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Car Tales: The Life Well Lived Of The Split Window Chevrolet Corvette

‘One thing I love about running Beverly Hills Car Club is the sheer variety of the individuals I learn about who have been connected to the car trade. 
‘For example, Zora Duntov is a fascinating character.
1963 chevrolet corvette split-window coupe for sale
‘He is a man who was given the sobriquet ‘Father of the Corvette’ – although he wasn’t the ‘inventor’ of the Corvette, a title that belongs to another high-end Chevrolet employee, Harley Earl.

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‘And at the moment at Beverly Hills Car Club we have an iconic 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-Window Coupe L75 327/300 featured with matching numbers. This Corvette is available in its factory color #932 Saddle Tan with a black interior, and comes equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, 327 V8 engine (300HP), dual side exhaust pipes, and steel wheels.
1963 chevrolet corvette split-window coupe side view
‘Also included are service documents and receipts copies totaling over $4,000. This highly collectible split window Corvette has been with the same owner since 1984; although it just came out of storage where it has been sitting for many years, it is currently not running but has a free turning motor.
‘The 1963 Sting Ray production car’s lineage can be traced to two separate GM projects: the Q-Corvette, and GM engineer Bill Mitchell’s racing Sting Ray.
‘The first-ever production Corvette coupe sported a fastback body with a long hood and a raised windsplit that ran the length of the roof and continued down the back on a pillar that bisected the rear window into right and left halves. The split backlite is usually attributed to Mitchell, who claimed to have been inspired by the Bugatti ‘Atlantique’ 57SC coupe.
‘The feature actually predated both the C2 Corvette and Bob McLean’s Q-Corvette, having been used by Harley Earl on both his Oldsmobile Golden Rocket show car and his own more traditional design studies for the C2 Corvette, some of which had progressed to full-scale models.
1963 chevrolet corvette split-window coupe rear view
‘Earl’s inspiration was said to have been an Alfa Romeo coupe with a body by Scaglione shown at the 1954 Turin Auto Show.
‘All the same, the GM engineer Zora Duntov was a big player in the existence of the Corvette; and in many ways Duntov is like the personification of a successful twentieth century American.
1963 chevrolet corvette split-window coupe interior
‘Like many such characters, he is a refugee, with a romantic, though also certainly very frightening back story. Of Russian Jewish stock, Duntov’s family had moved to Berlin in 1927 – there he began writing engineering papers in the German motor publication Auto Motor und Sport. In February 1939, just prior to the outbreak of World War 2, he married Elfi Wolff, a dancer who then moved to Paris to become a member of the extremely exotic Folies Bergere.
‘Zorta followed her there and joined the French air force. When France surrendered, Duntov obtained exit visas from France from the Spanish consulate in Marseilles, not only for Elfi and himself, but for his brother Yura and parents as well. Elfi, who was still living in Paris at the time, made a dramatic dash to Bordeaux in her MG just ahead of the advancing Nazi troops. In the meantime, Duntov and his younger brother Yura hid in a brothel. Five days later, Elfi met up with Duntov and his family and later they boarded a ship in Portugal bound for New York.
‘In 1942 the two brothers established the Ardun Mechanical Corporation. Ardun initially produced dies and punches for ammunition and later produced parts for aircraft. In 1947 the company introduced their own aluminum, overhead valve, hemispherical combustion chamber cylinder heads for the flathead Ford V8 engine. But after some financial miscalculations from a partner the company went under.
1963 chevrolet corvette split-window coupe engine
‘Soon Zora Duntov left the United States for England to do development work on the Allard sports car at its premises in Clapham in south-west London. Duntov co-drove an Allard in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1952 and 1953. Recognized for his skill, he was invited to join the Porsche team, driving a Porsche 550 RS Spyder at Le Mans in 1954 and 1955, taking a class win the first year. And then he became an employee of GM, and the rest is clearly history.
‘But why are we talking about Zora Duntov with such reverent interest? When perhaps we shouldn’t. For Duntov is the reason why the Unique Selling Point of the car we currently have at Beverly Hills Car Club lost its Unique Selling Point. Duntov strongly disliked the split rear window of the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette. Pointing out that it raised safety concerns due to the reduced visibility it created. Aesthetically, however, the split window only enhanced the beauty of this fabulous vehicle.
‘Yet I love a paradox – seek for the great truths you may find within them, is one of my adages – and I always salute Zora Duntov for a life exceptionally well lived. As well as having a name that is as iconic as that of the Chevrolet Corvette.
-Alex Manos, Owner
Split Window Chevrolet Corvette Buyer Alex Manos

2 replies on “Car Tales: The Life Well Lived Of The Split Window Chevrolet Corvette”

  • Conrad Baker says:

    I bet many purists cringed when they saw that spit window.

    • Alex Manos says:

      Not sure I understand your comment…? This is a beautiful matching-numbers ‘split-window’ that received a ton of interest when it hit our showroom recently and is already sold. Happy to talk shop if you have any other comments or questions!

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