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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The unofficial XP-87 racer was the forerunner of the Corvette C2 Stingray

Rare ONES Indeed, not many people know that the origin of the birth of the legendary Corvette C2 Stingray model actually started from a secret project built outside the GM manufacturer which had even considered an 'unofficial model'.
The 1959 XP-87 Sting Ray racer is an experimental race car designed in the studios at General Motors under Bill Mitchell, while its shape was based on a sketch by designer Pete Brock, and was further developed by Larry Shinoda. (Picture from: CarInfo)
It all started when the highly influential automotive industry association in the United States, namely the Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) in 1957, prohibited US automotive manufacturers from producing, selling and even advertising sports cars, racing cars and high-performance parts. At its peak, the manufacturer was prohibited from participating in any car racing championship in the US.
Bill Mitchell standing next to the 1959 XP-87 Sting Ray racer and the 1961 Corvette Mako Shark XP-755. (Picture from: MotorCities)
Meanwhile, the GM's Styling Director then Bill Mitchell feeling riled up and thought that this policy could be threatened the future of the Corvette model, whose prestige was climbing the ladder of success in the auto market. This made Mitchell then develop a new generation Corvette model secretly and not be known by any GM officials.
1959 Bill Mitchell XP-87 Sting Ray racer while attended at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. (Picture from: Autoevolution)
At that time the development of the car involved a team of talented young designers specially appointed by Mitchell himself, and among them were Peter Brock, Larry Shinoda and others. The team conducted design research to create the new generation Corvettes at the initiative and personal expense of Bill Mitchell.
The unofficial XP-87 Sting Ray racer featured with a two-seater roadster, and secretly built based on the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette SS chassis. (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
From a number of body designs that were made, finally a two-seater roadster model design was chosen which was codenamed XP-87 "Sting Ray". The model chassis was adopted from the 1957 Corvette SS which is powered by a Chevy small block V8 engine with a capacity of 4.6-liter which is capable of producing bursts of power up to 315 hp and maximum torque of 400 Nm which is then combined with a 4-speed manual transmission from Borg Warner.
The 1959 XP-87 Sting Ray racer is powered by a Chevy small block V8 engine with a capacity of 4.6-liter which is capable of producing bursts of power up to 315 hp and maximum torque of 400 Nm. (Picture from: OtoBlitz)
When the car was completed in early 1959, Mitchell had time to test it in racing, but the XP-87 could not use the attributes of GM, Chevrolet and even the Corvette nameplate though. Despite achieving success in racing as a privateer participant in 1959-1960, Mitchell was under 'pressure' from GM officials to withdraw the XP-87 "Sting Ray" from the race due to the prohibition policy issued by the AMA and also related to his position who was already serving as Vice President of GM.
1959 Bill Mitchell XP-87 Sting Ray racer on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California in July 2016. (Picture from: Wikipedia)
Finally, Bill Mitchell gave up and “Sting Ray” withdrew from various racing events. It wasn't long before the car was modified enough to comply with road regulations specifications for use by him as a daily vehicle. After several years of use as his private vehicle, then GM persuaded Mitchell to sell the XP-87 "Sting Ray" which was then kept at the GM Design Studio and used as design reference material for the Corvette C2 generation, which was produced in 1963. 
After retired from racing, the XP-87 Sting Ray was converted to road use including fitting a full-width windshield and a passenger seat, and became Bill Mitchell’s 'weekend car'. (Picture from: WallpaperUp)
Chevrolet pinned the "Stingray" nameplate on the Corvette C2 (second generation Corvette) by connecting two words from the "Sting Ray" nameplate used on the Mitchell's XP-87. Although at first glance "Sting Ray" and "Stingray" sound similar, they certainly have different meanings.
Lastly, General Motors restored the XP-87 “Sting Ray” in 2000 and exhibits it at various classic car events to this day. But considering that the car is the only one in the world and is very historic for the GM manufacturer, the "Sting Ray" is very rarely exhibited to the public and is currently sat on display at the GM Heritage Center in Detroit, Michigan. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | MOTORCITIES | AUTOEVOLUTION | WIKIPEDIA ]
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