Home Automotive AdviceMotoring History Split Rear Window Corvette – The Story Behind This Legend!

Split Rear Window Corvette – The Story Behind This Legend!

by Jordan Harris
Split Rear Window Corvette

Are you interested in learning the story of the split rear window Corvette? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because this article will be all about this special Corvette where we will try to explain every detail of the story of this magnificent automobile.

As you probably know, cars are evolving each year. New design cues go in, old ones go out of the market. The demand is changing all the time and that’s why car designs are changing as well. There isn’t a car that is perfect from the beginning. Except for maybe, old communist cars.

But when it comes to the Corvette, we can say that this model has evolved quite a bit during its long lifespan on the market. Especially the latest Corvette which was a great shift from the old-fashioned front-engine rear-wheel-drive to a mid-engine rear-wheel-drive car.

And frankly, entered the supercar territory. And it always has been the case with the Corvette, every generation has something special and unique to deliver to the market. Just like the split rear window Corvette did in 1963. But more on that, we will cover in a bit.

First, we are going to learn what is the Corvette and we will learn about the history of this nameplate. Then we will cover the pros and cons of owning a Corvette as well as the story of the split rear window Corvette. And frankly, there is a lot to be told on this topic. So, if you want to learn more, follow us till the end!

What Is The Corvette?

Now before we dive into more complex topics like the split rear window Corvette, let’s take a look at the basics when it comes to the Corvette model. If you wish so, you can jump right on the story about the split rear window Corvette. If not, keep up with us for a bit.

Nevertheless, the Corvette, also known as Chevy Corvette is a small 2-seater sports car manufactured by Chevrolet since 1953.

As you probably know, Chevy is a car brand with one of the longest histories in the US market. In fact, this car brand is a separate division by General Motors since 1917 when GM purchase the Chevy brand and makes it one of their car brands.

Split Rear Window Corvette

So, when you hear about Chevy, you know that this is a GM product. Just like GMC, Buick, and Cadillac.

But what is good is that Chevy has one of the biggest car lineups from all of these brands. And the Corvette takes part in their lineup of cars since 1953. I simply cannot recall any other model that has been there for so long. Maybe the Ford F-150.

The Corvette even though it is a sports car, sells really well. It is basically the halo car of Chevrolet. Many people joke that this is an old people’s car. But I frankly disagree with this statement. Corvettes are really cool cars.

But how did everything start and how the Corvette was born? Well, more on the history we will cover next and after that, we will take a look at the story of the split rear window Corvette.

Chevy Corvette History

Now before we dive into the split rear window Corvette, let’s take a look at the history of the Corvette and learn how it all began and the different generations that were released during the long years since it was first introduced.

The first Corvette was the famous C1 model released in 1953. This model was unlike any other Corvette that was released later on. The first Corvette in my opinion is the most special one because the design is so timeless and so simple in the process.

The first generation made the Corvette what the Corvette is today because if this model failed, then nowadays we probably wouldn’t have a Corvette on the market.

This two-seater roadster was so fun to drive that people were waiting for ages to get in line and get one for themselves. Especially the V8 models that were simply like nothing else on the road. The only competitor on the Corvette was probably the Ford-Shelby Cobra or some Ferrari models. The Corvette was simply the sports car for the average American. And it stayed that way till this day.

In 1963, the C2 Corvette was released. And this model changed the car industry. What was different about the C2 is the fact that it came with two body styles to choose from. A 2-door convertible and a 2-door coupe. And the coupe is the closest one connected to the split rear window Corvette. And how close, we will get to that in a bit.

But what is most important is that this generation of the Corvette basically formed the concept of a Corvette. And all the models till the introduction of the C8 a few years ago followed this concept. When the approach was changed to a mid-engine rear-wheel drive.

Pros And Cons Of Owning A Classic Corvette

Another topic that we would like to discuss before we dive into the story of the split rear window Corvette is the pros and cons of having a classic Corvette.

If you are reading this article, then you are definitely into classics and want to learn more about the perks and also the downsides of owning a classic motor. And frankly, there are a lot of them. But we will try to list the most significant ones to help you determine if you really need a classic Corvette in your life.

So, without further ado, let’s cover them briefly and learn more about what you can expect from owning an older vehicle, then we will elaborate on the split rear window Corvette.


Now let’s first dive into the pros of having a classic Corvette. What are the biggest perks of owning a machine like this?

The biggest pro of having a car like this is mainly the pleasure that it offers when it comes to driving. These cars when built were designed to be fun to drive. Even though they have suspensions that are 60 years old, you can still drive them and enjoy them properly in the way they were intended to.

Also, you can even perform a resto-mod and basically run modern suspension on the same chassis. There are a ton of companies that work with these cars and produce parts that are performing 10 times better than stock. And you will have the feeling like you are driving a modern car.

The second thing is the sentiment. Old cars invoke pleasant emotions. They are like time capsules that take you to a different time and help you relive some of the same emotions as you were young, or experience how life was back in the day. Classic cars are special if you are asking me and frankly (not to mention, the most reliable classic cars), most modern cars are lacking that soul. They are all good but not good as a classic in terms of overall value.

