In his new book entitled Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon, Peter Brock, former designer at General Motors Styling, explains the entire story of Sting Ray development from the thought process and its ties to Italian automobiles all the way through to the actual production. In the video below, shot at the 2013 Corvettes at Carlisle event in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Brock reveals a few of the secrets surrounding the original Sting Ray and how it came to be.
The 1963 Corvette packed a 327 cubic-inch engine with an optimal output of 360 horsepower (for those equipped with the fuel-injected option).
"Bill Mitchell was going to take over as the director of GM design," he begins, "and he wanted a new benchmark, a new styling look for GM cars, and it was going to be based on the Sting Ray."
According to Brock, Mitchell had gone to Italy with prototypes and came back with fresh ideas, as he so badly wanted to break away from the look of the first generation Corvette.
"If you look at these Italian cars that were done at that time, it was a very, very interesting time because Bill had gone over there and seen these particular automobiles," and they were the ones that influenced him to design the Sting Ray Corvette. Perhaps the most important styling cue of the '63 Sting Ray is the crisp belt-line around the middle and four individual shapes over the wheels, which Brock refers several times throughout the video.
Brock also references the unique feature of the split-window and spine, which is seen only on 1963 Sting Rays. The spine was apparently inspired by the 57SC Atlantic Coupe designed by Jean Bugatti in 1937, which was riveted down the middle due to its magnesium composition. The spine was the source of a political problem between Mitchell and Zora Arkus-Duntov - Mitchell wanted styling while Duntov complained that it ruined the rear vision. Ed Cole, head of Chevrolet engineering, decided there would be a compromise and the split-window would only be produced for a single model year.
When asked if he was ambivalent in the debate, Brock replied, "No, I was not ambivalent on it because I was working for Bill Mitchell. This was his car and I was very interested to see the way he handled the situation both politically and aesthetically and I think he had the right idea."
He went on to explain that because of the times, the space between the back windows was rather wide, but "today if this was built, the split-window would probably only be half as much the distance, but that was that time and this is now and forevermore we'll always remember this car the way it is."
Included in the book is a sketch of the would-be Sting Ray that Brock drew in 1957 using Mitchell's ideas. After Mitchell picked the design off the wall and decided it was the direction the new Corvette would follow, six years of development ensued before the car came to life. Also included are many photographs out of the General Motors archives that have never been seen until now.
"This is the first book that tells the entire story of how the car actually came to be. It's never been told before," Brock explained. "It has become a standard of American design . . . The important thing to remember about the Corvette and Bill Mitchell is if it hadn't been for Bill Mitchell, there wouldn't be a [Sting Ray]."
To find out why, watch the video below!
You can order your own copy of Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon by visiting www.bre2.net. The beautiful tell-all book retails for $69.95.