The Corvette is now entering into its golden years, it will soon approach its 65th birthday. It is America’s sports car and the first American performance car to be the envy of the world. Over the years it has garnered many fans. It is respected all around the world as a serious sports car. However there are few Corvettes that have either received little or no respect. Some to the point where they have become popular targets of the critics. Here’s the list of the Top 5 hated Corvettes and why that may not be such a bad thing and is probably not permanent.
5) 1982 and 1984 Corvettes
The 1982 and 1984 Corvettes were popular sellers, when they were new. The 1982 was the last of the third generation Corvettes while the 1984 was the first of the fourth generation. The 1984 was praised as the first true European style Corvette with quick acceleration and world class handling.
So why the disrespect for the 1982 and 1984 Corvettes? It’s the 5.7 liter Cross-Fire fuel-injection V8 under the hood that’s the culprit. The problem with the Cross-Fire Fuel injected powered Corvettes is not a reliability issue or a horsepower issue. The 1982 Corvette’s Cross-Fire V8 produced 200 horsepower, which was 10 horsepower more than the carbureted 350 cubic inch V8 powered 1981 Corvette. Back in 1982, the Corvette’s Cross-Fire V8 was the best high performance engine available in any new American car. For 1984 the same was true, but there was a slight increase in power, the Corvette’s Cross-Fire V8 produced 205 horsepower.
So why is there no love for Cross-Fire Corvettes? It was the Corvette’s new for 1985, 5.7 liter Tuned Port Injected V8 that changed everything. It used a much more sophisticated port fuel-injection design versus the Cross-Fire’s dual throttle-body injection design. Horsepower for 1985 was 230. To add insult to injury Tuned-Port Injection had better fuel efficiency than Cross-Fire.
Add to this that the Cross-Fire Corvettes are almost impossible to make any engine performance modifications to, without scrapping the entire fuel injection system. Though the Cross-Fire Corvettes have weathered some bad PR over the last few decades, this appears to be changing since their prices on the car collector market have begun to rise steadily the last few years.
4) 1963 Corvette Hardtop Coupe
1963 was the first year of the second generation Corvette. The styling was so ahead of its time that even today it looks modern. The second generation Corvette is one of the most loved body styles among car fans. In car collector circles it really doesn’t get any better than a second generation Corvette.
So what’ the deal with the 1963 Corvette Hardtop Coupe? There are some that love it and some that hate it. It’s been like that from the beginning. The controversy centers around the hardtop coupe’s split window. Even before the 1963 Corvette rolled into production there was an angry shouting match between GM’s head of design operations Bill Mitchell and the father of the Corvette, Zora Duntov over the split window. Mitchell loved it, while Duntov hated it with a passion.
The reason for the split window was in order to augment the Corvette coupe’s beautiful roofline that had a creased line which started just above the top of the windshield and continued all the way back to the rear gas tank cap area. From a design point of view, it was pure art. From the functionality point of view the split window created a massive rear blindspot. So it comes as no surprise that Duntov who was all about function would hate the window while Mitchell a stylist, loved it.
Even today Corvette fans still have a love hate relationship with the 1963 Corvette coupe. In the end Duntov won, the 1964 Corvette coupe would have a solid rear window, the split window would never return. Ironically the controversy has made the 1963 Corvette split window coupe one of the most sought after classic Corvettes.
3) 1974 Corvette LS4 454
If ever there was a car on this list that has unfairly received a bad rap, it’s the 1974 LS4 Corvette. Corvette fans love to bash this car. Reliability was not the issue and neither was the power output. The problem with perception.
By 1974, most performance cars were gone or had their power output seriously detuned. The Corvette was no different. The problem here is the big-block V8 powered Corvette had for years been a tire scorcher since 1965, by 1974 the big-block V8 powered Corvette was like an out-of-shape retired NBA basketball player. With 270 horsepower on tap from it’s massive LS4 454 cubic-inch V8, it still was the fastest 1974 Corvette, but only by a hair. It could run from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds while the lowly base 1974 Corvette with the 195 horsepower L48 small-block 350 cubic inch V8 did the same run in 6.8 seconds. No longer would Corvette fans overlook the handling deficit caused by the heavy big-block V8. The small-block V8 provided almost as much power yet far superior handling.
This spelled the end of the big-block Corvette, 1974 would be its last year. However the disrespect of the 1974 LS4 Corvette still continues to this day. Don’t let the haters fool you, the 1974 LS4 Corvette was one of the fastest cars available back in 1974. If you want a reasonably priced big-block Corvette, the 1974 LS4 Corvette is a great bargain.
2) 1975 Corvette L48 350
When it comes to horsepower output somebody’s got to be last. For all the V8 powered Corvettes ever produced, the 1975 Corvette equipped with the base L48 350 cubic-inch V8 is dead last. It produced only 165 horsepower, that’s what a run-of-the-mill 4-cylinder produces today.
The reason this Corvette was given a pass back in 1975, was horsepower had dropped like a piano falling off the roof of an apartment building. 1975 was the year when new stringent pollution control devices were added to most 197 5 model year cars available in the American market. The result was these engines were choked, forcing horsepower numbers way down. For this reason 165 horsepower was decent output for even a performance car in 1975. As a comparison the V8 powered 1975 Mustang only produced 140 horsepower. The L48 Corvette went 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds which was quick for the mid-1970s.
The good news was back in the day a 1975 L48 Corvette owner could go down to any auto parts store and purchase some performance parts to easily increase horsepower by as much as 100 ponies. Let the haters hate, the 1975 L48 Corvette is a hidden gem.
1) 1953-1955 Corvette Blue Flame
Even though the 1953-1955 Corvette represents the first three model years of America’s 2-seater sports car, this hasn’t stopped most Corvette fans from seeing it as a seriously flawed car. It’s kind of unfair to Chevrolet since it was trying to figure out what the Corvette was going to be these first few years.
Chevrolet in the early-1950s was a stodgy brand that offered reliable reasonably priced cars. While most automakers offered a V8, Chevrolet’s best was a 6-cylinder engine called the Blue Flame. So it comes as no surprise that Chevrolet made standard in its new Corvette a hopped up version of the Blue Flame which produced 150 horsepower. It remained standard on the Corvette through the 1955 model year. Fortunately Zora Duntov convinced Chevrolet that it’s new 265 cubic-inch V8, which made its debut for the 1955 model year, should be under the hood of the 1955 Corvette. However Chevrolet wasn’t fully convinced since it did offer the Blue Flame again for 1955, there were only 7 produced. The vast majority of 1955 Corvettes were equipped with the V8. As they say, the rest is history.
The 1953-1955 Blue Flame Corvette will always hold a special place in automotive history, always remaining desirable among car collectors. But none of this can hide the fact that it is the only production Corvette equipped with a 6-cylinder. A Corvette without a V8 is like Pizza without cheese.
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