Corvette Stingray – What’s In The Name?

CORVETTE STINGRAY, We Like It!

The name Corvette comes from the smallest class of vessel considered to be a warship. The typical size of the modern Corvette is between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate. It is possible the name originated in the French Navy around 1670.

Stingrays are a group of rays related to the shark and are common in coastal tropical  and subtropical marine waters around the world. Their flat bodies aid them in concealing themselves under the sand at the bottom of the ocean. They are usually very docile and curious creatures.

What now becomes obvious is that these two names were meant for each other! Definitely in the water, above four1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray - Blue wheels…Now that’s a package that will turn heads!

The early model Corvette was named after the sleek rounded body of a smaller warship. It was also spacecraft looking with a rounded bubble-like wrap around windshield and small jet-looking taillights. Designed under the guidance and direction of GM’s legendary Harley Earl, this new 1953 Corvette was far from anything the public saw from Chevrolet.  But it was quickly put into production. From design, showing to production was less than one year. Parts were reused from other Chevy models and the engine was a straight six cylinder motor with very little go power!

Stingray Is Launched!

Nevertheless, this launched Chevrolet into the sports car arena and, as we know now, they were here to stay! Each new model year, Chevrolet committed to making improvements to the little Corvette. More horsepower was muscled into the engine, more comfort features were added to the interior, better styling appeared on the outside and more options were added for the public to choose from. This little Dream car was here to stay!

In 1955, the Corvette got its first V8 engine and three speed transmission, now we’re talking real sports car motor! This was in direct competition to what the Europeans were building and Ford introduced its two-seater Thunderbird the same year. Chevrolet may have just as well dropped the Corvette in ’55 with only producing 674 units. This American icon still had not taken off yet!

1963 CorvetteIt was time to start developing the second generation Corvette and that is what the talented auto engineer and sports car racer Zora Arkus-Duntov was brought in to do. He began on the 1956 model year Corvette, revising the body and adding comfort features like roll up windows, push button door handles and a lift off hardtop and sales soared to 3,467 units! The fiberglass dream car was finally matched with the expert engineer!

We’re Selling Stingrays Now!

With all the new improvements Duntov built into the late first generation Corvette, it was rapidly becoming a profitable, race winning sports car that suddenly found Chevrolet selling over 14,500 units by 1962! GM’s styling chief, Bill Mitchell bought a Corvette powered super sport race car, created by Duntov for the 1957 sports car race in Sebring, Florida. Mitchell insisted the Corvette have a racing heritage so much so, that he used his own money to create a new version of the super sport race car, naming it the “Stingray”!

After the Stingray won races in ’59 and ’60, Mitchell turned his race car into an auto show exhibit, showing it off to the pubic around the country introducing them to the new shape of the 1963 production Stingray. Duntov carved ways into the new Stingray to keep the production cost low, keeping some of the best features of the 1962 Corvette, such as the 327 V8, and molding a whole new fiberglass body around it. The new Corvette would have an independent suspension replacing the solid axle models of former years and providing Corvette with a better ride and superior handling.

All Those Options!

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Split Window - GoldThe new Corvette would have its share of unique features such as a coupe model with a split rear window as well as a convertible option. The front headlights would be hidden to help streamline the front nose. This would come with a cost of not opting for the newer disc brakes and sticking with the traditional drum brakes to help keep production costs in line. Power steering and power brakes were available as well as air conditioning, an AM/FM radio and leather upholstery.

A new instrument layout was much neater and more modern than the earlier models of the Corvette. The instruments were a bit over-styled with large chrome centers and bent needles on the speedometer and the rev counter. The choice of engines ran from base at 25o hp to a 300 hp 327 cid carburetor equipped motor on up to a 360 hp “fuel injected” motor. The new ’63 Corvette was a hit selling a record 21,513 units for this model year.

 The Stingray would continue to see vast improvements over the next several years and was last produced in 1967 thus making this one of the most highly desirable years of the Corvette model production. In ’65 a 396 cubic inch engine would offer 425 horsepower and disc brakes were all but essential to stop all those ponies! On the interior the instrument panel dials would become much more purposeful.

More Muscle Power!

By 1967 the power of the new 427 cubic inch motor would propel the car to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. “Sidewinder” style exhausts, which drastically improved the looks of the Stingray, were an option as well as illegal in some jurisdictions. Its handsome cockpit style interior and clean graceful lines on its exterior has helped Corvette to age with style. While this may be the most sinuous or elegant of Corvettes, it has a sheer presence which cannot be denied, from the special wheels to the air intakes on the hood.1967 Chevrolet Corvette Red

Most average sales of the 1963 – 1967 Corvette Stingrays are estimated between $3,000 and $4300 per unit. Today these show cars draw hundreds of thousands of dollars and are some of the finest automobiles sold at the top auction companies all over the world.

Yes, what started as a “Dream Car”, as what concepts were called back in the day, has continued to be improved over the years and be so every sought after by many car enthusiasts all over the world.

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  1. […] its focus to a completely new design for its second generation of Corvettes. This is how the famous Stingray models came to be. The idea for the Stingray design was based on the shortfin mako shark. Bill […]

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