Mako Shark II and Manta Ray Chevrolet Corvette Concepts
Written by Bill Bowman
The Mako Shark II was built in 1965 under the direction of Bill Mitchell, and set the design standard for the 1968-1982 production Corvette. It made its debut at the 1965 Paris Auto Show. This hand-built Corvette was a favorite of Mitchell’s and he drove it daily. Its paint scheme matched the original Mako Shark, which was constructed four years earlier. The original Mako Shark was then retroactively called the "Mako Shark I".
The Mako Shark II contained many notable features for 1965. It had a one-piece front-end that hinged forward for access to the engine bay, a removable hardtop, knock-off aluminum wheels and a big block 427 that was later replaced with an all aluminum ZL-1 engine. With a touch of a button a retractable rear bumper could extend outwards to protect the bodywork while parked; a very inventive feature for the time. Also at the rear, was a large wing, which was adjustable from the driver’s seat to ensure high-speed stability.
The interior contained controls for remote control operation of the automatic transmission, a digital read-out for the speedometer and fuel gage, and stereo speakers in the head rests for the driver and passenger. There were 17 different electric motors controlling different functions.
Having served its purpose, the Mako II should have been retired, but at GM even show cars can be face lifted, so in 1969 the Mako II was returned to the GM design studios and was transformed into the Manta Ray.
A front spoiler was added, the grille got a little more protection, and the external exhaust pipes were redesigned to be a bit rounder and more conventional than before. The body side emblems changed from a stylized shark to a stylized manta ray, Goodyear tires replaced the Firestones, the former venetian blinds rear window treatment changed to a buttress style, and the shape of the rear end was longer and more horizontal. The hood scoop carried ZL-1 engine badging.
When the Manta Ray was retired it went to Bill Mitchell’s garage, where it joined the Mako I. Eventually they both became part of the GM Heritage Center Collection.