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Peter Brock Sketched the Original Sting Ray in 1957

Inducted into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame

Walt Thurn Oct 10, 2017
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Peter (Pete) Brock grew up in the Sausalito area of Northern California. He was always passionate about automotive design growing up. When he was 16 years old he saved up enough money to purchase a used 1949 MG. He rebuilt and painted it and turned it into his daily driver. He attended his first road race in 1951 at Pebble Beach and photographed many of today’s historic drivers.

His family moved to Menlo Park, a small city south of San Francisco near Palo Alto, California. Pete grew up surrounded by the California car culture. He purchased and customized a 1946 Ford convertible and installed a Cadillac engine and named it a “Fordillac”. Pete’s Fordillac won the Oakland Roadster show twice. His second Oakland Roadster show victory was shortly before he left California at the age of 19 to become a stylist with General Motors. He was hired by GM while he was a student at the Art Center School of Design. Pete was one of the youngest designers to work at GM at the time.

Bill Mitchell was a passionate racing and Corvette enthusiast. When he became VP of Styling for GM he was troubled by company’s anti-racing stance and lack of enthusiasm for Corvette. Word was trickling down from the corporate suites that top management wanted to kill the Corvette. He decided to secretly build a prototype Corvette that used a test chassis called “the Mule” to develop the original 1957 Corvette SS race car. He found the Mule chassis in a GM storeroom and purchased it for his personal use. He quietly charged his team of young designers with the task of sketching some ideas for him in a secret styling studio deep inside GM. Mitchell selected Pete Brock’s sketch, which was refined by Brock and fellow designers Chuck Pohlmann, Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine. The end product became the XP87 race car and was called the Sting Ray. Dr. Dick Thompson drove the XP87 to a C-Modified sports car championship in 1959. The Sting Ray drew wide acclaim from journalists and the public. The Sting Ray styling cues influenced the second generation Sting Ray and can be still seen on the current C7 Corvette.

Pete left GM in 1963 and had a lengthy career in motorsports that included designing and building racing cars like the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. He has written books, articles and is an accomplished photojournalist. He has captured the history of Corvette racing in the ‘50s with the first generation Corvettes all the way to the current C7’s racing today. Pete started Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) and has won numerous sports car championships with his creations from that company. He has worked with a number of marques over the years, but he has a special place in his heart for Corvettes, especially the Sting Ray. Vette

01 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 2/14

Pete Brock worked for Bill Mitchell (in the background) the VP of Styling for General Motors. Brock’s early drawing of the XP87 led to the development of the Sting Ray that Pete is leaning on. VP of Global Design Ed Welburn (retired) had the car completely refurbished by the Heritage Center when he was still with the company.

02 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 3/14

From any angle the design of the Sting Ray racer had a heavy influence on the second generation Sting Ray production car.

03 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 4/14

Even the hood vents on the XP87 made it onto the production car when it was introduced as a 1963 model.

04 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 5/14

The chassis that was used to develop this 1957 Corvette SS race car was used on the XP87 Sting Ray racer.

05 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 6/14

The production Sting Ray was a dramatic leap forward in Corvette design as shown in the difference between this 1963 convertible and the 1957 Corvette in the background.

06 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 7/14

The current C7 has many of the Sting Ray’s styling themes that have driven Corvette design through six generations.

07 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 8/14

Pete Brock shown here holding his winning trophy, won the Oakland Roadster show twice with this redesigned 1946 Ford convertible named the “Fordillac”

08 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 9/14

This was the drawing that caught Bill Mitchell’s attention that led to the final development of the XP87 Sting Ray racer. Pete was 19 years old when he made this drawing in GM’s styling studio.

09 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 10/14

Pete drew this Targa version of his original Corvette drawing. This Targa roof style made it into production in 1968 for the third generation Corvette.

10 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 11/14

Pete Brock was Carrol Shelby’s first employee and he designed the first Cobra Daytona Coupe shown here residing at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

11 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 12/14

Pete Brock was not only a stylist; he became an accomplished race car driver. Here he is shown as a racing instructor for Carrol Shelby’s driving school.

12 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 13/14

Ed Welburn (left) retired VP of GM Global Design and Pete Brock discuss the merits of the XP87 Sting Ray design at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours 50th anniversary of the Sting Ray.

13 Pete Brock Induction National Corvette Museum Hall Of Fame 14/14

Pete Brock (right) is all smiles after receiving his 2017 National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame Award from NCM Hall of Famer Randy Wittine.

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