By on January 7, 2013

The introduction of the C7 Corvette is almost certainly the biggest splash expected at this year’s Detroit show. It will almost certainly be a good car; no surprise there, the Corvette has been a pretty good car for nearly its entire production run. By common agreement, there are two “dark period” in the model’s history. The original “Blue Flame Six” cars were priced above the Jaguars of the era and couldn’t come close to catching them on a track or open road. It took the why-didn’t-they-think-of-that addition of Chevy’s then-new small-block V-8 to make the ‘Vette a legend. Corvette fanciers are also eager to forget the later “C3″ cars, which were awfully heavy, rather indifferently assembled, and frequently found sporting “PRNDL” markings. The nadir was probably the 1980 California Corvette, which offered buyers a mandatory encounter with the much-despised 305-cubic-inch V-8 and automatic transmission.

When they aren’t ruthlessly dissing their own stuff, GM marketing and advertising people almost universally react to the arrival of disastrous products by placing said products into ads with classic cars — anybody remember those Cadillac ads which juxtaposed the great old Caddys with a Zep tune and the rather sterile early-2000s lineup? The above effort isn’t a surprise, then… but how accurate is it?

The 1953 ‘Vette was far from rapid, so it’s odd that GM would choose a drag race to showcase it next to the new-for-’78 aeroback model. Why not a car show? A classic diner? A pair of hydraulic lifts inside a Chevrolet dealership’s service department? I mean, is this the message they want to send? The new ’78 Corvette Silver Anniversary — it’s just as f**king slow as the old ’53 was!

Make no mistake, that ’53 was slow. Performance times for that initial run of 300 cars are hard to find, but Road&Track tested the 1954 model, which had major performance improvements and a higher-pressure two-speed Powerglide, and only got a quarter-mile of 18.6 seconds at 74mph. If you’re in any of the six-cylinder Corvettes and a Prius pulls up next to you, the best course of action is to put on your turn signal before you accidentally lose your pink slip to a woman with bushy armpits and a registered emotional support dog.

By those standards, the ’78 was a rocket-powered NASA test sled. R&T managed 15.2 seconds at 95mph; that ET and trap speed are so incompatible I had to check the original article to make sure. Car and Driver got a 15.3@95mph. They also complained about the super-greasy tire on their test car, which makes me think that with modern rubber a ’78 Vette might turn a low fourteen. Either way, the Silver Anniversary Edition was a Prius-eater with power to spare and could probably hunt down a variety of non-hybrid Toyotas at stoplights as well.

Those of us who vividly remember the two-tone Pace Car and Silver Anniversary Corvettes sitting in dealerships won’t like the following fact: only twenty-five years separated those cars from the original Corvette, but they are now a full thirty-five years in the rearview mirror. If you walk back thirty-five years from the ’78 Vette, you get Vichy France and the Flying Tigers. Sic transit gloria mundi, homie.

The plain-Jane C6 Corvettes run quarter-miles in the high twelves now, so the C7 should do a fair sight better than that. GM’s unlikely to use any 1978 Corvettes in their advertising, but perhaps they should: Chevrolet sold four of those crappy old two-toners for every one of the outstanding 2012 C6 Corvette that left Bowling Green. The car gets better, but the sales get worse! Quick! Somebody get a ’53 on the drag strip and schedule a photo shoot!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

70 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Truth In GM Advertising Edition...”


  • avatar
    joborras

    “Chevrolet sold four of those crappy old two-toners for every one of the outstanding 2012 C6 Corvette that left Bowling Green.”

    ^ I could have predicted that, even without the numbers at my disposal. It was a hard lesson to learn at Mosler, but I learned it well: people don’t want performance, they want to impress their friends. In 2012, a Corvette doesn’t seem like a luxe buy, and it’s not the fashionable thing to drape tiny grad students/single moms/light addicts over for photo-shoots. That they sold any is a testament to the car’s legend and, possibly, Chevy’s racing program.

