In 2013 I took my baby brother Jeff along with me to Car Week in Carmel California. After getting up stupidly early on Sunday morning to head to Pebble Beach for the Concours d Elegance, we decided to stroll through the pits at Laguna Seca and check out “Stingray Island” put on by GM as a showcase of their racing history of the Corvette. We were blown away and the whole display was deserted. We could of driven away in any of them….
1956 Chevrolet Corvette Sebring Racer
1956 Sebring racer is more than a classic Ikon in Corvettes history. Widely credited with saving the Corvette brand, the SR rocketed Corvette to an iconic status – as the first American sports car, ever.
Shortly after the first Corvette debuted in 1953, competition looked around the corner from Ford’s increasingly popular Thunderbird, which launched in 1954. In a bold move to amplify the Corvette brand, GM newcomer Zora Arkus-Duntov decided to put the Corvette head to head with European racing Exotics at the infamous Florida 12 hours of Sebring race, driven by legendary drivers John Fitch and Walt Hansgen.
Fitch was heavily involved with performance testing as Corvettes engineering team prepped the newly designed vehicles for the race. Three production class Corvettes with amped-up V8s and a prototype with a bored out 307 cubic inch engine. Fitch did his best to push each vehicle to its limits and just days before the race everything seemed to come together.
The first Corvette to have a 4-speed transmission and a 307 cubic inch engine featured the largest engine at the race entitled it to be number “1”. The Prototype Sebring racer finished first in his class and 9th overall at the 1956 hours of Sebring. Corvettes first-ever entry into Motorsports racing the production Vettes
also claimed a few bragging rights beating more than 51 of the other class vehicles. With such prestigious wins behind them, GM’s now classic advertising campaign launched, naming the 56 Corvette as “The Real McCoy” with a shot of the number one prototype vehicle in action, solidifying it’s status as the quintessential American sports car.
Had this car not been successful at Sebring, it’s widely believed that the Corvette may not have survived.
Vehicle courtesy of Chuck and Isabelle Ungurean
Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark concept.
The XP – 755 “Mako Shark” was designed by Larry Shinoda in 1961 under the direction of Bill Mitchell, GM VP and Head of styling The Styling challenge was to create a concept for future Corvette production cars. In keeping with the name the streamlining pointed snout and other details were partly inspired by sleek and fast-moving mako shark the bill Mitchell had recently caught off the coast of Florida. Beginning with a slightly modified production Corvette chassis fitted with cast magnesium Wheels, the styling changes including making the nose of the car longer and more pointed, creating a clear glass roof with periscope-like-rear-view mirror, along with remodeling the interior.
The complete the exterior. the concept car’s tail end was similar to the 1961 design but it has given two additional lights, 6 in total.
Like the Stingray concept before it, this car also significantly influence the 63 Corvette stingray’s design. The Mako Shark concept car was finishing a multicolored paint Scheme based on an iridescent blue upper surface that blended into a white side and lower body, much like the natural colouring of the shark Mitchell had landed. A number of experimental engines have been tested in the Mako, including a super charged engine with for side draft carburetors, a fuel injected engine and a V8 engine with two four-barrel carburetors.
The present engine is a production 1969 427 cubic inch displacement ZL-1 V8 which features an all aluminum block, heads and intake manifold and a 4 barrel carb. It produces a conservative 425 hp. This “One of a Kind” Mako Shark is presently part of GM’s Heritage collection.
Furthermore, if you are into classic Fisherman’s tales… a widespread story has it that built Mitchell mounted an actual mako shark on the wall of his office and ordered his team to paint the car to match the distinctive blue-gray of the shark. After numerous failed attempts to match the shark, the team decide to kidnap it one night, painted the shark to match their best efforts of the car and quietly returned him into his office – and Mitchell never realize the difference.
Vehicle courtesy of GM Heritage Center