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.
Data File '64 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
Owned by Doyle Thomas, Longview, Texas
Original production '64 Sting Ray coupe body
Paint: OEM Ermine White acrylic lacquer, touched up in places
Production '64 Sting Ray, with original frame
Suspension: OEM '64 Sting Ray four-wheel independent suspension (Front) Coil springs with upper/lower A-arms, anti-sway bar and tubular Delco shock absorbers (Rear) Independent rear suspension with lateral struts, radius rods, transverse 9-leaf spring bundle and tubular Delco shock absorbers
Steering: OEM GM/Saginaw recirculating ball, non-power-assisted
Brakes: OEM GM drum-and-shoe brakes all around, with 11-inch drums and sintered iron linings, non-power-assisted
Wheels: OEM stamped steel, 15x5 1/2 inches, with 1964-only chrome full wheel covers
Tires: Original 6.70-15 BF Goodrich "Silvertown" whitewalls
At each corner is an original...
At each corner is an original 6.70-15 BFGoodrich "Silvertown" whitewall, wearing a '64-only spinner-style wheel cover.
Chevrolet overhead valve small-block V-8, cast-iron block (casting # 3782870)
327 cubic inches
OEM Chevrolet cast iron, casting # 3782461
OEM GM/Delco points-style ignition with Delco distributor (#1111024)
Carter AFB 3721S four-barrel carburetor (#3851761) atop original cast-iron intake manifold
OEM Chevrolet with hydraulic lifters
OEM Corvette dual exhaust system with cast-iron manifolds and steel pipes
300 @ 5,000 rpm (advertised)
360 ft-lb @ 3,200 rpm (advertised)
Original Muncie M-20 four-speed manual (RPO M20) with OEM stick, knob and spring-loaded reverse lockout
Rearend: Original '64 Sting Ray with fixed differential containing 3.70 rear gears and RPO G81 Positraction, plus U-jointed half shafts
Here's Doyle Thomas during...
Here's Doyle Thomas during one of the longer trips he takes with his Ermine White '64.
Modified production '64 Sting Ray
GM/Frigidaire air conditioning system, installed by original selling dealer 10 days after delivery to original owner.
OEM red vinyl
OEM red nylon loop-pile
OEM '64 Sting Ray (0-160 mph speedometer, 0-7,000-rpm tach with 5,300 rpm redline, plus ammeter, oil pressure, coolant temperature and fuel level gauges)
OEM RPO U69 GM/Delco AM/FM radio
OEM GM-Harrison heater-defroster
Dealer-installed GM/Frigidaire air-conditioning system, with controls on passenger side of dash, outlets in rear cargo area and evaporator mounted in rear of car (under rear cargo area)