THE 1983 CORVETTE THAT NEVER WAS
As we discussed last week, the 1982 Corvette would close the door for the third generation. So it stands to reason that 1983 would bring us the exciting launch of a new generation, right?
THE NON EXISTENT 1983 CORVETTE
Wrong. 1983 did not bring a new Corvette. In fact, not one person in the world owns a 1983 Corvette.
The third generation of Corvettes would be challenging to compare with. Imagine trying to top the generation that holds the record for most Corvettes ever sold, served as a Pace Care in the Indy 500, and ran arguably successfully for 14 straight years. How do you top that? How do you appeal to the masses of Corvette enthusiasts who cherished the third generation?
Well, you try, and you scrap it, and you try, and you scrap it, and you try again.
When 1983 rolled around, Chevrolet engineers and designers were not prepared to launch the fourth generation of Corvettes. Although they had tested the engine design in the 1982 Corvette, they still had bugs and kinks, and ample doubts that their designs were prepared to meet the expectations of the people.
HOW 1983 UNRAVELED
Though Chevrolet skipped 1983 for the launch of the Fourth generation, this was not the initial plan. Believe it or not, 61 serial numbered ’83 Corvettes were built, tested, and ultimately passed on. There were even brochures printed announcing the C4 launch in 1983.
Originally, Chevrolet anticipated beginning actual production of the first C4 model in autumn of 1982. Problems arose, that pushed production all the way to January of 1983, and Chevrolet ultimately decided it would be best to postpone until 1984.
Some of the difficulty was connected to introducing a whole new design and production in the still fairly young Bowling Green Corvette plant. It can take many years for a system to truly find its rhythm, and the plant had only been in Corvette operation since 1981. Facing changes in the overall Corvette design, while also meeting emission regulations and tooling changeovers, was a multifaceted challenge Chevrolet and the Bowling Green facility were not ready to take on so swiftly. Though the decision was difficult, they ultimately decided it was a better business decision to have a smooth and successful delayed launch, rather than a sloppy and subpar on-time launch.
The year long wait was too much for some enthusiasts to handle. The magazine, Car and Driver released an article claiming “our spies strip the camouflage from the next edition of America’s only sports car.” They were not the only curious party, and many people tried to sneak a peak.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE 1983 CORVETTES?
According to Dave McLellan, a total of 61 serial numbered ’83 Corvettes were built. Of these, 18 were “prototypes” and the other 43 were “pilot-line” cars.
The 43 pilot-line cars that were built were of course never released for public purchase, and never made it into the hands of any owners. This cars were used for automotive press previews, engineering evaluations, and crash testing. After the tests, these vehicles were destroyed. All but 1, that is.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, you will have the great fortune of viewing, in person, the only 1983 Corvette that remains to this day, bearing the VIN 1G1AY0783D5110023.
1984 CORVETTE TEASER
While the decision was made to delay, in hopes for a wildly successful launch in 1984, this also amplified any expectations the public already had for the fourth generation of Corvettes. Imagine, they expected it in 1983, and now they knew not only did they have to wait… a whole year, Chevrolet had gained a whole year to develop the model and perfect the launch. Chevrolet knew they had to “wow” the patient public… and this is what they gave them.
Can we just talk about the commercial for a second? Pure, 80’s gold! Try not to get that song stuck in your head.
If the commercial doesn’t say enough, we will tell you a little more. Chevrolet had big goals for the fourth generation of Corvettes. Some of the new and exciting features to be found on the new model included the world’s first computer activated manual transmission, unidirectional turbine fit wheels, tires individually engineered for all four corners, liquid crystal displays, 14 separate instrument read-outs and so… much… more. The commercial ends by saying
“The most advanced production car on the planet is now called Corvette”
The fancy plans that Chevrolet had and ultimately carried out in 1984, goes to support their need for delay. The shiny bells and whistles added to the fourth generation, is further evidence that Chevrolet knew they had to up their game, if they were going to successfully follow up the highly revered and finely tuned, third generation of Corvettes.
And so today, where Chevrolet had anticipated the launch of a new generation, 1983 is instead a gap year for Corvette. But the launch of the 1984 Corvette was something to be admired. We here at Hobby Car Corvettes, can certainly respect each generation for its unique Corvette qualities, but we will always praise the third generation as the best, and our favorite. If you would like to learn more about any of the third generation Corvettes, check our blog for our C3 Series posts, where we discuss each year running from 1968-1982, in great detail.
As always, please shop around on our site. Here in Martinsburg, PA, we proudly house and sell only the finest used Corvettes in our warehouse.