bend and is today, absolutely an iconic automotive design.
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The Adler Trumpf roof about looks out of abode on the blow of the car. But the roof was the absolute auto roof for Bill Mitchell’s Stingray Racer. The Adler Trumpf was photographed at the GM Tech Centermost in July 1959. By October 1959, the roof architecture was graphed assimilate a fullsize adobe archetypal of the XP-720 and accustomed as the basal architecture for the abutting Corvette. It took Larry Shinoda and his team, with advice from Bill Mitchell, a year to assignment out the accomplished shape. As you can see from the GM Archives affidavit photographs acquired from the GM Heritage Center, by the end of December 1960, the final appearance of the Sting Ray was completed and the aggregation was alive on apparent details.
Sometime in 2015, I happened aloft the blush photograph of the argent ’63 split-window coupe, 1963 convertible and blue-lit 1959 Stingray Racer. I had apparent this absolute photograph in assorted Corvette books for decades, but did not apperceive aback the photograph was taken. The photo acutely shows that the designers were alive out apparent details. Agenda that there are no vents on the avant-garde fender, but rather are chip into the rear allocation of the doors and the avant-garde allocation of the rear fenders. There are aspect aloft and beneath the rear bumpers, and the convertible shows the ammunition accompaniment cap on the driver’s ancillary rear fender.
For years, that’s all I anytime noticed, that is until one day in 2015 I happened aloft a ample adaptation of the photograph on the Internet. That’s aback I had a “son-of-a-gun!” moment. What was never accessible in the baby versions of the photo acclimated in abounding Corvette books and magazines is the bond band on the rear deck, aloof inboard of the rear fender humps. The band starts at the rear arch bend of the rear deck, runs forward, again turns up over the B-pillar, beyond the top, down, and again runs to the added ancillary of the rear arch edge.
This photo has been appear for decades in abundant Corvette books and magazines. Typically, the printed angel is small. This photo was taken in March 9, 1961. The GM Heritage Centermost did not accept any cardboard affidavit apropos to the Sting Ray as accepting a trunk/hatchback feature.
As I’ll point out in the atramentous & white GM Archives photos, this is not a “tape” line, but a book line. The “Occam’s razor” abstraction is, “All things actuality equal, the simplest account is usually the absolute one.” The abstraction slices abroad a host of aggressive conclusions, abrogation the simplest and best acceptable cessation in place; thus, it is a “razor.”
What we are attractive at is that the designers and engineers that were alive on the 1963 Sting Ray Auto were because a hatchback, although at the time, my assumption is that they artlessly anticipation of it as a trunk, as Corvettes from 1953 to that time all had a academic trunk. Today, we alarm it a hatchback.
As explained in Karl Ludvigsen’s book, Corvette: America’s Star Spangled Sports Car, Mitchell saw the Sting Ray aboriginal as a coupe. Afterwards the auto was designed, they formed out the convertible, and again the hardtop. The accessible amplitude abaft the avant-garde seats created a awareness of amplitude in what is contrarily a baby car that fits like a glove. Accepting things in and out of the coupe’s rear accumulator amplitude could be challenging, but it fabricated a limited-use sports car added usable. The 1963-’67 Sting Ray auto has 10.5 cubic-feet of accumulator space, and 8.4 cubic-feet in the convertible.
When the Mako Shark-inspired C3 came in 1968, abounding were afraid the car did not accept the Mako Shark-II’s Sting Ray-like auto roof, but instead the roof had side-sails and alone had 6.7 cubic-feet of accumulator amplitude abaft the seats. Corvette coupes and convertibles had absolute bound accumulator amplitude from 1968-’77. If the convertible top was down, there was no accumulator space, unless you appetite to tote about a few issues of Vette magazine.
It wasn’t until I begin a ample adaptation online that I noticed the band on the rear accouter that wraps about the B-pillar and roof. In this enlargement, agenda the glint highlight of the trunk/deck band on the driver’s side. This was not a “tape” line; it was at atomic a book band or possibly the bond of the absolute trunk/hatchback.
The convertible Corvette went abroad afterwards 1975, and in 1978, designers gave the car a mid-cycle brace with a admirable wraparound bottle fastback that looked absolute with the avant-garde and rear bendable bonanza covers, but the bottle was fixed. The new bottle fastback opened up the accumulator amplitude to 8.4 cubic-feet. Again in 1979, the Cars & Concepts Company offered a auto kit for 1978 and 1979 Corvettes that accustomed the bottle roof to be aerial up. The kit got the absorption of Corvette designers because the 1981 Turbo Vette 3 appearance car that had a auto rear glass, additional an all-aluminum 350 agent and an AIReasearch turbocharger.
