THE 1978 CORVETTE
Welcome back to Hobby Car Corvettes as we continue with our exciting C3 Vette Rundown series. Each week, we review and rave about the next year in the third generation of Corvettes. Last week, we had nothing but praise to offer for the 1977 Corvette, and this week we will be diving into the ins and outs of the 1978 Corvette.
We started this series because here at Hobby Car Corvettes in Martinsburg, PA, we personally feel the third generation was the best! While we are all-around Corvette enthusiasts, the third generation will always be our favorite generation. Wasting no more time, let’s get to it and find out why 1978 was such an exciting year for Chevrolet Corvettes!
25 YEARS OF CORVETTES
If you recall from our 1977 Corvette post, it was the year that the 500,000th Corvette rolled off the line. This alone made 1977 an exciting year. Lucky for us, 1978 was also an exciting milestone year as it marked the Silver Anniversary for Corvette. This year, Corvettes will have been in production for 25 impressive and memorable years.
Despite changing times, economic hardships, and public questioning of the practicality of these “gas guzzling sports cars”, Corvette had not only stuck around, but continued to evolve and impress the masses. It had not been an easy 25 years, but it had been 25 years worth celebrating, without question.
But how do you celebrate the 25th birthday of a legend?
THE 1978 CORVETTE SILVER ANNIVERSARY
To commemorate this milestone, Chevrolet Corvette designed and released a stunning 1978 Silver Anniversary Edition. One of the major exterior changes, was the removal of the old “flying buttress” sail panels, which were replaced with a large, compound curved rear window. As we had seen few exterior changes in the past few years, this one major change, did a bang up job in revamping the third generation Corvette. This change, while it was currently seen as a new look, was somewhat of a throwback, bringing back the Corvette fastback last seen in 1966.
As we mention time and time again, many aesthetic changes to Corvettes also provide an improvement in functionality. This change fell into that category of form and function that Chevrolet has become so well known for. The addition of the curved window enhanced rearward visibility and provided far more luggage room and easier access. A retracting cover was also added to the rear compartment, for security and protection from the elements.
While anyone buying a 1978 Corvette would technically be buying a Silver Anniversary Corvette, Chevrolet felt there should be an optional “25th Anniversary” package for those who wanted to further celebrate and commemorate the occasion. Right away, Bill Mitchell suggested a Silver Anniversary model in his favorite color, because it suited the occasion so well.
If you can’t guess it… the color was silver. In addition, the car would include a special striping package. In the end, the “25th Anniversary” package Corvette would be two-tone silver over gray, with a separating pinstripe. This package was listed as RPO B2Z and offered for an additional $399.00.
All Corvettes built in 1978 would feature a special 25 Anniversary emblem.
THE 1978 CORVETTE PACE CAR REPLICA
Another exciting option to commemorate the Silver Anniversary, would be the option of purchasing a 1978 Indy 500 Pace Car Replica.
In hopes of further honoring Corvette this year, Chevrolet had reached out to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and negotiated for Corvette to serve as the pace car for the 1978 running of the Indianapolis 500. This provided Chevrolet an incredible opportunity to showcase not only Corvette’s one of a kind look, but also its impressive performance.
Similar to the Silver Anniversary Edition, the pace car featured a two-tone paint scheme, featuring black on top, and silver on the bottom, separated by a red pinstripe. Beyond colors, the Corvette Indy Pace Car featured a front and rear spoiler, which added the intended dramatic appearance worthy of such an occasion.
The interior of the Corvette Indy Pace Car was all Bill Mitchell’s influence, featuring either silver leather or gray cloth upholstery and gray carpeting. You will also find inside the Corvette Indy Pace Car, a new, thin-shell seat design offering more lumbar support. This design had originally been slotted for 1979 release, but was expedited for inclusion in the 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car replica package. Because as we mentioned, this famous car, would be offered as a replica to the public.
