Back in 1953, Chevrolet’s launch of a two-seater sports car was a radical departure for a marque hitherto associated almost exclusively with sensible family transport. Based on the 1952 EX-122 show car, the Corvette made use of existing GM running gear and a shortened chassis frame, around which was wrapped striking Harley Earl-styled glassfibre coachwork. Motive power came from Chevrolet’s 235.5ci (3.8-litre) overhead-valve straight six and, unusually for a sports car, there was automatic transmission, a feature that attracted much adverse criticism at the time.
Intended as competition for the T-Series MG, the Corvette cost way above the target figure, ending up in Jaguar XK120 territory but with an inferior performance. Sales were sluggish initially and the model came close to being axed, surviving thanks to Chevrolet’s need to compete with Ford’s Thunderbird. A V8 engine for 1955 and a radical re-style for ’56 had consolidated the Vette’s position in the market before arrival of the heavily revised ‘Sting Ray’ version.
Introduced for 1963, the Stingray sported a totally new ladder-type chassis, and for the first time there was a Gran Turismo coupé in the range. As had been the case with the previous (1956-62) generation of Corvettes, development proceeded slowly, being characterised by annual facelifts and few engineering changes of note. On the latter front, the long-overdue arrival of four-wheel disc brakes was the most significant development for 1965, while Chevrolet’s 327ci (5.4-litre) standard V8 was joined by an optional 396ci (6.5-litre) Big Block for ’65 only, then a ‘427’ until the end of Sting Ray production in 1967. The ‘Stingray’, of course, continued and the Corvette would go on to become the world’s best-selling and longest-lived sports car.
Purchased new by Frank Hayashi of Wisconsin on 31/12/1965 from Hult Chevrolet in Madison, Wisconsin, this Stingray remained in the same ownership until 2011 when the car was brought to the UK. The car comes with a large history, comprising of three large binder files including every service invoice in its existence. The files also include correspondence between the supplying dealer and the owner, the original sales invoice the original title certificate, handbooks and even the original protect-o-plate.
In 2010 the car enjoyed an all-expenses-spared restoration to NCRS standards with photographic evidence to document the work. The restoration was so thorough that even the correct paint marks on the chassis were re-created. Widely considered to be one of the best examples of a Stingray in existence, chassis 103663 is a masterpiece and would be a headliner in any car collection.