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First look: Corvette Sting Ray transforms

Stinger: Chevrolet's Sting Ray concept will star in the new Transformers movie.

Chicago show: GM concept to 'Transform' Chevy

Chevrolet logo13 Feb 2009

CHEVROLET yesterday grabbed the spotlight at the Chicago Auto Show by taking the covers off a dramatic concept car that is set to star in the forthcoming Transformers II movie.

Based on one of Chevrolet’s most iconic models, the Chevrolet Sting Ray Concept will appear on the big screen as a character called Sideswipe – one of five Chevys starring as Autobots in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The yellow Camaro-based character Bumblebee will be reprised from the original 2007 Transformers movie, but with subtle updates to match the forthcoming Australian-engineered production Camaro.

Standing some 5.2 metres tall and 4.0 metres wide, Bumblebee is also being displayed at the Chicago show.

The new Sting Ray concept car was inspired by the second-generation Chevrolet Corvette that first appeared in 1963 and featured an unusual split rear window.

137 center image This distinctive tail design led to the introduction of the Sting Ray name and, although the split window was dropped in 1964 for safety reasons, the car continued in production until 1967.

The Transformers sequel will premiere in the US in June.

Introducing the Sting Ray at the Chicago show, GM vice-president Ed Peper said the involvement with the Transformers movie “serves as a not-so-subtle metaphor for the transformation going on in Chevy showrooms right now”.

“Chevrolet is constantly looking at new ways to connect with customers, especially young customers,” said Mr Peper.

“A few years ago we were presented with a unique marketing opportunity that did just that – the original Transformers movie – which was a major hit worldwide, breaking box office records in several countries and becoming one of the top 20 grossing films of all time.

“What you might not know is that after the movie, awareness for Camaro, one of the vehicle stars of the show, jumped 97 per cent.

“The movie and subsequent DVD sales helped us identify over a half-million people who are interested in buying a Camaro.

“Most important, 70 per cent of the Transformer audience fell within the coveted 13-to-34 age group, providing us with exactly the kind of targetted exposure we’re looking for (and) we’re building on the success of the first Transformer movie with special Chevrolet vehicle appearances in Revenge of the Fallen – the second Transformers movie.

“The presence of Bumblebee in the movie will give Camaro a huge share of mind just when the all-new 2010 Camaro starts arriving in Chevy showrooms, and provides us with a new, more effective way to get the news out about a totally new kind of car.

“Transformers gives us a great opportunity to connect with young people on their terms, with a dynamic, environmentally friendly image.”

Four of the five Autobot “character” cars are new for the sequel, with two (called “Skids” and “Mudflap”) based on the Chevrolet Spark that will go into production in 2011 and one (“Jolt”) based on the Volt hybrid, as well as the Sting Ray.

Produced by DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is said to go “way beyond the first film in terms of robot action and excitement”.

The Autobots confront a new threat from Decepticons bent on avenging their earlier defeat on Earth and “square off against new, tougher foes determined to rule the universe”.

Director Michael Bay, who also directed Armageddon, The Rock, Pearl Harbor and both Bad Boys movies, approached GM during the development phase of the first Transformers movie.

GM vice-president for global design Ed Welburn said he arrived just as the then-secret Camaro was taking shape.

“I wasn’t about to show him the Camaro until I knew more about his movie,” said Mr Welburn in Chicago.

“After some careful negotiations, he finally told us what he was up to, and we showed him the Camaro Concept – the car that became Bumblebee.

“Now Michael has been a friend of GM’s for nearly a decade and, since that first visit several years ago, our relationship with Michael and the studio team has grown so it was no surprise that he came back to GM Design for some ideas when he began planning for the Transformers sequel.

“Initially, he was searching for one, maybe two new automotive characters … but after we toured the studios of GM Design for awhile, he had to stop and ask for a notebook. It became clear that he discovered several distinct characters that would help build the story he was creating.”

Mr Welburn said the Sting Ray Concept car on show at the Chicago show was the actual styling mock-up that the director saw when he came looking for vehicles to use in the new movie.

“Of course, there was a working movie version built of this one, but since no one outside of GM and the movie studio has ever seen this car before, I wanted to bring a version without all the wear and tear and scars of an action movie.

“This vision concept is part of the free exploration of future products that I encourage our creative and talented design teams to develop.

“By giving my creative team the freedom to design no-holds-barred vision concepts, it helps them push boundaries and look at projects from different perspectives.

“The Corvette has an amazing design lineage and this Sting Ray concept pays homage to the 1959 Sting Ray racer and 1963 Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe – notice the wide shoulders, sculpted fender forms, side air extractors, piercing nose and, of course, the legendary split-window design feature.”

The original Corvette Sting Ray was designed by Larry Shinoda under the direction of Bill Mitchell and was inspired by a previous unbuilt concept called the Q Corvette by Peter Brock (no relation to Australia’s racing legend) and Chuck Pohlmann.

For this 21st century reincarnation, the GM design team even created a modern interpretation of the Sting Ray badge.

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