The esthetic glory of the 1978 Corvette Pace Car Edition

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People who know me generally know I have never been a huge Corvette fan. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Corvettes for their provenance, but just never had any real personal mojo with them. That has somewhat changed recently with the introduction of the $60,000 2020 C8 mid-engine “poor-man’s supercar.”

As a kid in his formative years, who started admiring cars in the 1970’s – and had much exposure to the “Mako Shark” C3s, one Corvette always stood out to me is the Pick of the Day, the 25th Anniversary 1978 Corvette Pace Car.

Yes, I know. I hear all of you already… Lots of under-developed emissions crap attached to a V8 motor that barely made just over 200 horsepower linked to a heavy 350 Turbo automatic transmission. Say what you want. Esthetically, in my humble opinion, it’s just a really pretty car. This particular car is extra special: read on!

Needless to say, the factory black/silver two tone paint, the Indy livery, the long rear glass on the deck, the flared fenders, the silver vinyl interior, mirrored T-tops, “big” 15-inch rims… the doggone thing looked like renaissance art — at least to a 10-year-old boy wandering around the Corvette Corral at Road America.

This Corvette, a beautiful survivor offered on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Mesa, Arizona,  is essentially a factory-fresh machine with just 145 original miles, according to the seller! Yes. You read that right. One-Four-Five!   It’s almost like going back to the Disco-era in a time machine to take delivery. Don’t forget your bell-bottoms…

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In 1978, Chevrolet turned out 6,502 copies of the Pace Car Edition. Surely, of those, very few exist in this condition. The numbers-matching 350 ci L48 looks virtually perfect with the original Rochester four-barrel carburetor. It appears nearly fully optioned with power everything — and it includes an am-fm radio. The original owner’s manuals and T-top bags are included.

The original cat-back dual exhaust with chrome tips is highlighted by a very clean underside. The fat 255/60R15 Goodyear tires, shoed on on 15-inch factory aluminum wheels, looks racy. While only making an estimated 220 horsepower, it is undoubtedly a representative of an “under-powered” age in Detroit.

All said, it is a pretty example of a no-miles survivor. I will always stop and look at these at Cars and Coffee. One wonders if the next owner will actually drive it after paying $44,000 for this never-driven car. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.

13 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a fan of the 78 Pace Car however this one is a L48 (not L82); big difference for collectors and market price.

  2. Sorry, great condition , surely a buyer for it
    But it was never a great car , a 200 horsepower Vette ? Please
    The graphics on it ? Why do want that on your dream car ? You can do a lot better for the money

    • Mr Wilson: I never said it was a “great car,” however, the cachet of the special interest car world is memories and how a certain car makes you feel. This particular car just really turned on a ten-year-old version of me — and I remember that. What car does that for you?

  3. Best fun to drive version of these cars are the 4spd L-82 version which I owned then sold to my brother who lost it in a divorce. The stickers came in boxes and I never applied them. Fun car just not an investment car. The glass LOF T-Tops tend to eventually crack. I still have a set..one broken one not. Buy it drive it and enjoy it, if the A/C works, otherwise it will be a “hot” rod!

  4. Buy it, yank and store the L48/TH350, replace with an aluminum head 383 stroker & built 700R4. Maybe add some old-school Hooker sidemounts.
    Solves the "200hp" issue & could be made to look stock if you wanted.
    Wheee!

  5. Another example of someone who thought the car would be worth a fortune down the line…If you invested 13k in 1978 and averaged a compounded 5% annual growth today you’d have over $200,000. I buy ’em and drive ’em and invest in the stock market to make money…So far so good.

    • Certainly something to be said about that Patrick. No one I know has a crystal ball — as could especially be said of Corvettes. Very few have truly appreciated at the rate of other special interest cars. Besides, aren’t all cars meant to be driven?

  6. Tom, thank you for your article. Five years or so, I bought an L-82 4-Speed car. An absolute blast to drive. Not a lot of power (it will stay stock as long as it is in my hands), but drives like a go-cart. Keep up the good work.

  7. Dear Tom: I too had a “soft spot” for the Pace Car. I graduated from college in 1978 and fell in love with it. At the time, prices went so high that I gave up on one. Several years later I bought a used red on red L82 automatic and loved it. Forty years later; after many years in business and 4 Ferrari’s later, I finally found and purchased my old dream- an L-82 automatic pace car loaded and perfect with 3,000 miles! My sons and daughter never thought I would have anything but a red Ferrari in my garage, but my 88 Testarossa and 2005 360 Spider 6 speed manual will have to live next to the Pace Car as long as I live and am able to drive!!! Russ Manger

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