Catch three rare Corvette concepts at the LeMay Museum

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Three Corvette concepts are leaving their home at the GM Heritage Center for a brief visit to the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, Wash.

Tacoma, Wash.'s LeMay Museum has a pretty impressive collection of cars in its collection, but it also has the pull to get some intriguing visitors from time to time.

This month, a trio of rare Corvette concepts -- cars that spend most of their time out of the public eye in theGM Heritage Collection -- is stopping by. The visit is part of a special Corvette exhibition set to run till the end of the year, but the concepts will only be in town for three days.

Here's what you'll see, provided you can get to the LeMay on Aug. 9, 10 or 11:

1959 Stingray Racer

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Built in secret, the 1959 Corvette Stingray racer concept had more than a few very public successes on the SCCA circuit.

The construction of this Pete Brock-designed concept was supposedly initiated at the request of GM vice president Bill Mitchell and carried out in secret. Though topless, it's easy to see how the car -- known internally as the XP-87 -- previewed the second-generation C2 Sting Ray. It was hardly a show-circuit creampuff: Mitchell reportedly drove the car home from work, and it saw success on the SCCA racing circuit.

Not bad for a concept.

1961 Mako Shark

Like the '59 Stingray, the Mako Shark previewed the C2 Corvette -- but with its radical, shark-inspired paintjob, full windshield and flashy side-pipes, it was much more of a show car than the hard-working racer that preceded it. It bore the internal designation XP-755

1969 Manta Ray

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Beneath the wild skin of the '69 Corvette Manta Ray concept sits the bones of the somewhat more sedate Mako Shark II concept.

The Manta Ray wasn't just an evolution on the 1965 Mako Shark II's styling -- it was the Mako Shark II, restyled. By the time the Manta Ray debuted, the C3 Corvette was already in showrooms, and the C4 would take the Vette's appearance in a completely different direction when it emerged for 1984. But the Manta Ray had it where it counted: under the hood, thanks to its aluminum 427-cubic-inch ZL-1 engine.

We've got to be honest, this one's a little tough to look at for too long. Not exactly a Corvette design high point.

The Corvettes' brief stint at the LeMay is part of a West Coast tour for the cars, with the trio heading south for the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance before returning to their home port in that nondescript metro Detroit industrial park.

Those not fortunate (?) enough to live near the Detroit automakers' bases don't always get the chance to see the historically significant vehicles they have stashed away in their archives -- head to the LeMay and enjoy these Corvette concepts if you can fit it into your schedule.

Source: Auto Week