    • 0 avatar
      tkewley

      To be fair, it’s as much a matter of demographics, the economy, and changing tastes as anything else – ALL sports car sales are way down these days. It’s worth remembering that the Datsun/Nissan 280ZX sold in big numbers in the late ’70s/early ’80s as well.

    • 0 avatar
      JSF22

      This is exactly right. Additionally, people — whether they admit it or not — want cars that say good things about them. This is influenced by the people seen driving them. Into the early ’70s, astronauts drove Corvettes. Today, tell me the last Corvette you saw that wasn’t being driven by a fat old man with a combover.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        agree. the Audi A5/S5 sold 17k cars last year at a similar price point and lesser performance than the Corvette that sold 11k cars.
        people buy style, not substance.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Today, tell me the last Corvette you saw that wasn’t being driven by a fat old man with a combover.”

        Well, if you’re going to generalize…

        I see plenty of German high-performance iron piloted by people fitting that exact description…along with trophy wives, and 30-something d-bags who look like they have watched Wall Street 15 times a day for 25 years (saw an M5 the other day with plates reading “LTV-CLTV” – who says mortgage brokers are gone?). At least the old ‘Vette guys would probably hang out and talk about their little sweeties…the d-bags are too busy trying to score their next deal, or on their way to Nordie’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Yeah_right

        Hey. Be nice. My hair plugs solved the comb-over vs. convertible top down issue.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m not sure what was so “disastrous” about the hugely-popular CTS and Escalade. The XLR didn’t sell, but it was a halo car; as for the SRX, it ironically didn’t sell because they were trying to stick somewhat with Cadillac tradition (V8/RWD).

    Also, GM marketing and advertising people are hardly the only ones who juxtapose their great old cars with new ones. See: The Lincoln Artisan AutoCraft Limited Liability Company, Esquire. They even exhumed Honest Abe himself for their newest ad.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hmmmm… I thought the C6 was a bonafide high 11 second machine and the Z06 at least a 1/2 second faster (on a cold day at the bottom of the ocean with good traction with an expert driver, a Z06 can indeed crack the 10 second barrier).

    Also I suspect Corvette sales are dwindling due to the well of Corvette fans dieing off and drying up. The latter due to paychecks incapable of keeping pace with the increased cost of the car.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Those of us who vividly remember the two-tone Pace Car and Silver Anniversary Corvettes sitting in dealerships won’t like the following fact: only twenty-five years separated those cars from the original Corvette, but they are now a full thirty-five years in the rearview mirror. If you walk back thirty-five years from the ’78 Vette, you get Vichy France and the Flying Tigers. Sic transit gloria mundi, homie.”

    Man, thanks for that. Now I’m feeling my almost-62-years!

    Things in the rear view mirror certainly recede quickly, and, contrary to the warning on the outside passenger mirror, objects are farther away than they appear…

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I still have the ’78 sales brochure but I never viewed it as a ’53 vs a ’78 in a drag race which is illogical; I thought of it more as a “motoring comparison”, you know, “then & now”. Anyway, an obscure brochure cover 35 years later makes me wonder why you brought it up now.

    Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that the ’78 Vette had either 185 net HP (L48) or 220 net HP (L82). The base 2012 C6 is about 430 net HP if memory serves me correctly. That being the case the ’78′s ran pretty well comparatively.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I don’t fault GM (or anyone for that matter) using their classic models to sell the current ones. They’re appealing to their market, i.e. mid-life-crisis middle aged men who can now afford the vehicle they dreamed of in their 20′s.

    Personally I don’t know anyone in their mid-30′s or younger who really cares about Corvette. Most people I know don’t even care about going fast in a straight line, or fast at all. If a car can do up to 80mph on the highway 99.9% of people are happy. I’ll bet most of my co-workers would be more impressed with a BMW M5 or Audi S6 than any Corvette. IMHO the Corvette needs to change to attract a younger buyer. Now how to do that without alienating their current “aging” fan base.

