The XP-755 Mako Shark concept car was designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of General Motors Styling and Design headBill Mitchell in 1961, as a concept for future Chevrolet Corvette production cars. In keeping with the name, the streamlining, pointed snout, and other detailing was partly inspired by the sleek, fast-moving shortfin mako shark. The ’61 Corvette tail was given two additional tail lights (six total) for the concept car. The concept inspired the 1963 Corvette Sting-Ray.
A widespread story has it that Mitchell had an actual mako shark mounted on the wall in his office, and ordered his team to paint the car to match the distinctive blue-gray upper surface gently blending into white underside of the fish. After numerous attempts to match the fish’s color scheme failed, the team hit upon the idea of kidnapping the fish one night, painting it to match their best efforts on the car, and returning it to the office. Mitchell never realized the difference and pronounced himself pleased with the team’s duplication on the car of nature’s handiwork.
The Mako Shark was a tremendous success on the auto show circuit. In fact, you’ve probably already noticed just how closely it resembles the design of the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette. A lot of the Mako’s design elements made it into production. But the Mako Shark concept wasn’t the only fish of its kind at General Motors.
The XP-755 Mako Shark I concept car was used in Season 2, Episode 6 of the Television series Route 66 that aired in October of 1961. General Motors supplied most of the vehicles that were driven in the series. In this particular episode, the main characters in Route 66, Buzz and Tod drive a 1961 Corvette. But another character, Prudie Adams drives a very exotic looking XP-755 Mako Shark I with a double bubble top and side exhaust pipes.
Mako Shark II
After a period, he removed the original body and redesigned it as the Mako Shark II in 1965. This concept influenced the redesigned C3 Corvette of 1968. The Mako Shark II debuted in 1965 as a show car. Chevrolet actually created two of them – only one of which was fully functional. The non-running show car (gallery) sported some interesting, futuristic details, such as square section side pipes and a squared-off steering wheel. While the functioning version didn’t have these features, it did have a retractable rear spoiler, and a square section bumper that could be extended for added protection. The Mako Shark II was powered by a 427 Mark IV engine, which became available on production Corvette models. The paint scheme continued the Shark I tradition, with blue/gray on top and silver/white along the rocker panels. The original Mako Shark was then retroactively called the “Mako Shark I”.
In 1969 the Mako Shark II was returned to GM design studios and transformed into the Manta Ray. Modifications include a front spoiler and redesigned grille and external exhaust pipes. Modifications were also made to the rear that included a buttress style rear window and a longer more horizontal end section. The Firestone tires were replaced with Goodyear tires. Both Mako I and Manta Ray are currently part of the GM Heritage Center Collection.