Happy Birthday Larry!
Larry Shinoda was born March 25, 1930 in Los Angeles, California. Like typical So-Cal boys, he loved cars and would draw pictures of them. As a teen, he enjoyed hotrodding and street racing and his pursuits of all things automotive eventually led him to Art Center College of Design.
College wasn’t for him though and labeled as a malcontent, he was kicked out of art school. One of his teachers invited him to present some of his designs to Ford and he was hired a few months later. Larry spent a year at Ford, and then worked for nine months at Packard before landing a design job at General Motors.
Petrolicios tells the story of one night when Shinoda was driving home from work, none other than GM’s Bill Mitchell pulled up next to Larry’s T-Bird at a stop light. When the light turned green, Mitchell took off in his supercharged Pontiac, but Shinoda’s Thunderbird was modded with a Stroppe race-prepped Ford stock car engine and he easily outran GM’s Design Chief.
A few days later, Mitchell tracked down the White Thunderbird at the Chevy Design Studio and asked Shinoda to pull it into the garage. When Mitchell saw the car was equipped with a full roll cage, two four-barrel carburetors, headers and heavy duty shocks, he “just about had a heart attack.” The story goes that Mitchell recognized Shinoda as a die-hard racer and he was immediately switched to the Corvette program.
As part of the Corvette program, Shinoda worked on refining several concepts, including one that would become the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe. Larry also penned both Mako Shark concepts, the rear-engined XP-819 concept and the engineering test vehicles known as CERV I and CERV II.
Shinoda left GM in 1968, hired away by Former GM executive Bunkie Knudsen. His first design at Ford was a high performance version of the Mustang which he called “Boss”, a tribute to Knudsen.
Following his short stint at Ford, Shinoda opened his own design studio where he consulted with various automakers. As a freelancer, he helped design the Jeep ZJ for American Motors Corp. The Jeep would eventually become the Grand Cherokee.
Larry would return to Corvette designing in the early 1990s with Indy 500 winner Rick Mears to produce the Shinoda Mears Corvette, a C4 Corvette improved with a custom body kit that actually improved the drag coefficient of the regular C4 Crovette from .34 to .30.
Larry passed away in the late 1997 at the age of 67 but his contributions to two American icons, Corvette and Mustang, will forever live on.
In 1998, Larry Shinoda was posthumously inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame at the National Corvette Museum. His induction video is below:
Rare 1991 Shinoda Mears Corvette Heading to Mecum Chicago this Weekend
[VIDEO] CERV 1 – Chevrolet’s First Engineering Research Vehicle
Let’s Help Get Corvette Designer Peter Brock into the Corvette Hall of Fame