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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The real story behind the four-seat 1963 Corvette

The auto world is abuzz over a recent Instagram post from General Motors Design that features images and a brief description of a four-seat Corvette that Chevrolet designed in 1962. Here's the rest of the rest of the story. According to GM Archives, Chevrolet general manager Ed Cole wondered if a "four-place Corvette" could rival Ford's successful four-seat Thunderbird.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/the-real-story-behind-the-four-seat-1963-corvette/
47 REPLIES 47
audiobycarmine
Advanced Driver

OK, so I'm going to risk firebombing, or at least, some "stink-eye" from Le Chevrolistas...

I say that this model/prototype is simply GORGEOUS.

I myself never loved the '63 - ?? Sting Ray body style, (alright, already; enough of the abuse!)
The 1958 - 1962 were my favourites.

This ideation was at least as attractive as Jaguar's 2+2 E-type. Maybe even better-executed.


The MOST beautiful car ever made, possibly the most beautiful ANYTHING ever designed by the hand of man, is the Jaguar XKE.  OK, the Chrysler Building too.

 

 My two-cents and a certain Signor Ferrari.

BlackCloud
New Driver

Well, the 63 split window was a design abortion. Rear view mirror was useless. Otherwise the car was beautiful.
61Rampy
Advanced Driver

The Corvette looks better than the XKE in the 4 seat version. I agree that the XKE 2 seater was the most beautiful car made (Tho a Miura could sway me...). Corvette people would have turned their noses on the 4 seat, just like Mustang people treat the Mach E.
RichH
Detailer

And the 260Z 2+2.
SilverZ06
New Driver

The proportions are reminiscent of an Avanti. It doesn’t look half bad, but I still like the two seater better
Teampantera
Pit Crew

Amazing.
IMHO way ahead of its time. Much more attractive then what Jaguar did with the E-type 2+2 or what Porsche continues to build and sell. Although remembering now when I owned my XKE the Salesman suggested the 2+2 citing room for family.
I remember now thinking,

“Why would I want kids in the Jag with me”


toy83h2ssj53
Intermediate Driver

Larry Shinoda did an excellent job in designing this prototype, and visually, to my taste, as good as the original 2 place. The curves flow well and are all balanced, the roofline is beautiful, and it looks like it was a larger twin to the 2 place. Re: the Jaguar 2+2, it doesn't even hold a candle to this
'Vette in styling. The Brits blew it when they enlarged the 2 place - the roofline doesn't flow well, and it just doesn't look right. This'Vette and it's twin, in my estimation is the most beautiful of all the
Corvettes ever produced so far. Tragedy that it was destroyed!
Oldroad1
Advanced Driver

Those rear buckets and door trim pads are almost identical to the front buckets and door trim on the 69 Mustang
Rob1
Instructor

Admittedly not the worst looking creation to be toyed with the Corvette was and is a true sportscar and a two seater if you want more seats buy a station wagon,can U imagine a MG B/Ford GT 40/Jag XK E/Shelby Cobra/many Ferrari,s/Lotus Elan these are cars that are just what they are sportscars and although JMO two chairs are quite enough it just takes away from the mystique to make them a people hauler rather than a thrill ride.Cheers R

hyperv6
Gearhead

They did a good job keeping the proportions right but the concept was a flaw to even consider.

What appeared to be a good idea at the time tuned into a short term success. The T Bird and the continued changes really ended up with mixed results and a name that is really confusing.

Is a T Bird a sports car, 4 seat personal luxury car. A mis size coupe? A sedan? At the rate it is going I would not be shocked to see it as suv or a truck with a bed with all Ford has done to the name. 

GM made the right choice then to keep the Corvette focused on the sports car it is thought the good and lean times.

Let this be a reminder a Corvette is not a brand but a model and should never have the name applied to a SUV for short term gains.

Name equity takes years to gain. Iconic image takes decades to gain. But all can be lost in a few short years with poor short term decisions.

Sometimes you have to thank God for unanswered prayer.

 

History will prove most sports cars focused on more than jump seats in back have failed to live long. The 911 is one exception even the no one really sits back there more than a couple miles. 

