Stylish 1963 Corvette with a Modern Twist

1963 Corvette

Rod Halsell was one of the lucky few to have spent their childhood to have been exposed to a lot of awesome cars. He grew up in Blytheville, Arkansas, with his parents who were very active car enthusiasts. They were very inclined to imported sports cars and it was fairly common to see a lot of classic sports cars such as the MGs, Triumphs, and Alfa Romeos in their garage. It was because of this that young Rod Halsell fell in love with cars. As a teen, he spent a lot of time playing with his RC sports cars and riding in his family’s two-seater convertibles.

Not too long after, he was able to get an afterschool job and was able to save enough money to buy 2 convertibles – A Volkswagen Beetle and an MGB. He loved his convertibles and drove them regularly.

*Check out this classic “Chevrolet Corvette Parking Only” sign.*

purple 1963 Corvette

When Rod visited an Auto Shack (now known as AutoZone) shop in Memphis, Tennessee, his passion was completely fueled up. The shop was filled with automotive aftermarket parts, the latest accessories, and upgrades that were all for the taking. From that very moment, Rod was determined to fill his car with aftermarket parts. Unfortunately, there was not Auto Shack store in his hometown so it was not easy to do so. When the Halsells moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, it was a stroke of luck that the town had an Auto Shack store. Rod immediately went to work for Auto Shack and his career was set.

His new job expanded his view of the automotive world, he saw a lot of muscle cars and upgraded V8s that passed through the store. Rod was able to experience his first ride in a 1978 Indy Pace Car Edition Corvette that had a low-slung stance and extended front fenders which completely changed his life. He also regularly visited the dragstrip to see famous quarter-mile dragsters such as Prudhomme, Force, and Amato as they speed through with their nitro-fueled engines. Rod also saw one of his co-workers, Barbara Mitchell, compete in several SCCA road courses which added to his already burning passion.

1963 Corvette engine

Several years later, Rod got married and started a family. Rod was lucky enough that his wife is also very passionate when it comes to high-performance cars. Rod’s family, together with his son Cody, had a special love for Corvettes. During track days at the Memphis Motorsports Park, Barbara drove her C6 Z06 that has a complete 630 horsepower Lingenfelter performance package. At the same time, Rod and Cody took turns driving their C7 Z51. But even with their awesome rides, they still had a dream car left to be built. The couple always wanted to have a classic 1963 split-window coupe that is fitted with modern upgrades.

They heard about Heartland Customs from Purcell, Oklahoma, that turned classic Corvettes into state-of-the-art rides. They met with the owner, Jeff Page, and talked about their ideas. Heartland’s SPECVETTE program uses years of development and design to create a line of classic Corvettes that has the performance of the latest supercars as well as the comforts and reliability of modern rides. It did not take long until the plan was made into motion and the search for the donor car began.

1963 Corvette exterior

The foundation of all Heartland Customs projects is their SPECVETTE chassis. They work together with the Roadster Shop to build the ultimate chassis. A completely hand-fabricated 10-gauge boxed steel frame rails that have custom cross members to maximize the strength. In the rear is an exclusive SPECVETTE IRS that features a 3.50:1 rear end ratio fitted with custom built lower and upper control arms that are matched with Penske Pro-Touring performance adjustable coilover shocks and a 1.25” splined sway bar. The Corvette rides on Intro Vista model wheels that feature custom SPECVETTE center caps, they measure 18×7 in the front and 18×10 in the rear. The wheels are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport rubbers that measure 225/45R18 and 285/35R18, front and rear respectively.

To provide plenty reliable power for the Corvette, a new Chevrolet Performance LS376 crate engine was used that is able to provide 525 horsepower. The cast-aluminum block is fitted with factory spec parts such as the nodular iron crank connected to powdered metal rods attached to aluminum 10.7:1 hypereutectic pistons. An ASA hydraulic roller cams drive the pair of aluminum L92-style rectangular port heads. All the power is controlled by the TREMEC TKO-600 5-speed transmission.

1963 Corvette interior

Every donor car that goes through Heartland Customs is taken apart to get it ready for a full restoration before mounting it on the SPECVETTE chassis and driveline. After the body was completely restored to perfection, Rod and Barbara choose a finish that would certainly attract a lot of attention. They choose the PPG Merlot Pearl Metallic that really gave the Corvette a charming glow.

1963 Corvette dashboard

A lot of modern comforts was added to the interior but still preserved the 60s feel of a luxury car. It took a lot of effort and talent to pull off Rod and Barbara dream car it but it was all worth it when it was shown to the public at the National Corvette Museum where it earned a lot of praise from all of the guests.

*Check out this classic “Chevrolet Corvette Parking Only” sign.*

original 1963 Corvette

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