I don't know about you guys, but I love Corvettes. I love pretty much every Corvette ever produced... I think they're one of the sleekest, sexiest, most beautiful, and most badass cars ever put on the road. But, performance and aesthetics aside, there is one other thing that makes the Corvette a storied classic: history. Oh yes, they have some history... an incredible about of automotive heritage built into every Corvette. It's no mistake that even a casual car watcher can spot almost any generation Corvette from a distance.
But like any hallowed classic, there are some bits of that history that don't come as easily as others. In this case, it's the 1959 Corvette Stingray Racer. This race-bred concept car was based off a Chevrolet racing vehicle that never got off the ground a few years prior, but faded into the Corvette C2 Stingray over the years that followed.
The '59 Stingray was designed by Pete Brock, Larry Shinoda, and Bill Mitchel. Weighing in an just around one ton... almost a half-ton lighter than the Corvette released in 1960... the Stingray Racer was powered by a fuel-injected small-block 283-cubic-inch (4.6 L) V-8 engine that produced a whopping (for its time) 315 horsepower to the rear wheels, as well as 295.00 foot-pounds of torque. The '59 also had a four-speed manual transmission, and was unique in its day due to extensive use of aluminum in the body work.
While the '59 Stingray was never put into production, it did see very limited usage as a racing vehicle. In its single year of competition, it successfully won an SCCA National Championship in 1960 and was subsequently retired.
Here is the track version that won the SCCA
While it never saw availability to the public, the '59 Stingray was immortalized in the film Clambake
, driven by Elvis Presley.
More recently, the '59 Stingray also appeared as a racing vehicle in the Hot Wheels: World Race movie. Say what you want about Hot Wheels, but they do a good job of keeping the memory of some awesome cars-of-the-past alive.
The '59 Stingray was sleek, fast, and ahead of its time. With its long hood and deck, as well as its split windshield, the Stingray Racer had a futuristic and aesthetically pleasing - yet purely functional - design like no other. It does have a bit of a land yacht/spaceship look to it, but the folks at Chevy made it a fierce competitor by keeping it sleek, aerodynamic, and lightweight. Though its legacy lives on in the Corvette Stingray II and all the Corvettes that came out after it, it's a severely underrated car in its own right, as well as an oft-overlooked part of Corvette's storied history.