    • 0 avatar

      attracting the younger buyer sounds good but most of them cannot afford the darn thing so that is chasing your tail. we need super sexy styling, inside and out, in order to motivate those middle aged men to buy these rides and to excite the pretty young women these middle aged men hand the keys to.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      An early Middle aged person at 40-45 is an aging Gen-X’er, these days. Not the stereotype from the 70s ad 80s of combovers and polyester pant suits.

      They were born in the 60′s and were the 20-something trendsetters in the 90′s reading Entertainment Weekly and watching “friends”.

      The Corvette is still ‘for old guys’ they say.

      More likely well heeled 40somethings today want a loaded SUV or mid szie four door.

      “Sports Car? I’m not middle aged” says the average 40 y/o.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Here’s a question. What was the % price premium between a Corvette and a Camaro in 1978 and 2013? Could that be having an effect on sales?

    Honestly a Corvette is on my automotive “bucket list” but I’m not picky about what generation. I must confess that the C3 is my favorite body style and the performance issues can be easily solved (at least the straight line issues.)

    My wife lusts after a Corvette to the point that we actually have a Corvette calendar hanging up at home but I’m trying to talk her into a Dodge Charger R/T as her next automotive purchase. Although Hemi power might get her license revoked the way she “feels the need, the need for speed.”

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      @PrincipalDan

      Just wondering why you’re trying to talk your wife out of a Corvette? With the C7 going on sale later this year deals on lightly used C6 Grand Sports should be pretty easy to find.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Backseat, car seats, she buys a daily driver and keeps it for years. It would be the primary “family” vehicle. (No kids yet but we’re trying right now.) If she bought a brand new 2013 she’d still be driving it close to 100,000 miles.

        She also really likes the “Fast and Furious” movies although I hope she doesn’t plan on dragging a bank vault through Rio any time soon. :)

      • 0 avatar
        billyjoejimbob

        @PrincipalDan

        (No kids yet but we’re trying right now.)

        Your multi tasking skills are extraordinary! What kind of device are you blogging on that you were able to sneak into the bed? Is she aware?

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      @PrincipalDan,
      I don’t know about pricing in the States, but here in Canada the Vette cost about 40-50% more. My Dad worked at the local Chev-Olds emporium at the time and I remember these cars well. His dealership had several L-82/4 speed cars pass through during the year, and they ran $14,000 to $15,000. A full load Z-28 could run as high as $10,000.
      I remember this so well because I wanted a new Z-28 badly. Dad just laughed and said “by the time you can afford that car, you’ll be my age”. That kind of money in ’78 might as well have been a million for me. One thing that’s changed a lot though, Every ‘Vette and almost every Z-28 was sold before it arrived on the carrier. No discount, no rebate, and you might have to agree to let the dealership display the car in the showrooom for a couple of weeks before you could take delivery. If that didn’t suit you, the guy behind you would take the deal. Different times.

    • 0 avatar
      Motorhead10

      Buy the Charger – I have fun, fast weekend cars – and a Charger R/T for every day. DiabloSport inTune to tighten things up a bit and that car as a daily driver will satisfy just about ALL of your motoring needs. Won’t break the bank, roomy for the family and gear – and it absolutely goes like hell. I find myself driving it even when I could be in one of my mid-life crisis cars. If you have no winter weather issues (and a set of police wheels and snows will take care of that), bang for the buck – I couldn’t find anything better when I was shopping for sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Thanks Motorhead, I have a “fun car” too, I’m getting my dad to part with is 1967 Mustang convertible come summer 2013. It’s more of a project car, mechanically sound but cosmetically and structurally a work in progress. The Mustang is actually part of what whetted her appetite for muscle cars and honestly I can’t think of a better modern “muscle sedan” than a Charger.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…and honestly I can’t think of a better modern “muscle sedan” than a Charger.”

