Mako Shark Attack Week!!! The 1961 Mako Shark

Dateline: 1.2.12

A Look Back At the First of Bill Mitchell’s Beautiful Mako Shark Corvettes

The family connection is obvious. Fortunately, both cars are still around.

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.

The tires don't quite look wide enough.

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. Continue reading “Mako Shark Attack Week!!! The 1961 Mako Shark”

Corvette Timeline Tales: July 1977 GM’s Chief of Styling, Bill Mitchell Retires

“I design Corvettes around here!” – Bill Mitchell

Mitchell was a master at proportions. By itself, the Mako Shark looked BIG. But next to a production ‘68 Corvette, it looks like a 7/8s-size car.

It was probably a hot July day in Detroit when William L. “Bill” Mitchell quietly retired from General Motors after 42 years of service! Volumes could be written about this man. Mitchell looms large in the Corvette world because he was one of four key players that were responsible for setting the tone and design of the Corvette. Harley Earl came up with the concept of a mass-produced American sports car built in Detroit. Ed Cole was the inside engineer man that made it happen. Zora Arkus-Duntov put hair on the Corvette’s chest and made it the car a bare-knuckles brawler. And Bill Mitchell designed and guided the ‘63 – ‘67 Sting Ray and the Mako Shark-II-styled C3 Corvette. The Corvette would not have its signature style were it not for Bill Mitchell.

Bill was known as a “snappy dresser” that loved expensive italian silk suits. “Red” was also his favorite color.

Bill Mitchell, son of a Buick car dealer, started his professional career as an illustrator that liked to draw cars. While an illustrator at Collier Advertising, someone suggested that he show his car renderings to then VP of GM’s Art and Color Department, Harley Earl. Harley liked what he saw and hired Mitchell on December 15, 1935. Mitchell became Earl’s protégé and was eventually Continue reading “Corvette Timeline Tales: July 1977 GM’s Chief of Styling, Bill Mitchell Retires”