1958 Corvette XP-700
Designed and built under the personal supervision of Bill Mitchell, the wild-looking XP-700 used many regular Corvette components, such as the frame, chassis parts and engine. Bill Mitchell had a lot of “customs” built for himself. This XP-700 previewed the new tail of the upcoming 1961 Corvette. The elliptical grille cavity strongly resembled that of a one-off Ferrari 250GT by Pininfarina. The fiberglass body was extensively redesigned with a “grand prix” appearance. The long, low front overhang, large air scoops, exposed frontal areas and wire wheels with racing hubs were a few of the ‘grand prix’ touches.
The XP-700 received the blessing of management and was going to be used to travel the show car circuit after it had been Mitchell’s personal car for a year. Before this, the car received an extensive remodelling.
The grille cavity was refashioned in a more elliptical shape and the car was resprayed metallic gold. The front under-tray air scoop seems inspired by aircraft design. Harley Earl liked bubble-tops, hence the XP-700’s double bubble Plexiglass top that was added on October of 1959. Also, the rear of the XP-700 is revised, lengthened, and exaggerated and a periscopic rear-view mirror is added. These new looks are revealed to the public on April of 1960, at the 4th International Automobile Show in New York.
The bubble-shaped laminated plastic canopy – coated with vaporized aluminum to help block the sun’s rays – was one of the most memorable features of the car. A metal strut in the center of the canopy featured louvered vents, which enhanced circulation in the passenger compartment. Among the more exotic concepts: An overhead mirror, mounted above the windshield with a viewing porthole in the roof structure. The rear end styling influenced the second generation Corvette models.