And when it comes to value. I can tell you that first-gen and second-gen Corvette models hold their value really well. Simply there are not a lot of these cars on the road. So, there is quite a big difference when you are jumping from second gen to third gen.

Third-generation Corvettes are relatively cheap. But second generation, especially the split rear window Corvette, could cost a good penny. And they are regarded as collectibles.


Now let’s cover some of the cons of owning a classic split rear window Corvette. What are the downsides of owning an automobile from this era?

Well, there are a few of them. The first thing is probably the price. The price of these cars has gone up significantly in the past couple of years and they cost tens of thousands of dollars. Exact match numbers and some rare optioned cars can cost even more.

But it’s not all bad since they are purchased from people who really love and respect them. People who will maintain them and not let them rot in the ground on some field in Texas, as more modern Corvettes are sitting. Luckily, they are made out of composites, so they don’t rust, except for the frames.

Split Rear Window Corvette

And here we come to another con, which is maintenance. Yes, maintenance is a problem when it comes to older vehicles. They tend to rust, they tend to break often. So, you have to always keep them in check if you want to keep the value of these cars.

And the most important aspect when it comes to maintenance in older cars is to drive them. Older cars require to be driven regularly if you want them to start from the first try. The gas needs to be fresh as well as the carburetor. If you don’t drive the car, the carburetor will gunk up and you have an expensive job to refurbish it or replace it.

So, when it comes to these cars, running the engine regularly, as well as fixing what is broken is a problem. Since not a lot of people have the time and money to keep this split rear window Corvette in good condition.

Split Window Corvette

Now let’s dive into the legend of the split rear window Corvette. Let’s learn more about the story of this specific model and how this legendary model was born and all the interesting facts that you will not come across anywhere else. So, keep up with us because it will be a fun read.

How The C2 Corvette Was Born

Now before we dive into more complex topics like the split rear window Corvette. Let’s first take a look at how the C2 Corvette was born.

As we previously explained, the first generation of the Corvette was a true hit on the market and has placed a true benchmark. So, the C2 Corvette had only one option, and that was to be a true success and another good-selling vehicle for GM.

This is why GM has put a lot of effort into this car and started designing it a lot of years prior to its release on the market.

There were a ton of designs on the table. Namely, the mid-engine rear-wheel drive that Zora Arkus-Duntov was experimenting with. The designers were interested in designing a proper sports car as the European carmakers did. So, Duntov created the CERV I concept car. Which was a full-size mid-engine rear-wheel drive car.

But these ideas were scrapped by Chevy. They just didn’t think that this was the right approach to design the new Corvette. Based on the success of the previous C1 Corvette, they wanted something similar that will not be a step in a different direction. But only a mild step forward in the same direction. So, everything was scrapped and the engineers returned back to the designing boards.

Then the XP-720 concept car was created in 1959. And this new concept was the core of this new Corvette.

The concept was relying on some already well-known design principles from previous Chevy racing cars as well as the good old V8 technology. But what affected the styling of this new split rear window Corvette? Let’s elaborate more on that in the following chapter more in-depth.

Marine Life Styling Of The C2

As we learned, the C2 Corvette was based on the XP-720 concept car designed by Larry Shinoda and Anatole Lapine. But what affected the development of this concept car in the first place?

The core of this design was the Corvette Stingray. The Stingray was a race car concept designed by Bill Mitchell. If you don’t know, Bill Mitchell was the vice president of styling at General Motors. So, we can say that he was a really important person when it comes to the inventive design approach and creating incredible concept models that shaped the Corvette’s future.

When designing this concept car, Bill Mitchell was greatly affected by the Italians. In 1957 he attended a car show in Italy and he was really impressed by the designs that they create as well as their approach to design.

So, he tried to bring that experience to the US and create something really special. Namely, the Corvette Stingray.

And for this purpose, we decided to inspire him from marine life. Namely, a fish. That we all know as a stingray. The stingray as you probably know is a very wide fish with a flat body and a very deadly sharp tail. So, he really loved this fish and gave him a good inspiration to create something really special.

So, he designed the Corvette Stingray. The Stingray model was a really new and brave approach that distanced itself from the contemporary 50s designs and implemented really new and different.

Unlike the production car, the Stingray concept was a roadster race car without a windshield. Something similar to the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR that was released two years before that. But how the split rear window Corvette was born? More on that next.

How The C2 Corvette Got The Split Window?

Now let’s learn how the C2 Corvette became known as the split window Corvette. What made Chevy go this route and make the Corvette feature a split window?

As we noted, the C2 Corvette was based on the XP-720 concept and the designers of this vehicle were the famous Larry Shinoda and Anatole Lapine who also designed the production car.

And here comes the interesting part. Bill Mitchel who designed the Stingray concept car was a big man in GM as a vice design chief. So, he had a chat with Larry Shinoda and somehow he managed to convince him that the car would look best with the split window.

