Like the original Mako Shark, which foretold the styling of the second-generation Corvette, the Mako Shark II featured lines that were said to be influenced by creatures of the deep. In recognition of this, the concept bore the same blue-fading-to-gray paint seen on the original Mako Shark concept, but that’s really where the external similarities ended. The Mako Shark II’s nose was lower and pointed to a sharper angle, while its muscular front fenders were taller and perhaps even more exaggerated. Instead of a twin-bubble roof, the Mako Shark II’s roof was nearly flat, but flowed rearward to form a boattail shape on the high rear decklid. Louvers, reminiscent of gills, shaded the rear window (and as those who drove the concept admitted, largely eliminated rear visibility), and this theme was further explored on front fender vents and on cornering lamp covers. Behind the scenes, however, there was some sleight of hand going on, as the Mako Shark II was built on a chassis liberated from a Mako Shark I show car.
Under the flip-forward front clip (a design that would appear on the fourth-generation Corvette, launched in 1984), the Mako Shark II played host to Chevrolet’s new 427-cu.in. Mark IV V-8 engine, mated to a three-speed Turbo HydraMatic transmission. The big-block V-8 would debut in the 1966 Corvette (as well as other products in the Chevrolet model line, like the Biscayne, Caprice and Impala), but the soon-to-be-legendary engine made its first non-race appearance between the fenders of the Mako Shark II. Other features that would later appear on rival-brand products included a pair of access hatches, mounted alongside the hood, which permitted easy access to common service items (as later seen on the 1970 Datsun 240Z), and a variable-position rear spoiler assembly that could add downforce at high speed (seen on a variety of current models, ranging from the Porsche Boxster to the Bugatti Veyron).
The Mako Shark II’s forward thinking didn't end there. Both the fuel gauge and the speedometer were digital, foreshadowing a trend that would invade the industry in the 1980s before automakers realized that, when it comes to instrumentation, simple really is better. Wherever possible, the concept’s controls were recessed to maximize occupant safety in the event of an accident, a design that would soon become prevalent throughout the industry. Certain systems were even self-diagnosing: when one of the car’s six headlamps burned out, the driver received a warning of this on the instrument panel.
Article courtesy of Hemings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.