From Mako Shark show car to production Corvette – a little too quickly.
In retrospect, it’s amazing that the C3 Corvette wasn’t called the “C2.5 Corvette.” After all, the frame, suspension, chassis, and running gear was straight off the C2 Sting Ray. It all goes to show how important looks can be. Of course, today, we’re all used to the “shark” style, but in September ‘67 when the ‘68 cars made their grand debut, it was WOWZERS for Chevrolet! To really appreciate how advanced and completely original the Mako Shark-inspired ‘68 Corvette was, go back an look at what Detroit was offering back then. Yes, there are a dozen of so genuinely classic cars from the late ‘60s, but the ‘68 Corvette was even more original than the ‘63 Sting Ray. The ‘68 – ‘82 Corvettes were so iconic, they are forever branded the “Shark” Corvettes.
Since we’re rolling into the C6’s final year and looking forward to the new 7th generation Vette, the next several installments of my VETTE Magazine monthly column looks back at the “first” of each generation Corvette. So, let’s go back to the first of the Shark Corvettes! - Scott
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 183: 1968 Corvette – “The First C3 Corvette”
In March ‘65 Bill Mitchell showed GM’s upper management his new Mako Shark II. After the attendees got their breath back, the first question was probably, “When can we have it?” Publicity photos were made and the non-running Mako Shark II was shipped off to New York City for the 9th Annual International Automobile Show, then to the New York World’s Fair. Meanwhile, two orders were given: build a running prototype, and begin work on a production version. Unbelievably, GM management wanted the new design to be a ‘67 model! That meant only 18 months to design and develop the car. Continue reading
When it comes to widebody Corvettes, it’s all about BIG tires.
Check out the wide body Corvette prints at the bottom of this post.
On March 16,2012 GMAuthority.com announced that for the 2012 racing season, the C6.R ZR1 Corvette would be wearing a new suit. We’re not talking about the livery, it’s still Competition Yellow with black graphics that seems to change every few races.
No, we’re talking about actual body parts. It was only six years ago that the production widebody C6 Z06 gave the new C6 that big, broad shoulders look that we love so much. It wasn’t long before lots of regular Corvettes were wearing Z06 outfits, and why not? It looks great, almost as if that’s the way the C6 should have looked in ‘05. But things evolve and we go from there. It wasn’t just a fad either. Chevrolet certainly noticed and and in ‘10 dished up the Grand Sport model, wearing Z06 cloths and a new set of front fender vents. The new look struck a chord, because in ‘10 the Grand Sport Corvette made up 49.5% of total sales and in ‘11 Grand Sports accounted for 58.7% of sales! That’s very impressive and the Corvette planners deserve credit for picking up on the widebody trend.
But when ‘12 Corvette Racing season began, the ZR1-based race cars were wearing an even wider, wider body. And just like the original ‘70s widebody Corvettes popularized by John and Burt Greenwood, it was all about tires. Race car tires are a whole other interesting topic. If you go all the way back to the earliest Corvette racers, you can’t miss those painfully skinny tires. These were stock tires that were sometimes shaved a little. When you got into the late ‘60s tire sizes began to grow and L-60 series tires were considered enormous. Continue reading
A colorful new addition to Scott Teeters’ collection of Corvette art prints!
Work continues on our new prints enterprise. In April 2012 we partnered with Fine Art America so that our Corvette art print customers could enjoy the many options afforded by FAA. Our latest offering, “Corvette Box of Candies” came as a happy result of working on our horizontal and vertical layouts of the Corvette Special Editions and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars layouts.
After I completed the graphics for the Special Editions and Pace Cars, it occurred to me that if I put them all on one layout, they’d look like a box of brightly colored, pretty, hard candies. You know those bright-colored, sweet, hard candies you often see in the display cases at Hallmark Card shops. Corvettes in the layout include all of the Special Edition Corvettes from the 1978 25 Anniversary Corvette to the 2011 Carbon Edition Z06, and Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars from 1978 to 2008. So I ran the idea by the boss and she said, “Make it so, Dude!” So, the Dude, got’r done! Continue reading
Corvette paces the 2012 Indy 500 for the 11th time!
