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1976 Maco Shark II - Repro Mako

This '76 pays homage to Mitchell's famed show car

Scott Ross May 29, 2012
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Chevrolet's Mako Shark II show car made quite an impression in the spring of 1965. Show-goers at the New York International Auto Show flocked to see it, Chevy's top management wanted the car's styling on the Corvette Sting Ray ASAP, and more than a few people were blown away by magazine photos of the swoopy-looking coupe.

Count Rick Walker among those. "I bought the models and built them, like everybody else," he recalls. "That's been my favorite car for pretty much forever."

That's the reason why he restored a full-scale Mako Shark II replica, one of the 125 "Maco Sharks" built by Corvette customizer John Silva--and one of the five "short tail" cars.

Silva was one customizer who made fiberglass body parts based on that dream car's styling. Motion Performance also offered Mako Shark II–lookalike 'glass, but Walker says Motion's differed from what Silva used. "When Silva built the fiberglass cars, he made his body parts a lot thicker," he says. "When Motion took molds off the Silva car and began popping those out, they went thinner on the fiberglass to keep it as light as possible."

Over the years, this C3 changed hands, ending up with an enthusiast who's the moderator of an online Mako Shark II forum. By then, it was far from a show car. "It was in the worst shape [out] of everything he had," says Walker of the car's beyond-basket-case condition. "I drove four hours to look at it, figured it was too much work, then took a long, quiet ride home. The next day, I told my wife, Susan, ‘I'm buying this thing!'"

There was plenty that needed doing. "It was an ‘interesting' car when I got it," he recalls. "It was in very rough shape."

Fortunately, all of the Silva fiberglass was there. The "short tail" rear body panels, as well as time constraints, prevented Walker from taking the body completely off the frame. "The rear of it wrapped around the frame underneath," he says. "I wasn't going to cut the frame or the body. I raised it up as much as I could, did the frame, then set it back down and went from there."

That included a total mechanical redo. "I left the body exactly the way Silva did it," says Walker. "I rebuilt the engine and put a 200R4 overdrive transmission in it." Other than some help with welding, Walker built this shark himself, which includes the shark-effect color scheme. "I wanted something subtle. I didn't want something that ‘popped out' too much."

He painted the refinished Silva body silver, then added blue on top and gray along the bottom. "After that cured for a year-and-a-half, I sanded the whole car down and put some silver microflake ‘ghost sharks' on the side of the hood." Walker then used five different shades of blue microflake--flowing out of the coves in the front, then over the top of the car--to make it look like it's running through water. The C3's flanks also got special attention. "On the side, where the rear fender comes into the door, I brought that down like a shark's fin, but I used a little bit of pearl with the microflake."

Vemp 1207 1976 Maco Shark Ii Repro Mako 000 2/11

Since our photo session, Walker has added linear actuators to the hood. "The fiberglass Silva used was heavier, and the hood was a bear to lift up and put down," he says. "I tried gas struts, but even the lightweight ones threw the hood out of alignment."

What's it like to drive? A lot of fun. "I'm still working on tweaking out the engine," he says, but with an estimated 400 horsepower on tap in its current configuration, it's clear this shark already has plenty of bite.

Are you looking for a third-gen Vette--Mako Shark II replica or otherwise--as a project? "You can find a lot of wide-body Corvettes out there, but the Macos are becoming harder and harder to find," Walker advises. "You've got to keep plugging away at it, because it takes a lot of time. There's a lot of information on the Internet about the [Maco] cars, and you have to look in the right places for it."

If you do, you just might find one of the other Mako Shark II replicas--and have a car that, once ready to show, draws an enthusiastic crowd, much like the original one did nearly a half-century ago.

OWNER Rick Walker; Henrico, VA
BLOCK Chevrolet 350 cast iron, bored 0.030-in over
HEADS Pro Comp aluminum
VALVES 2.02/1.60
CAMSHAFT Crane "278" hydraulic roller
ROCKER ARMS Comp Cams roller, 1.6 ratio
PISTONS Sealed Power hypereutectic aluminum
RODS Stock cast
INTAKE Edelbrock aluminum
CARBURETOR Dual Edelbrock 600-cfm four barrels
FUEL PUMP Edelbrock mechanical
IGNITION Procomp CDI system with MSD ignition box
EXHAUST SYSTEM Hooker Show Tubes headers/side exhausts with Thermal Tech ceramic coating
TRANSMISSION GM 200R4 four-speed automatic
TORQUE CONVERTER 2,400-stall lock-up
REAREND Stock with Positraction and 3.08 gears
SUSPENSION Lowered stock with coil springs and tubular shocks (front); Speed Direct polished Shark Bite coilover system (rear)
BRAKES VBP calipers, drilled/slotted rotors
WHEELS American Racing cast aluminum "Daisy"; 15x7 (front), 15x10 (rear)
TIRES Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R; 26x10.00R15LT (front), 26X12.00R15LT (rear)
CURRENT MILEAGE Approximately 2,000



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