Originally, when the idea was brought to the table, Chevrolet had decided that they would provide 2,500 Pace Car replicas; 100 for each year Corvette had been in production. They would then be sold on a first come, first serve basis until they ran out.
However, seeing as how Chevrolet already had 6,200 dealerships nationwide, they decided that each location should have at least one replica on display, and so decided to produce a minimum of 6,200.
The Corvette Indy Pace Car replica, was identical to the original in regards to paint scheme, spoiler kit, and interior. In addition, all the replicas included the new glass T-tops, alloy wheels, power windows, rear window defogger, air conditioning, sport mirrors, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a heavy duty battery, an AM/FM stereo equipped with either an eight-track player or a CB radio, and power door locks.
Each buyer would also receive a set of regalia decals that they could adhere if they chose to. The decals included the famous “winged wheel” Indy Speedway logos for the rear fenders, as well as large door emblems that read “Official Pace Car, 62nd Annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, May 28 1978.”
OVERALL 1978 CORVETTE AESTHETICS
After all the talk of the Silver Anniversary edition option, and the Corvette Indy Pace Car replica, leaves one to wonder, what about just the basic? Even without choosing one of the anniversary options, all 1978 Corvettes would receive cosmetic and functional upgrades.
Every 1978 Corvette would bear a special “Silver Anniversary” badge. Inside, the speedometer and tachometer were now encased in a squared-up instrument panel housing. In addition, Corvette was now fitted with its first genuine glovebox. While a glovebox is something we often look over and take for granted today, this was the first year for this feature and so was still an appreciated and admired feature.
Inside, the armrests would see a new design. As opposed to being molded into the door, they would not be screwed onto the door. The interior doors saw further redesign in the integration of integral door pulls. To make for easier servicing, the fully padded dashboard was now a single piece, with a front mounted cluster. Windshield and wiper controls were moved back to the instrument panel. Remaining on the steering column, was the dimmer switch.
All 1978 Corvettes were fitted with an updated anti-theft system, and it was a good thing too (reference the Did You Know section to find out why). The newly modified security system was altered to be activated in the event that someone attempted to tamper with the T-top. T-tops were a valuable item and so a popular target for thieves.
1978 CORVETTE MECHANICS
As there was so much focus on the special editions to be offered in 1978, Corvettes saw very little change mechanically. As there had been no notable complaints needed addressed, this was not an issue to the public. One notable change included a larger gas tank, now holding 24 gallons, a 7 gallon increase from the previous 17 gallon tanks. In order to make room for the larger tank, the 1978 Corvette now came with a space saving spare tire.
As an option, you could choose to fit your Corvette with wider 60-series tires. If this were ordered as an option, the fender would have to be trimmed to accommodate the tires. These Goodyear tires were sized at 225/60R-15’s. It was claimed that the aramid-belt construction in the tires improved ride smoothness.
As we have seen in previous years, power ratings and output have been slowly diminishing with stricter regulations. In 1978, Corvette had to accomodate for the government’s new Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates. Same as 1977, the 1978 Corvette featured two basic versions of the 350 ci small-block V-8 engine. The base L48 produced 185 brake horsepower in every state except California, which enforced stricter emission laws. For California and higher altitude areas, the same engine generated 175 brake horsepower. For the power hungry Corvette buyers, the option of the L82 engine provided an output of 220 brake horsepower.
Reintroduced in 1978 was a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission as an exclusive option to be ordered alongside the L82 engine. The addition of a 3:70:1 rear axle made this combination the best performing setup available for the 1978 Corvette. The FE7 Gymkhana Suspension package also returned as an option for the 1978 Corvette.
DID YOU KNOW
The 1978 Corvette Pace Car replica that is known and cherished today, was not the original design. Originally, the Pace Car was to feature a two-tone silver paint, with the red stripe. Additionally, it was also to feature Goodyear tires with the word “CORVETTE” imprinted in raised, white, sidewall lettering.