Every so often, a real bombshell goes off. Earlier this week, less than three weeks before the 2012 Indy 500 race, Chevrolet announced that a 2013 60th Anniversary ZR1 Corvette would pace the 96th Indy 500 race. This will the the 11th time a Corvette paces the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports and the 23rd time a Chevrolet automobile has paced the Indy 500. No other manufacturer has paced Indy more times. And, if that’s not enough, 2012 marks the return of Chevrolet as an engine supplier for IZOD IndyCar Series.
C6 Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, but this is the first time the 638-horsepower ZR1 will do the job. The ZR1 is also the most powerful car to ever pace the Indy 500. And just like most of the previous Corvette Indy pace cars, the Corvete needed no performance enhancements – just the addition of various safety requirements.
Arguably, the only bummer part of the story is for Corvette collectors. There was no announcement of an optional Pace Car Special. The livery on the ZR1 Pace Car consists of the production 60th Anniversary decoration, with the addition of the 2012 Indy 500 logo, “Official Pace Car”, Indy 500 logo, “CORVETTE” across the top of the windshield, and the safety strobe light bar on top of the B-pillar. The ZR1’s astonishing hardware aside, this is the tamest-looking Corvette Indy 500 pace car we’ve seen since 1986. But, we’re NOT complaining. Continue reading
Our New Partnership With FineArtAmerica.com
We are very happy to announce our new Corvette art prints enterprise with FineArtAmerica.com. But first, I must give credit, where credit is due. My lovely wife and business partner Karen, discovered FineArtAmerica.com about a month ago. Partnering with FineArtAmerica.com allows me the freedom to create Corvette art print layouts in any proportion. FineArtAmerica.com allows customers to order my Corvette prints in sizes to fit their budget needs! The optional matte and framing service allows customers the freedom to choosing their color matte and frame style to suit their decor needs.
By offering our Corvette prints through FineArtAmerica.com, customers can order prints as small as 8” x 2-5/8” up to 48” x 16” for our 1×3 proportion layouts and 8” x 8” up to 48” x 48” for our square proportion layouts. Every print can be produced on either archival matte paper, photo paper, watercolor paper, or canvas. Then, if you want, you can have your print custom matted and framed. There are dozens of matte colors and frame styles. You can design your framed print to match your home decor. The possibilities are staggering!
“Corvettes and Racing” A Wonderful Marriage!
“Corvettes and racing” have been perfect together since 1956. Without the influence of racing, I’m sure that the Corvette would have morphed into something else and been gone long ago. The other day CorvetteBlogger.com posted a story about a 2011 C6.R Le Mans Winning tribute Corvette that’s For Sale. The car looks as if it was just rolled out of the transport and is ready for a few hot laps, but this is a street machine sporting a brand new LS7 crate engine and a host of delicious racing goodies. The car has 52,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is just $55,000. Almost begs the question, “So what’s wrong with the car???”
Seeing the car got me to thinking about earlier Corvette street machines with a powerful visual racing reference. Arguably the most over-the-top race track-influenced Corvettes were the ‘70s wide-body IMSA Corvettes. The wide body design was the last of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s “racer kit” Corvette parts program and first showed up on John Greenwood’s Corvettes around 1974-1975.
Previous Corvette racer body parts were limited to the functional L88 hood and fender flares. The fender flares were pretty big, but as tires got wider and wider, something else had to be done. Corvette stylists came up with a wild-looking and functionally aerodynamic full body kit that not only cover up the Can-Am-size racing tires, but improved the car’s aerodynamics. In full battle regalia, Greenwood’s IMSA Corvette looked like “the future” and was quickly nick named, “The Batmobile.” Continue reading
Hot rodder Shinoda teams up with Bill Mitchell and defined the “Corvette look.”
