2011 Corvettes at Carlisle Week continues with coverage of 1968 to 1982 C3 Shark Corvettes!
Bill Mitchell’s Mako Shark II Corvette show car is arguably THE most important Corvette concept car ever! This car literally changed everything the Corvette had ever been in terms of styling. The design was so fresh, new, original, dynamic, and dripping with sex, it just HAD TO BE the next Corvette. Oh, how I wish I could have been in the GM styling review yard in March 1965 when Mitchell and his team rolled the nonfunctioning Make Shark II out for review to GM’s upper management. Too bad it wasn’t filmed. Management was so blown away they wanted it as the next production Corvette in ‘67!
After some name swapping, the ‘61 Shark show car was renamed Mako Shark I and the new design was named Mako Shark II. new die-cast badges were quickly made, and the new Mako Shark II was shipped off to the 9th International Automobile Show in New York City for its public debut. Believe it or not, the non-running, full-size show model cost GM nearly $3 Million! The crowd also got to see Chevrolet’s all-new 386 big-block engine under the tilt-forward nose of the Mako Shark. Next stop was the New York World’s Fair to the GM pavilion. What a heady time for Corvette lovers.
Meanwhile, back at Chevrolet, the hard work had already begun. It was a case of exuberance vs reality. Management wanted the new Shark as the ‘67 Corvette, after all, it was just a new body and interior, so how hard could that be, right? it turned out to be more challenging than the suits realized and soon the release date was pushed back to 1968. Even with an extra year, it was still a rushed design, as it was soon discovered that translating those swoopy, sexy curved fender humps into a car you could live with was a bigger challenge that it first seemed. While the press was agog over the new ‘68 Corvette, customers were less enthused with their space ship-like machines. Quality control was a major problem and in retrospect, the new design should have been introduced as a ‘69 model. Oh well.
After the kinks were ironed out, the new Shark Corvette turned out to be astonishingly popular and was in production for a record 15 production years. The “Shark” look completely defined the Corvette’s appearance from ‘68 to today. While the newer Corvettes are much aerodynamic, unless you are doing 100-plus MPH, the old Shark is still a head turner! C3 Shark Corvettes were in abundance at the ‘11 Corvettes at Carlisle event. Enjoy the slide show! – Scott
PS – We have art prints of every year C3 Corvette from ‘68 to ‘82. You can check them out HERE.
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