Perhaps the most shocking thing about the brand new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray that debuted in Detroit last week was its name. The Stingray designation is hallowed and hasn’t been used in more than 30 years. Here’s a look back at what makes it so special.
Some automakers have very distinct names reserved for only their most glorious cars. Ferrari only pulls out the letters GTO once in a great while. Any Ford with a Shelby stamp on it is guaranteed to tear up tarmac. For the Chevrolet Corvette, that magic name is the Stingray.
First of all, it just sounds awesome. Stingrays are sleek, graceful and pack a punch. Have you ever stepped on one in the ocean? Let’s just say you don’t want to run afoul of a stingray, and the same goes for any of the Corvette Stingrays. Chevrolet has traditionally poured all of its innovation and technology into the new Corvette, and the Stingray moniker indicates that they’re damn proud of what they’ve accomplished.
The designation actually first appeared as Sting Ray, on the iconic 1959 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Racer. Coming off the heels of the smash hit Corvette C1, designers were looking to make giant leaps forward in the design of the new C2. The Corvette Sting Ray prototype would provide a glimpse into the future, and with an outrageous design, it certainly did that. Back then, prototypes didn’t just look pretty – Chevrolet raced the Corvette Sting Ray and it won its SCCA class in 1960.
That would eventually lead to the production version, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Sting Ray. A toned-down but still dramatic version of the Sting Ray Racer, the C2 Sting Ray proved that the Corvette was the king of American sports cars. The name had truly established itself among the upper echelon of iconic cars. By 1968, the Corvette was still called the Sting Ray, but the car had lost its badging indicating it as such. Soon after, Chevrolet introduced the 1969 Corvette C3 Stingray (one word this time), which was made until 1976. At this point, the Stingray name had been worn pretty thin by a frankly underwhelming car. GM tucked the Stingray name away, presumably for good.
Until, that is, the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, where the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept debuted as a precursor to the upcoming C7 Corvette. Just as the original had done, this car showed off futuristic design that shocked and awed the crowd. It didn’t race, but it had the intended effect and got everyone wondering what Chevrolet would do with the actual production version.
We got our answer last week (story here), with a car that not only turned a new corner for Corvette design, but added tons of new technology and marked the grand return of one of the most recognized names in the automotive world: The Stingray.