-Shark History-


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 paint jobs.

1959 Sting Ray

59stingray_1.jpg (24000 bytes)  59stingray_2.jpg (32816 bytes)

Mako Shark

makoshark1.jpg (9023 bytes)  makoshark1_1.jpg (10934 bytes)

 

Mako Shark II

mako2_back.jpg (16824 bytes)  mako2_front.jpg (18436 bytes)

mako_shark_2.jpg (37098 bytes)  mako2_1.jpg (32940 bytes)

mako2_2.jpg (33626 bytes)  mako2_3.jpg (14506 bytes)

mako2_4.jpg (42534 bytes)  mako2_ncm.jpg (10492 bytes)

 

Manta Ray

mantaray_1.jpg (135548 bytes)  mantaray_2.jpg (129116 bytes)

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