        If you plan to buy new you might want to take a look at the upcoming Chevy SS. I think it will be revealed at the Detroit show.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Lightning Lap, Car and Driver, Chevy Caprice Cop Car vs. Dodge Charger Cop Car. Charger spanks Caprice.

        Plus the SS is a specialty car in the eyes of dealers (like the Camaro ZL1, specialty Corvettes, etc.) anybody want to take bets on the dealer mark up?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Plus the SS is a specialty car in the eyes of dealers (like the Camaro ZL1, specialty Corvettes, etc.) anybody want to take bets on the dealer mark up?…..

        Well, the opportunistic scum slap a $5K ADM on ZL-1′s around these parts….

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    Someone do the math; what would a new ’78 Vette retail for in today’s dollars.

    A new one bases at ~$55k, which is about 77% greater than the average transaction price of a new car today (~$31k) and 111% greater than the average amount financed for a new car today (~$26k).

    I think it my have priced itself away from the average man making the stretch to one.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      According to this site http://www.rogerscorvette.com/specs/78.htm the base price of a ’78 Corvette was $9352, which is $31798 in today’s dollars.

      The average income in 1978 was 9,226.48 which is $31372.19 in today’s dollars compared to an average income of $42,979.61 in 2011

      I’m no economist but seems like the ‘Vette isn’t quite the performance bargain it once was, in fact a 2013 Camaro SS would be a stretch at the inflation adjusted price of the 1978 Corvette. From the other comments it seems like the relative performance of the Corvette compared to other sports cars of the same era has remained roughly the same over the years.

  • avatar
    msquare

    The main reason “pure” sports cars are in decline is because you don’t have to make sports-car sacrifices to get sports-car performance anymore.

    That 15-second ’78 Corvette was the fastest car made in America at the time and you could count on one hand the number of imports that were any faster (Porsche 930 Turbo, Ferrari 512BB, Lamborghini Countach). A contemporary Trans Am was neck-and-neck, but usually the ‘Vette won out in top-end speed.

    The C6 is faster than an Audi S5, but not by a hell of a lot and the Audi is way better appointed with the addition of a back seat. For close to the same money.

    Not only that, the ’78 went for about $11K new, which is somewhere around $35K in today’s cash. A Ferrari 308 went for that $35K at the time. Today’s Corvette is also much cheaper than a lot of cars with the same performance envelope, but the people most interested probably can’t afford them and those that can are into S5′s.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “The C6 is faster than an Audi S5, but not by a hell of a lot and the Audi is way better appointed with the addition of a back seat. For close to the same money.”

      Not really. The Audi’s quick, but it’s not in the ‘Vette’s league.

      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-audi-s5-30t-manual-instrumented-test-review

      http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2008-chevrolet-corvette0709-checor-z51-08-ts.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        rentonben

        Nobdoy (hopefully) is stupid enough to think that and S5 could race a C6 – but what he’s saying is that the S5 is close enough to being crazy fast that you don’t need a 2nd sports-car to put a smile on your face.

        Take me for example – I grew up with Z, Corvettes, and to borrow a phrase “ass-ended Nwazi slot cars.” We dreamt about those things.

        But frankly the newish Buick Regal sitting in my driveway is enough car for me, and my kids think it’s some sort of crazy rocket ship. T their dream ‘cars’ are weird shit like H1 Alphas, 2CV, Ariel Atoms and Cessna 172s.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a C6, but that overriding *urge* to get one isn’t there for me – and apparently a lot a people. The urge to get a CTS V Murder Wagon is there though, so at least GM will get to sell me a Corvette engine. :)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, but there will always be a market for a two seat, ultra-performance coupe, even if it’s smaller now than it was in the past. Audi makes one of those too.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Freed makes a valid point. As with the Generals dominance in other areas, sales have been eroded by a competition intensive market place.

