In 1963 GM Design put together two special Corvettes according to special work orders. The first was delivered fresh to the 1963 Chicago Auto show, while a nearly identical version was gifted to the retired Harley Earl. These Vettes received numerous modifications from GM Design including and a new custom interior and sidepipes.
Both Corvettes are easily identified by their independent side pipes which are similar to an exhaust first used on Larry Shinoda’s Mako Shark concept released in 1961. These attach to headers that go right through the battery box so the battery is relocated behind the passenger seat. Other details include 1965-spec chrome trim, body emblems, interior control knobs and four-wheel disc brakes.
Inside is the biggest departure from 1963 production specification. The seats are upholstered in blue with white inserts and much of the switchgear is unique and was later used on the 1965 model. Unlike the Chicago Show Car, Earl’s has a second instrument binnacle for the passenger-side dashboard which includes a large clock and accelerometer. Floor mats are fitted with a unique aluminum insert and factory air conditioning is installed.
Harley, who was instrumental in the release of the Corvette, received his Sting Ray in 1963. It was originally painted red on red and was used by the factory until Shop Order (S.O.) 10323 was handled by GM Design to transform the car. Furthermore the fuel injected engine was upgraded a 327in³/300 bhp engine.
Harley Earl kept his car for two years and frequently used it around his Palm Beach, Florida home. He also used it during a parade lap at Daytona in 1965. Corvette enthusiast Joe Clark purchased the car in 1981 and discovered it was Shop Order 10323 and was in fact Earl’s old car. A subsequent restoration with specialist Bob Gold was completed.
In 2009 Mecum Auction, Inc. offered Harley Earl’s personal ’63 at their Bloomington Gold Corvette Auction. They described the car as…
“A mainstay of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection, the Harley Earl Corvette is a one-of-a-kind factory special with a singularly historic pedigree, to be sure, but it is also much more: it repeats the ongoing story of how the Corvette’s magic can bring together enthusiasts from across the country and across time to solve even the most inscrutable puzzles in the history of this great marque.”
The car failed to sell with a top bid of $985,000 USD and a reserve price of 1.3 million. The car was again offered at Mecum’s 2010 Original Spring Classic Auction and sold for $925,000 USD.