1963 Famous Vehicle Debuts
Corvette Sting Ray ad
Aston Martin DB5 ad
Buick Riviera ad
Jeep Wagoneer ad
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.