• One of only 63 Z06 fuel-injected ‘Big Tank’ cars produced
• NCRS Top Flight and Bloomington Gold® Winner
• Formerly the property of Helen Matteson
• Top of the line performance, Split-Window desirability, and immaculate condition
• Well-known and highly regarded amongst collectors of significant Corvettes
Engine No: F0204RF
327 cid fuel-injected V-8 engine, 360 HP, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel drum brakes; wheelbase: 98"
Ten years after its initial introduction, the Chevrolet Corvette received its first major restyling in 1963. Dubbed the Sting Ray, it was based on a race car of the same name owned by Bill Mitchell, head of General Motors styling department, and it was designed by the legendary Larry Shinoda, who was supposedly inspired by the ocean creature of the same name. The “C2” platform as it would later be known was a major advancement from earlier Corvettes, and it was designed from a clean sheet of paper to be a proper sports car rather than a mere styling exercise. Most notably, the new car featured a fully independent front and rear suspension that Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov originally had in mind when creating the Corvette – an agile, fast dual-purpose sports car.
Unlike the earlier straight axle models, the new design was the first to be offered in both a coupe and convertible model, and it featured a more aerodynamic look incorporating hidden, retractable headlights and a distinctive tapering rear deck with a unique ‘split-window’ in coupe form. Additionally, the new design featured “wind split” indentations on the front fenders behind the wheel openings and ribbed rocker panels. The interior was completely redesigned as well with a more modern look but with a more traditional gauge layout. Although the same basic 327 cubic-inch V-8 was carried over from the previous year, the 1963 model was a quantum leap in the evolution of the Corvette, and annual production almost doubled from previous years.
However, the only thing more exciting than the new Sting Ray design for 1963 was the availability of a certain Regular Production Option (RPO) known as the Z06. As a way of circumventing GM’s self-imposed ban on factory-sponsored racing, Arkus-Duntov devised the Z06 special performance equipment package which was specifically designed for competition minded buyers. For a mere additional $1,818.45 over the base coupe price of $4,257, they could order a “race-ready” Corvette straight from the factory with just one check of an option box. At the heart of the RPO Z06 package was the high output L-84 327 cubic-inch V-8 with Rochester mechanical fuel injection and solid lifters rated at 360 horsepower mated to a close ratio M-20 four-speed manual transmission and connected to a Positraction rear end. In order to stop this beast, the Z06 package included power-assisted brakes with dual master cylinders and sintered metallic linings, while finned drums created extra cooling to the front brakes. Yet, it was the competition suspension that was nearly twice as stiff as those on the standard Corvettes that really made this a race car for the street. It featured a bigger front sway bar, stiffer springs, and larger shocks that basically made it unsuitable for street driving.
Only 199 buyers chose to order the Z06 option in 1963 making it amongst the rarest Corvette models ever made. Given its underlying racing intentions, the Z06 was sometimes equipped with the N03 option which featured a 36-gallon competition fuel tank with oversized filler cap and neck for quick pit stops perfect for longer race tracks like Daytona or Sebring. In 1963, only 63 Z06 Corvettes were equipped with N03 ‘Tanker’ option as they were known, making a very rare model that much more unique.
The car offered here is one of the very best in existence and has a most colorful and distinguished history. The car was originally ordered by Helen Matteson with some rather unique options not the least of which was the Z06 package in combination with the N03 option. Clearly, Miss Matteson knew exactly what she wanted when she specified a Saddle Tan exterior with a matching Saddle interior in optional leather. Additionally, she ordered the car with power windows, presumably believing they were lighter than manual windows for racing, and she specified the lowest available axle ratio of 4.56:1 along with wide-rim wheels and 6.70” by 15” blackwall tires. Of course, she did order a WonderBar radio as well. The car was delivered through Roberts Chevrolet in Hicksville, Long Island, and Matteson soon installed a chrome roll bar and applied numbers with white shoe polish prior to racing the car on tracks throughout the Northeast such as Bridgehampton and Watkins Glen. Matteson would compete against legendary cars of the time such as the Shelby Cobra, but her racing career would be short lived. After only about a year, her “weekend activities” were discovered by her father despite racing under a pseudonym, and her on-track competition quickly came to an end despite several impressive second and third place finishes. Little deterred however, Matteson engaged in some illicit interstate highway competition, mounting a pair of aircraft landing lights under the front bumper.
Later, the car was discovered by Bob Young in Corning, New York in the early ‘90s. Mr. Young proceeded to undertake a meticulous and detailed restoration that has been recognized by a succession of awards. The car received the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) Performance Verification and Top Flight awards scoring 97.3 points. It also earned the NCRS Duntov Mark of Excellence for its combination of condition and flawless operation in 1994, and it earned the Bloomington Gold award for accuracy and originality that same year.
As an exceptionally rare model in superior condition and loaded with unusual, yet highly desirable factory options, it was acquired by the late Otis Chandler, known for owning some of the very best Corvettes in existance, and became a permanent part of his impressive collection in 2002. It was maintained in show-ready condition during Mr. Chandler’s ownership, until it was acquired from his estate sale in 2006 by the current owner for his private collection.
Today the car remains in its same exceptional condition. Documentation includes the original owners manual and installation instructions for the cooling ducts (“elephant ears”) for the front brakes (supplied by the factory but not installed) and a comprehensive restoration file as well as NCRS judging sheet. Additionally, there are copies of the correspondence between Bob Young and Helen Matteson which also come with the car.
In short, this Corvette checks all the boxes. It is an exceedingly rare example of a one year only model with the iconic ‘split-window’ styling and has been meticulously restored to outstanding condition. A correct car in every way, it has a remarkable history and distinguished ownership pedigree. One of only 63 examples ever built, the Z06 ‘Big Tank’ split-window coupe is arguably the most desirable of all the C2 Corvettes, and it is the car Zora Arkus-Duntov had in mind when creating the ultimate American sports car.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 'Tanker' 'Split-Window' Coupe