How a Rare 1963 Corvette Split Window Remained an Object of Desire

Stan Finsilver, 67, a commercial real estate executive from Orchard Lake, Mich., with his 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray split window coupe. Mr. Finsilver grew up in Detroit, a big fan of American cars.

Corvette’s second generation (1963-1967) is often described as the car’s most beautiful iteration. In 1963, and only in this one year, the coupe came with a split rear window, as seen here. The split window Corvette has become very sought after among collectors.

Another view of the car. Mr. Finsilver recalls seeing a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray as a kid, in Detroit. He says he knew this car would become an icon, and that someday, he would own one.

Here you can see part of the split rear window, with Mr. Finsilver in the car. According to the book The Corvette Dynasty by Matt DeLorenzo, the car’s split window was inspired in part by another legendary automobile: the Bugatti Atlantic from the 1930s.

A look at the car’s slick cockpit. When he bought it in 1998, Mr. Finsilver says, the car had about 77,000 miles on it. Now it has some 89,000.

More detail of the car. Mr. Finsilver bought it in 1998 for a ‘fair’ price, he says, from an owner in Dearborn, Mich.

Mr. Finsilver at the wheel. ‘I drive the car all the time,’ he says.

Mr. Finsilver believes the car is all original. However, he did add this side mirror, which was not originally on the car.

The car’s front headlights pop in and out of the body.

A close-up of one of the car’s wheels. Between coupes and convertibles, production of the Corvette topped 21,000 units in 1963, according to The Corvette Dynasty.

The Corvette came with a nifty race-inspired logo. And in fact, this second generation Corvette made a huge impact during a new era of sports car racing in America in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Finsilver tending to the car’s 327 cubic inch V-8.

A close up of the 300-horsepower motor.

The Sting Ray logo. In the 1960s, Sting Ray was two words. Today’s version uses one word: Stingray.

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.

Things a detroit native would understand: Vernors Ginger Ale.

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.

|WHERE CAN I FIND A CAR LIKE THAT? |  Mr. Finsilver was told when he bought the car that the rock star Rick Springfield had previously owned it. This photo, from Mr. Finsilver’s memorabilia collection, shows Mr. Springfield sitting on a Corvette. The Wall Street Journal contacted Mr. Springfield, who believes he did own this car.

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.