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Garage Shots
1963 corvette Build
Skip Gallagher

About fifteen years ago my nephew told me about a 1963 split window coupe that he had seen sitting in a pole barn while visiting a friend in Minnesota. My nephew, not being a car guy, had said that it looked like new! The owner, Jack, said it had a big gas tank and that he was going to rebuild the engine, but never got any further than removing it. So, the car had been sitting there since 1967. It even had the 1967 license plates still on it.

My wife, Diana, had always told me that the first Corvette she ever really noticed was a silver, split-window coupe. She thought it was the neatest car she ever had seen. So, being the loving husband I think I am, I decided she should have one.


We contacted the owner and tried to arrange a time I could look at the car. This took some convincing since Jack was not interested in selling the car and was not sure if he even wanted a stranger looking at it. However, my nephew’s friend put in a good word for me and off I went to see this beauty. After driving the 600 + mile trip, the only thing I could see was the front end of the car. He had stacked fire wood all around it and I could not even verify if it had a big gas tank. It was dark in the barn and the 23 years of dust and debris made even looking though the window difficult. Trying not to show too much interest, I asked if it had a big gas tank. Jack said, when he bought it in 1964 from the original owner, who raced funny cars, he had ordered it with all the options.

We must have talked for a couple hours before I made him an offer. He proceeded to share another long story of how he had to eat corn flakes and powered milk in order to save up money to buy his dream car. After that, I knew it was not for sale no matter how much I was willing to pay!


I stayed in touch with Jack throughout the years, calling and inquiring at least twice a year to see if he was ready to sell it. My nephew also became friends with Jack through their woodworking hobby, so he also kept asking for me. I don’t know if he was tired of us asking, but he finally showed some interest in late March of this year. Not trying to seem too interested, I asked if I could look at the car again. He agreed and said he had burned all that wood that used to be stacked around it so the car was completely viewable. I asked again if the coupe had the big tank option. “Oh, yes,” was his response!
Now I could hardly wait to get up there and look for myself. I arranged a time that would be convenient for me to look at the car. I even asked if I could bring a trailer with me in case we could work something out. Mistake! I almost lost him with that one! But, feeling fairly confident, I went ahead and arranged to have a rental car hauler available, just in case.

Two days later I was at the pole barn again. This time, 15 years later, I was ready to make Jack an offer that he could not refuse. However, verification of the big gas tank was the first thing on my mind. Much to my dismay, it was not a big tank 63! He had remembered it holding a lot of gas, so he thought it must have had a big tank! Despite my disappointment, I still wanted to buy the car, but I knew it would take some convincing.


I started showing him pictures of the Corvettes I had restored in the past. He was very impressed. During this process, half of the town came to watch it emerge from the barn. They helped convince him that the car needed to be restored and that I would treat his dream car to another life in the fast lane. Jack had finally been convinced and sold me the car.

Although it is not a big tank car, it does have power windows, brakes and steering. The body is in great shape and shows no signs of repair or body damage. However, the 39 years in the pole barn has taken its toll on it. It no longer looks new; the paint is peeling and the interior is as hard as a rock! The frame seems to have survived the dirt floor. There’s a lot of scale, but no rot in the frame. The only missing part is the trim around the back window. It is a hard to find item, but it’ll be awhile before I will need it.


My plan for the 63 is to do a frame-off restoration that maintains the original look with a little added comfort and go! As for my wife, Diana, she loves it, but hasn’t been willing to help clean up all the mouse waste that has accumulated while in the pole barn. You can bet it won’t be sitting in my garage for 39 years! Diana can’t wait to drive her dream car, just like Jack.

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Thank you Skip for the pictures of your great find. Please keep us informed on the progress of your Corvette.

 

 

 

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