Over the past 50 years, Chevy has created some incredible Corvette concepts that inspired future generations of the famous sportscar.
The all-new C7 Corvette is finally here in all of its sharp-edged styling glory. It’s a striking design and a nice departure from the more conservatively-styled C6. However, Corvette designers over the years have penned some dramatically styled concepts of the iconic American sports car that often ended up inspiring designs of future production versions. So we've taken a quick look back at some of these classic Corvette concepts from the past to see how elements of their outrageous styling saw production.
The original Stingray Concept premiered way back in 1959 and formed the styling basis for the C2 Corvette. Penned by legendary designers Bill Mitchell, Pete Brock and Larry Shinoda, it was based on the chassis of the 1957 Corvette SS, a racing project that never got off the ground. The Stingray was also originally developed as a racer and it did compete for a couple of years. One still exists today in GM’s official collection and is now estimated to be worth in excess of $10 million. It was even driven by Elvis Presley, in case the eight-figure value needs a little star power, too.
Designed once again under the direction of Bill Mitchell, the first Mako Shark concept premiered in 1963 as a design study for future Corvettes. Like its name suggests, the car features a pointed snout and a streamlined design that gave it an aggressive, predatory look. GM followed up with this shark-like styling theme two years later with the Mako Shark II. It’s evidently clear how that car was a major styling influence for the C3, which began production in 1968. Both concepts were received extremely well by the public and their designers clearly listened when it came time to style the C3 Corvette.
For years there have been rumors claiming that the Corvette would switch to a mid-engine layout. Clearly that hasn’t happened (yet) but the Indy and CERV III Concepts were clear proof that GM was seriously considering the idea. One project began in 1985 when GM wanted to show off its engineering abilities. The Indy prototype featured four-wheel drive and steering. It was followed up in 1990 with the CERV III Concept, which was powered by a 5.7-liter twin-turbo V8 and constructed from carbon fiber with a fiberglass coating. It also had ABS, traction control and a six-speed automatic transmission - all advanced features for their time.
After the less than well-received idea of a mid-engined Corvette, Chevrolet opted to stick with the front-engine layout. The 1992 Stingray III Concept featured an entirely original design but retained the classic long-hood, short-deck look. Built with carbon fiber and other innovative features such as fixed seats and a movable steering wheel and pedals, it also had a dramatically sloped windshield. Power came from a 300-horsepower V8, and even though Chevrolet considered building it at the time, it never received the green light for production.
Inspired by the original 1959 Stingray race car, the last Stingray Concept premiered in 2009 at the Chicago Auto Show. Built to celebrate the anniversary of the first Stingray concept, the car also starred in the blockbuster movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen". Also intended as a design challenge to combine classic Corvette styling with high-tech features, it featured a clam-shell hood, scissor doors and a rear-view camera with night vision. It’s now clear that its styling was a partial inspiration for the all-new C7 Corvette Stingray. But as dramatic as the new production Vette looks, the concept was even more so.