Volume VIII, Number 4

The Evolution of the Mako Shark
By Doug Breithaupt

The recent addition to my collection of the Corvette Mako Shark model by Playart provides for an interesting comparison of the three examples of this famous concept car in small-scale. The real concept car was a Bill Mitchell design, introduced in 1962 for General Motors. As the story of the real Mako Shark of 1962 has been told much better than I can, I will provide a link to an excellent first-person account by Larry Shinoda.

The three toy versions demonstrate the changes seen in small-scale diecast models over the past 30 years. The Playart model dates from the 1970's and is really quite good. At the same time, the cheap wheels and simple paint make it much more toy-like. It is however, the only example to feature the unique double-bubble roof that was used on the real car. It also features a metal body and base and would prove a sturdy toy as it was intended to do.

The Motor Max example is more recent and shows how good the under $1 toy car can be today. The casting is quite nice and nearly as accurate as the more expensive collector models. Cheaper wheels again detract from the overall look. In many ways, brands like Motor Max and Welly are the Playarts of today. The interior and side exhaust of the Motor Max version are superior to the earlier Playart. With better paint and wheels, the Motor Max model could look very nice indeed.

The Racing Champions model is double the price of the Motor Max and has excellent detail. The paint is much closer to the real car although the blue is too dark. Detailed tampos and better wheels give this model those special touches that draw collectors attention. These sold for $2-3 so they were also an excellent value. The quality of the paint makes a dramatic difference and if the Playart or Motor Max models had this same paint, they would be almost as good. Correctly sized wheels and tires are also critical to the look and RC attempted to match the wheels of the real car.

For the collector of classic diecast models, the Playart has a great toy-like feel and look while still capturing the essence of the real car. The Motor Max offers that same play-value today, at a very modest price. For just a bit more, the Racing Champions model is much closer to a true scale miniature but would be more fragile as a toy. If you are like me, you will want all three versions of Corvette's first Mako Shark concept.

Corvette Mako Shark concept - Playart

Corvette Mako Shark concept - Motor Max

Corvette Mako Shark concept - Racing Champions