Cadillac's long-running V-8 got its first major revision in 14 years for 1963. Bore and stroke were unchanged, as were valves, rocker arms, cylinder heads, compression (still 10.5:1), and connecting rods. But nearly everything else was different: lighter, stronger crankshaft; a stiffer block weighing 50 pounds less than the previous one; ancillaries relocated to improve service access. While all this did little for performance, the revised 390 was much smoother and quieter. Then again, performance was already good. The typical '63 could reach 115-120 mph, do 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, and return about 14 miles per gallon. Most impressive was the near-silence at high speed. In this, many testers held Cadillac superior to Rolls-Royce. Styling departed from recent practice. Fins were lower than ever, the grille was bulkier, new outer body panels and side moldings created a more slab-sided effect, and the rear was more massive, with elongated vertical tail/backup-light housings.
Prices rose only slightly for '63, so Cadillac remained an excellent value for the money. Standard equipment ran to Hydra-Matic, power steering, self-adjusting power brakes, heater, backup lights, and left remote-control door mirror. A six-way power seat became standard on Eldorado, and power windows were included on all except Series 62 sedans and coupes. Even power vent windows were offered, as were vinyl roof coverings, a new option. Remarkably, a Series 62 still cost as little as $5026; the Eldo Biarritz was only $6608. Production topped 163,000.
January 11 - The Whisky a Go Go, the first disco in the United States, is opened.
February 8 - Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the Kennedy Administration.
March 18 - Gideon v. Wainwright: The Supreme Court rules that the poor must have lawyers.
March 21 - The Alcatraz Island federal penitentiary in San Francisco Bay closes; the last 27 prisoners are transferred elsewhere at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
March 22 - The Beatles release the album Please Please Me.
April 3 - SCLC volunteers kick off the Birmingham campaign against segregation with a sit-in.
April 7 - Yugoslavia is proclaimed to be a Socialist republic, and Josip Broz Tito is named President for Life.
April 16 - Martin Luther King, Jr. issues his "Letter from Birmingham Jail".
May 2 - Thousands of African Americans, many of them children, are arrested while protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Sheriff Eugene "Bull" Connor later unleashes fire hoses and police dogs on the demonstrators.
May 8 - Dr. No, the first James Bond film, was shown in US theaters.
June 11 - Alabama Governor George C. Wallace stands in the door of the University of Alabama to protest integration, before stepping aside and allowing African Americans James Hood and Vivian Malone to enroll.
June 11 - President Kennedy makes an historic civil rights speech, in which he promises a Civil Rights Bill, and asks for "the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves."
June 12 - Medgar Evers is murdered in Jackson, Mississippi (his killer is convicted in 1994).
June 17 - Abington School District v. Schempp: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that state-mandated Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional.
July 1 - ZIP Codes are introduced in the United States
August 28 - Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to an audience of at least 250,000 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
November 2 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated following a military coup.
November 6 - Coup leader General Duong Van Minh takes over as leader of South Vietnam.
November 22 - John F. Kennedy assassination: In Dallas, Texas, United States President John F. Kennedy is assassinated, Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President. All television coverage for the next three days is devoted to the assassination, its aftermath, the procession of the horsedrawn casket to the Capitol Rotunda, and the funeral of President Kennedy. Stores and businesses shut down for the entire weekend and Monday, in tribute.
November 22 - Deaths of Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis, and both go unnoticed in the media, due to the assassination of President Kennedy.
December 26 - I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There are released in the United States, marking the beginning of full-scale Beatlemania.
Undated - Harvey Ball invents the ubiquitous smiley face symbol.