Increasing Federal Regulations Made the 1972 Corvette Fight for Every Drop of Horsepower
The 1972 Corvette, like many of the Vettes in the 70s lost some of its power as it was a casualty to ever increasing Federal government that kept increasing regulations that dictated emissions lowering tuning be done to all vehicles. Though the 1972 Corvette would lose some power that year, it made up for it with its great styling and classic looks.
In 1972 most of the car manufacturers began to show engine output on the sticker at SAE ‘net’ measurements. These figures were lower than the gross ones that were posted prior to ‘72 and the net horsepower reflected the unfortunate loss of power due to things such as the alternator, water pump, air cleaner, the muffler, and the power steering pump. However GM began to put both the gross and net numbers on the stickers in 1971 and thus the shock of the power loss was probably a little more tolerable for the Vette Nation as they had been prepared a bit in advance.
Because of the new Federal regulations that were in effect for 1972, gone was the beefy LS6 big block engine as it no longer had a place in the new power restricted world that the Corvette found itself stuck in. The LT1 small block did return for one final year in the 1972 Corvette but it was weakened to 255 bhp, which represented a 20 horsepower dip. On the bright side, GM now felt that they could sell the LT1 with air-conditioning. They had been afraid to in the past as engineers felt the high revving ability of the past engines would rip the air-conditioning belts clean off of their pulleys. Just to be sure this didn’t happen in the 1972 Corvette, the tachometer showed it’s redline at 5,600 RPM instead of the normal 6,500 RPM.
Refinements for the 1972 Corvette were few, but they did include:
- Center Console: The newly redesigned center console eliminated the useful but often distracting fiber optic light monitors.
- Improved Security: Because the Corvette was such a popular car among thieves, the previously optional anti-theft alarm system came standard in the 1972 Corvette. This helped keep the bad guys away and was also a nice feather in the cap for GM.
Though the 1972 Corvette continued the 70s tradition of changing little and robbing power, sales again increase for the year over 1971 and saw a total of 26,994 units move. While the Federal government was doing its best to stifle all the sports cars of the world, the Corvette continued to show that it still had a loyal base of enthusiasts that would wait out the slow times right along with them.
Though it would be some time before the once mighty muscle car of the past got to flex its stuff again, the day would indeed come. But in the meantime the 1972 Corvette Shark showed why the C3 generation of the Corvette lasted as long as it did. Through thick and thin, for better or for worse, it was still a Corvette and still worthy of admiration.