Bill Mitchell’s real XP-87 Stingray, top, photographed with two other Corvette legends – SR-2 and the iconic Grand Sport coupe – by Marty Schorr at the GM Proving Ground. Jim Palam’s photo of the Fiberfab Centurion, above.
In 1959 GM design chief Bill Mitchell wasn’t buying into the ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing proposed by the Automobile Manufacturers Association. He assembled a team of designers, headed up by Tony Lapine and working with Larry Shinoda, Chuck Pohlman and Gene Garfinkle, working on the XP-87 project in his secret “Hammer Room” studio. Peter Brock had worked on the XP-87 design prior to the team being assembled and he moved on to another Corvette Concept.
The XP-87 competition roadster is the forefather of the legendary C-2 Sting Ray Corvette. After Mitchell chose to retire his beautiful, race-tested Concept, many felt the ’63 Sting Ray wasn’t quite filling the XP-87 void.
So Fiberfab’s Warren “Bud” Goodwin’s decided to seize the opportunity to resurrect the XP-87 concept by building the Fiberfab Centurion in 1965. The example I discovered at Rick Cole Auctions in Monterey is 1 of only 8-12 Centurions produced between 1965 and 1966. With obvious design inspiration from Mitchell’s XP-87, this Inca-Silver Centurion sits on a ’58 Corvette chassis and features dual head-rest fairings, a Rochester FI 283 motor, 4-speed transmission and a 4.11 Posi rear. The Centurion body was designed and engineered to fit on any C-1 Corvette chassis
While there was plenty of buzz about this car during Car Week 2016, a high bid of $175,000 wasn’t quite enough to reel-in this radical roadster. Ultimately, GM halted production of this kit car, claiming ’58 Stingray Racer patent infringement.