1963 Famous Vehicle Debuts

June 11, 2013

The year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Beatlemania hit the U.S. also happened to be one of the most groundbreaking in automotive history. Here’s our shortlist of memorable car debuts that happened in 1963.

Jeep Wagoneer

Jeep Wagoneer

Brooks Stevens, besides having the supreme honor of designing the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, was the visionary industrial designer behind the 1963 debut of the Jeep Wagoneer. Back in the age of four-cent stamps and 30-cents-a-gallon gasoline, Stevens and a team of engineers looked at modern 4X4s and decided the Kaiser Jeep Corporation could probably sell a whole lot more of these things if they could come up with a new model that was actually comfortable and easier to drive. The Jeep Wagoneer became the first American luxury 4X4, setting the stage for the millions of SUVs and crossover vehicles that now fill the automotive landscape.

Buick Riviera

Buick Riviera ad

The Riviera by Buick was GM’s answer to the “Thunderbird fever” sweeping over the automotive-buying public in the early ‘60s. With a showroom price of around $4,000, the Riviera cost slightly less than the average American’s annual income ($5,807) in 1963. But as the writer D. S. Brown noted, the Riviera was not a car designed for the masses: “Buick was the car that announced you had made it.”

Corvette Sting Ray

Corvette Sting Ray ad

Many enthusiasts consider the 1963 Sting Ray to be the best Corvette ever built. A little over 21,000 Sting Rays were made that year. Production was roughly split between coupés and convertibles. Base price for the coupe was $4,257.00 while the convertible ran $4,037.00.

Porsche 911

Porsche ad

Tracing its roots back to a 1959 sketch by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, the 911 made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfort Motor Show. Originally designated as the “Type 901,” the company changed the model number after carmaker Peugeot objected on the grounds that it had exclusive rights to car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. Instead of selling the new model with another name in France, Porsche changed the name to 911.

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5 ad

Made famous in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964), the Aston Martin DB5 debuted in 1963 and is visually and mechanically an evolution of the DB4. Thanks to its Bond film franchise connection, a DB5 appeared at the 1964 New York World’s Fair where it was called “the most famous car in the world.” According to RM Auctions, one of two DB5s used in Goldfinger—a car fully equipped with all the gadgetry seen in the movie—sold for 2.6 million British pounds in October 2010. The second of the two actual movie cars was reportedly stolen in 1997 from its owner in Florida and has not been seen since.



  1. Carl Beck Clearwater, FL USA

    You mean to tell me that you couldn't find a picture of a 911 - and had to use one of a 356 instead?

  2. Dennis B Smith P0rtland, OR

    The Studebaker Avanti was also introduced that year, and was far more innovative than any of the vehicles you chose for this article.

  3. Terry Spaeth USA

    What about the 1963 Mercedes-Benz W113 body 230SL "Pagoda"?

  4. milvanti Milwaukee

    No Avanti? Are you KIDDING?

  5. gene beenenga springfield, IL

    I would like a copy of the '63 corvette article and illustration for my museum

  6. Joe T. Indiana

    My Dad owned a 1963 Riviera that he bought 1967 and he kept that car until he moved into a retirement community in 1999. I had the opportunity to take the car from NJ to Indiana but at the time I did not have a place to store it. I learned to drive on that Riviera and wish I had simply taken the car and kept it. It was a great automobile.

  7. Roger Meiners Milford, Mich.

    That's not a 911 in the story. It's a 356, the model the 911 replaced

  8. Dennis Schrimpf Montello, Wis.

    You forgot the Studebaker Avanti! A truly remarkable car filled with new safety features and styling ahead of its time.

  9. Richard Utt MA, USA

    Nice Porsche 356 article and picture: no 911 content!

  10. Richard D. Scanlon Park Falls, WI. 54552

    It is a 1963 Studebaker Avanti.

  11. Bob Golfen USA

    For your Porsche 911 item, you have pictured an ad for the wrong car: an earlier Porsche 356.

  12. ugo Luzerne, PA

    So beautiful, a fine example of Italy's Carozzeria Touring's fantastic designs!

  13. John Rosser United States

    You forgot the Mercury Ford Comet S-22 / 4 on the floor convertible

  14. Frank Sifford Charlotte, NC

    Uh, I believe that's a 356C (or SC) in the ad copy.

  15. Ed Johnson Collinsville iL 62234

    My first car was a 1959 Corvette, I bought it in 1964 for $1500.00 I lived Pueblo Colorado. The man I bought it from needed the money to get out of jail.

  16. Skip Lenz Florida

    How about an MGB, the car that continued the craze started by the TC.

  17. Jim Schwartz WI

    Brooks Stevens also designed, and Studebaker debuted in 1963, the "Wagonaire" with it's sliding rear roof.

  18. rob steffen las vegas

    This was the greatest shape of all time for the car between 63- 67 , wow as a young guy to be able to have driven these cars back then was unbelievable . I was lucky to have driven all the great muscle cars back then arriving at auto dealerships. What a thrill to remember all those great cars, truly lucky in las vegas .

  19. Frank Sifford siffordfr@att.net

    The Porsche 911 was not available until the 1965 model year. The 356 model was the current model into 1965, which, coincidentally, is the car which you have pictured under the 911 heading.

  20. Ivan Love Michigan

    I grew up in Flint Michigan. I had a tour of the Rivera assembly line. I recall it had its on plant , Plant 46, and its own assembly line. I remember the guide saying they built 40 some cars per hour , instead of the normal 72 cars per hour like the other Buick assembly line. The slower line speed was to assure high quality and better fit and finish.

  21. JohnGrusd WoodlandHills,CA


  22. David Adams Charlotte NC

    Really enjoyed the articles. Hopefully more will be forthcoming Thanks.

  23. Joe Pakiela United States

    Yeah the Riveria is one of the best looking cars ever.

  24. Barry Boricchio United States

    why cant we have cars that look like something unique. not the carbon copy cans we now have ! !

  25. Ron NJ

    These are all significant cars, and unlike Avanti, the brands are still around and still known for the type of car they made in 1963. Buick Riviera, one of the perfect auto designs of all time. Of course for mechanical sophistication, the 911 is the cream of the class of 63. Sorry Aston, Corvette. (But, yeah, what's with the 356 literature? C'mon.)

  26. Todd USA

    Even though the Avanti is no longer around, it was made in some form up until 1991, even longer if you count the retro-avanti. The title states "1963 Famous Vehicle Debuts" not "1963 Famous Vehicle Debuts that are Still being Made". Yes, the Avanti should have been included. It's okay to admit that a mistake was made. Yes, I know the Corvette Stingray debuted in 1963, however, the Corvette model debuted in 1955, not 1963.

  27. David Nashville tn

    What about the Mercury Marauder and it's sister car the Galaxie 500/XL sports hardtop. Granted they were 63 mid year intros but it made fords and mercs more aerodynamic on the track, plus gave them a gorgous silhouette,

  28. David Nashville tn

    What about the Mercury Marauder and it's sister car the Galaxie 500/XL sports hardtop. Granted they were 63 mid year intros but it made fords and mercs more aerodynamic on the track, plus gave them a gorgous silhouette,