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1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Bill Mitchell and his Stingray in racing trim
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Bill Mitchell and his Stingray in racing trim
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Interior
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Interior
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Interior
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959 - Interior
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 1959
Images: www.gmphotostore.com; www.shorey.net; www.corvettefever.com
Rating:  32    -9    +41
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Racer Special (XP-87), 1959
This radical design borrowed cues from the Q Corvette and predicted the 1963 C2. The flat upper body and curved-under nose and tail were intended to function as an upside-down wing, pressing the car to the pavement at speed, which it sort of did if the rear was jacked up. The drag coefficient was between 0.43 and 0.45. Retired to the auto-show circuit in 1961.


Chevy brought the 1959 Stingray racing car to the 1961 Chicago Auto Show, after the car was retired in late 1960. The fiberglass body was penned by Larry Shinoda and predicted the shape of the 1963-67 Corvette. Original power came from a fuel injection 283 cubic inch V-8, but later the Stingray prototype featured a Mark IV 427 cubic inch V-8 engine. The sign on the far right states: Corvette Stingray An Experimental Vehicle to Test Handling and Performance. Notice that Stingray was spelled as one word.


Having inspired the legendary C2 ‘Sting Ray’ Corvette of 1963, the 1959 Corvette Stingray concept car was one of the forefathers of an American icon. However, the story of its gestation is just as interesting as the outcome; for it was originally conceived as a race car, rather than the concours queen it has become.

The tale of the Stingray began with the Corvette SS, a project intended to replace the SR-2, GM’s factory racer. Two SS Corvettes were built – primarily to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours – but soon afterwards fell victim to a voluntary ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing proposed by the Automobile Manufacturers Association. The pair of 1957 racers (one a ‘test mule’ for evaluating braking systems) was thereafter relegated to test track duties, and subsequently put into storage. But Bill Mitchell – then-Vice President for Design at GM – chose not to let the ban hamper his own love for motorsport, and in 1959 decided to stump up the princely sum of one dollar to bring the test mule SS out of a premature retirement.

So, Mitchell had a chassis for his race car – which usefully included a sophisticated De Dion rear suspension set-up – but being a designer, wanted his personally funded creation to flaunt some of his team’s aesthetic creativity. He had previously set up an in-house competition between GM’s different design studios to create a next-generation Corvette for 1960, which was won by GM’s youngest designer at the time, Peter Brock. The project was developed as the XP-86 (the ‘XP’ standing for ‘Experimental Pursuit’, a military term used during jet fighter development), but was eventually terminated due the combination of a recession and a change of chairman.

Mitchell married the SS chassis and the XP-86’s aesthetics with help from other members of the design team, which included a young Larry Shinoda (who went on to design the Boss 302 Mustang after migrating to Ford). The after-hours project – which was christened XP-87 – took place in the ‘Hammer Room’: a secret work area hidden behind a tool room. It was completed and ready to take to the track later in 1959, with a fuel-injected 4.6-litre V8 producing 311bhp nestled beneath the sculpted bonnet.

By then known as the Stingray Racer, it made its debut at the Maryland Marlboro Raceway at the hands of ‘Flying Dentist’ Dick Thompson, and narrowly missed out on a podium finish. An impressive feat, given that the 155mph Stingray reportedly had a tendency to ‘take off’ beyond 140mph, with its aerodynamics failing to provide enough downforce at the front end. Subsequent modifications were made, which proved successful enough for Thompson and his steed to bring home their class championship during the 1960 SCCA season. Mitchell chose to retire his Stingray on a high, with GM bosses showing interest in turning it into an official show car for the company.

Of course, some alterations were necessary to complete the transformation, which chiefly included a new glassfibre body, a passenger seat, and the all-important Corvette badges. In its new role, XP-87 performed the task of drumming up interest for the second-generation Corvette, creating desire and aspiration in the same way that a production Sting Ray does today. After excelling in the assignment for a year, the car was then used as Mitchell’s personal road car – indeed he was often photographed behind the wheel wearing his trademark fedora. The Stingray concept’s road-going era saw it equipped with a 5.4-litre fuel-injected V8 developing 370bhp, as well as a set of disc brakes (the car had worn drum brakes throughout its racing stint in order to keep Mitchell-funded maintenance costs down).

Subsequently taken into the GM Heritage collection in which it remains today, the Stingray concept was not only an ancestor of one of the most iconic cars of American motoring history, but also enjoyed the rare opportunity of serving as a championship-winning race car and as a chariot for one of the pioneers of GM’s history. XP-87 is surely the automotive embodiment of the ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy.


ВСЕ началось с того, что в 1957 году инженеры отделения Chevrolet в очередной раз собрали экспериментальное шасси. Таких конструкций было немало: их использовали в качестве агрегатоносителей при разработке новых автомобилей Corvette SS. Но именно это шасси приглянулось вице-президенту центра стиля General Motors Уильяму Митчеллу (William Mitchell). Через год, когда все экспериментальные работы с этим шасси были закончены, а агрегаты сняты, Митчелл... купил его за 500 долларов.

Конструкция представляла собой пространственную трубчатую раму с независимой передней подвеской и задней подвеской de Dion с пружинами в качестве упругих элементов. Затем Митчелл по своим эскизам и за свои деньги заказал кузов. Панели были сделаны из стеклопластика и закреплены на легком, но прочном алюминиевом каркасе. В результате вес автомобиля составил всего 985 килограммов, примерно на 450 килограммов легче, чем обычный Corvette. Двигатель был взят от серийного автомобиля Сorvette, но над ним изрядно поколдовал уже знаменитый в то время инженер-двигателист Жора Аркус-Дантов (Zora Arkus-Duntov). Степень сжатия была доведена до 10,1:1, а мощность - до 315 л. с. при 6200 об/мин. Затем установили четырехступенчатую коробку передач с измененным рядом передаточных чисел, а сзади - легкосъемный дифференциал, чтобы быстро изменять передаточное отношение главной пары.

К началу гоночного сезона 1959 года автомобиль был готов. И хотя в течение двух лет на этой машине ни разу не удалось завоевать первого места, она все же многократно привозила своих пилотов к финишу вторыми и третьими, а потому в кругу профессионалов к ней относились с большим уважением.

В 1961 году в центре стиля General Motors решили, что Stingray достоин того, чтобы его переделали в выставочный автомобиль. И стали наводить лоск: полировка, элегантная обивка кокпита и все такое... А еще на этой почти самодельной машине появились надписи Corvette и Fuel Injection.

Дебют в качестве "фотомодели" состоялся на автошоу в Чикаго в том же 1961 году.

После выставки автомобиль был дооборудован ветровым стеклом для пассажира, спидометром и рамочками для номерных знаков. В таком виде Corvette Stingray вновь вернулся к Митчеллу и еще несколько лет служил ему верой и правдой в качестве транспортного средства: на этой машине он ездил на работу.
Source: Frank Markus - MotorTrend Magazine; www.chicagoautoshow.com; Joe Breeze - www.classicdriver.com; АВТОРЕВЮ N 3 (142) 1997 "НЕЗНАКОМЫЙ CORVETTE"
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