What’s a picture of a stuffed shark doing in a classic car column?

Well, it is a very influential shark.

So influential that it is kept in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn in the United States.

You see, this is the shark that was caught by GM design boss Bill Mitchell on a Bahamas fishing vacation in  the 1950s.

He had it stuffed and mounted on a wall in his office.

Mr Mitchell liked the colours: deep blue fading to grey.

He also liked the shape: sleek and menacing.

In fact, he liked it so much that in 1961 he turned it into a concept car and called it the Corvette Mako Shark, and it predicted the styling of the famous 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

There is an oft told legend behind the car’s colour scheme.

According to many sources, Mitchell insisted that the shark’s colours be replicated exactly on the car.

Despite numerous attempts, his staff could not get the exact colour matches to Mitchell’s satisfaction.

So, they did the next best thing.

When Mitchell was out of his office on a long business trip they secretly took the shark off the wall and repainted it in the car’s colour scheme.

Mitchell is supposed to have been exceptionally pleased on his return to see they had “matched” the colours and never cottoned on to the trick they had played.

True story? Who knows.

But it is a great yarn!

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com au


shark tale to die for - 1961 Mako Shark1 - Shark tale to die for

shark tale to die for - 1961 Mako Shark2 - Shark tale to die for
The 1961 Corvette Mako Shark.


David Burrell is founder and editor of Retroautos.com.au, a free online classic cars magazine. Dave has a passion for cars and car design. He's also into speedway, which he's been writing about since 1981. His first car was a rusted-out 1961 Vauxhall Velox. His daily driver is a Pontiac Firebird. Prior to starting Retroautos, David was an executive in a Fortune 500 company, working and living in Australia, NZ, Asia, Latin America and the UK.