The latest generation of Corvette is impressive. Monster engine, monster torque, and superb handling… No doubt, the modern Corvette is a world-class sports car, winning both on the track and at the dealerships. So, it’s hard to believe that in 1982 this icon of American muscle looked doomed.
By ‘82 the Chevrolet Corvette was a dud. Emissions controls coupled with the ugliest Stingray design to ever debut, made this car the saddest Corvette ever made. The 1953-54s may have been underpowered and mechanically unimpressive, but at least they were beautiful.
The 1982 Vette had no redeeming qualities.
The ‘82 also had the now infamously pathetic Crossfire Injection engine producing Prius-like horsepower. With other American sports cars also floundering under this emissions-regulated, design-uninspired time, it looked as if the joy of horsepower was dead. The 1982 Corvette was the sad finale of a brand that had been in decline since 1973.
Chevrolet, after a decade of emasculating the Corvette, was finally getting the hint. The 1983 Corvette was supposed to be the re-birth of the brand complete with state-of-the-art technology and a motor with enough horsepower to actually produce a little enjoyment.
Then, like every year of the past decade, Chevrolet screwed the pooch.
For all their planning, they forgot that a car typically comes out every year. Despite having built 43 prototypes, Chevy didn’t leave enough time to bring the 1983 Corvette to market as a 1983 Corvette. The result: no 1983 Corvettes were ever sold to the public.
All 43 of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed or disassembled except one. Caring factory employees in Bowling Green made sure this car survived, even putting it in the factory wall for all to see. Today this iconic car is on display at the National Corvette Museum near the Bowling Green Assembly Plant.
The 1984 Corvette is basically an ‘83 with the bugs finally worked out of it. Still underpowered and dreadfully ugly, the ’84 wasn’t quite the renaissance for the Vette, but at least it kept the brand alive.
It took another decade for the Corvette to finally be a respectable sports car in most regards. The release of the C5 in the mid 90s finally put to bed the wedge styling of the 80s/90s C4, while introducing a more European style trans-axel setup. Today, the Corvette is bringing back the Stingray nameplate after nearly thirty years of its absence. The new Stingrays seem worthy of their nameplate.
May the Corvette never see its assembly line shut down again.