GM Uses New Body Shaping to Combat Slowness of the 1973 Corvette
The 1973 Corvette fell victim to the same pattern that had been emerging since the beginning of the decade; Federal regulations that required the Corvette to be so equipped that it would lose more power. So strict were the Federal regulations becoming that GM used a totally new engine for the 1973 Corvette.
For the first time since 1956 there was no mechanical-lifter engine offered for the Corvette. Instead, buyers could only choose from three hydraulic-lifter models. These engines came in the form of the base 350 RPO L48 which sputtered out a meek 190 bhp, and uprated L82 small black with 250 bhp, and a 454 that was advertised at 270 bhp. Though not the engines of old, there was little that the engineers at GM could do.
Though the output of horsepower was indeed small by Corvette standards they were still as much or more than other foreign name plate competitors. In fact, the 1973 Vette boasted a 15 second quarter mile run which was virtually identical to such names as the Porsche 911E and the DeTomaso Pantera, both of which cost almost twice as much as the Vette.
What did come with a welcomed change for the 1973 version of the Shark was the first major appearance change since 1968. Some of the more noticeable changes were:
- New Front: Both the coupe and convertible for the 1972 model received an updated nose treatment.
- New Bumper: As per a new mandate that made all cars have a front bumper that was rated at a five miles per hour impact protection, the Corvette answered with style. A steel bumper was covered by urethane and then painted to match the color of the Corvette. This added only two overall inches to the length and only about 35 pounds to the total weight. It was not as noticeable as many of the other cars that were being driven in the day and the best part was that the bumper of the 1973 Corvette would bounce back to form in almost any parking lot scuffle that occurred.
- Safety Enhancements: The 1973 Corvette was also made safer by way of steel beams that were added inside of each door. This new Federal mandate helped to protect occupants that were riding in the car.
- Better Tires: Standard radial-ply tires would soon be Federally mandated but the 1973 Vette featured them before the mandate ever took place. The radials offered better wet grip for the Corvette as well as an overall better tread life. All this with added stability to boot.
For its continuation to the power loss side, GM combated the Feds with a better looking and better handling car with the 1973 Corvette. Though the days of huge engines were gone for time being, there was still no mistaking the pure joy that was felt when driving around in a Corvette. At a base price of just over $5,500, the 1973 Corvette held its own in the sales department and thanks to some clever redesigning and engineering it too represented another successful year for the iconic sports car.