Originally, only 300 collector Pace Car replicas were going to be produced in commemoration of the original 300 Corvettes built in 1953.
It was also the first factory optioned two-tone Corvette offered since 1961.
The 1978 Corvette was identified by law enforcement that year as one of the most frequently stolen cars.
The Pace Car look was so popular that it actually tempted some owners of the standard 1978 Corvette coupes to create a “clone” that they could pass off as the Pace Car model. You can identify the intruders by their VIN number. True Pace Car replicas have a ‘9’ as the eighth digit.
The 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car was the first pace car in the Indy 500 that was an unmodified, truly stock machine
Do we even have to say it? 1978 was beyond an exciting year for Chevrolet and Corvette admirers alike! The anniversary alone was reason enough to celebrate, but what Chevrolet did to commemorate the occasion, truly honored the momentous event. In addition to the special addition options, the overall simple, but powerful redesign of the 1978 Corvette was well received.
Reviewers at Car & Driver stated,
“The large rear window freshened up the Corvette’s profile, and it also added space and light to help relieve the claustrophobia inside this, the most tightly coupled car known to man.”
Sales for the 1978 Corvette dipped only slightly from 1977, selling 46,776 cars in total. The Pace Car replica option had a hefty price tag of $13,653.21, and still, 6,502 were ordered in total. The Corvette community is a serious and committed one.
Thank you again, for visiting us here at Hobby Car Corvettes, for our C3 Vette Rundown Series. We hope this specific year excited you as much as it did us. Please return next week as we head into the final few years of the third generation of Corvettes.
As always, if you are in the market for your very own Corvette, reach out to us here in Martinsburg, PA. We proudly and competently sell nationwide and international. Check out the 1978 Corvettes we have to offer below, and feel free to peruse our large Corvette inventory!
See you next week!
We currently have the following 1978 corvettes for sale:
|MODEL||1978 CHEVROLET CORVETTE|
|BODY STYLE||Two-door coupe, front engine, rear wheel drive|
|MANUFACTURING LOCATION||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Original Price||$9,351.89 (Coupe) $13,653.21 (Pace Car Replica)|
|Classic White, Silver, Silver Anniversary, Black, Black/Silver, Corvette Light Blue, Corvette Yellow, Corvette Beige, Corvette Light Beige, Corvette Red, Corvette Mahogany, Corvette Dark Blue, Corvette Dark Brown|
|White, Smoke Grey, Black, Blue, Buckskin, Brown, Red|
|CONSTRUCTION||Uniconstruction: fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP or “fiberglass”) body, backboned by a steel cage outlining the passenger compartment. Principal members – underbody, front and rear end assemblies, dash panel and hinge pillars are bonded, riveted, or bolted together and to each other. Hood is plastic with bonded plastic reinforcement. Coupe: two removable roof panels and removable rear window. Frame: all welded, full length, ladder construction with 5 crossmembers. Side Rails and intermediate crossmembers box section; front crossmember box girder section. Eight body-mounting points.|
|VEHICLE NUMBERS (VIN)||1Z87L8S400001 – 1Z87L8S440274 (Corvette Coupe)|
1Z87L8S900001 – 1Z87L8S906502 (Corvette Pace Car)
|ENGINE SUFFIX||CHW: 350 CUBIC INCH, 185 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL TRANSMISSION|
CLM: 350 CUBIC INCH, 185 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
CLR: 350 CUBIC INCH, 175 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CLS: 350 CUBIC INCH, 175 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, HIGH ALTITUDE
CMR: 350 CUBIC INCH, 220 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL TRANSMISSION
CMS: 350 CUBIC INCH, 220 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
CUT: 350 CUBIC INCH, 185 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
|ENGINE BLOCK NUMBER||3970010: ALL|
376450, 460703: UNCERTAIN USAGE
|HEAD NUMBER||462624: ALL|
|CARBURETOR NUMBERS||ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058202: 350 C.I., 185HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS.|
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058203: 350 C.I., 185HP, MANUAL TRANS.
