Tips, Tricks & Trends

Confessions: A 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Changed My Life

When I was a little kid, I used to dream of being a space architect. I imagined myself designing lunar dwellings and space stations. So, how did I end up being a professional writer for the automotive industry instead? Well, it has to do with a Chevrolet Corvette. It was not just any Corvette. It was a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

The vented black hood of a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe parked at the 2016 Cars-4-Critters Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania | Image: HJ Pizarro

Space, the final frontier

As a little kid, the space program fascinated me. The space shuttle missions were all pretty new still. So, I was intrigued by the shuttle construction and even had a couple of models of it that I built. Shuttle launches found me glued to the television as I learned about the rocket boosters, what the astronauts were doing, and what they were expected to do.

The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray

At the same time that my love for the space program was growing, I found a new passion. My dad had brought home a car calendar from work. Within that calendar, there were a lot of classic cars. One, in particular, caught my attention. Its curves were so seductive that they kept drawing my eyes across the body lines. The way the light bounced off the shape just took my breath away. It was a car unlike what I had ever seen before. It was a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe.

The rear of a Daytona Blue 1963 Corvette Sting Ray
A 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe | Corvette Mike

RELATED: This 1963 Corvette Has an Ultra Rare Option

In all honesty, I had probably seen hundreds of Corvettes in my short life up until that point. But, this Corvette, for whatever reason, stole my attention. That black coupe with the red interior became the launching pad for automotive passion. I had over 100 Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars that I had amassed over my short years at the time. But, when I saw that Corvette in the calendar, I suddenly found myself looking at my collection of little diecast cars a lot closer.

I sent a design to Ford Motor Company

I began drawing the Hot Wheels cars, and the cars in the calendar. I was not very good at first, of course. But at one point, after some honing of my skills, I started drawing my own designs. I also made one of those designs into a Pinewood Derby car. Then, one day, I sent a drawing to Ford Motor Company.

To my delight, Ford responded to my design submission. They sent me back a very polite letter saying that they could not accept outside drawings. But, they also said that they liked mine and encouraged me to pursue my passion in school.

As an aside, Ralph Gilles had a similar experience, but with Chrysler.

A Daytona Blue 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe
A 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe | Corvette Mike

RELATED: Automotive Artist Profile: Ralph Gilles, FCA Head of Design

The end of my space dream

However, I pursued engineering when I went to college. I was hoping to be catapulted from that and into the space program with NASA or Boeing somehow. That’s where that space dream ended, though. I suddenly found myself at the end of my math brain. I was not grasping concepts in time for the tests. I would finally understand them, but it would be two weeks after the test for that material. So, I decided I was not going to be designing anything for space.

When I had that realization, I was pretty depressed. But, I kept hearing, do what you love, and your gift will make room for you. So, there were only two things I knew I had a passion for outside the space program. They were studies about the Bible and studies about the automotive industry.

RELATED: Mission: Launch Car Into Space Using Dynamite, What Could Go Wrong

Training

I went to Bible school, got married, had kids, and moved around a bunch. But, all the while, I found myself grabbing magazines and books about the automotive industry. These days it is all on the internet, and I still find myself reading about designers, the history of this model, and that model too! I read up on sales figures and watch the progress, or lack thereof, each manufacturer makes. Through it all, I still can not get that 1963 Corvette Sting Ray out of my mind, nor do I want to.

Along the way, I began going to car shows and writing about automotive things. I discovered that I love writing. I see writing as an opportunity to convey an idea, even an abstract one, in such a way that people can be inspired, educated, or even have their lives changed by it. Suddenly, I found that writing about the automotive industry brought unity between my passion for shiny metal and wordsmithing.

A lady sits in a car at an early automotive workstation for writers.
CIRCA 1930: First form of a mobile working station in a car, Los Angeles, USA, | Photo by Imagno/Getty Images

RELATED: This 1983 Corvette Might Be The Rarest Corvette Ever

Living with OCC

I recognize that I enjoy having OCC, Obsessive Car Disorder. I love the artistry of automotive design and the craftsmanship of how manufacturers put it all together. I spend hours each and every day reading one source or another about something having to do with the automotive industry. If it is transportation-related and has an engine, or electric motor, and wheels, I’m hooked. Even my hobbies are car-related. I repurpose car parts into car furniture and decor. I would wear a hat that says Car Nut on it proudly.

RELATED: Artist Renders New Corvette with Classic Cues

The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray is responsible

It has been said that if you do something you love, it will never be considered a jay-oh-bee. I am grateful that at this moment in time, that is exactly where I am. I am sharing my two passions with the world, writing, and the automotive industry. I love what I do. That would not have happened had it not been for that 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray I mentioned before. Once that caught my eye, everything surged to this point.