Perhaps it was “in the stars” that Larry Shinoda was in the right place at the right time. If you strictly look at Shinoda’s resume in 1956, you might ask, “How did this guy get in the front door?” As a young man, the only thing Larry ever graduated from was high school, Army boot camp, and the School of Hard Knocks. Twelve-year-old Larry had his life turned inside out when along with thousands of Japanese-Americans, he and his family were sent to interment camps for the duration of WW II. The experience had a profound effect on his personality. A self-professed “malcontent” Shinoda could be a little difficult to work with.
After his Army tour of duty in Korea, Shinoda attended Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, but truly hated being there. He could see no purpose in taking the classes in design and the various art mediums, such as watercolor painting. He was a car guy/hot rodder and he wanted to draw and design cars! So he left Art Center without graduating and based strictly on his car illustrations, landed a job at Ford, then Studebaker/Packard. Just a year after starting his career, he landed a job as a designer at General Motors.
The rest is the stuff of legend. Street racing and blowing the doors off of Bill Mitchell’s souped up Buick and quickly being taken under Mitchell’s wing. Things like that happens, but rarely. There was obviously some chemistry between the two men, perhaps it was because both men could be brash and had strong opinions.
Shinoda got his first big break when Mitchell tapped the 28-year-old to translate the body design of the ‘57 Q-Corvette on to the mule chassis from Duntov’s aborted Corvette SS project. The finished car became Mitchell’s 1959 Stingray Racer, which formed the styling theme for the ‘63 Corvette. From there, Shinoda got one peach project after another. It’s worth noting that the design of the Stingray Racer is held in such high esteem that current Corvette chief designer, Tom Peters (C6 Corvette and late model Camaro designer) is on record stating that his ‘09 Corvette Stingray Concept (aka Transformers Corvette) was influenced by the ‘59 Stingray. Continue reading
Feast your eyes on the lines and shapes of this classic Bill Mitchell Shark Corvette
For shark Corvette fans, this is a MUST-SEE Corvette video. The video looks to have been shot inside a long, lighted roadway tunnel because the light reflections is what creates this artistic, dreamy video.
As you are watching, keep in mind that the shape of the car was worked out almost 50 years ago! And it still is dripping with sexitude. Continue reading
The once obscure L88s are now highly valued Corvettes!
It’s always an exciting thing when the heavy guns from the Corvette’s past go on the auction block. Auctions can be a quirky thing, be it a local farm auction or a high-level exotic cars auction. On one hand, the final sale price is a direct reflection of what the market place is willingness to pay. On the other hand, two people can get caught up in the adrenaline of the auction experience and drive up a final sale price. Either way, they’re always fun to watch to get a sense of the market value of Corvettes.
Keith Cornett at www.CorvetteBlogger.com does an excellent job of covering Corvette auction action. Well, it seems that there’s an interesting trend developing in the Corvette world over L88 Corvettes. L88s with the appropriate petegree are getting just just north of $600,000! That’s VERY impressive, considering that new, the cars cost in the neighborhood of $6,500 back in the day.
The L88 option was Mr. Duntov’s gift to his beloved Corvette racers. Just because GM didn’t want to go racing didn’t mean that Duntov couldn’t design and develop parts for independent racers to use. The L88 package was the ultimate racer kit for its day. On paper and in person, the L88 didn’t look all that spectacular. The only visual clue as to what lurked under the car’s body was the special cold-air-induction hood that was essentially a dome on top of the big-block hood’s dome. That was the ONLY visual clue. On paper the L88 was grossly underrated at just 430-horsepower. The real power number was never “officially” published, but it was estimated to be in the high 500horsepower range. Continue reading
A Salute to the AWESOME, highly collectible, Baldwin Motion Corvettes
In November 2011 there were a few automotive bomb shells dropped on the MCACN Muscle Car Show. Namely three unique Baldwin Motion Corvettes. One Survivor Phase III 454 Corvette, one restored Motion Mako Shark Corvette, and one garage/barn find Corvette, the ‘76 Can-Am Spyder.
The survivor car is known as the “Ankenbauer Phase III 454 Corvette. The car is currently owned by Dave Belk and is just an amazing Motion survivor car. I have a feature story on this Motion Phase III 454 Corvette coming out in Vette Vues Magazine in a few weeks. After publication, I’ll post the story here. The car is jaw-dropping and the owner’s story rocks!
