Although there was a lot of uncertainty about the Corvette’s long-term viability in its early days, the public’s perception of the brand had changed radically by the late 1970s. The Corvette, which was now commonly referred to as “America’s Sports Car,” had gained traction with consumers across North America. It had become known as the car driven by astronauts, celebrities, and people of influence. It had appeared in movies, television programs, and in the lyrics of dozens of songs. Simply – but accurately – put, the Corvette was now synonymous with American culture, and it was a car that countless millions, both young and old, aspired to own. Recognizing Corvette’s success in the marketplace, it was decided that Chevrolet would begin introducing special “Anniversary Editions” of the Corvette, starting in 1978 – the year the brand celebrated its 25th (silver) anniversary.
1978 Corvette Silver Anniversary
Chevrolet announced that it would commemorate the 25th anniversary of Corvette with a special “silver edition” model. It was one of three, separate models produced that year: the standard production (base) model, the 25th Anniversary Edition, and the Replica Indianapolis 500 Pace Car (which will be featured separately later in this series of articles.) Inspired by Bill Mitchell and designed by Jerry Palmer, the 25th-anniversary car was finished in two-tone paint, with the upper section in a bright silver paired with a charcoal gray below the accent line. The two paint colors were separated by a single silver/gray pinstripe that wrapped around the entirety of the car. Special “25th Anniversary Edition” badges were installed on all versions of the 1978 Corvette, regardless of the package. The car’s interior could be ordered with one of three color trims: black, oyster, or red. Although the 1978 Silver Edition Corvette did not come with any notable mechanical upgrades to differentiate it from its base model and pace car counterparts, all Corvettes that year could be ordered with either the standard L48 V8 rated at 185 horsepower or an upgraded L82 V8 rated at a slightly more stout 220 horsepower. MRSP for the 1978 Silver Edition Corvette was $10,130.85, marking one of the first times that a production Corvette exceeded the $10k threshold.
1983 Corvette – the One and Only
The 1983 Corvette is a bit of a “unicorn” in the sense that GM never actually produced a car for the 1983 model year. Although the Corvette development team, under the leadership of Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan and designer Jerry Palmer, had advanced the fourth-generation Corvette’s design to the point of being ready for production, changing Federal emission standards led the team to postpone production of the new Corvette until the 1984 model year, allowing more time to maximize the car’s handling, suspension, and exhaust. Still, forty-three 1983 Corvettes were built at the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant as part of a pilot program to streamline the production of the fourth-generation model. As each car rolled off the line, it was assigned a unique vehicle identification number (VIN) and prepped for transportation. In the case of the “one and only,” the car was dispatched to GM’s Milford Proving Grounds for shakedown/testing by the Corvette engineering and design teams. As with the other 42 pilot cars, the “one and only” was then scheduled to be returned to Bowling Green and summarily destroyed. Fate – and some devoted Bowling Green Assembly Plant employees – intervened and saved one of the pilot cars by hiding it in the assembly plant’s back lot. Rumor has it they couldn’t see all of the 1983 Corvettes destroyed, especially since it commemorated the brand’s 30th anniversary. Though stories around its survival have become the stuff of legend, the car still exists to this day and can be seen at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
1988 35th Anniversary Edition Corvette
The 1988 35th Anniversary Corvette was introduced on April 1, 1988 at the New York Auto Show. Recognizing that Chevrolet had not produced an anniversary edition Corvette since the 1978 Silver Anniversary Edition model, the team at Corvette developed this car with a special look that differentiated it from all other Corvettes built that year. The 35th Anniversary Edition (RPO Z01) could only be ordered as a coupe. It came finished in Arctic White with a black roof bow, a dark blue acrylic roof panel, and white 17-inch wheels. Further enhancements to the car’s aesthetic included white door handles, white body side moldings, and a white Corvette emblem on the rear of the car. Unique white cross-flag emblems replaced the standard emblems on the hood, fuel door, and wheel center caps. Custom “35th Anniversary” badging also adorned each of the front fenders above the bodyside vents (located behind the front wheels.) The interior of the 35th Anniversary Corvette received similar treatment (when ordered with option code B18). The cockpit was equipped with white leather seats, white interior door panels, and a two-spoke, white leather-wrapped steering wheel. Black carpet, a black dashboard, and black trim finished the monochromatic signature look of this unique Anniversary Edition Corvette. Each example was priced at an MSRP of $34,284.00.
