You know the phrase, "It's only original once." This '64 Sting Ray coupe is the embodiment of it. This Midyear is distinctive among Corvette lovers not for its factory Ermine White paint or by its powertrain combination of the 300hp 327, M-20 four-speed and Positraction. It's the mileage on and condition of this Corvette that make it outstanding. Its odometer shows less than 25,000 miles, and current owner Doyle Thomas says this about its condition: "It's very original. It's never had a screw out of the interior."
Actually, some interior fasteners were likely removed, then replaced to install what Doyle calls the car's most unique feature: a dealer-installed air-conditioning system. "It's a Chevrolet item, and the warranty card that I have says 'Chevrolet' and 'Frigidaire' on it," says Doyle, who says the car's paperwork also includes the receipt from when the Sting Ray's original owner had it installed. "He'd bought this car for his wife, and she was in her 60s when he bought it for her," Doyle explains. "Within ten days of him buying it, he took it back to that dealer and they installed this air system." Doyle also points out that for a dealer-installed set-up that was put in over forty years ago, it still blows cold air through the outlets located beneath the rear window.
The rest of the car is no less amazing. "It is original, with all the documentation," says Doyle. "It has all the dealer information and the original keys and key chain." Also included with the items from that Chevy dealer in Pell City, Alabama: an ice scraper with the dealer's name on it, which Doyle notes was just one of the souvenirs that dealer (and thousands more across the U.S.) gave away back in 1964.
Those souvenirs and the car's original bill of sale, order blank, warranty information, and other paperwork back up the condition of this Vette-which is so good that it's been the standard by which other '64 Sting Rays are measured. "For about three years, the NCRS used this car to judge Midyears with," Doyle says about this C2's recent history.
Speaking of history, this '64 has made plenty of its own. "It's one of the first five Corvettes to gather up all the awards-Survivor, Benchmark, NCRS Top Flight, and Bloomington Gold," Doyle says. And it's still in the excellent, original condition you'd expect of a Corvette that's scored those awards based on its condition and originality. "It still qualifies for being a Survivor," Doyle adds. "They allow you to have a certain percentage of touch-up paint, and that's all this car has ever had. It has not had a total repaint. It's only been painted where it needed touching up, where the paint had checked a little bit and gotten a little aged."
Under the (grille-less) hood...
Under the (grille-less) hood is this well-preserved 300hp 327, just as it was installed in St. Louis.
How did Doyle find this Vette? He says he heard about it from one of the guys who does Corvette work for him. "He's the one who located the car, and he tried to buy the car for about four or five years," Doyle says. "Finally, he ended up buying it from the original owner's family. He kept the car for two or three years while NCRS used it for judging. Then I approached him about buying it, and he sold it to me, and I've had it ever since." That was about a decade ago when this '64 joined Doyle's Corvette collection, which numbers at least a dozen more-including the "Z066" Vette Rod we featured here last October.
Since then, Doyle has driven it very little. "It'll go out maybe once or twice a year and I'll drive it maybe 30 or 40 miles, something like that," he says. "It's not on a monthly deal to go out on the highway, but it's started and moved every month."
Historians note that for 1964, Chevrolet offered its widest choice of car sizes, body styles, and options to date-in a year when it added the mid-size Chevelle and "face-lifted" its other steel-bodied lines. Corvette sales kept on the upward trend they'd been on since 1956, with 22,229 Sting Rays (8,304 coupes and 13,925 convertibles) built in 1964, another all-time record for America's Only True Sports Car. Of those, over half were optioned with the M-20 four-speed, 10,471 got the 300hp 327, and nearly 4,000 were painted Ermine White.
But none of those have the history, originality, or coolness (A/C-induced or otherwise) of Doyle's '64.
Yes, those are the original...
Yes, those are the original vinyl covers on the buckets in Doyle's '64. Wood-grain steering wheel, 160-mph speedometer and 7,000-rpm tach were all standard '64 Corvette features.
Below the '64's one-piece...
Below the '64's one-piece back window are the outlets for the dealer-installed GM/Frigidaire AC. The evaporator is located beneath the rear cargo floor.
To be a car that NCRS judges...
To be a car that NCRS judges use as a standard, every detail must be original. That includes the small trim pieces on the original door panels.