        Along with some price inflation concerns, there are comparatively a lot more cars to choose from that offer a similar experience.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “But frankly the newish Buick Regal sitting in my driveway is enough car for me…”

      @rentonben

      Just wondering if you have a GS and if you do how do you like it?

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      Assuming you mean “quick” (acceleration) as opposed to “fast” (top speed).

      There was a bit of a ringer in 1978, which Car and Driver tested: The Dodge Monaco Police Package with the 440 V8. It topped 130 miles per hour (without light bar), and was featured alongside the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 sedan, which also did more than 130. I’m not sure the Vette had quite the same top speed then.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “The C6 is faster than an Audi S5, but not by a hell of a lot and the Audi is way better appointed with the addition of a back seat. For close to the same money.”

      My buddy bought his ’09 Z06 a year or two before his ’12 S4 MT. He’s not sure he really needs the Z06 anymore, as the S4 is fast enough for street use and plenty of fun. He can’t take entrance and exit ramps much faster in the Z06, and the 158 mph limiter arrived quickly and was plenty fast for his purposes when he needed it. Plus, it’s just as fun in winter as summer with the Hakka7s.

      But they should have a new track completed in his area this year so he’ll probably want the Z06 for that. It will have many advantages in that environment.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    I owned a ’66 427 390HP convertible for a few years back in the early 90s. That was a fun car, but kids came along and priorities changed. If I were to buy another one, I’d go for a 67 convertible, probably a small block as that big block literally cooked you in warm weather.

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      Big block ‘Vettes were fun, but the heat issue is by far the worst part of them. If I ever did take the plunge, a ’65-’67 with the L-79 327 would be my choice. When I was young and stupid, the only car in town that could always beat my V-8 Vega was a ’66 427 roadster. It was beat, fender flares, stress cracks, faded paint and all. And it was fast enough to blow away my car, and I had timeslips in the low 13′s through open headers. I rode in it a few times and it was hotter and noiser than my ride, which is saying something. I’d have given my eye teeth to own it back then though.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “Those of us who vividly remember the two-tone Pace Car and Silver Anniversary Corvettes sitting in dealerships won’t like the following fact: only twenty-five years separated those cars from the original Corvette, but they are now a full thirty-five years in the rearview mirror. If you walk back thirty-five years from the ’78 Vette, you get Vichy France and the Flying Tigers.”

    Love this line of thought because ’42-’42 were the years that American G.I.’s fell in lust with the sporty little roadsters the Brits tooled around in; bringing many of them back to the states with them. Chevrolet, in an astounding bit of foresight, decided that they could do it one better using the new Fibreglass technique to keep the weight down. The wuss six-pot motor may not have been much, but the Bowtie made up for it in later iterations. And the ’78, while not face-meltingly rapid, was among the most exciting American sports cars of its time.

    However, I believe the ad above, with a weezy and honestly not-a-canyon-carver ’53 vs. the anemic but still kinda sexy ’78, factors very well if we were to do the same today; i.e., the ’78 with the ’013. There will definitely be a full page glossy ad with all the lineages lined up from the smallest (the past) to the largest in view (the present) and most likely a Kardashian lounging on the hood.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I like MSquares analysis.

    The 78-79 L82 Vettes were still credible, both in RELATIVE and ABSOLUTE (lo-mid 15 second 1/4 miles).

    The 75-79 L-48s were emasculated, some years worse. But the real blow came in 1980-81–first the L82 4-spd vanished, then the L82 vanished.

    Regarding price, for MY 1976, a BASE Vette MSRP was $7700–so L82 probably added $300-500. A BASE Trans Am was about $4900-$5200. So about a 55% premium for the Vette over a credible sports coupe (like the Vette, the T/A remained credible thru 79, though after 1976, all T/As were not equal, most were dogs and you had to pay extra for top T/A performance).

    So, the price premium to a Camaro today seems comparable.

