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Friday, September 15, 2023

Knowing 4 Histroric Corvette Concept Cars

American LEGENDS - The Corvette, an iconic American sports car produced by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, has carved its place in automotive history over six generations. It all began in 1953 when the visionary Harley Earl unveiled the first model, a convertible, at the GM Motorama 1953 as a concept car. It was a bold step forward in automotive design, capturing the imagination of car enthusiasts. Myron Scott deserves credit for bestowing the name "Corvette" upon this remarkable creation. 
The first Corvette, a convertible concept, designed by Harley Earl and made its debut in January 1953 at the GM Motorama in New York. (Picture from: BusinessInsider)
Originally crafted in Flint, Michigan, and St. Louis, Missouri, the Corvette now calls Bowling Green, Kentucky home and proudly holds the title of the official sports car of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The National Corvette Museum stands as a testament to this iconic car's rich history, hosting annual events that celebrate its enduring legacy.

Amidst the myriad concept cars birthed by this American automotive titan, four stand out for their profound influence on the Corvette's enduring design. What sets these concept cars apart is not just their impact but also their unique nomenclature, drawing inspiration from the world beneath the waves—the fish.
Stingray Racer (1959 Stingray Racer XP-87) posed with Mako Shark (1961 Mako Shark XP-755). (Picture from: CorvetteBlogger)
Let's dive into the history of these four one-of-a-kind Corvette concepts

1. Stingray Racer - 1959 Stingray Racer XP-87
In 1959, Bill Mitchell, the head of GM Design, envisioned a Corvette racecar capable of outshining Europe's best. With the AMA prohibiting manufacturer-sponsored racing, Mitchell embarked on a private venture to fund the project. He enlisted Larry Shinoda to help develop this groundbreaking concept, pouring his own resources into the endeavor.

Pictures of Stingray Racer
1959 Stingray Racer XP-87. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2Sw30EM)
1959 Stingray Racer XP-87. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2RpfjkT)
1959 Stingray Racer XP-87. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2PrrAIr)

The result was the Stingray Racer, born from the fusion of the 1957 SS chassis and a revolutionary fiberglass body. Zora Arkus-Duntov contributed his engineering expertise to bring this sleek roadster to life. Under the skilled hands of SCCA driver Dick Thompson, the Stingray clinched two consecutive class championships. After the 1960 season, Mitchell transformed it into an experimental show car, retiring it from competition, adding a windshield and a passenger seat, and even taking it for a spin on the streets.

2. Mako Shark – 1961 Mako Shark XP-755
In 1961, Larry Shinoda, guided by GM Design head Bill Mitchell, crafted the Mako Shark concept—a vision for future Chevrolet Corvettes. True to its name, this concept borrowed elements from the sleek and swift Mako Shark, evident in its streamlined design and pointed snout.

Pictures of Mako Shark
1961 Mako Shark XP-755. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2AC2HRL)
1961 Mako Shark XP-755. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2EUbxP2)
1961 Mako Shark XP-755. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2yHWlyZ)

The Mako Shark bore a striking resemblance to the 1963 production Corvette it inspired, with some notable alterations. These included six brake lights in the rear, an elongated and pointed nose, a transparent glass roof with a periscope-like rear-view mirror, and a revamped interior.

3. Manta Ray – 1969 Manta Ray
In 1969, the Manta Ray project, nicknamed "Bill Mitchell's Extreme Shark," emerged from a transformation of the 1965 Mako Shark II (XP-830), focusing primarily on the cockpit and rear of this extravagant vehicle.

Pictures of Manta Ray
1969 Manta Ray. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2SvEZ0u)
1969 Manta Ray. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2yKW0vo)
1969 Manta Ray. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2zjww7N)

While the tapered 'boat tail' motif endured, a considerably longer rear end replaced the earlier abrupt ducktail. Subtle adjustments were made during the winter of 1969-70, marking the final alterations to this dream car turned reality.

4. AeroVette – 1973 Four Rotor XP-895 AeroVette
The XP-882, initially unveiled in New York in 1970, laid the foundation for the subsequent Wankel motor prototypes, including the two-rotor 'XP-897' and the four-rotor 'XP-895,' led by Bill Mitchell. The four-rotor model featured a pair of GM's experimental licensed two-rotor engines, boasting an impressive 420 horsepower.

Pictures of AeroVette
1973 Four Rotor XP-895 AeroVette. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2SvEZ0u)
1973 Four Rotor XP-895 AeroVette. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2SvEZ0u)
1973 Four Rotor XP-895 AeroVette. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2SvEZ0u)

In 1976, the 1973 Corvette 4-Rotor concept was resurrected as the Aerovette. The double rotary engine made way for a transversally mounted 400 CID V8 engine. Bill Mitchell, the Vice President of Design, championed the Aerovette as the next Corvette, earning approval for 1980 production from GM chairman and CEO Thomas Murphy.
However, fate had different plans. Management opted to continue producing the front-engine V8 'traditional' Corvette, as it was in high demand, making a substantial investment in a mid-engine car too risky. Consequently, the Aerovette project was shelved.

These are the four historic Corvette concept cars that Chevrolet, the renowned American automotive manufacturer, brought to life from the 1950s to the 1970s. Each one, a testament to innovation and design, left an indelible mark on the Corvette's journey through time. *** [EKA [31082018] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | WIKIPEDIA | CONCEPTCARZ | MOTORTREND | CORVETTES.NL | WALLPAPERUP | THOMAS BECKER'S FLICKR | CORVETTE BLOGGER]
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