On March 15, 1977, the 500,000th Corvette rolled off the assembly line at Chevrolet’s St. Louis manufacturing plant. The car came finished in white paint and featured a red interior, both of which harkened back to the original color scheme of the 1953 Corvette. Despite achieving a significant production milestone in the brand’s decades-long history, the team at Corvette had little reason to celebrate. Though brand loyalty to Corvette was still strong among consumers, the third-generation Corvette had remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1968.
The changes that had been made included the introduction of smaller, less powerful engines resulting in lost horsepower and increasingly mediocre performance out of Chevrolet’s flagship sports car. Although the Corvette’s long-term future remained uncertain, especially given recent challenges stemming from OPEC and the increasingly stringent emissions requirements of the day, chief engineer Dave McLellan and the Corvette development team set to work on a redesign of the third-generation model to commemorate the car’s twenty-fifth year of production.
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