    In anycase, today’s cars are much better and MUCH FASTER–for many, at least myself, the Cobalt SS (which could probably edge a 79 L82 on a track) is as much as I can handle

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    In the context of late-’70′s performance, the ‘Vette was a very credible performer, even if the average Tonka car had better build quality. Its main competitors weren’t the real rockets of the day – Porches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis – but more mundane cars like the 280ZX, RX-7 and Trans-Am, and I’m pretty sure a ’78 would put any of them on the trailer.

    There’s a reason why the brand survives to this day.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The ’78 Vette would still put the hurt on most of the Porsches and Ferraris of the day. Dark times.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        In a straight line for a brief period, maybe, but not on a winding road, and not at sustained, high-speed (meaning, 90+ mph) operation.

        The 1970s Vettes were essentially one-trick ponies (once you got beyond the styling and the two-seat layout). Today’s Corvettes are well-rounded performance machines that really can embarrass much more expensive cars.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m not so sure about that geeber. The C3s used a fairly modern, well balanced suspension for the time and do handle comparatively well, especially with the optional packages. The main issue was grip, as Jack pointed out due to the tires.

        While they likely wouldn’t out carve lighter cars like a 911, they handle curves confidently.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The current 2013 base Vette with no options starts at $50595 and 51890 with 6 speed automatic. That is a lot of money even today that many are not willing to spend for a 2 seater toy that goes fast with very limited cargo carrying ability.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    “There’s a reason why the brand survives to this day.”

    Mainly, the Corvette survives as GM’s traditional and emotional flagship. Common sense tells you it could not sustain or stand on its own as a commercial entity without sentimental and historical value.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Even though I was alive then, it’s hard to believe there was a time when new Corvettes were that slow. You would almost think the first thing people would do before they took the window sticker off was swap some parts from a pre-emission small block just to make it respectable. I’m almost surprised they were able to even sell sports cars then when a late sixties muscle car could destroy anything in the showrooms.

    I do think 90% of the appeal of Corvettes though was simply the image, but that’s actually long gone and is probably now it’s biggest stumbling block. My parents had a late seventies C3 and they thought they were movie stars.

    Owning a Corvette 30 years ago was considered hip, now it’s completely cheesey, at least to younger people. I also think the price has gotten out of hand. Buying a new Corvette was something a middle class person could scrape together if they didn’t need a backseat.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you on almost every point but I don’t consider present ownership day ownership cheesy. Today the majority of potential owners are priced out of a Vette from the word go… consider full MSRP, $4.00/gal premium gas, and sky high insurance rates you have to be older and established for the price of entry. Take one of those away and I think you’d see more young people gravitate toward it.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        Here’s the thing, I honestly think Corvettes are cool cars and would love to drive one, but even as a fan I have to concede, the negative stereotype of the owners is almost always dead on. I wouldn’t want to be a single guy driving one because the perception is even worse among women even though the car itself is expensive. It’s not the “cars” fault, but it’s there.

        In a totally different demographic but similar situation, I have a negative opinion of BMW drivers even though I like the cars themselves. At least in my area, it seems like the biggest pricks drive BMWs..

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Many people view Corvette owners today not as cool or cheesy, but as asshats.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Here’s the thing. With Corvette your saying that about a nameplate. But with many cars that same sentiment can be heard based on the badge, especially if it has German provenance.

        I say it’s all BS. A-holes are everywhere. They drive Chevy, Ford, Hyundai, as well as BMW, Audi, Porsche and even Corvette. Hell, some of them even ride bicycles.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      More so than being perceived as “slow,” during any period, Corvettes were perceived as widow makers, especially the circa-late 70s and early 80s Vettes, as they had absolutely horrid handling capabilities on anything remotely approximating a slippery surface (whether just wet, or icy).

      I was very, very young, but distinctly recall that one of my father’s good friends, who was a white collar executive at GM, was killed in a single car accident on rain soaked streets while driving his Vette and losing control of it at moderate speed.