Rob1
Instructor

Oh like the rebadged F 150 is a Lincoln just never did it for me Nice truck but it needed its own badge denoting a high end truck not a car with a box but thats just me like you said about the Vette being a Model well said.R

Reinhold_Weege
Advanced Driver

The woman's expression says it all... "are you serious!?"
Spencer30
Pit Crew

Doesn’t look too bad to me, reminds me of a Jensen Interceptor.
basmith302
Pit Crew

Wow! That is beautiful. They would've sold the devil out of those. Although maybe not the most practical thing I've ever seen....imagine being that man sitting in the back seat in that last picture in Phoenix AZ or Texas when it's 101 outside. But hey, go get an Impala if you want a REAL family ride.
elvacarsdallas
Pit Crew

I had a 2+2 Healey when they came out in late 50s. I always said 2 people and 2 sacks of groceries. The next one was 2 seats only.
RichH
Detailer

Yeah, the back seat in my 75 Ferrari is only good for small children, small luggage, groceries or golf clubs. But I'm a bit claustrophobic and REALLY like the extra interior space. I'da bought one of these in a heartbeat. I think it looks better than its little brother.

Studenorton
Advanced Driver

The proportions are well done. The back seat looks dangerously uncomfortable -- but keep in mind how useless a lot of sporty-car back seats were (even, or maybe especially, for their *unintended* purpose!). The real purpose of a 2+2 in that era was (1) insurance rates, Four Seats Good/Two Seats Bad, and (B) to keep the fiancee from saying "No, No, Never" before the test drive.

Had they contracted with Molded Fiberglass Products to do the prototyping, it would have tied up all of the plant's capacity and there would never have been an Avanti. So, thanks, screwy GM Prez!
MustangJim
Detailer

I think that I am the only one here who does not like the styling. I just don't think it works and I thought the same of the XKE 2+2. To me, its ugly. If you want a 4 passenger car design one from scratch, don't stretch a beautifully proportioned design. I am glad that they waited until 67 and brought us the 4 passenger Camaro, it was deisgned as that and it looked good.
50s60s70s
Intermediate Driver

Not to over simplify but it seems that Chevy made the correct decision.....the Corvette is still in production.
Everything Ford has decided to "improve" with the bigger is better concept seems to not have had a long production history.
Thunderbird, Torino, Fairlane, Falcon, Bronco......and now the Mustang ..... I know ford now is trying a retro look Bronco... over priced over optioned.
My opinion ..just saying.
yenko37
New Driver

Yenko Chevrolet followed thru on the idea of a 4 seat Corvette..at least for children.. by building and selling a small rear seat for the Corvette coupe. Refer to my book "The Yenko Era " for photos and info
FloridaMarty
Intermediate Driver

Simply beautiful.
OldFordMan
Detailer

Well there you have it: Corvette 2-seater still around after all these years and Ford shot themselves in the foot by ruining the original 2-seat T-Bird by adding the two in the back.
46HudsonPU
Pit Crew

Not to mention their latest venture - the 4-door (!?!) E-Mustang..
aaajaws3
New Driver

It reminds me of The Porsche Panamera except much Classier. I have a 67 Convertible . I would have bought one of these in a heartbeat.
tigercat
Intermediate Driver

A horrible idea and against the very genetics' of what a corvette is supposed to be. As an experiment though the 63' version is surprisingly just about as perfect of a build of something that should not be built as you could attempt. The C3 four door version should never have even existed even as a test, "fugly". Although I agree with others about the similarity between the C2 Vette years and the XKE, the curves are more pronounced, balanced and raised on the Vette giving more symmetry. Better looking all the way around, plus I like my 427 3x2 way more than a 6 cylinder and have any of you ever worked on Lucas wiring? Switches? Lights? I have, no thanks.
Numberscruncher
Detailer

Hmm. While I wouldn’t have enjoyed riding in the back seat, the 4 seater Vette was better looking than the clunky TBird.
KYColonel
Intermediate Driver

A mid-engine version of the 4 seater Vette would be very interesting, to say the least. LOL !!!
KYColonel
Intermediate Driver

All jokes aside, all Vettes should have 2 seats and pop-up headlights, IMO.
SuperDeLuxe
Detailer

Great idea! Let's go back to 1963 and start stamping the "all new 2+2" out of steel to make it easier (cheaper) to build. Ahead of the Toro and Eldo, this beauty would have killed sales for Olds and Cadillac. Chevrolet would have sold 100k a year until the well dried up around 1981. Whomp whomp!
merlebalke
Detailer

Shinoda did a nice job.
Tomwas
Intermediate Driver

I have owned numerous s130 and z31 2+2s and love them... I definitely would rock that and think it looks great...👍 The c3 sedan, fugetaboutit.... Thumbs down all around...👎
Snowgod
New Driver

A friend of mine had a 1965 Corvette Coup with a back seat in it. It was a small seat the the original owner had made for his kids to ride along with him and his wife. It was a Chevy dealer that had it I believe was in Dundee, Illinois.
RichH
Detailer

Sounds like Yenko seats.

