Chevrolet Corvette 427/435 Convertible
One of Bill Mitchell’s most flamboyant and memorable designs was the Mako Shark II, a car he commissioned first as a show car and then as his personal transport. The Mako Shark II premiered at the New York Auto Show in April 1965, and by October of that same year, a functional running model powered by a Mark IV 427 cu. in. V8 was built and shipped to the Paris Auto Salon. During the remainder of 1965, the duo toured North America and Europe, giving the public a hint of how the next generation Corvette might appear and all the while creating a huge firestorm of publicity and speculation. The press correctly predicted that show-goers were seeing the next Corvette when they saw Mitchell’s Mako Shark II. As Randy Leffingwell so aptly said in Corvette – America’s Sports Car, “Bill Mitchell’s designers blended Mitchell’s Mako Shark design with Zora Duntov’s engineering accomplishments to produce a street car worthy of desire.” And thus, the third generation Corvette was introduced for the 1968 model year.
In 1969, small block engine displacement increased from 327 cu in (5.4 L) to 350 cu in (5.7 L), though output remained the same. All other engines and transmission choices remained unchanged from the previous year. All cars featured 8-inch-wide (200 mm) steel wheels (increased from 7 inches). Tire size remained the same, although this was the first year for optional white lettered tires and the last for red striped tires. Carried over from the previous year were seven available rear axle ratios ranging from 2.73 to 4.56. Standard ratio remained 3.08 with automatic and 3.36 with manual transmission. The optional Positraction rear axle, mandated on many engine/gearbox combinations, was installed on more than 95% of the cars. "Stingray" script nameplates appeared on front fenders, now one word, in contrast to the “Sting Ray” name used previously. Exterior door handles were redesigned so the finger plate would actuate the door, eliminating the separate release button. Backup lights were integrated into the inboard tail lights, headlight washers were added, and front grilles were made all black. Side mounted exhausts and front fender vent trim were options for this year only. On the inside, revised door panels provided additional shoulder room in the C3's tighter cabin and headrests became standard. Steering wheel diameter was reduced from 16 to 15 inches to permit easier entry and exit, the ignition switch was moved from the dash to the steering column, and map pockets were added to the dash area in front of the passenger seat. Accounting for 57% of the cars, coupes with their removable roof panels, began a trend of outselling roadsters. An extended production cycle due to a labor dispute increased '69 volume. This was the last year for the L88 engine and the only year for the ZL1 option, which offered an all aluminum 427 cu in (7.0 L) big-block engine listed at 430 hp (321 kW). Rare options: ZL1 aluminum block (2), J56 heavy-duty brakes (115), L88 engine (116), L89 aluminum heads (390).
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in June of 2010 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego, California.
435 bhp, 427 cu. in. V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel power disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98".
Sources: RM Auctions, Mecum Auctions and Wikipedia, 2011
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel