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The Shape of Vettes to Come - Corvette Concept Prototypes from 1953-1970

Concept Prototype Corvettes Provide a Glimpse of the Corvette Design Process


1964 XP-819 Concept

1964 XP_819 Concept Prototype
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

The XP-819, built in just the second year of the C2 Corvette's production run, offers an early look (along with the Pontiac Banshee concept of the same year) at the design that would ultimately become the C3 Corvette. This car, however, used a mid-mounted aluminum V8 engine. Zora Arkus-Duntov reportedly hated this design, and the car spun out and crashed in its first test and the concept was abandoned. The pieces of the car were ultimately put back together and the car is now in private hands.

1965 Mako Shark II Concept

1965 Mako Shark Concept
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

With the success of the original 1961 Mako Shark concept as the basis for the C2-era Corvettes, the Chevrolet design team revisited the concept in 1965 and created the Mako Shark II, refining the body lines that would become the C3-era Corvette starting in 1968. This concept was equipped with a 427 cubic inch engine, digital gauges, and a removable hardtop. The car no longer exists, as it was cannibalized in 1969 to create the Manta Ray concept. 

1968 Astro-Vette

1968 Corvette Astro-Vette
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

This unique concept was designed to see how much aerodynamic improvement could be designed into the Corvette platform and still call the result a Corvette. As you can see, it's not much like any Corvette that was ever built, but the 1968 Astro-Vette remains an important prototype because the bumpers are integral to the bodywork, as in virtually all modern cars. The Astro-Vette also included many aerodynamic features that have found their way into modern production cars.

1969 Aero Coupe Corvette

1969 Aero-Coupe Corvette
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

The 1969 Aero-Vette was a short look ahead in the design life of the Corvette. The Aero-Vette received several minor bodywork changes that were ultimately reflected in the 1970-71 model years, including the "egg crate" side coves. This concept no longer exists, as it was cannibalized in 1970 and renamed the Scirocco and then remade again in 1974 as the Mulsanne. The car used an aluminum big block ZL-1 engine with fuel injection and a 4-speed automatic transmission. 

1969 Manta Ray

1969 Manta Ray Concept
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

The 1965 Mako Shark concept was reworked in 1969 to become the Manta Ray. Designed to resemble the graceful sea creature, the Manta Ray received mild updating from the Mako Shark II design. One design element that made it to production was the slope-back rear end, rather than the kicked-up tail used on the early C3 Corvettes. This car is currently part of the GM Heritage Collection.

1970 XP-882

Corvette XP-882
Photo courtesy of the GM Heritage Center

The 1970 XP-882 concept prototype was Zora Arkus-Duntov's first attempt to fundamentally rethink the Corvette from a clean sheet of paper. The XP-882 carried a transverse mid-mounted small block V8 engine behind the cockpit. The transmission was borrowed from an Olds Toronado and adapted to rear wheel drive. By the mid 1970s, Ferrari's lineup and Ford's DeTomaso Pantera had proven the validity of the mid-engine, rear-drive V8 combination, but the XP-882 never went anywhere with the Corvette team.

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