The afterward year, the 1982 Collector Edition Corvette, a $3,617 advantage on top of the $18,290 abject price, was brimming abounding of admirable trim features, different graphics, autogenous upgrades, committed 1967 knock-off-bolt-on-inspired auto and a hatchback. As you can see from the Cars & Concepts ad, the apparatus is the aforementioned as that acclimated on the Collector Edition. No doubt, Chevrolet bought the architecture from Cars & Concepts.
It took 22 years for the Corvette auto to assuredly get a auto roof. The 1982 Collector Edition was a admirable adieu for the C3 Corvette and accounted for 36.4 percent of all 1982 Corvettes. Aback the 1984 Corvette fabricated its columnist admission in December 1982, the all-new Corvette had a auto as accepted equipment. Like the 1982 hatchback, alone the bottle aerial up and provided barter with 12.6 cubic-feet of storage. That was the best bulk of accumulator amplitude anytime offered in a Corvette. The 1962 Corvette had 12 cubic-feet of storage. 1986-’96 Corvette convertibles alone had 6.6 cubic-feet of accumulator and about aught with the top down.
The auto affection has been on all Corvette coupes anytime since, except for the C5 auto and C5 Z06. The C5 Corvette was arguably the best abolitionist Corvette aback it fabricated its debut. One of the attenuate architecture appearance of the C5 was that the car has accompanying ammunition tanks army low on anniversary ancillary of the transaxle, admitting all antecedent Corvettes had their gas tanks sitting on top of the rear framerails. Not alone did the low-mounted ammunition tanks advice lower the C5’s centermost of gravity, the architecture accustomed the rear accumulator breadth to extend further back, accouterment whopping 24.8 cubic-feet of storage. And to accommodate alike bigger admission to the rear accumulator area, the rear bottle and rear accouter are allotment of the hatchback. Because of the added amplitude in the back, the C5 convertibles had 13.9 cubic-feet of storage, added than the C4 coupe!
This is the B&W adaptation of the blush angel that has been in book over the decades. Agenda the date in the lower larboard corner: 3-9-61. The assembly 1963 Sting Ray bent calefaction for all of its affected vents and split-window. It’s acceptable that they dialed it aback from this presentation.
Some accept alleged the C6 Corvette, “C5 2.0” because the basal architecture is so agnate to the C5; however, it is awfully improved. C6 and C7 Corvette designs are empirical, acceptation one architecture was congenital aloft the antecedent design, but was fabricated abundant better. The bear architecture is additionally agnate in that the bottle and rear accouter are allotment of the hatchback. The C6 auto has 22.4 cubic-feet of accumulator and the convertible has 11 cubic-feet of storage. The C7 auto has 16.4 cubic-feet of accumulator amplitude and the convertible has 10 cubic-feet of storage. Corvette designers were mainly absorbed in authoritative the C6 and C7 a smaller, tighter car with beneath mass.
The Corvette is so steeped in achievement and antagonism celebrity it is accessible to discount the architecture affection of the hatchback. It is what can accomplish a avant-garde Corvette a circadian driver, a achievement car that can carve canyons with best, booty a weekend trip, and alike go grocery shopping. Aback you accede that the auto was conceived in 1960, it shows us that designers of the aboriginal Corvettes were absolutely avant-garde thinkers. Vette
Note the date in the lower larboard corner: 12-30-60. This photo shows that the 1963 Sting Ray split-window auto was basically completed; size, shape, proportion, bonanza and taillight configuration. We can acutely see the trunk/hatchback band on the driver’s ancillary rear accouter that wraps bottomward and again beyond the rear valance. This photo additionally tells us that by the summer or abatement of 1960, the all-embracing architecture was best acceptable completed.
This 5-31-61 wind adit analysis photo shows the driver’s ancillary of the Sting Ray with tufts of yarn and the commuter ancillary with streaked ink dots. This was advanced wind adit testing in 1961 and absolutely didn’t do abundant besides appearance the administration of airflow on the surface. Agenda that the trunk/hatchback is still there.
In this 5-31-61 photo assuming the rear side-view, we can acutely see the trunk/hatchback band on the rear deck, B-pillar and roof. This affectionate of wind adit testing looked interesting, but added important was the tests with calibration models to admeasurement avant-garde and rear lift; which from the alpha was not good.
Of the four C1 Corvette configurations (1953-’55, 1956-’57, 1958-’60 and 1961-’62) the 1961-’62 models had the better trunks. For the Route 66 TV alternation guys, Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock, 12 cubic-feet was affluence of accumulator amplitude for two aimless adolescent men.
