1982 Chevrolet Corvette (C3) Coupe

Highlights

• Lovely original interior
• Vibrant Atomic Orange paint
• Lots of power under the bonnet

The Background

In a country known for its preference for big, lazy luxury barges, the success of the Chevrolet Corvette is quite a remarkable phenomenon. When the fibreglass sports car entered production in 1953, nobody, not even Chevrolet, expected it to sell in large numbers. 

A sports car was just something those Europeans did. Little did they know that the Corvette was set to become not merely a success but a legend, and would remain in production in 2021 after 68 years of near-continuous production.
The third-generation (C3) Corvette arguably marked the model’s commercial peak, with a long production run from 1968 to 1982 and sustained high sales. 

The 1970s was a troubled time for the American auto industry, with the 1973 fuel crisis and various government diktats all contributing to the demise of the muscle car and the watering-down of the all-American V8. Like everything else, the Corvette was affected but managed to overcome the obstacles and the C3 remained a good-looking and covetable high-performance car until the end of production. 

By 1977, a total of 500,000 Corvettes had been built and in 1979, for the first time ever, annual sales exceeded 50,000 in spite of another oil crisis.
All the same, the 10-year-old body shape was beginning to age, so for 1978 the rear end was restyled as a rakish fastback, and for 1980 the front-end styling was revised to give a more aerodynamic and aggressive appearance. By 1982, the new C4 was almost ready for production but the C3 was to have one last hurrah.

As Road & Track wrote, the 1982 model was ‘truly the last of its series… a transition car [with the] new drivetrain in the old body.’ The drivetrain in question was the long-established 350c.i. V8, but with the new Cross-Fire electronic fuel injection system instead of a carburettor. Also, a four-speed automatic was standard, with no manual option for the first time since 1955.
To fall in line with emissions regulations, the Corvette’s performance was compromised for 1980 and the heights of 1979 would not be seen again for the remainder of C3 production. However, the new fuel-injected L83 engine for 1982 saw the Corvette return a 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 125mph. 

They weren’t far off 1979 figures but, crucially, fuel economy stood at 21mpg whereas it had been 12mpg in 1979. Priced at $18,290 to allow for inflation, it was undoubtedly right for the time but, because a new model was known to be in the pipeline, sales for 1982 were relatively low at 25,407 units, making 1982 models one of the rarest iterations of the C3 today.

The History

Other than this being one of the first Corvettes to leave the famous Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which opened in 1981, we do not know anything about this car’s history in America. However, it has virtually been a one-owner car during its time in Britain.
It was first registered in March, 2016, which we presume occurred immediately after it was imported. It was sold to an owner in Kent in May of that year, and was retained and enjoyed by him over the following five years. Sadly, he passed away in the summer, hence his family is now offering the car for sale.

The Paperwork

There are no import documents with this Corvette, but all the relevant paperwork necessary for use on British roads is present, such as the V5 and a current MoT certificate. 

There are also some older certificates, plus several invoices for parts and services, with a lot of work having been undertaken by the well-known Claremont Corvette garage in Kent. Should you want to have a go at home mechanics, a workshop manual will assist you in the task.
A first-time Corvette owner may well appreciate the inclusion of The Complete Book of Corvette by Richard M. Langworth (Haynes, 1988), which offers an authoritative history of America’s sports car. A wallet from Clifford details the car’s Concept 650 Mk. II security system, and there is also a patch and windscreen sticker from the American Auto Club U.K.

The Exterior

The Corvette is a hard car to miss with its metallic Atomic Orange paint, an eye-catching and attractive shade which comes into its own under the sun, when it really sparkles. For those eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that the original colour for the Corvette was finished in white and has been subject to a full repaint in the last decade. This was completed out in the US however, there are no invoices to accompany the vehicle.
Naturally, one must allow for a few imperfections after such a long time, and there are a few small scratches and chips in the paint, such as around the door lock and the nearside front wheel arch, but one has to look hard for these and they do not detract from the overall appearance at all. 

