Stan Finsilver, 67, a commercial real-estate executive from Orchard Lake, Mich., on his 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split window coupe, as told to A.J. Baime.
I grew up in Detroit. I went to Vernor Elementary School, named after Detroit’s famous Vernors Ginger Ale, and after that, Henry Ford High School. Like a lot of people from Detroit, I have always loved cars.
In the fall of 1962, I was with my father in downtown Detroit when a 1963 Corvette split window coupe pulled up behind us. This was the all-new second generation Corvette, call Sting Ray [Today’s models are one word: Stringray]. In hindsight, I think I knew even then that this car was destined to be an icon. I also knew that, someday, I had to have one.
It took 36 years for that dream to come true. I was flipping through a newspaper in 1998 when I saw an ad for a 1963 split window coupe. I drove down to look at the car. It was the exact car that I wanted. I was told that the car had once belonged to the rock star Rick Springfield. Whether this was true, I never knew. [The Wall Street Journal contacted Mr. Springfield, who does believe that he owned this same car.]
The price was fair, so I made an offer and the guy accepted it. But his phone was ringing off the hook, and he was giving people directions on how to get to his house. The banks were closed, because it happened to be Labor Day. I knew that if I gave him a check and came back after the weekend, that car would be gone. Someone was going to show up with cash. I went on a mission to find someone to lend me cash, and I drove the car home that day.
What is a split window coupe? In 1963, General Motors introduced the second-generation Corvette with a post running down the back window. People complained that they couldn’t see out the back. So for 1964, that post was gone. That second generation Corvette (1963-1967) is often hailed as the most beautiful Corvette of all. And 1963 was the only year the split window was built, so it is particularly desirable among collectors.
I have a few cars now, including a 1967 Corvette 427 and a Shelby GT350. But if I sold them all, the split window coupe would be the last to go. It’s just flat out classic.
—Contact A.J. Baime at Facebook.com/ajbaime.