The Indy Corvette at Forty

The Wall Street Journal front-page, March 27, 1978 column announced the “Indy Corvette” that caught the attention of speculators and ignited a fire-storm that persisted for sixty days when WSJ wrote “they’ll be selling for $75,000 in 90 days!” Since that statement, speculation would simmer for the next four decades. Even before the article came out, confusion persisted as early as September 1977 when the story got out about an Indy Corvette. Buyers were walking into showrooms with $1,000 deposits for Indy Corvettes. Dealers had no idea what they were talking about. Come to find out, Jim Prather had scooped the story for Vette Vues in the summer of 1977. Dealer ordering guides published September 1977 had yet to include RPO Z78, the limited edition option. The first press release from the Chevrolet Motor Division came out October 17, 1977 and sales materials arrived afterwards. The Pace Car was first unveiled October 18, 1977 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway annual press party.

This October 2018 issue of Corvette Magazine describes the approach by Chevrolet to celebrate its Iconic symbol, Corvette coming of age in 1978. Interviews of dealers of that era, reveal how both customers and dealers reacted to this "secret" limited edition along with the rumors, reveations and final process for rolling out 6,502 limited edition Corvette Pace Cars. Finally, the feature article describes a decade of rising values for the first of fifteen Corvette Pace Cars and what to expect in the future.

1978 Pace Car: The Final Process

As the 1978 Pace Car approaches a 40th Anniversary, much remains to be learned and documented about the assembly methods used to build 6,502 replicas. The articles that follow drill down to assist restorers understand some of those methods and how Pace Cars were shipped from the St Louis Assembly Plant. In this series, we look at pace car decals, pace car values as of 2008 and how the 2008 Pace Car served as a graphic salute to the 1978 Pace Car.

Final application of decals and the "hot" metallic silver lower half occurred on the St Louis campus but not in the St Louis Assembly Plant. Due to the volume of Corvettes being built and limited production capacity, Pace Cars were moved to the main plant’s Final Process (paint repair) area where Impala’s were finalized for shipping. What follows is a description of the final process for completing the RPO Z78 paint scheme and decal application. It also describes the special accommodation for Pace Cars to prepare for shipping via the freight trucks. Tom Russo's most recent submission to the NCRS The Corvette Restorer can be previewed by clicking the Pace Car ad to the right.

Pace Car Front Spoiler: Dealer Prepped or Factory Installed?

Limited Edition Pace Cars continue to be rolled out of storage from their "as shipped from the factory" and onto auction blocks, revealing new information about the final process and special shipping requirements. In this article, Russo and NCRS 1978-82 Team Leader Pearce address the issues of judging a Pace Car when the front spoiler is stashed in the rear storage compartment along with those boxed decals.

Pace Car Decals: Production & Assembly

The popularity of the 1978 Pace Car has yet to wane after the first rolled off the St Louis factory floor over thirty years ago. GMs marketing program to tether the Corvette Pace Car to the Indy 500 race continues to add value to those Limited Editions of 1978.
But what made that 1978 model wasn't horsepower, torque or cubic inches but rather paint; convenience options and extensive graphics. This article will document not only Pace Car decals as delivered to dealers but will also describe service replacements and explore how aged new old stock (NOS) decals differ from restoration decals.

Indy Pace Car 30th Anniversary: What's happened to Pace Car values?

Have Pace Car values held true or fallen off since 1978?
The 1978 Corvette Limited Edition Pace Car began life in a frenzy as they rolled off the St Louis Chevrolet factory amid a buying flurry among speculators, investors and enthusiasts. In 2008, Chevrolet had built ten Indy Pace Car replicas.
Chevrolet announced that Corvette would pace the Indy 500 May 2008 for the 10th time. A 2008 Z06 with black and silver graphics commemorated the 1978 pace Car. But, it began in 1978 with the 1st Corvette to pace the most spectacular event in sports.
Read how "America's Sports Car!" survived this media attention.

Leading the Pack: The 2008 Replica

In 2008, Chevrolet announced that Corvette would pace the Indy 500 for the tenth time. This articles explores the rising value of 1978 Corvette Limited Edition Pace Car and what speculators, investors and enthusiasts can expect in the future. James Prather, former editor and publisher of Vette Vues describes how he scooped the story of the 1978 Pace Car in the Summer of 1977...before Chevrolet released the story for Vette Vues.