A rare Silva short-tail Maco Shark goes from orphan barn find to show car beauty!
Every year the Corvettes at Carlisle show has a theme. The theme for the 2011 Chip’s Choice Display was “Barn Finds.” Who doesn’t love an old barn find story? It’s a topic that cuts across all car interests. Today, barn finds have become a special interest category of its own. It seems that barn finds have sifted out into two groups. First there are the cars that look like they were just taken out of the barn – dirt and everything. What was once decades of dirt, blistered paint, animal droppings, sticks, and twigs has now become “patina.” And second are the cars that a normal human would have let rot back into the earth, only to have been beautifully and lovingly restored back to running and sometimes show car condition. For these cars, the “before and after” photos are a lot of fun. “You started with THAT?” Is a common comment.
Here at CorvetteReport.com and BaldwinMotionReport.com we’re a little partial to not only Baldwin Motion Phase III Supercars, but also the Motion Maco and Silva Maco Shark Corvettes. Unfortunately, there are probably more barn find-type Macos than there are finished and running Macos. it’s just part of the nature of kit cars. While Motion offered turn-key Macos, Motion and Silva also sold the body kits. As is the case with all kit cars, about 80-percent of the kits are never finished. What usually stops project kit cars are electrical systems.
While any barn find car being nursed back to health can be a daunting task, a kit car barn find is definitely a few notches up on the difficulty scale. That’s what makes Rick Walker’s 1976 short-tail Maco Shark so interesting. Like a typical barn find car, the Maco had been left out in the elements (in this case, the blistering Florida sun) and had been through several floods, such that the radiator had about 6-inches of sand inside the core, as well as sand packed into the frame and suspension. Although the primer and paint was in bad shape, the fiberglass was unmolested. At one point, the city of Sarasota declared the derelict Vette an eyesore and required the owner to erect a stockade fence so the neighbors wouldn’t have to look at the hideous sight. (that is, from THEIR perspective!)
After three years of work and unspecified expense, (Walker did all the work himself) the Silva short-tail Maco Shark Corvette is now a street machine/show car! All Maco Corvettes are technically “kit cars,” so they are all different,.Walker’s Maco maintains the classic Bill Mitchell “Shark” blue with faded light gray, simulated shark coloring and the unique nose vents. “Custom” touches include an integrated chin spoiler, custom 2-piece front grille, a ‘73 – ‘’79 hood dome, Phase III GT reverse front fender vents, Hooker Header Side pipes, Lambo-style doors, and horizontal slot taillights.
Under the fiberglass you’ll find a 350 small-block with pro Comp aluminum heads, a Barry Grant “BadMan”: fuel-injection system, a 2004-R overdrive trans, and polished coilover rear suspension. Aside from new gauges and some auxiliary A-pillar-mounted gauges, the interior looks to have new cloth seats and carpeting.
Cars such as this are always “works in progress” and are by definition “never done.” One little detail that I happen to really like is the inclusion of the “Mako Shark II” badge on the front fenders. The Silva and Motion Macos were called “Maco” to avoid a fight with GM’s legal department. As I mentioned a few days ago about the Mako Shark II, the design was so fresh and over-the-top, it just HAD to be the next Corvette. There were actually two Mako Shark II cars. The first one was unleashed in 1965 and WOWed crowds at the ‘65 World’s Fair, but this was a non-running car. To move the design process along, GM ordered that a running Mako Shark II be built. The ‘66 version of the Mako Shark II was loaded for bear and packed a 427 engine.
After the ‘68 Mako-styled production Corvette came out, the show car was somewhat of an unwanted child. In ‘69 GM’s chief of design, Bill Mitchell decided to take the Mako Shark III farther with a revised nose, and a long tapered tail with a sugar scoop-styled rear roof design. The revised car was called the “Manta Ray” and made its appearance in 1970. Unfortunately, the 1966 running Mako Shark II was cut up to make the Manta Ray, meaning that the running car that inspired Silva’s Maco is no longer. The Manta Ray is still around, but the Mako Shark II running version is history. Too bad the ‘66 running Mako wasn’t kept in tack and the Manta Ray build as its own car. Oh well, you can’t keep them all, I suppose.
So, “hat’s off” to Rich Walker for preserving a piece of Corvette history when most sane cars buys would have let a throw away old Corvette go back into the ground. – Scott
PS – You can check out Rick Walker’s profile page with lots of nice photos HERE.
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