Mainly because the split window will complete that stingray look that he imagined for the car. And even though a lot of the people involved in designing the C2 Corvette were against this approach, the plan went through. So, the 1963 C2 Corvette which was the first model year, featured this split rear window look and these Corvettes are simply known as the split rear window Corvette.

And unfortunately, this design only lasted for one production year. But why this was the case? Why this design was not left for the next production years? Let’s find out more about that in the following chapter where we will elaborate on that in depth.

Why The Split Rear Window Corvette Was No There After 1963?

Even though the split rear window completed the look of the C2 Corvette. This design approach was not the approach that the designers wanted for their car. As well as the drivers who were driving these cars.

This split rear window might look good. In reality, didn’t work that well. Mainly because the pillar that was in the middle simply blocked the vision of the driver.

So, imagine that you drive one of these cars and you try to park the car. There is simply no visibility in the rear. So, driving these cars was a real struggle. On top of that, the pillar also blocked the rearview mirror while driving as well. Since the driver wasn’t able to see the cars behind him.

So, people who owned the cars were furious and even required dealerships to replace this rear windshield with a single glass. And a lot of dealerships did so.

This is why the design was ditched for the 1964 model year and never made a comeback since then. But what is good is that this design created something that is known as the split rear window Corvette and created a legend that a lot of people are interested in learning about. And this is why we write this article to tell you this story. Not to mention that these cars cost a whole fortune. But how much? More on that we are going to cover next.

1963 Corvette Split Window Value

Back in 1963, the split rear window Corvette was only $5,000. But things have changed and nowadays these cars are going for crazy amounts of money.

1963 model in excellent condition can cost about $100,000. Some rare cars with special options can even go up to $150,000. Even with inflation counted, these are crazy numbers for a car that is 70 years old.

So, if you are into collectibles. The split rear window Corvette might be the car you really need if you want to get something really valuable that will be an excellent investment for the years to come.

Facts: The Iconic Look of the 1963 Corvette

  1. The split-window Corvette of 1963 is one of history’s all-time favorites.
  2. Zora Arkus-Duntov, an engineer, played a pivotal role in introducing true performance to the Corvette.
  3. Duntov’s dream of a mid-engine sports car with superior weight distribution and improved forward visibility did not come to fruition until recently.
  4. Chevrolet’s Q-Chevrolet engineering program was replaced by a front-engine rear-transaxle cars lineup called Q-Chevrolet, which included a Corvette with independent rear suspension called Q-Corvette.
  5. Peter Brock, a young designer, stylized the first-ever Corvette coupe, dubbed the XP-84, under the Q-Corvette effort.
  6. The stillborn Q-Corvette passed through the hands of another young designer, a Japanese-American stylist named Larry Shinoda.
  7. The Corvette SS, a short-lived engineering project headed by Duntov designed to take Chevrolet racing at LeMans, was canceled after corporate politics intervened.
  8. Bill Mitchell, Chevrolet’s chief designer, was responsible for the 1963 split-window Corvette’s silhouette and was influenced by marine life themes.
  9. The split-window back glass design was inspired by a rare German 1937 Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine’s rear greenhouse and split rear back glass.
  10. The split-window design was shelved for a single back glass in 1964 due to safety concerns, making the 1963 split-window Corvette one of the most notorious (and beloved!) asterisks in automotive history.


In this article, we covered quite a bit when it comes to the split rear window Corvette. First, we learned what is the Corvette and its history. Then we learned what are the pros and cons of owning a classic C2 Corvette.

After that, we covered the story of the split rear window Corvette. We learned the history, the inspiration that the engineers took from marine life as well as why this design wasn’t popular.

F.A.Q To Split Rear Window Corvette

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What Is A Stingray Corvette

The Stingray was a concept car that debuted in 1959. This car was designed by Bill Mitchell and was a true inspiration for the C2 Corvette and the Corvettes that followed which got the Stingray badge.

Are All Corvettes Stingrays

Not all of them are Stingrays. The C1 Corvettes are not Stingray Corvettes. The Stingray badge was introduced with the C2 Corvette. This means that only the Corvette model after 1963 is Stingray. Also, some special models like the ZO6, and ZR1, do not carry the Stingray name.

What Year Did They Not Make A Corvette

1983 was the only year where we didn’t have a Corvette model released. There was only one sample that made it and escaped the crusher. And this car is at the National Corvette Museum.

What Year Was The Split Window Corvette

The split window Corvette was only produced in 1963. In 1964 this design was replaced by a single piece of rear window glass. Mainly because the vision was impaired by the pole that separated the windows.

How Many Split Window Corvettes Were Made

More than 10,000 units were produced. And about 278 of these Corvettes are equipped with some ultra-rare option. Namely, factory AC.

How Many 1963 Split Window Corvettes Are Left

Nobody knows the answer to this question. A lot of them are crushed, that’s for sure. But some of these are probably left somewhere sitting and waiting for someone to come and restore them and bring them back to their former glory.

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