Corvette concepts come to LeMay Museum

Just as the famous stars of Broadway rarely hit the road with the touring company, so General Motors (GM) tends to keep a tight grip on its zoomiest concept cars.

Nevertheless, a trio of rare Chevrolet Corvettes is venturing out from the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan, for display at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, Washington. The cars will be on view from 9 Aug through 11 Aug, ahead of an exhibit at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance, in celebration of the Corvette’s 60th anniversary.

Automotive history buffs in the US’s pacific northwest have a gem in the LeMay, which inaugurated a show-stopping new campus in 2012, and they will surely appreciate the chance to see the 1959 Stingray Racer, the 1961 Mako Shark and the 1965 Manta Ray in the metal – or  fibreglass, as it were.

The visiting stars are part of a Corvette retrospective running through the end of the year. “But we will only have the concept vehicles for one weekend, so sports car fans, Corvette lovers and people who appreciate classic automotive design should make plans to visit during that weekend,” noted LeMay president David Madeira.

The Stingray, a collaboration between former GM styling boss Bill Mitchell and famed designers Larry Shinoda and Pete Brock, was built to test handling and performance, while forecasting the styling direction of the 1963 Corvette (and, unquestionably, Speed Racer’s Mach V).

Mitchell and Shinoda reconvened for another gig with the Mako Shark I of 1961, creating a glass-roofed special that presaged the work of such noted car customisers as George Barris and Dean Jeffries.

The 1965 Manta Ray saw the third-generation Corvette stretched out, with an elongated nose and tail as well as flush-mounted headlights in lieu of the factory car’s pop-ups. A cartoonish imitation appeared in the Mark Hamill vehicle (yes, after Star Wars there was such a thing) Corvette Summer.

Regular admission to the LeMay: $14. Leaving your nose-print on the Stingray’s glass: priceless.