1993 40th Anniversary Edition Corvette
By 1993, the Chevrolet Corvette had become one of the oldest marques in automotive history. It had also become the longest, continually produced passenger vehicle at General Motors. On the event of the Corvette’s 40th anniversary, the team at Corvette celebrated a momentous occasion: production of the 1,000,000th Corvette, which rolled off the Bowling Green Plant’s assembly line on July 2, 1992. It was on this date that Chevrolet both commemorated the brand’s significant milestone and announced the arrival of a 40th Anniversary Corvette for the 1993 model year.
The 1993 Corvette‘s 40th Anniversary package was offered on all variants of the car that year including the coupe, convertible and ZR-1 models. Each “40th Anniversary Edition” featured an exclusive interior and exterior finished in the same Ruby Red coloring. Special commemorative badging was also created that featured the fourth-generation Corvette crossed flags as the “ZERO” in the number “40.” These badges were installed on the car’s front fenders above the vents (behind the front wheels), and were also embroidered into the driver and passenger seat headrests. The car’s wheels each received a special center insert that featured the C4 crossed-flags emblem with a Ruby Red field behind it.
2003 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette
Another decade – another milestone anniversary edition Corvette. However, the 2003 model year was especially significant as it marked the 50th year of the Corvette’s production at Chevrolet. To commemorate a half-century of manufacturing, every Corvette built in 2003 was adorned with special “50th Anniversary” badging – a unique “50” badge on each of the front fenders above the bodyside coves, and a special crossed flags badge on the nose and rear fascia that included “50 Anniversary” badging in the oval surrounding the crossed flags. A special “50th Anniversary Edition” package (RPO ISC) was also offered to consumers on the coupe and convertible models. When so equipped, these cars came finished in a special 50th Anniversary Red exterior paint with an exclusive Shale interior that included specially embroidered seats and 50th Anniversary logoed floor mats. Champaign-painted five-spoke wheels with special center caps were also included as part of the package. Likewise, convertibles also received a Shale-colored soft top. The 50th Anniversary package set consumers back $48,895 for a coupe and $55,370 for a convertible.
2012 Centennial Edition Corvette
Chevrolet celebrated its 100th Anniversary as an automobile manufacturer in 2012. It seemed only fitting then that Chevrolet, a company that had been born from racing by founder Louis Chevrolet, should commemorate this momentous anniversary by creating a special edition of their halo car – and so it was that the 2012 Corvette Centennial Edition was born. The 2012 “Centennial Edition” package was offered to consumers on all variants of the Corvette, including the coupe, convertible, Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 models. Each variant of the “Centennial Edition” Corvette came finished in a special black Carbon Flash metallic accented with satin black graphics and unique Centennial satin black wheels trimmed with red pinstriping around their perimeters. A custom “100 Years” graphic with the image of Louis Chevrolet behind the steering wheel of a race car, dressed in a leather helmet and goggles, adorned the car throughout: on the B-pillars, the center wheel caps, and the center of the steering wheel. The car’s interior was wrapped in ebony leather with red stitching, with black carpeting and trim accents. The Corvette’s iconic crossed flag emblems were similarly muted in black and featured a special “100” badge in place of the fleur-de-lis symbol on the outer half of the right-side flag.
2013 60th Anniversary Edition Corvette
The arrival of the Corvette’s 60th Anniversary coincided with the departure of the sixth-generation Corvette. The 2013 model year would mark the final year of the C6’s production, so Chevrolet decided that their halo car should once more receive a special anniversary package – only this time they also introduced a commemorative 427 Convertible Collector Edition that was more than just another pretty face. The 60th Anniversary Package (RPO Z25) was offered on all Corvette models, including the new 427 convertibles. All Corvettes equipped with the “60th Anniversary” package came finished in an Arctic White exterior with a Blue Diamond leather-wrapped interior with suede accents. Convertible models were also equipped with a blue soft top. All variants of the car also came equipped with a ZR1-style rear spoiler, special 60th-anniversary badging, gray-painted brake calipers, and the “60th” logo featured on the wheel center caps, the center of the steering wheel and embroidered into the car’s headrests. An optional graphics package (RPO Z30), when so ordered, fitted the car with Pearl Silver Blue full-length racing stripes and, for the convertibles, a tonal stripe stitched into the convertible top that extended the graphic theme over the retractable roof.
