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Mario's Tribute to the only 1983 Corvette in Existence

1983 Corvette Only Surviving Pilot

No 1983 Corvettes were sold. Quality and production problems had delayed introduction of the new C4 so 1983 was passed over. There were just 14 C4 prototypes and 43 pilot cars made in 1983, all of which were marked for destruction after the completion of testing. All were destroyed except one.

At the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, you can have the great fortune of viewing, in person, the only 1983 Corvette that remains to this day, bearing VIN 1G1AY0783D5110023.

Introducing a whole new design and production in the still fairly young Bowling Green Corvette plant and facing changes in the overall Corvette design, while also meeting emission regulations and tooling changeovers, was a huge challenge.

Though the decision was difficult, GM brass 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 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. These cars were used for press previews, engineering evaluations, and crash testing. After the tests, they were destroyed. All but 1, that is.

Of the 14 prototypes and 43 pilot line cars, only one, a pilot line car number 23 (white) remains. This literally one of a kind Corvette and piece of history was retired to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green KY where it is now on display. It is still owned by GM.

At the heart of it all is the 5.7 Liter (350 CID) 205hp twin-throttle-body, Cross-Fire Injection V8. This was considered one of the world’s finest high performance engines, and also one of the smartest.

The ’83 features hidden headlights that tumble forward 158 degrees as they emerge, revealing a lean, aerodynamic shape, for an overall sleek look. A most acute windshield rake for a production car: 64.7 degrees and Four wheel disc brake system.

Clear, integrated halogen fog lamps. Front and rear side mounted cornering lamps. Twin Sport mirrors electrically adjusted. The new body design eliminated the traditional hood and introduced the front shroud. This allowed unobstructed access to the engine and front suspension.

The 1983 Corvette had the lowest coefficient of drag of any Corvette ever tested at that time .341 and to achieve this low drag, the car underwent exhaustive wind-tunnel testing in scale model, full-size clay, and prototype stages.

Every line, every curve, every design element was subjected to intensive, aerodynamic scrutiny. And the cockpit, when the roof is off, is remarkably free of annoying airflow disturbances. It efficiently controls captured air to help feed the engine and cool the brakes.

A full width, one piece fiberglass roof section lifts off to create a true open air feeling. There is no T-bar in the 1983 Corvette. The advanced aerodynamics of the vehicle helps to minimize any turbulence in the cockpit.

A new instrument panel was designed for 1983. It featured a multitude of information, all electronically displayed in detail. Multi-colored readouts are displayed by electronic liquid crystals along with analog and digital speed, engine revs, numeric readouts of engine and electrical conditions, fuel consumption and trip mileage data.

An automatic 4sp trans with overdrive was offered as std. An all-new 4sp manual with overdrive on its top three gears, something that was exclusive to Corvettes, was available at no additional cost. Engineered with a hydraulically operated clutch at the front and a computer controlled overdrive at the rear.

Frameless glass rear window doubles as a hatch, with invisible hinges. Removable one-piece roof, with no T-bar, helps recreate the open-air feeling of sports car past. Four functional circular taillights.

GM ordered all 43 Pilot Cars to be crushed in Bowling Green, Ky, where they were produced. All were being destroyed by a mobile crusher, one by one, until the worker Ralph Montileone got to the last car. Out of nowhere, it started to downpour over Bowling Green, and he decided to save the final crushed car until the next day.

Ralph Montileone had just bought some expensive boots and didn’t want to ruin them in the inches of rain that started flooding the parking lot, so the car was left untouched. As Montileone arrived at the plant the following day, the mobile crusher was gone. This crusher was a rental, and during the night the rental company came and took the crusher away, leaving the lone surviving car.

The 1983 was driven to a back lot of the plant and parked indefinitely. After the C4 started to sell well into its first few years, a plant manager noticed the lone white Corvette sitting in the back of the parking lot and found out that it was a 1983 model. It was decided that this car would be brought into the front lobby of the Corvette plant after a fresh paint job, and it would be on display as the only surviving 1983 Corvette. It now sits in the National Corvette Museum in KY.

Video and audio clips

1983 Corvette commercial

1983 Corvette commercial

1983 Corvette

1983 Corvette One and Only

1983 Corvette The Only One

Under the Hood preview featuring the 1983 Corvette


More Cars of the 1980s
More Chevy Coverage

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Mario on Dec 31, 2021 said:

This is a great story of the ONLY surviving 1983 Corvette ever produced. It stands mightily in the Corvette Museum at Bowling Green, KY. The first of the C4's in all its Glory. Happy New Year 2022! Mario

[Reply to this comment]

azmusclecar on Dec 31, 2021 said:

Excellent thread do you do it? Yes that is always a trivia question at car events.

I took some cash and headed to a car auction and an 84 with CROSS FIRE INJECTION was going to go across the block. Wow, there were problems with that fuel delivery system and they couldn't keep the Corvette running. I knew my level of skill was not ready to tackle the issues with that system.

So I put the Benjamins back in the bank and waited. The only C4 I ever owned was my recent 1996 Grand Sport. I shied away from them due to rumors and the issues of getting in and out of them with that frame at the door threshold. The Grand Sport was okay and it ticked a box that had an itch.

The C4 was light years ahead of the C3's and actually helped bring the C5 generation into existence with the technology developed with the C4.

Digital gauges back then with questionable lifetimes???? Then the dreaded Opti-Spark getting wet thanks to the weep hole for the water pump directly over the distributor. Smooth move Ex-lax, I mean GM.

I feel one of THEE BEST transmissions is the ZF6 Manual from Germany. Even today's Tremec can't match the smoothness of the ZF transmission. The Tremecs I find are very notchy finding gear gates and sloppy in neutral.

GM should have stayed with the ZF when the C5 came out in 1997. The ZF was what they put in the C4 ZR1s. I never found out why they went to the Tremec 6 speed in 1997. I had 5 C5s and 3 of them manuals.

Give me a Muncie or even a Saginaw and a Hurst shifter of old properly installed and aligned and I am a happy gearbanger.

To end this post I will say this:

Yes it is New Year's Eve as I post this and:

We may not know what the future holds, but we do know WHO holds the future.

God bless and prayers for a blessed New Year.


[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Dec 31, 2021 said:

Thank you Rob for all your insights on the Corvettes you've owned! They are very colorful and educational!

As for the Future, we know Who knows what it will bring and I believe it will be all good!

Happy New Year Friend and Gearhead! ---Mario

[Reply to this comment]

ghpcnm on Jan 1, 2022 said:

Happy New Year 2022 and thanks for the shout outs. I always enjoy Corvette trivia.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Jan 1, 2022 said:

Happy New Year 2022 Dave! Cheers.

[Reply to this comment]

57timemachine on Feb 14, 2022 said:

Never knew any of this stuff on this year but I never knew because I gave up on Corvette before this. There is nothing to spark me up after around 1972. It is just me and I do not mean to offend anyone. Cheers.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Feb 15, 2022 said:

I didn't know either George until I started looking into the Corvette history. I love the C2 then the C1 and early C3's. After that they made the Corvettes too aerodynamic for my taste. But the younger kids like them and they have the money so they're the new market. Cheers.

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