The Corvette StingRay Racer was designed by Bill Mitchell, GM Vice President of styling, and Larry Shinoda in 1959. The basis of the Stingray was an engineering test mule chassis for the foundation of an official Chevrolet race effort culminating with the 24 Hours of LeMans. But, soon after its race debut, the Automobile Manufacturer's Association had banned manufacturer-sponsored racing, and the SS had been relegated to test track duty.
The Stingray featured a 92-inch wheelbase and was nearly 1,000 lb lighter than a 1960 production car. Its fuel-injected 283-cubic-inch (4.6-liter) V-8 engine produced 315 hp at 6,200 rpm. Billed as a car 'built to test handling ease and performance,' Mitchell arranged to race the car quite extensively. In the hands of Dr. Dick Thompson, it made its debut at Maryland's Marlboro Raceway on April 18, 1959, finishing in fourth place. It went on to win an SCCA National Championship in 1960.
The Stingray was then retired from racing and modified by Mitchell. A passenger seat was added, among other things, and it was exhibited as an experimental show car even while Mitchell regularly drove it personally on weekends.
The Stingray's body design strongly influenced the styling of the next generation Corvette (1963). It also was a test bed for many technical developments with a four-speed manual transmission, extensive use of aluminum and a de Dion rear suspension.
Because of its SS underpinnings, the Stingray was exceptionally light, with a dry weight of 2,200 pounds. The car today has a 327 Cubic inch (5.4 liter), fuel-injected V-8 with 375 BHP.
This car was driven by Elvis Presley in the film 'Clam Bake'.
Bill Mitchell loved Corvettes, so it's fitting that his first secret Studio X car, and perhaps the most historically significant, was his 1959 Corvette Stingray Racer.
'I knew they had three or four chassis that Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus- Duntov had built,' Mitchell told historian David Chippen in a 1985 interview. 'It had a tubular frame, de Dion suspension, inboard brakes, everything! And I went down in the hammer room and designed this Corvette Stingray in clay. Nobody in the corporation knew about it.'
According to the book, A Century of Automotive Style,
by Mike Lamm and Dave Holls, junior designers Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlman won an internal sketch competition to design its body. Then Pohlman and Corvette Lead Designer Larry Shinoda crafted the clay model, then a fiberglass roadster body that was mated to the racing chassis.
In 1960, driven primarily by Chicago dentist Dr. Dick Thompson, it won the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) C-Modified class championship. More importantly, it introduced the folded-crease styling that would become a trademark of Mitchell's 1960's designs and the beginning of the path to his revolutionary 1963 production Corvette Stingray. 'When it came time to face-lift the Corvette,' he told Crippen, 'I took the lines right off that car.'