1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Styling Car Built For Bunkie Knudsen
Closely patterned after the famous 1963 Sting Ray convertible built by GM for retired styling chief Harley Earl, this equally rare convertible was presented to Chevrolet Motor Division president Semon “Bunkie” Knudson. Finished in Rose Pearl with a full-length White racing stripe, it is outwardly distinguished by its chromed header-style pipes. The interior shares the unique upholstery, grated foot-well plates and custom color scheme as the Earl Corvette, and boasts a specially finished fuel-injected 327CI small block.
The origins of this 1963 Corvette Sting Ray convertible show car date back to the 1959 Sting Ray racer built for the New York Auto Show and designed by Larry Shinoda. That concept inspired the XP-755 show car, also known as the Mako Shark, which became a huge hit on the auto how circuit at the time and was a favorite of a number of GM executives. Chevrolet general manager Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen, son of former General Motors president William S. Knudsen, arranged for Chevrolet Engineering to build him a roadgoing copy of the XP-755 for his own personal use, incorporating the external side-exhaust system, and featuring a Crimson Firefrost metallic lacquer finish topped by a white stripe and a white convertible top.
Chevrolet Engineering obliged, as they had built a number of modified show cars for executives for promotional purposes. But the side exhaust and the special paint weren’t the full extent of the modifications as the interior received a number of custom touches as well, including a custom shift console assembly and 1964 model year seats finished in white naugahyde with maroon stripes. The door panels were also upholstered with white naugahyde with unique chrome-plated brass trim plate, along with traditional Corvette crossed-flag emblems, and slotted stainless steel floor grille plates. The steering wheel was crafted with two types of wood used on the rim, and the instrumentation from the 1964 model year cars was installed. Over the next few years a couple things were further tweaked on this unique car, including the installation of later instruments and 1967 model year seat belts.
Under the hood, Chevrolet engineering swapped out the cast aluminum surfaces on the fuel injected 327-cid small block for chrome plating and crinkle-finish black paint. For the unique exhaust system to fit, the engine had to be modified as well, with the heater box being trimmed for clearance and the battery being relocated just behind the passenger seat.
Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions