Some of the greatest GM cars and concepts have emerged from Bill Mitchell’s infamous and secretive Studio X. Join us as we take a look at some of Studio X’s most notable designs over the years.
1961-’62 XP-777 Monza GT
After safety activist Ralph Nadar claimed the rear-engine Corvair had issues with instability, Chevrolet Engineering began to work on a front-engine, front-wheel drive solution. Mitchell moved the modular six-cylinder engine in front of the rear wheels. He also gave Larry Shinoda and Anatole Lapine the task of redesigning a swoopy body, which would eventually become the signature Corvette style.
1961-’67 XP-755 Shark/Mako Shark I
As the prequel to the 1963 Sting Ray, this supercharged speed-demon featured several vents, four-into-one side pipes, wire wheels, a double-bubble top, and pop-up mirrored rear-deck brake lamps. Its unique color scheme was designed so the sports car would appear similar to a predatory fish.
1976-’77 Pontiac Phantom
This was the final Studio X project. Bill Davis worked together with Mitchell to put together something original, exciting, powerful, elegant, and extreme. With innovative features, flowing lines, and sheer surfaces, the Phantom was truly a beast. It’s just too bad that Pontiac backed out. However, you can still see the rare and magnificent creation at the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan.
1962-’65 XO-797 Corvair Monza SS Spyder
Yet another incredible work of art designed by Shinoda and Lapine, the Spyder had its rear wheels in front of a Corvair flat-six with finned knock-off mag wheels and a cut-off windscreen hardly reaching eye-level. In a few years, the Spyder was updated and upgraded with recessed headlamps beneath racerlike clear lenses, an essential rollbar, underbody aerodynamics, and a redone rear deck.
1964-’69 XP-800 Astro III
This one was put together by Lonberger and Bob Larson, the head of Studio X. “It had been an ongoing project for a year,” said Lonberger during a 2011 interview, “but did not have the aircraft look that Mr. Mitchell wanted. So we turned it from a three-lump collection of elliptical forms into an aircraft look inspired by the supersonic transport.”