2018 Carbon 65 Edition Corvette
On the eve of Corvette’s sixty-fifth anniversary, rumors had begun circulating around the globe that Chevrolet was hard at work on an eighth-generation model Corvette and that this latest iteration of “America’s Sports Car” would be a mid-engine model. While nobody at that time knew for certain if the rumors were true or when a next-generation model would arrive, the announcement that Chevrolet had elected to introduce a special edition Corvette to commemorate the brand’s 65th anniversary left many wondering not only IF the rumors were true, but WHEN the new Corvette would be officially unveiled. The reasoning was pretty sound and straightforward. Chevrolet had not introduced a mid-decade anniversary car since the 1988 model year, but they had created at least a single anniversary car for every generation of Corvette since the C3. Given the relatively short lifespan of the seventh-generation model (which ultimately came to an end just one year after the 2018 Carbon 65 model was introduced), it seemed likely to consumers and enthusiasts alike that Chevrolet was launching another anniversary edition Corvette to ensure the C7 was included in the generations-long tradition.
Regardless the reason, the 2018 Carbon 65 Edition Corvette was a spectacular add to the C7 lineup. The car featured a number of visible exterior carbon-fiber elements with a new Ceramic Matrix Gray exterior paint color. The exposed carbon fiber bits included a new carbon-fiber spoiler, front splitter, visible carbon fiber on the hood and roof, and carbon fiber ground effects. On convertible models, the Matrix Gray exterior was paired with a blue soft top with an exposed carbon fiber tonneau cover. Each of the Carbon 65 Edition Corvettes also received unique fendering striping (akin to the hash marks found on the Grand Sport models, but in narrow blue outline with “Carbon 65” badging incorporated into each), unique “Carbon 65” door graphics, special black wheels with custom center camps and unique, machined grooving wrapped in special, summer-only tires. Each wheel was also fitted with custom blue brake calipers. Accenting the car’s exterior were special carbon flash badges, carbon flash-wrapped mirrors, and “Carbon 65” Edition sill plates. The car’s interior received carbon-fiber accents throughout the cabin, including on the steering wheel trim. It came wrapped in Jet Black suede trim and fitted with Competition seats that included black suede inserts and blue stitching.
The price of a 2018 Carbon 65 Corvette hardtop started at $81,490 and climbed to $99,490 for the Z06 Convertible. This pricing excluded any shipping, taxes, or destination charges.
2023 70th Anniversary Edition Corvette
In April 2022, at the National Corvette Museum’s annual “Corvette Bash”, Chevrolet unveiled their “70th Anniversary Edition” Corvette packages alongside the all-new mid-engine Z06 coupe and convertible. The 70th-Anniversary package, which could be ordered on a coupe, convertible, or Z06 package, offered consumers the option of having their Corvette finished in one of two, new colors – White Pearl Metallic Tricoat or Carbon Flash Metallic. Consumers also had the option of adding optional striping in either a Satin Gray (on the Pearl White) or a Satin Black (on the Carbon Flash). In addition to the custom paint schemes, the cars each came fitted with special “70th Anniversary Edition” exterior badging which included special Corvette cross flags, Edge Red brake calipers, unique rear bumper protectors and trunk cover, custom wheels (these vary based on model) in a dark finish and adorned with an Edge Red pinstripe around their perimeter, and commemorative wheel center caps. Inside the car’s cockpit, each “70th Anniversary Edition” Corvette was fitted with two-tone Ceramic leather GT2 or Competition Sport seats, with red stitching throughout, red seatbelts, suede microfiber seat inserts, a microfiber wrapped steering wheel, and 70th Anniversary Edition branding on the steering wheel, sill plates and embroidered on the seat headrests. Each “70th Anniversary Edition” Corvette also came equipped with a matching, custom luggage set badged with the “70th Anniversary” logo.