Visitors will have just one week to view the Mako Shark, Manta Ray, Aerovette and Stingray Racer
You had posters of them on your bedroom wall as a kid, maybe even a book featuring their sleek designs. Now, for a very limited time, you can see these one-of-a-kind concept cars in person at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The four Chevrolet Corvettes, a 1961 Mako Shark Concept, 1965 Manta Ray Concept, 1973 Aerovette Concept and 1959 Stingray Racer, are all on loan from the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
“These cars were some of the top prototypes developed by GM and hold a significant place in Corvette’s history,” said Betty Hardison, NCM Library and Archives Coordinator. “They were on display when the Museum held the grand opening in 1994, so it was fitting to have them back for this grand re-opening event, 15 years later.”
The temporary display begins Tuesday, September 1 and continues through Wednesday, September 9, as part of the Museum’s 15th Anniversary Celebration. The cars can be viewed in the National Corvette Museum’s new Exhibit Hall. The Museum is located at I-65, exit 28 and is open daily, 8am-5pm Central Time. The Museum will have extended hours on Friday, September 4 and Saturday, September 5, closing at 8pm. For more information please contact the National Corvette Museum at 800-53-VETTE (83883) or visit us online at www.corvettemuseum.org.
About the Display Cars
The Mako Shark was designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of GM Design head Bill Mitchell in 1961 as a concept for future Chevrolet Corvettes. In keeping with the name, the streamlining, pointed snout and other detailing were partly inspired by the look of that very fast fish. The “Mako Shark” was very similar to the 1963 production Corvette it inspired, with some alterations. These included adding two more brake lights in the rear (six total), making the nose of the car longer and more pointed, creating a clear glass roof with a periscope-like rear-view mirror and remodeling the interior.
In 1969 development began on the Manta Ray, created through a transformation of the Mako Shark II primarily from the cockpit to the rear of this elaborate car. Only the tapered “boat tail” motif remained with the addition of a new and considerably longer rear end in place of the abrupt duck tail. During the winter of 1969-70, the Manta Ray underwent subtle additional changes. These were the last changes to a dream car that had since become reality.
In 1976, the 1973 Corvette 4-Rotor concept was taken out of storage and renamed the Aerovette. The double rotary engine was replaced with a transversally mounted 400 CID V8 engine. Bill Mitchell, Vice President of Design, lobbied for the Aerovette as the next Corvette and GM chairman and CEO, Thomas Murphy actually approved the Aerovette for 1980 production. In the end, management decided that they were selling every fiberglass bodied, front engine V8 “traditional” Corvette they could build, so why make a huge risky investment in a mid-engine car. The Aerovette project was cancelled.
Bill Mitchell wanted to build a Corvette racecar capable of beating Europe’s best. With an AMA ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing, the project had to be privately financed and the design could not have any recognizable association with Chevrolet. With Mitchell’s own time and money heavily invested into the project, he contracted Larry Shinoda to assist in the development of the revolutionary concept.
Combining the 1957 SS chassis with the new fiberglass body resulted in a sleek and muscular roadster. Mitchell’s Stingray was completed in 1959 with the engineering help of Zora Arkus-Duntov. Accomplished SCCA driver Dick Thompson raced the Stingray and piloted it to two consecutive class championships. At the end of the 1960 season, Mitchell retired the Stingray from competition, detuned it, added a full windshield and passenger seat, drove it on the street and exhibited it as an experimental show car.