The 1978 Corvette saw the Shark get a New Look and Two Special editions
The 1978 Corvette represented the 25 year anniversary of the Corvette and brought the need for a special tribute to be paid by General Motors who just so happened to be on a tight budget at the time. While the C3 generation was beginning to sort of become dragged out and Chevy wanted to continue to ride the wave of increasing sales it was decided that a re-shaping of the shark was in order.
But how was the car maker going to accomplish this without totally redesigning the car which it could not afford to do? The answer came in the way of some rear modifications that gave the shark a new personality. The most notable changes to the 1978 Corvette were:
- Trim-Up: The 1978 Corvette did away with the ‘flying buttress’ of the year before and featured a compound curve window. Just like that the fast-back had returned.
- Interior: The 1978 Corvette saw more improvements to the dash and the instrument panels which were started in the 1977 Corvette. The 1978 Corvette also came with a real glove box for the first time.
- Increased Security: At that time in history, the Corvette had the unwelcomed title of ‘Most thefted car in America,’ and improvements in the security of the vehicle became necessary. The 1978 Corvette incorporated the t-tops into the anti-theft system thanks to some handy re-wiring. There was also a security shade that would cover the cargo in the rear and keep would be criminals from seeing what was available to be stolen.
- T-Tops: The glass t-tops that were supposed to be made available for the previous year were finally offered from the factory for the 1978 Corvette.
Because the year marked a very special 25 year anniversary GM decided to come out with two special editions. The first was really nothing more than a special paint and striping package and incorporated the color silver because that was the favorite color of Bill Mitchell who was set to retire. It was just dumb luck that it was also the ‘Silver Anniversary.’
The second special edition of the 1978 Corvette was a replica of the Corvette Pace Car that was featured at the Indianapolis 500 that year. GM originally set out to only produce 2500 units –one hundred for ever year of the Vette- and make them available on a first come, first served basis. But with 6,200 Chevy dealers at the time that was not possible. Instead every dealer got at least one of the pace car replicas for their showrooms and when it was all said and done the special edition made up around 15 percent of the total production for the year so it could hardly be classified as a ‘limited’ edition.
Because of increasing fuel economy regulations in the United States, the 1978 Corvette had basically the same engines as the previous year, but base horsepower actually saw a 10 point bump from 175 to 185. Additionally, their special L82 engine was available and did produce a very respectable 220 bhp.
It seemed that Chevy had made all the right choices with the 1978 Corvette Shark and the critics agreed. However, the general public did not agree and sales for the Corvette took a nose dive for the first time in seven years even though it sold almost 47,000 units.