  • avatar
    carguy

    “advertising people almost universally react to the arrival of disastrous products by placing said products into ads with classic cars”

    So very true. I was recently standing at a Mercedes dealership and could not help noticing a large number of great looking posters of Mercedes classics like the gullwing, silver arrows etc but the floor was crowded with mediocre SUVs.

  • avatar
    ICARFAN

    Not a bad drag strip number for the 78 considering the era, but let’s not forget that for less than a 1000 dollars in 78 money and a nice saturday those numbers could be improved rather easily which could not be said for the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Exacly. V8s of that era did make a lot of torque, low in the rev band. Once you ditched the factory carb, intake and rear gear set, you were haulin’ some serious A$$!

      Speed shops were everywhere back then. You’d just walk up to the counter, tell the guy what you had and how fast you wanted to go.

      • 0 avatar
        west-coaster

        Modifying a smog-era Corvette would have been a “what if” from today’s perspective, of course.

        Probabably some small fraction of 1% of the people who bought new Corvettes in the late 1970s were interested in tearing into a brand new engine for more performance.

        When I was in my early teens, we had a family friend who had done a bunch of semi-professional racing and had a ’75 Corvette. Unfortunately, in California neither the L-82 engine nor 4-speed manual were available, so he was never thrilled with its performance. Did he run out and have the car modified? Nope, that was too much of a hassle for him, even though he obviously knew a lot of race mechanics from his time on the track who could have helped him. Instead, he finally was able to snag an L-82/4-speed from out of state in 1977. He changed the wheels and tires, and it performed pretty well for a car of the era. And he had a new air conditioned car with a warranty.

        And he was more ambitious than most. We had a couple of people in our neighborhood who owned Vettes during my teen years (including one real hottie 30-something blonde who’d today be called a MILF if the couple had any kids), and for the most part they just appreciated the sporty looks and panache of the cars, even though they really didn’t peform like the earlier examples of the C3.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Most of us here that were driving during those dark days of performance were pretty young and carefree, otherwise we drove cvccs. None of us thought anything of voiding the warranty and for what, usually a minor problem we’d fix ourselves or just ignore. Then the biggest performance gains came from ditching the lazy freeway R&P gears for something with a bit more of a ‘kick’ and those didn’t affect emissions or the warranty.

        Of course back then, illegal smogs were too easy to come by. They still are if you ‘know’ someone. Anyways, if the cat got plugged or it failed for whatever reason, it was game ON!

  • avatar
    Luper

    I don’t know that damning the ’53 Vette after comparing it to a modern Prius is really fair. You wouldn’t want to drag race most modern subcompacts in a ’53 Jaguar XK120 either, which was the target GM was aiming for at the time with the C1. Granted, the Blue Flame motor in the Vette was not in the same league as Jaguar’s DOHC aluminum I6. But the performance of the two cars wasn’t that far apart–and the Vette looked a whole lot more futuristic in 1953 than the Jag. Sales of the C1 weren’t great, but there would have been no C2, C3, etc. without the C1.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Yeah, the sports car market was a lot different in 1953. Performance was much more leisurely and six-cylinder engines, even in the higher-end products, were the norm. Ed Cole and company were still feeling out the market and were surely aiming somewhere between Jaguar and MG, the latter of which was powered by a small four-cylinder. I have no doubt they calculated that the novelty of those first Corvettes, even with a grungy old six, would carry the day until the V8 made its debut. In fact, Cole might even have used the small-block V8 sooner but it wasn’t ready for production until 1955.

  • avatar

    An unshaven Prius owner with a registered emotional support dog?

    I’m disappointed in that gag.

