Joel Rosen’s Sharks
Joel Rosen’s meca for Chevy supercars – Motion Performance on Rising Sun Highway, Long Island, New York. Note the custom fish-scales paint job! The Phase III Vega behind the Maco Shark was the car that brought the Feds crashing down on Motion performance.
As the new ‘63 Corvettes were hitting the showrooms, GM’s Chief of Styling, Bill Mitchell, was dreaming up the next Corvette. With the help of stylist Larry Shinoda and a small team of designers, the radical Mako Shark II was shown to GM’s management in Spring of ‘65. The non-running full-size mock up made jaws drop. Before the car was shipped to the New York International Auto Show, the order was given, “build a running version!” By October ’65 the running version of the new design was complete and headed out to the show car circuit where it received rave reviews. It was obvious – the Mako Shark II HAD TO BE the next production Corvette.
You can catch Part 1 HERE.
And Part 2 HERE.
CARS editor and Rosen’s partner, Marty Schorr splashed the Motion/Maco on the cover of CARS Magazine many times and ran LOTS of feature stories that kept young, loyal Corvette fans (like Me) TOTALLY STOKED!
Building a stunning concept show car is one thing and making it into a production car is a whole other story. Obviously, lots of compromises had to be made to the overall shape and proportion. Challenges pushed the release back a year to a ‘68 model. By the time the production version arrived in Fall of ’67, even though the styling was much more tame, it was still gorgeous. But with a coupe or roadster, lots of options, and seven engines to choose from, interest in the two-year-old show car quickly vanished – but not for everyone. Enter, John Silva.
John Silva (seated behind the wheel of his Maco Shark Corvette) and Joel “Mr. Motion” Rosen deep in conversation about their new enterprise. “Keep it under a buck-sixty, John.”
Simply stated – Silva wanted the new Corvette to be the Mako Shark II show car Corvette. By the time Silva got around to designing a body kit for the production Corvette, Joel Rosen had already made a name for himself with his Baldwin-Motion Phase III Supercars. Since Rosen’s Corvettes had a considerable amount of custom fiberglass work, Silva worked out a deal with Mr. Motion. John produced three cars for Rosen and authorized Joel to make molds from his parts. Joel made quite a splash with his Phase III GT Corvette and began offering the new body kit in ‘72 as an addition to his line of supercars.
Says is all!
Marketed under the name, “Maco Shark,” Motion Performance began offering Maco Shark kits to the do-it-yourself crowd, as well as turn-key Maco Sharks, packed with as much horsepower as the owner and his wallet could handle. As with all of the Baldwin-Motion cars, each car was built to order, and every car is different. Motion built Macos from ’72 to ‘78 and continued selling kits well into the ’80s.
The Manta Ray featured the Phase III GT’s unique fender-mounted headlights and the Maco roof. Hardware was standard 500-plus HP big-block Chevy power with drive train, suspension to match.
But creative car guys such as Rosen always have another project on the back burner. In ‘73 Joel retired the Phase III GT and created his Manta Ray. The new design offered the best of the Phase III GT and the Maco Shark. Built on a ’73 Corvette with the new soft front bumper cover, the Manta Ray had its own unique look. From the doors forward, it was a Phase III GT with ‘73 side vents. The roof section was pure Maco Shark – rear window slats and all, and a very tall rear spoiler was added. Motion Corvettes were always pricey, with many costing well over double the price of a new Corvette. Manta Rays were only offered in ’73 and just three were produced.
The Moray Eel was the last of Rosen’s Shark Corvettes. Only one was ever made. By the time this car was built, the bloom was off of the performance car rose and the nation was in a nasty recession.
Rosen’s last venture into shark Corvettes was called the Moray Eel. Built on a ‘72 Corvette, it was part Maco Shark – part Manta Ray. The Maco Shark flip front end had provisions for the Mako Shark inspired hood grills or vent configurations. This detail was glassed over for a smooth look and the headlights were placed in the front grille. Something went wrong with the original paint and what was supposed to be pearl yellow turned out lime green. The paint was corrected when the car was restored in ’06. Only one Moray Eel was produced.
Here’s how Silva advertised the Maco Shark Corvette. Say, “GROOVY suit” there, dude! Comic Steve Martin used to wear suits like that.
And here’s a typical Marty Schorr-designed, “in-your-face” ad for the Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette.
The Silva/Motion Performance Maco Sharks follow a long tradition of specialty coach builders that continues on today. The formula is simple: start off with a great performance car and make it your own. And it all started because John Silva wanted a Mako Shark II. – Scott
You can catch Part 1 HERE.
PS – In August ‘10 I spotted this lovingly crafted Maco at the Corvettes At Carlisle Show. Enjoy the slide show!
Link to owner’s Digital Corvettes page…
PSS – Since Rosen and Silva bother offered the Maco Shark body parts in kit form, numerous kits were purchased with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, “kit cars” often have the misfortune of never being finished. What usually hangs kit car projects up is the electrical system. While researching this story I found these images that document the fact that not all Macos lived a happy existence.
For more more Maco images, CLICK HERE.
PSS – We also have parchment paper and Laser-Etched art prints of the Illustrated Corvette Series No. 156 The Motion/Maco Corvettes “Joel Rosen’s Sharks” article from the June 2010 issue of VETTE Magazine.