The only real paint damage of note is at the centre of the front valance, but of course that isn’t visible unless you get down on your hands and knees. There are some ripples in the rear spoiler where the fibreglass seems to have distorted, but one may rest assured that is not a serious defect and is generally not visible unless the light falls at just the right angle.
All the glass is in excellent condition, and the removable hardtop with its mirror finish really is a sight to behold. The wheels are all exceptionally clean and the white-letter tyres (which are, of course, obligatory on a C3 Corvette) are in good condition having been bought new in 2017.
Obviously, corrosion is never a problem on a Corvette’s body because it is all fibreglass. Having checked the underside, we were pleased to observe that that also seems to be thoroughly solid.

The Interior

Stepping through the door of this Corvette is to pass through a time-warp. The interior has been preserved in almost totally original condition, with all the upholstery evidently being original. The leather now has a beautiful patina, and while it has some cracks and creases, this is only superficial and it is not physically damaged in any way. 

The dash and centre console also sport a light patina, but seem to be completely intact. Straightforwardly assembled in black plastic, with a black padded top, and a large array of centrally-mounted gauges, the fascia is a clean, functional design somewhat reminiscent of piloting a small jet.
The carpets and doors are in a similar condition – wonderfully original with an attractive patina, but all generally intact. There are just a few things which, for the sake of hassle-free use, the buyer may want to remedy. The driver’s door pocket has a tear in the leather and does not like to stay closed, while the glove box lid has a tendency to fall open unexpectedly. 

Other than those minor flaws, the interior is exceptionally good for 39 years old, and we hope the new owner will see fit to preserve it as far as possible. As far as we can tell, only the steering wheel, an aftermarket MOMO item, is non-original, but the correct wheel should be easy to source.

The Mechanics

You know when you hear that V8 rumble that this Corvette is a car that promises a lot, and we’re sure it will keep its promises. With an automatic gearbox and power steering, it’s an easier and less intimidating car to drive than its appearance would suggest, and it moves off most obligingly. 

Pulling away, however, is something that one wants to do with a careful right foot, as the Corvette’s muscles seem permanently tensed and we think it would want to shoot off like a bullet as soon as the driver’s foot goes down. It has all-round disc brakes, though, so it’s quite capable of stopping, too.

The car was submitted for an MoT test in August and passed with no advisories, so we are satisfied that it is safe and ready to use.

The Appeal

Reasons to buy a classic Corvette are many, its great looks, powerful engine and cultural significance being just three. It happens to be one of the best American cars to drive in Britain, given its relatively compact dimensions and the ready availability of spares and specialists. 

It also has a lively enthusiast following, with the Classic Corvette Club UK and American Auto Club UK boasting an active social scene and attendance at many national events. Major American car events take place all over the country, so you’ll never be far from a crowd of people who appreciate the Corvette as much as you do.
A 1982 Corvette like this is arguably the best one to own for a number of reasons. While it retains the aggressive shark-nose shape of the 1968 Corvettes, it also benefits from more modern engineering which not only helped it overcome government mandates to deliver proper Corvette performance, but also reduced its fuel consumption to the point where the 5.7-litre V8 was not far from being genuinely economical. 

It makes lots of sense, and when the Corvette in question is as original and preserved almost entirely as it left the factory, ownership becomes an extremely tempting prospect.

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Auction Details
  • Year 1982
  • Make Chevrolet
  • Model Corvette
  • Colour Atomic Orange
  • Mileage 24,276 Miles
  • Engine size 5733
  • Seller Type Private
  • County Kent
  • Country United Kingdom
  • Auction ends
Bidding history
26 Bids
  • Pa•••• £16,250 04/11/21
  • jo•••• £16,000 04/11/21
  • Pa•••• £15,851 04/11/21
  • jo•••• £15,601 04/11/21
  • Pa•••• £15,250 04/11/21
  • th•••• £15,000 04/11/21
  • Pa•••• £14,750 04/11/21
  • jo•••• £14,500 04/11/21
  • Pa•••• £14,250 04/11/21
  • th•••• £14,000 04/11/21

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