Birth of the Sting Ray

Aug 18, 2011 1 Comment by

The 1963 model year brought a new body style to the Chevrolet Corvette, and introduced the Sting Ray “split-window” coupe, arguably the most iconic Corvette ever produced. And now AUTOart has brought us the most beautifully rendered model of this iconic car in 1:18 that I’ve ever seen.

Over the first 10 years of the Corvette’s existence, the Corvette had morphed from a personal car, much like Ford’s Thunderbird, to a more performance-oriented sports car.  For the 10 year anniversary, Chevrolet decided to take a giant leap forward, improving the ‘Vette’s performance creds and, at the same time, completely reshaping the body into something that would grab the beholder in a way no previous ‘Vette ever had.  Offering  up to 360 horsepower, the new ‘Vette  also came with an independent rear suspension, reducing the car’s rear unsprung weight, and improving handling.

The body was derived from Pete Brock and Chuck Pohlman’s “Q-Corvette” coupe design study, and Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Sting Ray race car, with the final execution by Larry Shinoda.  The most radical element of the coupe’s design was the boat-tail greenhouse and the split rear window, a feature that only lasted one model year. The distinctive glazing was replaced by a contiguous one-piece rear window for 1964.  All 1963 Sting Rays featured peaked fenders, a crisp beltline running the full perimeter of the car, a Kamm-inspired cropped tail, and retractable quad headlights.  As a package, the early Sting Rays are considered by many to be the best Corvettes ever made.

AUTOart’s 1:18 red 1963 split window coupe is just as nice as the real car – if somewhat smaller.  The body and paint are perfect, benefiting from AUTOart’s laborious prep and polishing.  The window trim and inlaid bright work are, unquestionably, the best in the hobby; shut lines are tight, and the doors’ leading edges open inside the fender – no “dog legs” here.  The headlights can be manually moved to the open or closed position, and the hood features photoetched simulated vent panels .  The car is equipped with whitewalls, which were de rigueur in 1963, and the wheels are covered with the standard hubcaps.  Inside, the interior is nicely done with flocked carpeting covering the footwells and the package panel behind the seats.  AUTOart’s mastery in giving simple plastic a variety of finishes to simulate leather and vinyl is well-represented in here.

AUTOart has read its customers well, and has spent the majority of their effort on the outside of the car where most of the collector’s attention is drawn.  If there is an area for improvement, it is the engine. It lacks the detail, and correct finishes, of the real power plant.

Overall, this is a beautiful piece, and comes highly recommended.

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About the author

Diecast collecting is the closest thing to an addiction I have. I love the little cars and enjoy opening the eyes of non-participants to what's involved in the hobby. I started collecting Dinky Toys (still have all of them) when I was about 10 years old and eventually moved to 1:14 and 1:18 Bburagos in the 80's. The higher end 1:18 diecast began to make their way into my collection in 1995. Currently I have approximately 300 - 320 models in my collection. Mostly 1:18, but also have a collection of fourteen 1:6 engines and eleven 1:12 cars. My primary focus is race cars and sports cars. Specifically Formula 1, Indy, CanAm, TransAm, Endurance (LeMans, Sebring, Daytona, etc.), Drag racing cars, USRRC, Hot Rods & Bonneville/Dry Lakes. I also have a few NASCAR, Dirt Track and Movie cars.A big part of the fun of the hobby for me is comparing notes and relating to other collectors who have similar interests to my own. I particularly follow the boards on Scale18 (www.scale18.com) and Forum 18 on the Diecast Zone. I was one of the original in-house reviewers for the Diecast Zone (www.diecast.org) starting in 1995. I Wrote box histories for Precision Miniatures Altereds, Mazmanian 'Vette and '33 Willys Gasser series..... a big thrill was seeing my name is on the bottom of the boxes.

One Response to “Birth of the Sting Ray”

  1. David Dole says:

    I agree that the ’63 ‘Vette is the most iconic of all time. The boattail shape and split window is a great look. I like the hidden headlights, too bad more designers don’t do that better these days.
    I also collect diecast cars and pickups – all 1:18th scale. Its a great hobby.

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