- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006

About a decade ago, after Norris and Betty Waterfield had attended several antique car shows as spectators, he casually asked her if she would like to get an antique car of their own so they could become active participants in the old-car hobby. There are, after all, affordable antique automobiles.

She replied in the affirmative.

Upon further prodding, she told him that because 1963 was when he received his degree from Old Dominion Technical Institute in Norfolk and she graduated from Maury High School, also in Norfolk, the car should be a 1963 model to commemorate a significant year in their lives.

There are lots of very nice, desirable and economical 1963 models from which to choose.

That’s when Mrs. Waterfield recalled her teenage years when she would ride the Norfolk city bus past the Colonial Chevrolet showroom, gazing with envy at the beautiful and sleek Corvettes in the showroom. “It was a cost-prohibitive and frivolous purchase reality for a young person in those days,” she says.

So the car of choice was decided — it was to be a 1963 Corvette. Mrs. Waterfield did not realize that the 1963 Corvette was the first year of the Sting Ray models and beyond that, the only year with the now highly desirable, one-year-only, split rear window.

The price of joining the old-car hobby just went up.

Not one to go back on his word, Mr. Waterfield began searching for an acceptable and affordable 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. He eventually located one in early 1998. It was a very presentable numbers-matching car with about 52,500 miles recorded on the odometer. He purchased the car in March 1998, loaded the 2,859-pound treasure onto his trailer in Fairfax County and towed it 18 miles to his Prince William County home.

Once the 14-foot, 7-inch-long Corvette was safely unloaded at his home, Mr. Waterfield set about investigating what exactly he had purchased.

Like every other 1963 Corvette, it rode on a 98-inch wheelbase, was 69.6 inches wide and a low 49.8 inches high. Added to the base price of $4,257, optional equipment on this particular car includes:

• Aluminum wheels..$322.80.

• four-speed gearbox..188.30.

• AM/FM radio……174.35.

• 327-cid, 340 hp……107.60.

• Sebring silver paint…80.70.

• Positraction……….43.05.

• White sidewall tires…31.55.

Research shows that chief stylist for the 1963 Corvette, William L. Mitchell, insisted on having the distinctive two-piece rear window over the objection of chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Both men eventually got their say, Mr. Mitchell for the first year of the Sting Ray and Mr. Duntov on every Corvette thereafter.

Those who went shopping for a new 1963 Corvette evidently couldn’t decide on the coupe or the convertible. A total of 10,594 coupes were sold versus 10,919 convertibles.

The choice of colors was limited to:

• Saddle tan.

• Silver blue.

• Daytona blue.

• Tuxedo black.

• Riverside red.

• Ermine white.

• Sebring silver.

By selecting the silver color the original owner joined 3,517 others who were given the privilege of paying a premium for the color of their choice.

The black interior of the Corvette only needed new carpeting, which was quickly installed.

Additionally, Mr. Waterfield discovered the engine was correct but the color it was painted was not.

Years of accumulated grime, grease and who-knows-what, including paint, on the engine block were rapidly removed with the unlikely help of Easy Off oven cleaner.

The surgically clean engine now sports the correct color as well as the appropriate chrome options.

The 1963 Sting Ray is the first Corvette to feature independent rear suspension, which is quite functional, and dummy reverse air scoops in the front fenders, which are not functional.

Since acquiring the Corvette eight years ago, the Waterfields have continually worked to bring the car back to like-new condition.

They have even named their Corvette “CD” because, Mrs. Waterfield explains, “It soon became evident that this awesome machine was going to gain far more interest than any certificate of deposit.”

In the time they have owned the car the odometer has accumulated only 200 miles.

Still, Mr. Waterfield says, it’s reassuring to know that they can smoke those 6.70x15-inch rear tires any time they so desire.

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