Dan McMichael is a collector of Motion Corvettes. His latest finished Motion car is the 1970 Motion Maco Shark Corvette. There are many configurations of the Mako design. Both Silva and Motion produced customer Macos AND sold the body kits. This car was built by Motion Performance, according to the customer’s specifications. The restoration of this car is said to be “STUNNING!” From the photos I’ve seen, that adjective is spot on.
And Dan McMichaels scores a second stunner. This might be the most amazing Corvette barn find ever. The car was discovered by Maryland State legislator Rick Impallaria when he was clearing out cars and hardware after evicting a tenant from the auto body shop he was renting. Stashed away was the hulk of an unusual Corvette. Rick was told that the car might be the remains of a Motion Can-Am Spyder Corvette. Rick did some inquiries, including to our sister site, www.BaldwinMotionReport.com, as to what the Corvette community thought this hulk might have been. Turns out it was one of three yellow Can-Am Spyder Corvettes built. And now it’s Dan McMichaels. If anyone will “do right” by the Can-Am Spyder, it’ll be Dan! Continue reading
A Salute to the design the set the style for America’s sports car, the Corvette.
It’s only been a week or so since the photos of a disguised C7 Corvette surfaced and already the critics are weighing in. One report commented that the profile and proportions look too much like the current C6. And therein lies the designer’s dilemma when it comes to designing a new Corvette. The new design has to “look like a Corvette,” but has to “look new.” This isn’t a new problem actually. But before we come down on the Corvette design team too harshly, we should all just breath… and be patient. Those disguised cars always look bad.
But, there is no doubt that the Corvette’s image will forever be locked into the design that goes all the way back to 1963-1964 when GM’s VP of Design, Bill Mitchell charged his designers with the challenge to, “Design a “narrow, slim, ”selfish” center section and coupe body, a prominently tapered tail, an “all of one piece” blending of the upper and lower portions of the body, prominent wheels with protective fenders, distinctively separate from the main body, yet gaffed organically to it.” The end result was the Mako Shark-II. Continue reading
So, you want to build yourself a Maco Corvette? Get your work clothes!
We were very pleased with the response to our Mako Shark Attack Week from the beginning of January 2012. I first saw the Mako Shark-II back in ‘66 and thought it was the most stunning car I’d ever seen. It looked like what I had imagined “cars from the future” would look like. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one that was touched, moved, and inspired.
The Cliff Notes version of the Mako Shark-II story is this. Chevrolet blows minds with the non-running Mako Shark-II at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. The crowds went wild and told Chevrolet, “We want one!” And Chevrolet said, “We’ll get right on it!” The running Mako Shark-II with it’s big 427 big-block engine was just “out’a sight!” But when the Mako Shark-II-inspired ‘68 Corvette came out, some said, “What’s that? That’s not a Mako Shark!” One guy took it upon himself to build his own Mako Shark-II body for the new Corvette. John Silva’s “Maco Shark” Corvette body kit filled the void that Chevrolet created. Silva’s Maco kit got the attention of Motion Performance’s Joel Rosen, who had recently unleashed his Phase III GT Corvette, and was looking for something even more exotic to offer his Motion customers. Rosen and Silva made a deal and the rest is history. Motion and Silva made a few turnkey Maco Sharks and sold LOTS of body kits and parts.
The kit car industry has come a long way since the ‘60s when Meyers-Manx, Fiberfab, Silva, Motion, and others were selling kits. The nature of kits cars is that most are never completed, with electrical issues usually being the number one issue. What it comes down to is that for a kit car to turn out great, you need excellent craftsmen and a fair amount of cash. A fully-functional kit car can be as complicated as a manufactured car. Continue reading
The Motherload of Maco Corvette Photos!
