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1961 Corvette Art Prints
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Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 209
2014 Corvette Convertible
Dave MacDonald & Jim Simpson's
1961 Corvette Special

Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 209
2014 Corvette Convertible
Dave MacDonald & Jim Simpson's
1961 Corvette Special
11x17 Full-Color Print
$29.95 + $6.95 S&H

11x17 Full-Color Print
$29.95 + $6.95 S&H


Illustrated Corvette Series
No. 146
Bill Mitchell's
Mako Shark Corvettes
To read the story, CLICK HERE.

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 14
1961 Corvette
To read the story, CLICK HERE.
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Illustrated Corvette Series II
No. 146
Bill Mitchell's
Mako Shark Corvettes

Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 14
1961 Corvette
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Laser-Etched
Illustrated Corvette Series II
No. 146 Bill Mitchell's
Mako Shark Corvettes

Laser-Etched
llustrated Corvette Series-II No. 14
1961 Corvette
11x17 Laser-Etched Print
$49.95 + $8.00 S&H

11x17 Laser-Etched Print
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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 15
1961 Mako Shark I Show Car

1961 Mako Shark Corvette
C1-6
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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1961 Corvette Roadster Profile

1961 Mako Shark Corvette Profile
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Laser-Etched Fuel Injected
283 Fuelie Engine

Fuel Injected
283 Corvette Engine
11x17 Laser-Etched Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 146 - Bill Mitchell's Mako Shark Corvettes

Starting in 1956 with the arrival of fresh styling and the 265-inch Chevy small-block, Corvettes have been about guts and glamour. Zora Arkus-Duntov provided the guts, and Vice President of GM Styling Bill Mitchell, provided the glamour. While the public got to enjoy this unique blend, deep inside the Chevrolet design center, a war was being waged between these two strong-willed men.

Mitchell joined GM in 1935 and was heir to the throne of legendary GM designer (and Corvette creator) Harley Earl. Duntov was hired in 1953, and by 1957 he had been promoted to director of high-performance sales at Chevrolet. In Mitchell’s world, everything was about style. From his silk suits to his long white sideburns and passion for fast cars, style was everything. From Mitchell’s perspective, “engineering never sold a damn thing.” Duntov, on the other hand, was a consummate engineer, a mechanical man for whom form followed function. The glue that kept these two men together was their shared passion for fast cars—especially Corvettes.

The evolution of Mitchell’s shark cars began in the mid ‘50s. The 1957 Q-Corvette was the genesis, but it never went beyond a full-size clay mock-up. Mitchell enlisted the help of stylist Larry Shinoda to design a roadster version of the Q-Corvette body that would be fitted to the mule chassis from the aborted Corvette SS racer. Mitchell had two objectives. First, he liked fast cars and wanted to go racing, and second, he wanted to test the public’s response to the new shape. Named “Sting Ray” and raced with Mitchell’s funding, the car won the SCCA C/Modified Championship in 1960. The public loved the new design, and by early 1960 it was decided that the ’63 Corvette would use the styling of the Sting Ray racer.

Duntov did not like the new design and let Mitchell know it. The practical Duntov saw the long hood/short deck configuration as being stuck in the ‘30s and an impediment to the driver’s forward vision. Mitchell was outraged that an engineer on a low-volume Chevy would dare to question his design. Mitchell called Duntov “Zorro,” and Duntov called Mitchell “a red-faced baboon.” Obviously, Mitchell won the day, so Duntov set about making the new Sting Ray as good as he could. As work progressed to bring the car to market, Duntov was working on the RPO Z06 “racer kit” option and was letting select drivers—but not Mitchell—sample the new package in a mule car.

