In the late 1970s and early 1980s, America was once again facing a gas shortage coupled with high inflation. This led to exorbitant gas prices, leaving American automakers scrambling to find a cost-efficient solution. GM, Ford, and Chrysler all toyed with diesel engines, though not for long, and the experiment soon came to an end, leaving plenty of half-assed diesel engines ripe for the picking.
One of these engines managed to find its way under the hood of a 1978 Chevy Corvette. We found this diesel Corvette for sale on the Interwebs a few months ago with no clue as to the why or how behind it. Then we stumbled across this Augusta Chronicle article about how the original owners of this ice-blue C3 came to get his diesel baby back.
This diesel Corvette is a product of Richard Sanson and his son, Ricky, who bought the C3 Corvette in 1981 as a charred wreck. The Corvette had apparently caught fire on the highway, and Richard was able to buy it for quite cheap (about $2,600.) He then set about restoring and modifying it, taking it on the show car circuit before eventually getting around to replacing the 350 V8 with an Oldsmobile diesel V8, adding stronger motor mounts, a custom exhaust, and other top-end features.
Unfortunately Ricky died in a freak accident, and the Sansons maintained the Corvette as a driving memorial to their son. In 2009 Richard’s wife Jean was diagnosed with terminal liver disease and the car was sold to help pay her bills. But earlier this year the new owner of the diesel ‘Vette died, and his sister, who inherited the car, offered to sell it back to the Sansons. They bought it, and now pledge to drive it everyday, in remembrance of their boy. It’s a sweet end to a sweet and unique story featuring a one-of-a-kind car.