A Look Back At the First of Bill Mitchell’s Beautiful Mako Shark Corvettes
Former GM Chief of Styling, Chuck Jordan said it best about his colleague and former boss, Bill Mitchell, “The man had STYLE!” And why wouldn’t he? Can you imagine learning car design from the great Harley Earl? Mitchell was 46 years old when he took over the reins of General Motors Chief of Styling in 1958 when Earl retired. Bill’s design leadership was so prodigious that it’s often overlooked that he spent his entire 42-year professional career with General Motors. That’s something that almost never happens today.
Mitchell’s styling sense can be best described as “edgy” – figuratively and literally. Known as a snappy dresser, Bill liked to “look sharp” and designed his cars with that ideal in mind. Mitchell believed that you could tell a successful man because his cloths were pressed and sharp, so he designed cars the same way! Unlike today’s “bar of soap,” smooth, rounded designs, a common threat in Mitchell’s designs were sharp edges and creases. Note the bold horizontal crease line and edges of the Stingray Racer and the ‘63 – ‘67 Sting Ray, the Mako Shark I, the Mako Shark-II, the Manta Ray, and the production ‘68 – ‘82 Corvette.
Although the look is dated today, the beauty of the designs are as breathtaking as ever. I call them, genuine American classics. The first installment of Mako Shark Week is Mitchell’s first Mako when the car was simply known as the “Mako Shark.” When the car hit the show car circuit, the production Sting Ray was well under way. So Mitchell’s Mako was really a teaser car. Part Bridgette Bardot, part Betty Page, today we’d call the Mako Shark a hottie. At the age of 51, the Mako Shark-I is still smokin hot! I covered the Mako Shark in my VETTE Magazine monthly column in May 1998. Check it our below! – Scott
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