So Mitchell decided to build his own hot-rod Sting Ray. Named the Mako Shark, after a shark Mitchell caught while on vacation in Bimini, the car was an exaggeration of the production car that was then being built. Once again, Larry Shinoda was charged with working out the styling. Though based on a production ‘61 Corvette, every surface of the Mako Shark was stylized. The car had supercharged 327, a double-bubble Plexiglas roof, side pipes, gills for front cornering lights, vents, scoops, a rear-view periscope, wire wheels, and iridescent blue paint that faded into white along the lower edge. The car was shown at Elkhart Lake in the summer of 1961 and was a smash hit. No sooner had the ‘63 Corvette hit the streets than Mitchell was busy designing the next Corvette. Once again, Larry Shinoda and a small staff were brought in to assist. But this time, Mitchell had an unusual design mandate.

Mitchell wanted to see a “narrow, slim, selfish” center section and coupe body, a prominently tapered tail, an “all of one piece” blending of the upper and lower portions of the body, and prominent wheels with protective fenders that were separate from the main body yet grafted organically to it. The end result was the Mako Shark II, and jaws dropped when the full-size mock-up was shown in April ’65. There were two immediate responses: first, build a functioning show car, and second, make the car into the next Corvette.

Built on a production chassis fitted with the new 427 engine, the functioning Mako Shark II was loaded with special features. The public was blown away, but again, Duntov was not happy. Management liked the concept because there was little hard tooling to create. Duntov saw it as representing no forward progress and moving further away from his vision of a mid-engine Corvette. Again, Mitchell won the argument, and the Mako Shark II was rushed into production as the ‘68 Corvette.

But Mitchell wasn’t quite done with the Mako Shark II. Renamed “Manta Ray,” the car was restyled with a tapered tail, a scooped-out roof, side pipes, and a ZL1 engine. As great as the C2 Sting Ray design was, the Mako Shark II shape would forever define the look of the Corvette. Despite their differences, both Mitchell and Duntov had deep respect for one another. As Mitchell liked to say, they both had gasoline in their veins. Thanks to Duntov and Mitchell, Corvettes would always have glamour and guts. - K. Scott Teeters


Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 14 - 1961 Corvette

Zora Arkus-Duntov was a very adaptive engineer. He had built several racing Corvettes that GM's upper management promptly stopped dead in their tracks. Instead, the ever- creative engineer worked to give buyers the best all-around performance car on the market. Duntov's original plan was to sell two different Corvettes, one "street" Corvette and another "racing" Corvette. When the SS Project was killed in 1957, Duntov decided to create the best of both worlds, a tough-guy street performer that "could" become a competitive racer with the right parts from Chevrolet. This tactic made for great marketing and advertising.

Corvettes took a lot of heat from the sports car crowd for being a drag racer rather than a road racer. But by the late '50s and early '60s, Corvettes dominated SCCA class racing. It took Carroll Shelby's 2000- lb. Cobras to break the Corvette dominance.

The '61 Corvette with the fuel injection option would run 0-60 in 5.5 seconds and 14.2 seconds in the quarter-mile. Top speed was 130 mph. Sports Car Illustrated magazine referred to the '61 Corvette this way, "One of the most remarkable marriages of touring comfort and violent performance we have ever enjoyed, especially at the price."

1961 was the first of several big changes for the Corvette's styling leading up to the stunning 1963 Sting Ray. Except for minor trim, styling had been static since 1958. Corvette styling chief Bill Mitchell was busy testing the public's opinion with his XP-700 show car. The front end was overdone, but the back was perfect. Not only was the '61 tail end design taken directly off the XP-700, but it was also a preview of the '63 Stingray.

Other styling changes were more subtle. The nine- tooth shark-like front grille was replaced with a mesh-style grille and the chrome headlight trim was now body-colored. Crossed flags replaced the round Corvette badge on the nose and "CORVETTE" spelled out under the badge like the SS Racer. The interior had a narrower transmission cover for more leg room, updated seat upholstery and door panel trim. Former options like a courtesy light, windshield washers, parking brake alarm, and sun visors were now standard.

Sales figures for 1961 were 10,939 units, up from 1960's sales of 10,261. The Corvette was now a respectable sports car with real racing potential. 1962 would bring more changes aimed toward the '63 Sting Ray. The days of the solid-axle Corvette were almost over and the Mako Shark I was on its way. - K. Scott Teeters


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