JagManBill
Pit Crew

Really nice looking proportions as others have said. My guess is, had it been considered later, say 64 or 65 and not a first year design element, it might have been a seller. My other guess is the expected sales numbers for a Chevrolet/GM product (sales numbers down in the range that BL was happy with for the E 2+2, MGBGT and Triumph GT6) were waaaay to low to be considered a viable product to mess with.
dollydavid
New Driver

wow! Where do I order?
Tomwas
Intermediate Driver

I had a number of s130 and z31 datsun/Nissan cars in 2+2 versions and love t hem. Would absolutely rock this beauty...
Cudaguy
New Driver

It’s too bad there wasn’t the foresight to offer BOTH VERSIONS TO THE BUYING PUBLIC - it put the 4-place T-Bird to shame in the looks (and probably handling) department!! I like it!
RichH
Detailer

BIGLY! I had a 63 T-Bird. My dad bought it for me the summer I was planning on buying a bike. Hated it! No comparison to the gorgeus 2 seaters. None. Nada. ZIP!

StanG
New Driver

I have a clear laser embedded engraved crystal of the 63 SWC 4 seater. It's about 1 3/4 by 1 3/4 by 3 inches in size. I wish I could attach a picture.
RichH
Detailer

You can by clicking on the 3 dots and  "view in community".

ConfuciusRacing
Detailer

Interesting and (to me) proportionally a nice concept.

Side Story: A while back I owned a Ducati Dealership, The 996/998 and 999 were the Superbikes du jour.

More than one time the fella buying the bike would say: "Sure honey, see the seat on the back? It's for you!" And the Biposto, or 'bip' was the hook set, for domestic tranquility. Of course, the wife or girlfriend rode on the back of basically a race bike with lights hanging off it...once ! And never rode on it again. She was high in the air and behind the rear axle...while he was leaning over the tank and perched with clip on bars...everyone who knew a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g about bikes knew those superbikes were not 'family' machines, he gets his toy and she can't argue... would have the 4 seat 'vette done the same thing?

I wonder if this concept would have sold more cars...in the end. It's all that matters to any car company. I say that with full respect to a publicly traded company.

And one last thing? Good job Hagerty Forum Participants, one of the best and most interesting discussions in comments I have read. Bravo.
BlackCloud
New Driver

A 4 seat version of the Corvette Sting Ray would have killed America’s Sports Car. GM was right in trashing the ridiculous idea.
BlackCloud
New Driver

Before y’all start going off on the 4 place XKE, that was a design abortion too. That model XKE was just plain FUGLY.
RichH
Detailer

4 seat vette.jpg

 

I LOVE it! 
Better than the original. The original door and window look comical by comparison. This shoulda been the C2's wheelbase from the git go (@98 inches, the C2's WB was shorter than the C1's 102!), with folding rear seats optional. I've always had a thing for the split windows.

Is it just me or does this rear 3/4 view look Jetsonesque? (The driver needs to lose that hat, though!)

Turbo4Joe
Pit Crew

Cool concept car!
47 years ahead of the Porsche Panamera.
But.... Imagine sitting in the back seats while riding around in Florida on a hot summer day....
Talk about cooking your noggin!
Jmohr
New Driver

Personally I think it’s beautiful. It looks like a 2nd gen corvette and a 1st gen barracuda love child.
cestor01
Intermediate Driver

Sure, I don't think it looks too bad. But it does bring up the question, "Why?" Why would you buy a Corvette if you want a 4-seater? It is kind of like some of the "why" Porsche's, but if you want a Porsche, and a minivan fits your lifestyle, then you get a Macan. But if you want a Corvette and you need 4 seats, buy a Camaro, Chevelle, Nova, Monte Carlo, Impala.....