Chevrolet's Mako Shark II show car made quite an impression in the spring of 1965. Show-goers at the New York International Auto Show flocked to see it, Chevy's top management wanted the car's styling on the Corvette Sting Ray ASAP, and more than a few people were blown away by magazine photos of the swoopy-looking coupe.
Count Rick Walker among those. "I bought the models and built them, like everybody else," he recalls. "That's been my favorite car for pretty much forever."
That's the reason why he restored a full-scale Mako Shark II replica, one of the 125 "Maco Sharks" built by Corvette customizer John Silva--and one of the five "short tail" cars.
Silva was one customizer who made fiberglass body parts based on that dream car's styling. Motion Performance also offered Mako Shark II–lookalike 'glass, but Walker says Motion's differed from what Silva used. "When Silva built the fiberglass cars, he made his body parts a lot thicker," he says. "When Motion took molds off the Silva car and began popping those out, they went thinner on the fiberglass to keep it as light as possible."
Over the years, this C3 changed hands, ending up with an enthusiast who's the moderator of an online Mako Shark II forum. By then, it was far from a show car. "It was in the worst shape [out] of everything he had," says Walker of the car's beyond-basket-case condition. "I drove four hours to look at it, figured it was too much work, then took a long, quiet ride home. The next day, I told my wife, Susan, ‘I'm buying this thing!'"
There was plenty that needed doing. "It was an ‘interesting' car when I got it," he recalls. "It was in very rough shape."
Fortunately, all of the Silva fiberglass was there. The "short tail" rear body panels, as well as time constraints, prevented Walker from taking the body completely off the frame. "The rear of it wrapped around the frame underneath," he says. "I wasn't going to cut the frame or the body. I raised it up as much as I could, did the frame, then set it back down and went from there."
That included a total mechanical redo. "I left the body exactly the way Silva did it," says Walker. "I rebuilt the engine and put a 200R4 overdrive transmission in it." Other than some help with welding, Walker built this shark himself, which includes the shark-effect color scheme. "I wanted something subtle. I didn't want something that ‘popped out' too much."
Inspired by the '65 Mako Shark...
Inspired by the '65 Mako Shark II show car, Rick Walker's '76 Corvette wears its John Silva–made "Maco" 'glass well.
He painted the refinished Silva body silver, then added blue on top and gray along the bottom. "After that cured for a year-and-a-half, I sanded the whole car down and put some silver microflake ‘ghost sharks' on the side of the hood." Walker then used five different shades of blue microflake--flowing out of the coves in the front, then over the top of the car--to make it look like it's running through water. The C3's flanks also got special attention. "On the side, where the rear fender comes into the door, I brought that down like a shark's fin, but I used a little bit of pearl with the microflake."
Since our photo session, Walker has added linear actuators to the hood. "The fiberglass Silva used was heavier, and the hood was a bear to lift up and put down," he says. "I tried gas struts, but even the lightweight ones threw the hood out of alignment."
What's it like to drive? A lot of fun. "I'm still working on tweaking out the engine," he says, but with an estimated 400 horsepower on tap in its current configuration, it's clear this shark already has plenty of bite.
Are you looking for a third-gen Vette--Mako Shark II replica or otherwise--as a project? "You can find a lot of wide-body Corvettes out there, but the Macos are becoming harder and harder to find," Walker advises. "You've got to keep plugging away at it, because it takes a lot of time. There's a lot of information on the Internet about the [Maco] cars, and you have to look in the right places for it."
If you do, you just might find one of the other Mako Shark II replicas--and have a car that, once ready to show, draws an enthusiastic crowd, much like the original one did nearly a half-century ago.
|'76 "MACO SHARK II"|
|OWNER|| Rick Walker; Henrico, VA|
|BLOCK|| Chevrolet 350 cast iron,
bored 0.030-in over|
|DISPLACEMENT|| 355 ci|
|HEADS|| Pro Comp aluminum|
|CAMSHAFT|| Crane "278" hydraulic
|ROCKER ARMS|| Comp Cams roller, 1.6 ratio|
|PISTONS|| Sealed Power hypereutectic
|CRANKSHAFT|| Stock cast|
|RODS|| Stock cast|
|INTAKE|| Edelbrock aluminum|
|CARBURETOR|| Dual Edelbrock 600-cfm
|FUEL PUMP|| Edelbrock mechanical|
|IGNITION|| Procomp CDI system with
MSD ignition box|
|EXHAUST SYSTEM|| Hooker Show Tubes
with Thermal Tech
|TRANSMISSION|| GM 200R4 four-speed
|REAREND|| Stock with Positraction
and 3.08 gears|
|SUSPENSION|| Lowered stock with
coil springs and tubular
shocks (front); Speed
Direct polished Shark
Bite coilover system (rear)|
|BRAKES|| VBP calipers, drilled/slotted
|WHEELS|| American Racing cast
aluminum "Daisy"; 15x7
(front), 15x10 (rear)|
|TIRES|| Mickey Thompson
Far from a show car: The shark...
Far from a show car: The shark as purchased in 2004.
Lambo-style "scissor doors"...
Lambo-style "scissor doors" were practically unheard of when the original Mako Shark II was built, but Walker added them to his.
Le Mans–style fuel filler,...
Le Mans–style fuel filler, massive M/T rubber, and rear coilovers contribute to this Maco's race-car vibe.
Not much room for storage,...
Not much room for storage, but plenty for sound.
Exotic by 1965 (or even 1976)...
Exotic by 1965 (or even 1976) standards: A built 350 wearing two 600-cfm Edelbrock four barrels.
A blast from the past: original...
A blast from the past: original ad artwork for the Silva-built Maco Sharks.
Walker fashioned a full cabin...
Walker fashioned a full cabin from little more than a bare dash and console.