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058204: 350 C.I., 185HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., AIR COND., FIRST DESIGN
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058206: 350 C.I., 185HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., AIR COND., SECOND DESIGN
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058210: 350 C.I., 220HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS.
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058211: 350 C.I., 220HP, MANUAL TRANS.
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058228: 350 C.I., 220HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., AIRCON
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058502: 350 C.I., 175HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058504: 350 C.I., 175HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., AIRCON., CALIF. EMISSIONS
ROCHESTER Q-jet #17058582: 350 C.I., 175HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS., HIGH ALTITUDE
|DISTRIBUTOR NUMBER||1103285: 350 CUBIC INCH, 175HP, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS|
1103291: 350 CUBIC INCH, 220HP
1103337: 350 CUBIC INCH, 185HP, MANUAL TRANSMISSION
1103353: 350 CUBIC INCH, 185HP, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
|ALTERNATOR NUMBER||1102474: 350 CUBIC INCH, AIRCON -OR- REAR DEFOGGER, EARLY PRODUCTION|
1102484: 350 CUBIC INCH
1102908: 350 CUBIC INCH, AIRCON -OR- REAR DEFOGGER, LATE PRODUCTION
|AXLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER||OK: 3.08:1 RATIO|
OM: 3.36:1 RATIO
OH: 3.55:1 RATIO
OJ: 3.70:1 RATIO
|PRODUCTION ENDING VEHICLE||SEP., 1977: 403186, OCT., 1977: 407401, NOV., 1977: 411316, DEC., 1977: 414695, JAN., 1978: 418154, FEB., 1978: 422503, MAR., 1978: 425280, APR., 1978: N/A, MAY., 1978: 428883, JUN., 1978: 433181, JUL., 1978: 436848, AUG., 1978: 440274, MAR., 1978: 901675, APR., 1978: 905766, MAY., 1978: 906502|
Options Codes, Production, & Pricing
|1YZ87||Base Corvette Sport Coupe||40,274||$9,351.00|
|1YZ87/78||Limited Edition Corvette Pace Car||6,502||$13,653.21|
|AU3||Power Door Locks||12,187||$120.00|
|B2Z||Silver Anniversary Paint||15,283||$399.00|
|CC1||Removable Glass Roof Panels||972||$349.00|
|C49||Rear Window Defogger||30,912||$95.00|
|G95||Optional Rear Axle Ratios||382||$15.00|
|L82||350ci, 220hp Engine||12,739||$525.00|
|M21||4-Speed Manual Trans, Close Ratio||3,385||$0.00|
|NA6||HIgh-Altitude Emission Equipment||260||$33.00|
|N37||Tilt-Telescopic Steering Column||37,858||$175.00|
|QBS||White Letter SBR TIres, P255/60R15||18,269||$216.32|
|QGR||White Letter SBR Tires, P225/70R15||26,203||$51.00|
|UA1||Heavy Duty Battery||28,243||$18.00|
|UM2||AM-FM Radio, stereo with 8-track tape||20,899||$419.00|
|UP6||AM-FM Radio, stereo with CB||7,138||$638.00|
|U58||AM-FM Radio, stereo||10,189||$286.00|
|U81||Dual Rear Speakers||12,340||$49.00|
|YF5||California Emission Certification||3,405||$75.00|
|YJ8||Aluminum Wheels (4)||28,008||$340.00|
|S6||Warner 4-Speed, Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case, Wide-Ratio (2.85:1 1st Gear)|
|ZU||Warner 4-Speed, Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case, Wide- Ratio (2.64:1 1st Gear)|
|ZW||Warner 4-Speed, Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case, Close-Ratio (2.43:1 1st Gear)|
|5WB||Turbo Hydra-Matic 350|
|5TL||Turbo Hydra-Matic 350|