Corvette’s Founding Fathers, Larry Shinoda, Pt 5 of 6: Sting Ray & Mako Shark Designer

Larry Shinoda was the perfect designer/stylist for GM VP of Styling Bill Mitchell. In the same way that Mitchell fit with Harley Earl, Shinoda clearly understood what Mitchell wanted. As VP of Design, Mitchell’s job was to hold the vision for what he knew would be new and fresh, then lead his designers and stylists to bring his vision into reality. Corvettes were always Mitchell’s pet projects and he was famous for saying, “Don’t get cocky, kid! I design Corvettes around here!” Mitchell’s Corvettes were about design, speed, power, and performance. And for that, he needed a designer/stylist equal to Duntov’s engineering/racing prowess. Larry Shinoda was his man. Read More

Founding Fathers Pt 3 of 6: Bill Mitchell, Creator of the Corvette Look

A few years before his death in 1988, Mitchell has this to say about the C4 Corvette, “That square box is pretty near plastic… the instrument panel – Dracula’s dressing room… it rides like a truck… it isn’t a style car, it’s an machine car… engineers are running it. Earl would never let that – I would never let that happen, and I condemn the guys for it!” Read More

Corvette’s Founding Fathers, Pt 1 of 6 – Designer Extraordinaire, Harley J. Earl

Harley J. Earl’s accomplishments were staggering. His beautiful concept cars and subtle innovations (such as turn signals and wrap-around glass) that live on today, unnoticed, aren’t nearly as impactful as his greatest legacy, the Corvette. His quote, “The Corvette was a little thing I started.” is one of the all-time great, automotive understatements. Sixty-five years after Earl took his LeSabre concept car to the 1951 Watkins Glen sports car race and was inspired, we are still captivated by Corvettes. That’s one heck-of-a legacy! Read More


The History of Mid-Engine Corvettes, 1960 to C8: Part 3

While Duntov lead the charge when it came to racing Corvettes, he wasn’t the only power player inside Chevrolet with a vision for a mid-engine Corvette. Frank Winchell was a low-profile company man who, unlike Duntov, did not like or seek out fame and attention. He was comfortable in his role as a corporate man. Winchell ran the Chevrolet R&D group from 1959 through 1966 and was a “take no prisoners,” “lets try it” kind of guy. While not a degreed engineer, he had a natural sense of how things worked and specialized in the design and development of automatic transmissions. Read More


The History of Mid-Engine Corvettes, 1960 to C8: Part 3

Zora Arkus-Duntov was greatly influenced by the Auto Union and Mercedes race cars of the pre and post WW II era of racing. AWD was often part of the advanced engineering of the world’s best racecars, so it was no surprise that Duntov wanted AWD in his Corvette prototype to race at Le Mans. “Getting there” in a company that makes consumer cars would be a challenge, so Zora was limited to the parts bin. Duntov built his AWD racer using a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission with a modified 11-inch torque converter for the rear wheels, and a Corvair Powerglide transmission with a modified 10-inch torque converter just ahead of the front wheel centerline. There are many ways of driving four wheels in an automobile, but this was so unique that on November 19, 1968 Duntov was awarded U.S. Patient #3,411,601 for the design. Read More


The History of Mid-Engine Corvettes, 1960 to C8: Part 2

But at the height of the Corvair’s popularity, V.P. of Design, Bill Mitchell saw “potential” in the Corvair’s unique platform and set two of his sharpest designers to work on a radical Corvair; Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine. Two cars were built; the Monza GT was a mid-engine coupe and the Monza SS was a rear-engine open-roadster. Neither car looked like anything else on the road, let alone a Corvair. If you ever wondered where the big front fender humps on the Mako Shark-II came from, now you know! Read More


Corvette Odd-Ball: Was the 1938 Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine the Genesis of the Iconic Sting Ray’s Roof?

So, on July 20, 2015 when blog.hemmings.com published a story about the 1938 Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine, Corvette fans were in for a surprise! While the car indeed looks large and doesn’t have the look of a “sports car” it was actually raced at Le Mans in 1937, and approximately six were built. While this was in its day, cutting edge and a truly advanced design, from the front and size view, no one would EVER think, “Sting Ray.” But when you get to the rear roofline, it’s, “Oh… My… God!!!” While not “exact” with the sharp, tapered point, split rear-window, and taillight configuration, the resemblance to the 1963 Split-Window Coupe Sting Ray is stunning! Read More

1963 Corvette – The First Production Sting Ray

The first 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, The original American Idol – I call the Corvette the “The American Automotive Horatio Alger Story.” It’s the ultimate automotive rags-to-riches story. You could also call it an automotive Cinderella story. While the C6 has taken more flack than it deserves, it’s good to look back to the very beginning to get a really clear picture of how far the Corvette has come in 60 years. Today, new designs are market researched, but in the ‘50s, it was a seat-of-the-pants approach, driven by men with strong personalities. “Father” of the Corvette, Harley Earl, was the director of GM’s “Art and Color Section.” from 1927 to 1958. His successor, William L. Mitchell picked up the mantle and drove the Corvette where Earl never imagined. Read More

A Look Back At Race Cars & Corvairs Designed by Larry Shinoda

Larry Shinoda’s designs were so strong that when his name comes up, it’s almost always first associated with Corvettes. But Larry’s talent for designing fast-looking cars wasn’t limited to Corvettes. I suppose that when you are the go-to-stylist for a legend the likes of Bill Mitchell, you get a few peach projects. In retrospect, what helped make Shinoda’s design work so edgy was his passion for racing. In a sense, Larry’s NHRA Nationals win in ‘55 put him in the same category as 1954 Le Mans racer Zora Arkus-Duntov. As Bill Mitchell used to say, both men had, “gasoline in their veins.” Read More

A Look Back At Corvettes Designed by Larry Shinoda

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. Larry put his personal edginess into his Corvette designs and we’re still admiring them. Read More