Who Remembers When Elvis Drove a Corvette Stingray Racer?
Jan. 8 marked what would have been Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday. To celebrate, let’s reminisce about the time he drove a one-off Stingray.
Jan. 8 was Elvis Presley’s birthday, and if he were still alive, “the King” would’ve turned 83. To commemorate Presley’s birthday, Corvette Blogger took a walk down memory lane, and looked back to when the iconic singer and actor got behind the wheel of the 1959 Chevrolet Stingray Racer concept.
In the film Clambake, which came out in 1967, Presley played the role of the son of a wealthy oil tycoon. The gist of the film, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is that Presley wants people to look past his, and his father’s, wealth. This leads him to switch identities with a car mechanic.
Presley may have been the star of the film, but enthusiasts will recall the ’59 Stingray Racer concept, which reportedly led the way for the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The concept was designed by Larry Shinoda and Peter Brock. Bill Mitchell, GM’s styling chief at the time, purchased a chassis from one of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s ’56 Corvette SS tubular frame racers, and then directed and funded the design of the concept. Once it was done, Mitchell took the car racing as a privateer.
The Stingray competed in the 1960 SCCA season by a few individuals who managed to claim a class championship for the C-Modified segment. The 315-horsepower, fuel-injected 283 cubic-inch V8 probably had something to do with the car’s victorious run.
While the majority of Corvette fans will remember the concept as featuring a silver exterior, the vehicle went through a couple of paint jobs after the vehicle was retired from racing. For the film “Clambake,” the car was painted red and fitted with a massive hood scoop. While the flashy red paint job, clear hood scoop, and other custom touches match the idea for the film, we’re fans of the all-silver look of the original concept, as it makes the car look like a bullet on the road. Still, there’s a clip of the vehicle in action, as one of the musical scenes from the movie, called “Who Needs Money”, puts a spotlight on the vehicle. Will Hitchens, who plays the mechanic, is driving the car, while Presley is following behind on a motorcycle.
The Stingray Racer concept, eventually, was purchased by GM who returned the vehicle back to its original condition. The automaker reportedly uses the vehicle as a show car. Today, the car lives at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The vehicle has even influenced designers and enthusiasts to come up with a modern take on the design, like the Corvette C7 Stingray Racer Homage Concept. The renderings were done by designer Giovanni Huang, and represent what a modern Racer Concept would look like, which is darn good.
Enjoy a look back at one of the more incredible concepts GM made, and enjoy seeing the gorgeous machine in action below.