The 1980 Corvette receives a Diet and Shows its Refusal to Go Away
The end of 1979 brought a new fuel crisis to America and a brand new set of Government regulations for the 1980 Corvette to have to deal with. The days of the gas wasting cars were through and people all across the country were now opting for the gas sipping imports that boasted a much better mile per gallon average than that of the Corvette. This was simply not acceptable for the GM fellows and the order for the day, or rather the year, for the 1980 Corvette was a diet.
In order to keep up the lush sales record that the Corvette had enjoyed in the past few years the car would have to lose some significant weight for the 1980 model year. This was done by:
- Front frame cross member and the differential housing going from steel to aluminum.
- The base L48 engine adopting the intake manifold of the L82 engine which was made of aluminum.
- A greater use of plastics throughout the entire vehicle.
All this shaved off 250 pounds of ‘car fat’ from the 1980 Corvette but GM did not stop the gas saving measures there. Also in the interest of increasing miles per gallon the engineers at GM reshaped and reworked the 1980 Corvette using the following methods:
- Front and rear spoilers were made cohesive with the bodywork and were reshaped for better aerodynamics.
- The grille was slightly racked back.
- Removal of much of the exterior chrome to reduce drag.
This allowed for the 1980 Corvette’s coefficient of drag to improve from 0.503 to a more respectable 0.443. While that number was still not that spectacular, it was still a welcomed improvement.
Under the hood of the 1980 Corvette there was a mixed result with horsepower. Thanks to new Federal mandates the base model lost five horsepower, but through it all the L82 actually gained five horsepower. The real losers for the 1980 year were those who wanted to buy a Corvette and lived in California. In addition to the new Federal regulations, Californians had to deal with strict state regulations as well and were only able to buy the 1980 Corvette with an automatic transmission and a very anemic 305 V-8 that only pumped out 180 bhp.
With the new fuel crisis looming and the old fuel crisis fresh on everyone’s minds, the fate of the 1980 Corvette seemed that it would be that of the early 70s models, but it wasn’t. Though the sales were down some 20 percent from the last year of the 70s, the 1980 model year still saw a very respectable 40,614 units move. What made this number so amazing was the fact that the Corvette was now costing over $13,000 for a well equipped model and by many standards of the day this was simply ‘too expensive.’ Once again the 1980 Corvette should have proven to be a dark and dismal year for the now famous car but it really didn’t turn out all that bad considering. The only thing that the 1980 Corvette did prove is that the Corvette was not going anywhere any time soon and would stand the test of time no matter what was thrown its way.