    A ferret would have been funnier.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    In theory I am in a demographic where I could buy a Corvette if I wanted to. But there is nothing about the car that makes me want to! They are fast, but so what? The performance is not usable in this country off of a racetrack. The interior is a joke. The overall build quality brings to mind a Chinese kid’s toy. The price is such that if I did decide to splurge on a shiny new 2-seater toy I would just spend a little more and buy a very basic Porsche Cayman. Meh, I’ll stick to little British and Italian cars for a fraction of the cost, and multiples of the fun.

    I actually have seat time in pretty much every Corvette from the mid-60′s to the latest and greatest – my Air Force pilot Uncle is a maniac for the things, and has owned them all.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “They are fast, but so what? The performance is not usable in this country off of a racetrack.”

      That statement applies to a number of cars from just about every manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        That statement applies to EVERY car with pretentions of performance in this country. My grocery getter station wagon would give that ’78 Corvette a run for its money, while getting 2-3x the fuel economy. Tech has come a long way.

        I found it especially amusing that several people were getting all hot and bothered about the Ford Escape’s 1/4 mile times in the other thread. Like every soccer Mom in the country is heading out to the old 1/4 mile on Saturday night. Who bloody cares!

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Problem is, there is no real demographic that cares enough and has enough cash to want a Vette….it may have been the pinnacle of sports autodom (!), but that was generations ago….people moved on the the latest AMG whatever. Probably the closest crowd to the old ‘ vette market may be the big pickup market, not the regular ones, the ones that instantly on purchasing huck a open exhaust on the powerstoke, have jacked it up with big wheels and trick it out with skull decals to match the tapout shirt and hat….pure class….best thing for chev to do with the vette is severely restrict production, and make every one a instant collectible….or just make it a trim option on the cruze…

  • avatar
    Morea

    The Corvette is, and should be, about road racing.

    Corvettes won the GTE-Am class at the 24hrs of Le Mans this year (and won BOTH GTE-Am and GTE-Pro classes last year).

    Corvette flies the American flag on tracks around the world against the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Lotus, etc.

    Generation Xers and those younger have a self image that favors imported cars to show their worldliness and good taste. They will not buy the American alternative even if it is a superior performer at a lower cost. Perhaps the Millennial generation will see things differently.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    You guys never fail to criticize GM. It was a celebration of the 25th anniversary…They weren’t comparing performance.
    And by the way the 78 Vette with the L82 was a pretty credible car. I was a senior in High school and remember the Road & Track road test…0-60 in 6.8 seconds…not bad in 78…It was a signigigant gain from the previous V-8s that were struggling with emissions controls from the early 70′s. The 78 seemed to have gotten it right.
    Plus the car looked great. The first big change in body style with the bubble rear window and the the two tone paint looked great.
    A car I wanted to asspire to!

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      I have fond memories of being a passenger in a family friend’s then-new ’77 Vette with essentially the same powertrain.

      He was a semi-pro race driver through the years, and found a way to bring an L-82/4-speed car into California, where they were not sold due to emissions restrictions. He added aftermarket wheels and tires, and it was pretty quick. I vividly remember him getting the thing up to about 90 on a four-lane road near our house pretty rapidly (it was at night and the streets were deserted). Most impressive was the way he was able to slow the car down via heel-and-toe downshifting and threshold braking for a 90-degree right turn. The braking performance was as impressive as the acceleration, especially considering what else was in showrooms – ANY showroom – at the time.

  • avatar
    beken

    Back in 1978, I was attending university and my then girlfriend’s brother tossed me the keys to his 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette with 4spd manual and told me to drive it for the summer as he was shipped overseas for a summer job. He didn’t want the car sitting in the garage for so long. I still remember the car to this day. Eventually, he exported the car overseas and sold it for more than the cost of a Ferrari.

    I could never justify owning a Corvette for myself(well, maybe I could in the future but I’ve moved on to other cars now) but I’ve always liked Corvettes and still find them desireable. Nothing like driving one. When I test drove a 1986 Corvette, a 1994, and then a 2004, the sensations are the same. Credit GM for maintaining that “feel” throughout the generations.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India