1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car
8-cyl. 350cid/185hp 4bbl L48
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The Chevrolet Corvette celebrated its 25th year anniversary in 1978 and was chosen to pace the Indy 500. Chevrolet’s car sales rose to 2,341,035, and 46,776 of these were Corvettes. The base price had risen to $9,351.89, but Chevrolet also offered an Indy 500 Pace Car replica for a whopping $13,653.21.
These ’78 Corvette Pace Cars had two-tone silver and black paint, their own number sequence and white-letter tires. The original plan was to build 300 units, but an “instant collectible” buzz led to dealers clamoring for more. The target figure of 6,000 cars (one per dealer) was over-produced to total 6,502 units, though some reports place the number even higher. The stickers that made the model collectible were packaged inside the car, in case the buyer didn’t like them. The two-tone black and silver paint scheme also evolved into the two-tone Silver Anniversary model, of which 15,283 were built.
The 1978 model was modified significantly, with a fastback rear window like the C2 Corvette of the mid ‘60s. It did not open, but there was more room behind the seats and a retracting cover for shade. The instruments were redone in a square style and a glove box added. New door panels introduced bolt-on armrests instead of the molded ones. Wiper and washer controls moved back to the dash and removable glass panels were offered for the roof, though only 972 buyers spent the $349 for them.
The base engine remained a 185 bhp 350-cubic inch Chevy small-block V-8, paired with either a wide-ratio M20 4-speed or the no-charge Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic. The L82 package offered a 220 bhp engine for $525 and 12,739 buyers opted for that, while 3,385 customers chose the close-ratio M21 4-speed gearbox. Wider 60 series tires were available as an option, but fenders had to be trimmed at the plant so they would fit.
Again, buyer choices indicated that Corvette had moved into a more leisure-suited market. Principal options included power windows (36,931), air-conditioning (37,638), tilt-telescopic steering column (37,858), cruise control (31,590), rear window de-fogger (30,912), aluminum wheels (28,008) and sport mirrors (38,405). Meanwhile, 37,222 buyers spent $84 for the ZX2 convenience group, which included a dome light delay, headlight warning buzzer, low-fuel warning light, courtesy lights, floor mats and intermittent wipers.
The 1978 Corvette Silver Anniversary model was by far the most popular color (15,283) followed by the Pace Car Replica (6,502), Black (4,573) Classic White (4,150), Silver (3,232), Corvette Mahogany (2,121), Corvette Dark Blue (2,084), Corvette Red (2,074), Corvette Dark Brown (1,991), Corvette Light Blue (1,960), Corvette Light Beige (1,686) and Corvette Yellow (1,243).