Performance and Passion Return with the 1976 Corvette
For the first time in the 1970s era the 1976 Corvette actually gained a bit of horsepower rather than give it away. This would prove to be a banner year for the Corvette as the American icon would end up smashing the previous sales record which was set all the way back in 1969. Though the Corvette was still slow by Corvette standards it was still tops for cars coming out of the Motor City and continued its sales dominance as proof.
The engineers at GM did do a little bit of restyling for the 1976 Corvette and some of the changes to the 1976 Shark were:
- Rear Deck: The 1976 Corvette did away with the fake air extractor vents that were on the previous year’s model.
- Bumper: The rear bumper trim saw slight but sleek modifications for the 1976 Corvette.
- Steering Wheel: The 1976 Corvette featured a new and sporty four spoke steering wheel. While this new addition definitely looked great it did somewhat upset many enthusiast as it was taken from the sub-compact Vega.
While the slight restyling was indeed a welcomed change, Corvette fans everywhere rejoiced as the 1976 Corvette came with an increase in horsepower over the previous year’s model. Thanks to increased compression that came by the way of a catalytic converter the base small block picked up an additional 15 ponies for a total of 180 bhp. Also for the 1976 Vette, the L82 shot up all the way to 210 horsepower. Both engines now got their flow of oxygen from the front above the radiator as opposed to the cowl near the windshield which also helped in the extra pickup of power.
While the 1976 Corvette was a marked improvement as far as the car went, GM could do little to ease the inflation woes of the time and were forced to pass the increase in prices to the consumer. While a base model 1976 Vette still ran a buyer about $7,600, if the buyer added some nice options that 1976 Vette soared to well over $10,000 which represented a lot for that time period. But the price difference didn’t seem to matter.
While the 1975 Corvette came within 300 units of beating the record year of 1969, the 1976 Corvette crushed the previous record of 69 by selling a total of 45,558 units. This was all done without a convertible as the 1976 Corvette line did not feature a rag top nor would any line going forward for several more years.
While some thought that the success of the 1976 Corvette was due to an economy on the rebound, those who truly loved the Corvette knew the real reason. The Corvette, which had now been around for over 20 years had easily established itself as an iconic symbol of speed and while other American name plates kept toying with their own versions of sports car perfection, the boys at GM had theirs with the Corvette. With only two years to go to the Silver Anniversary, finally, Vette lovers everywhere had much to look forward to.