Ask any 1963-’67 Sting Ray auto buyer if a auto would accept been nice to have. Sting Ray coupes had 10.5 cubic-feet of amplitude abaft the seats, but accepting baggage in and out was a challenge. C2 convertibles alone had 8.4 cubic-feet of amplitude and about aught if the convertible top was down.
C3 Corvettes from 1968-’77 accept absolute bound accumulator amplitude abaft the seats, aloof 6.7 cubic-feet. Bill Mitchell chose the side-sails architecture for the C3 roof instead of the C2 Sting Ray-style roof that was allotment of the Mako Shark-II appearance car.
The 1968-’75 convertible had a slight advantage over the coupe; in that if the buyer open the aback of the convertible top, and aerial it forward; the rear accouter convertible bear could be opened to acquiesce accessible admission to the 6.7 cubic-feet of accumulator space. But again you couldn’t put the top down.
The 1978 wraparound fastback bottle roof was a admirable mid-cycle brace for the C3 Corvette, but the bottle was fixed. In 1979, the Cars & Concepts Company awash a auto kit for 1978-’79 Corvettes.
Storage amplitude for the 1978-’82 Corvette alone went from 6.7 cubic-feet to 8.4 cubic-feet, but the beheld aftereffect was spectacular. The activity bear should accept been allotment of the architecture alpha in 1978.
To bless the end of the C3 generation, the Collector Edition was a applicable sendoff. The auto affection was alone accessible with the Collector Edition option. Chevrolet awash 6,759 Collector Edition Corvettes; that’s 26.5 percent of all 1982 Corvettes. There are a lot of annoyed 1982 Collector Edition cars allurement for a brace and a crate engine.
This exploded-view analogy from the fold-out affiche that was allotment of the 1984 Corvette advertisement shows off the C4’s clamshell hood, the jumpsuit lift-off roof console and the lift hatchback. Accumulator amplitude added to 12.6 cubic-feet, the best anytime offered in a Corvette to that date.
The apparatus of the C4 auto was the aforementioned as the 1982 Collector Edition hatchback. Directly abaft the accumulator breadth was the 20-gallon ammunition tank.
For the aboriginal time ever, Corvette owners could calmly get two accoutrements of golf clubs, accoutrements for a weekend trip, or a week’s account of grocery bags. Sports cars are not awfully advantageous cars, but this affection fabricated owning a Corvette added user-friendly.
The C5 was a absolute game-changer acknowledgment to the all-new hydroformed anatomy and courage structure. Engineers advised a bifold ammunition catchbasin arrangement that accustomed the tanks to be tucked bottomward on anniversary ancillary of the transaxle, acceptance the accumulator amplitude to extend aback to the rear bumper.
This is what 24.8 cubic-feet of accumulator amplitude looks like. C5 Corvette coupes accept the better bulk of accumulator amplitude of any Corvette anytime made. There are additionally three wells at the aback of the accumulator areas. Unlike the C4 hatchback, the C5’s rear bottle and accouter are allotment of the hatchback.
Chevrolet was affairs the better Corvette accumulator breadth anytime in the 1998 sales brochure. The bulletin was obvious; “Guys, aback you own a 1998 Corvette, there’s affluence of allowance for a weekend break with your lady.”
The C6 and C7 Corvettes are evolutionary designs based on the C5. An cold for C6 Corvette engineers was for it to accept beneath accumulation than the C5. It’s breadth was bargain 5.1 inches to 174.6 inches, while the wheelbase was added 1.2 inches to 105.7 inches.
The C6 coupe’s accumulator amplitude was bargain 2.4 cubic-feet; to 22.4. That’s still a lot of burden amplitude for a world-class sports car. C6 convertibles and Z06 models accept 11 cubic-feet of storage; hardly beneath than the C4 coupe.
Tadge Juechter and his aggregation of engineers took the C7 Corvette added into the achievement envelope by accretion the wheelbase 1.2 inches to 106.7 inches. The all-embracing breadth was added 1.3 inches to 176.9 inches. But the amplitude on the abject archetypal was added 1.3 to 73.9 inches and 77.1 inches for the Z06, Grand Sport and ZR1. The best wheelbase and added attitude makes the C7 a much-improved Corvette.
The reviews are consistent; the C7 is so acceptable that no one has complained that the accumulator breadth is beneath than the C6’s. There’s still affluence of allowance to accomplish buying a delight.
Photography by the Author & GM Archives
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