As we think back
over the history of the Corvette, several cars stand
out to us. Among them are the shark inspired Corvettes.
Including the Sting Ray, Mako Shark, and Manta Ray.
Out of these, the Sting Ray (excluding 1959 Sting
Ray) was the only one that made it to production,
while the others were prototypes.
Bill Mitchell became
the head of GM Styling in 1958. From there, Mitchell
started investing his time, and his own money to
create a Corvette race car. He finished it in 1959,
and called it "The Sting Ray". It sported
a high-compression 283. Dick Thompson drove the
car in races, and it became the National Champion
in the C-modified class. After the 1960 racing reason,
The Sting Ray was removed from the track. Mitchell
then had it modified, so he could drive it on the
street! The 59 Sting Ray had a great influence on
the C2 Generation.
This wasn't the
end to Mitchell's Shark Inspiring Corvettes, it
was just the beginning. In 1961, he designed the
Mako Shark. He made it resemble a mako shark he
had caught while fishing, and had mounted in his
office. The Mako Shark 1 also inspired the C2 Generation.
In 1965, Mitchell
introduced the all new Mako Shark 2. This one would
have an influence on the C3 Generation. It had large
fenders, and had a back spoiler that could be adjusted
from the driver's seat to optimize performance.
It sported a 427 cubic inch Mark IV big block engine
and a turbohydromatic three speed automatic transmission.
The interior had a digital read out for the speedometer
and fuel gauge, plus stereo speakers in the headrests
for both the driver and passenger. All gadgets worked
properly. The car cost $2,500,000 - 3,000,000 dollars
to build. Even though this car was the greatest
creation by Mitchell, it was not stable at high
speeds. The nose was to low, and the fenders were
to high. It rendered the driver's visibility. So
changes were made, and the outcome was the 1968
Corvette. The nose was higher, plus the fenders
were lower, but it still made the car appear to
be in motion, even though it was standing still.
After the production
of the 1968 Corvette, Mitchell decided that some
changes needed to be done. In 1969 he created the
Manta Ray, which would be the last shark-theme prototype.
It was longer, and sleeker than the Mako 2. It had
an extended rear fascia and a roofline, that still
came to a point like the previous sharks. It also
contained side pipes, and had the blue/white shark
paint job. The Manta Ray received it's power from
an all-aluminum ZL-1 engine. The ZL-1 engine became
an option on the 1969 Corvettes. Only two were produced,
because it doubled the price of the car, which nobody
was willing to pay. Both still exist today. Click
here to go to the prototypes page and see pictures
of the two ZL-1 Corvettes that still exsist.
Is this the end
of the shark influenced Corvettes? Nobody knows,
but the legend of the cars will live on. Whether
or not the current and future GM Styling Department
will be able to build a big time shark inspired
dream car, like the Mako Shark 2, is a mystery...
Compare the following pics of Shark
Influenced Cars to this Mako Shark. Especially the