Corvettes are special cars, and it goes without saying that Corvette enthusiasts are always looking for ways to make their Corvettes even more special. Chevrolet knows this very well and has used their constructive might to bring numerous special edition Corvettes to production to help satiate their customer’s thirst for exclusivity.
There are many reasons as the purpose for a given special edition Corvette. Chevrolet has used the RPO code to celebrate anniversaries, highlight various Corvette personalities and even to simply give a little push to a final production year of a given generation.
The first documented special edition Corvette could arguably be the 1963 lightweights, AKA the Grand Sport Corvettes. While unofficially designed for racing at a time when GM was officially not into racing, these cars were soon discovered and destined for the crusher. Thanks to a select few die-hard enthusiasts within and outside GM, the cars still remain with us today. With only five cars ever being built, they are prized items in only a hand-full of collections, due to their extremely low numbers.
The first full-production special edition could be considered the 1978 Indy Pace Car Corvettes. Ironically, these cars were built around the racing theme as GM was now very interested in racing, and the 1978 Corvette was chosen to pace the Indianapolis 500 race that year. These silver and black beauties started a craze that burned so strongly, GM was forced to increase production to allow each state-side Chevrolet dealer the opportunity to offer one.
The special edition die had been cast and numerous other offerings were delved through Chevrolet showrooms to bring exclusivity and commemorate highlights throughout Corvette production. The book, Corvette Special Editions by Keith Cornett is an excellent compilation of these special cars.
In the book, Keith looks at over 30 different official special edition Corvettes that were built by Chevrolet, or by third-party entities and served to put Corvette ahead of the sales competition. The book begins by highlighting the Silver Anniversary C3 Corvette of 1978 and the following chapters focus on highlights such as Corvette Racing’s 24 Hours of Le Mans win, celebrating life-long enthusiasts and personalities and also gives a nod to dealers and individuals who sold their own version of the perfect Corvette.
There is also a chapter devoted to special Corvettes that were not originally singled out as special editions, per se. Ranging from the first year of production (1953) through the only year of non-production (1983), the Limited Regular Production Corvettes chapter highlights the super-rare Airbox ‘57s, ’63 Grand Sports, L88s and even the emissions-legal 305-powered California Corvette.
Corvette has a rich history and a broad spectrum of offerings over the past sixty-six years of production and Corvette Special Editions does a great job of covering the highlights and bringing to light some special versions of our beloved Corvette that may not stand out amid all the horsepower-prone offerings that enjoy the limelight nowadays. The student of all things Corvette would do well to have a copy of Corvette Special Editions in their library. They will be much better equipped while dowsing the show field, looking for those golden nuggets of Corvette history. And, the broad spectrum of knowledge afforded them by the book would make an excellent spring-board of conversation with the car’s owner.
Chevrolet made it easy to find some of these special Corvettes by giving them a unique RPO-code. Keith made it even easier by assembling them in a well-written, easy-to-read volume.