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The Cars of 50 Years Ago: 1963

By: Sean B.03/28/2013 < Back to Blog Home
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1963 was the year that the Beatles released their first and second albums in Britain, the year Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and the year that JFK was assassinated. In the frenzy of a changing world, arts and sciences still persevered. That fact was evident in the wonderful cars of '63 that we'll take a look at today.

...and P.S. we left a big one out on purpose to do a future newsletter, can you guess what it was?

Corvette Sting Ray

The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray



This Corvette is arguably the most famous of all, being the only year to be made with a split rear window. 1963 was the first model of the second generation Corvette, which ushered in it's fastback coupe.

Thunderbird

The 1963 Ford Thunderbird



The early 60s Thunderbirds were riding high after an appearance as the 1961 Indianapolis 500's pace car and being featured in the inaugural parade of President Kennedy. This was the third generation of Ford Thunderbirds, which brought a new sleeker design to the previous, sales record breaking 1960 model. The final year in this generation was '63, which while not all that changed from the '62 model, was a great looking car with all the newest features of the day, like power steering, power brakes, bucket seats and available air conditioning and power windows. The 3 diagonal chrome bars on the doors were introduced giving the 1963 Thunderbirds a distinct look from the other third gens. My favorite feature of the '63 might have been the swing away steering wheel, which is handy after a night of binge eating.

Studebaker Avanti

The 1963 Studebaker Avanti



This might be seen as a controversial pick to include in this particular blog about cool cars from 1963 because there were so few manufactured. This car was developed by some people who loved aviation, and that is evident in the interior and exterior styling. Inside, the controls and gauges resemble that which you would see in a cockpit. The air scoop is located just underneath the front bumper allowing the designers to get rid of a conventional front grille. Even the engine was called a "Jet Thrust" engine, available naturally aspirated or supercharged. If you have a spare 14 minutes, you can zone out to this Avanti introduction like I did after work yesterday.

Buick Riviera

The 1963 Buick Riviera



The first generation Buick Riviera helped usher in a new era of personal luxury for the General Motors brand. As GM looked for their answer to the Ford Thunderbird, Buick looked for an opportunity to make a comeback in popularity. The new Riviera was slightly longer but lighter than the Ford Thunderbird and featured either the 401 or 425 cu. in Nailhead V8. The 425 made 340 hp and was named as an option after the Riviera's initial launch adding more power to the luxury/power mix. This was a lighter car that could really go.

Hawk

The 1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk



The Studebaker Hawk series started with the Golden Hawk in the mid 1950s and ended with the sportier Gran Turismo Hawk (GT Hawk). For the 1963 model of the GT Hawk, the R-series engines, designed for the Avanti, were made available as an option. These were classy looking but powerful cars that tried to capture a European feel, but it wasn't enough to save the already struggling brand which folded a few years later.
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