By the mid-1970s, the glory days of the American muscle car were coming to an end. A combination of factors, including rising insurance costs, stricter emission standards, and heavier bumpers, conspired to produce a new breed of car that was less powerful and less exciting than its predecessors. While some performance cars did manage to survive the transition, many others fell by the wayside. As a result, the mid-1970s was a tough time for fans of high-performance cars.
However, there were a few bright spots on the horizon. The introduction of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and the Pontiac Trans Am Firebird provided some hope that the muscle car might make a comeback. Motion Performance also built the Manta Ray. This is from a C3 Corvette. They didn’t only build one Manta Ray but they built two more before the company finally closed. Today, there is only but one sole Manta Ray Corvette survivor.
The Manta Ray Corvette
The C3 Corvette was a work of automotive art, and its sleek lines and powerful engine made it one of the most desired cars of its day. However, the Corvette’s plastic body also had an unexpected benefit: it allowed Baldwin-Motion to effectively create intensive changes in the style so that it could also match the performance changes made on the vehicle. As a result, the Baldwin-Motion Corvettes were some of the most radical and stylish cars of their time.
The Manta Ray was a factory-built custom car with unique styling cues inspired by European sports cars. Up front, the Manta Ray featured a nose with integrated headlights, while the rear end boasted a boat-tail design and a massive ducktail spoiler. Under the hood, the Manta Ray came standard with a 350-ci V8 engine, making it one of the most powerful Corvettes of its time. Today, the Manta Ray is a coveted collector’s item, and its radical style continues to turn heads decades after it first debuted.
The other two Manta Rays that were built in the same year had a 454-cu V8 engine with a 4-speed transmission. Though it was only built in small numbers, the Manta Ray remains one of the most iconic Corvettes of all time. Today, only the Manta Ray with the 350-ci V8 engine survives. It is such a collector’s piece and such a rare find is difficult to value.