Our Mako Shark Attack Week was a big hit (LOTS of visitors) and got the attention of what may well be two of the biggest Maco Shark fans out there in cyberland. The other day we had a brief note from Robert Egli complimenting one of the Mako Shark posts from our “Mako Shark Attack Week.” He wrote, “For more photos of Mako Sharks just check out the gallery above.” So I went to the link and WOW! I didn’t count the number of pictures Robert has on the page, but I spent at least an hour carefully looking over the collection of images. The cars range from stunning to junkyard specials, which is fairly typical of kit cars. To visit the Maco Gallery, CLICK HERE. Continue reading
More Mako Shark-II that a Production C3 Corvette
As groovy as the new C3 1968 Corvette looked to most Vette fans, for some, it wasn’t what they were expecting. What they were expecting was what they’d been drooling over since ‘65 – a production version of the “Mako Shark” show cars. They didn’t want to hear a lot of bunk about what can or can’t be manufactured or that the Mako’s front fender humps were too tall. They wanted the Mako Shark-II, period!
While some grumped and grumbled, one man did something about it. He made his own Mako Shark-II. And to prevent GM from crashing down on his head, he called it the “Maco Shark.” John Silva produced the first total body kit for the late model, C3 Corvette. The only part of the exterior body that was production Corvette was the windshield. While the completed kit wasn’t a 100% dead ringer for Bill Mitchell’s Mako Shark-II, it was close enough for many. But what put the Silva Maco on the map was the guy from Long Island that was already building Chevy supercars and could make sure the Maco had gobs of grunt. Yes, Joel Rosen.
Joel Rosen, along with PR master, Marty Schorr, editor of CARS Magazine, were already in the thick of things with their Baldwin-Motion Phase-III Supercars. Their line of turn-key, bad-ass Super Chevys was called, “The Fantastic Five.” You can get a heap’n help’n of Baldwin-Motion dishes at our sister blog site, www.BaldwinMotionReport.com. While the sales of Phase-III Supercars was cooking along in 1969, Rosen was thinking ahead and working out the details of his Phase-III GT Corvette. Rosen’s plan was to offer a true GT (Grand Touring) version of his Phase-III Corvette. The classic GT car configuration used a stout frame and chassis, plenty of power, excellent brakes, creature comforts, and room for travel bags. GT cars were essentially a sport coupe that you would use for a long trip – a “grand” “tour.” In other words, a “big trip.” C3 Corvette Coupes are short on usable space, so Rosen created a fastback rear window to open up the back storage area to hold those small travel bags for his customer’s, “Grand Tour.”
So, around the same time Rosen started offering his Phase-III GT Corvette, John Silva was making his own version of the Mako Shark, marketed under the name “Maco Shark.” The two men worked out a deal and Motion Performance started offering their own turn-key Motion Macos and Maco body kits. Here’s where things get a little muddy. Removing the complete production Corvette body and replacing it with the Maco was VERY labor intensive and expensive. So, very few Motion-built Macos were produced.
However, lots of body kits were sold and if you’ve ever been involved in the kit car hobby, you know that most kits are not completed. For the cars that were completed, some were better than others and depended on Continue reading
Bill Mitchell’s longer, lower, louder, sleeker Mako Shark
Bill Mitchell and his design team cranked out an amazing number of concept and show cars through the ‘60s. The ‘69 Manta Ray was the end of the line for Mitchell’s shark theme that started in ‘61, and was somewhat overlooked for a time. Those were heady days between the new production Corvette, Chevy and other exciting muscle cars, and tremendous advances in all kinds of race cars. The Mako Shark-II-based Manta Ray was kind of, “been there, done that” by 1969. Designers often have concept ideas that they just want to try out in full size, and it seems that the Manta Ray was such a car.
Perhaps the most unfortunate part of the whole Mako Shark-II story is the fact that the configuration of the the running Mako Shark-II is gone! When Mitchell decided to try out a few more design elements for the Shark Corvette, the quickest way to get there was to start with the ‘66 running Mako Shark-II. The running Mako Shark-II was a stunningly beautiful car, so can you imagine what it might have been like for the designers and builders that were tasked with the job of CUTTING THE CAR UP to make the Manta Ray? Oh, that first cut must have been painful! It must have felt like sacrilege taking a zip saw to such a beauty. Continue reading