If you don’t know who Pete Brock is you should. From being the youngest designer GM hired, then going on to creating a concept that became the C2 Corvette Stingray, to a racing career that included designing the Daytona Cobra for Shelby and dominating SCCA racing with his BRE Datsun runners in the 1960s and 1970s, he’s been everywhere. But all of that was only the beginning.
Pete Brock designed the C2 Corvette concept
Brock is one of the preeminent designers of the 20th Century and is now taking his iconic C2 Corvette design to reality. Hanging on the walls of his modern home outside of Las Vegas, are drawings of his original design for the Stingray. He’s having Ireland’s AVA Electrifi create a retro EV that will see limited production.
AVA is trying to stand above the EV startup fray with what it calls “hyperclassic” vehicles. They’re also working with Ian Callum, recently retired head of global Ford Design. One of his projects was the 2017 Ford GT.
There are things Brock doesn’t like about the 1963 Sting Ray
Brock has always been uncomfortable with his association with the C2 Corvette because it morphed after he left GM for his different assignments with Carroll Shelby. The production version got vents, whoops, and fussy details he didn’t intend when he first designed it. But few initial designs end up as pure as their original concepts.
Brock was only 19 when he was plucked from Art Center, then in Los Angeles, to be the youngest person to ever be hired by Harley Earle, GM’s design head. Earle created GM’s Art and Color studio in 1927 which eventually became GM Design. He ran it until 1959.
The era of excess was the environment Brock designed the C2 Corvette
Brock’s design was created in the era of excess. Fins, three-tone paint, sparkly interior fabrics, and gobs of chrome were what car buyers wanted, and GM gave it to them. So the Brock C2 concept was somewhat of an outlier. But Bill Mitchell, who was overseeing Corvette design, loved it.
Mitchell would soon be head of design and ruled it with an iron fist. In those days, what he wanted went into production, albeit with his fingers all over the design. Because GM had no plans to continue Corvette production, but with Mitchell wanting to see a new version bad, he went against management and used a small advanced design studio where Brock was working to design it.
The Brock concept was first crafted into the XP-87 Sting Ray racer. Besides being gorgeous, it won the 1960 SCCA national championship. Eventually, embellishments from another legendary designer Larry Shinoda, made it the 1963 Stingray.
Brock left GM before the C2 Corvette was fully developed
But like we said Brock was long gone. Now, AVA will fashion Brock’s design as a 2,000 hp electric rocket. While there are other EV companies doing everything from electric Microbus conversions to making electric Ford GT 40 replicas, AVA wants its cars to be unique. Not a knockoff but a classic creation.
AVA’s mix of production will be limited to 300 vehicles a year. It isn’t looking to ramp up to become a Tesla rival. Prices will be in the $2 million neighborhood. Ian Callum will be in charge of taking it from Brock’s 1950s sketches to three dimensions, assuring this to be above reproach.
Design, execution, and materials will be the best
With F1 craftsmen and fabricators, execution should also not disappoint. And if everything works out, they’ll create another Pete Brock design; the fastback Daytona Cobra. But that’s farther down the road.
At 86 years old, Brock is as sharp and enthused as ever. He’s got his hands in a myriad of projects, always with class, grace, and that enviable design and racing background. And we haven’t even discussed what he did for hang gliding, but that’s for another time.