Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was released in '63. 'Stingray' was a fitting name. For - in careless hands - the car could indeed unleash a fearsome sting, from its sweetly-shaped fastback tail. Its avant-garde fibreglass body made the Stingray a lot lighter than it looked. Its kerb weight was just 3,362lb. Combine that with 340bhp - from a small block high compression V8 - and the result was a powertrain that required respect. Even more so for the fuel-injected 360hp version - available as a $430 optional extra.

The Stingray's free-flowing form was inspired, in part, by Chevrolet's Mako Shark 1 'dream car'. Dream cars were just that. Conceptual exercises - on display at auto shows - they were never intended to traverse highways. Rather, their brief was to work buyers up into a fever-pitch of excitement. Their acme was the '50s. During that space-obsessed decade, sci-fi was the source of many a fantasy-drenched design prototype. Another GM car key to the Stingray's development was '57's Q-Corvette - designed by Bob McLean. The Stingray Special - Bill Mitchell's racing project - was also instrumental. Those machines fed into '59's XP-720 - a GM experimental model. From that, it was a short hop to the Stingray production car.

The Stingray was dubbed the 'Coke bottle' - on account of its hour-glass shape. Andy Warhol - who knew a thing or two about coke bottles - would have loved that. Designer Larry Shinoda refined those illustrious contours into something suitable for road use. Pete Brock was an able assistant. Bill Mitchell - head stylist at GM - owned a Jaguar E-Type. And that British-made sports car, too, was a clear influence on the Stingray. The latter, though, could only have been made in the US. American to its apple-pie core, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray summed up the States. On a sunny '60s day - with the convertible version's top down - driving must have seemed like the stuff of heaven!

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