The Missing 1983 Corvette!

Those familiar with Corvette history are well aware that there was no 1983 Corvette.  The industry standard Corvette Black Book certainly shows no entry between the 1982 and 1984 Corvettes.

Imagine my amazement this past Saturday at the National Corvette Museum standing in front of a white 1983 Corvette! This unique Corvette is shown to the right.

The sign on the exhibit explains: "The planned 1983 Corvette brought forward some of the most far reaching design changes in Corvette’s history.  Many changes included high-technology that had not been proven for automobile application….Although the technology was available, it had to be developed into the manufacturing process with the quality, reliability, and durability proven before production of saleable vehicles could begin.  The initial plan called for introduction of the newly designed 1983 in October 1982.  There were 43 pre-production models built (but) a decision was made to withhold production (for sale) until January 1983 and to serialize them as 1984 models.  The Corvette was named "Car of the Year" by Motor Trend Magazine in 1984."

So, why were they held off until January? Before production lines began, California voted to make emission controls more stringent than ever, and the 1983 model wasn’t prepared to deal with it.

All 43 prototypes were ordered to be destroyed but canny assembly plant personnel hid one vehicle for years, changing the paint scheme, and moving it around until they received a commitment from GM that it wouldn’t be destroyed. You can see it today for yourself at the Museum!

[ National Corvette Museum ]

[ Corvette Black Book ]

[ Motor Trend Car of the Year Award ]


Add your own

56 Responses to The Missing 1983 Corvette!

  1. Jim Porter says:

    I am having an issue with my 1982 sputtering at around 2500 rpms. I have put new plugs, wires, cap, rotor on and am wondering if anyone else has had this issue. It is only during full throttle that this happens.

  2. Bob says:

    That is a good story and most of your facts are correct but you need to do a bit more checking. there were 44 cars, 11 went for crash testing and 32 were “disassembled” it is said that only # 23 survived across the road at the museum but we could ask Jay Leno a couple of questions about a truck load of parts that were purchased and now bare a certain resemblance to a 1983 corvette.

  3. Bob Murphree says:

    I had the fortune of attending the Grand Opening of the Corvette Museum located in Bowling Green, KY. The home of the Corvette Manufacturing Plant. While there, I picked up a factory sales brochure for the 1983 Corvette, first and second Editions. Still inside the original White – now tinted Yellow with age, envelops. I wish I had purchased more copies. The Corvette Club had a booth and were selling them at the time. If I remember correclty, I bought the last First Edition sold that day. Awesome literature. One difference was the rim style used on the models photographed.

  4. Guy Goodship says:

    I have a Corvette that shows it was manufactured in 02/83 so how can you say that they weren’t made in 1983.I live in California and this car is also from California and we all have heard that the 44 were in Riverside, California.

    • Marjorie Starnes says:

      I have one too. Made it February 1983. It’s a 1984 Vette. Model year is often different from manufacture date.

    • jerry says:

      I also have an 1984 s/n 2101. what s/n is yours? Some time ago I saw and acquired a magazine with an article that showed all the 1983 parts that were on the vette. I somehow lost the magazine but sure would like to have one. There are a number of vettes that were sent to Cal. in the first run, mine was one of the first Z51′s and did not the bilsten shocks or have the transparent top avail. , it was our dealers car and I talked it out of it…lol.
      I t is ALL original and is a NCRS top flight wwinner with 107k moles on it..even have the original gaterbacks in the garage.

    • James says:

      Let’s read the article. No one refutes there weren’t Corvettes built in 83. It says that they were built in January 1983 and further but serialized as 84s because clearly they missed the August to October debut time.

  5. Gary Westrick says:

    I have heard that 1 of the 43 cars is in storage on Harsens Island, Michigan.

  6. Read the Article says:

    I have a Corvette that shows it was manufactured in 02/83 so how can you say that they weren’t made in 1983.I live in California and this car is also from California and we all have heard that the 44 were in Riverside, California.

    Its a 1984 serial number though. May have been produced in 1983, but its a 1984 model year.

    • My RM 250 was build in 97 but it’s a 98 . Just like all bikes and cars n trucks. All model years n serials are dated after the actual ur of manufacturing. Unless it’s a huge demand. An it rolls over into Jan Feb.

  7. Bill Connell says:

    There continue to be alternative accounts of significant interest, but we are reporting the official story, as it comes from the Corvette Museum. You certainly have piqued my curiosity. Thank you for writing.

    • Reed says:

      The 1983 Corvette was titled that way to make it a one of a kind car for the museum. I was the same car as the one’s that were titled as 1984.
      I had purchased one of the first 84′s and mine was built in Feb. of 83.

    • jim says:


      I have a GM photo that was given to me for use on a Chevy project* with ADP in 1982. It is of a gold/pewter C4 with the ’83 wheels. Always thought it was odd that I had never seen the wheels in production, but seeing the car on display at the NCM confirmed what I suspected. The photo is a GM styling pre-production photo.

      Jim (ACC, Corvettes America, NOCC)

      *The project was the first computerized vehicle locator system, launched at the ’82 (and ’83) NADA in Las Vegas.

    • Linda Hunter says:

      Just purchased 1984 Corvette, I know I came to Fl from California in 2001. How can I find out the manufacture date. Want to trace its history do you have suggestions. It’s my 6th Corvette and I would love to know all I can about this beautiful car. Can you give me the breakdown of the VIN as I’m former GM employee and remember the VIN gives specifics about the car. I appreciate any help you may give me.

      • Ryan says:

        I have a full factory 1984 corvette manual. It has everything you need to know from the smallest thing to the biggest . For sale

  8. Wayne Cummins says:

    Wasn’t there an ‘urban myth’ at one time about the ’83 ‘Vette supposedly being an all steel version using no fiberglass?

  9. Mike says:

    I visited the Corvette Hall of fame museum and toured the assembly plant in 1995. They told us on our tour that only 3 1983 Corvettes were not disassembled. The White one pictured here is the one we saw at the museum. The second one was elevated an hung partially through the wall just above the entrance of the assembly plant. You could photograph the back end of the car as you walk up to the plant. The 3rd one was owned by the then current CEO of General Motors.

  10. Erin Robels says:

    From what I read about the 1983 Vette, the quality was so poor, that even GM would not release it to the dealers(which was amazing consider so many poor quality cars from the Big Three made it to the showroom)

  11. JUAN says:

    I am from Cape town and have a c4 corvette.
    what puzzles me is that the taillights have a 1983 marking on them.
    Can someone explain why ?

    • Brent says:

      According to the article, “The initial plan called for introduction of the newly designed 1983 in October 1982.” Then it follows up by saying, “a decision was made to withhold production (for sale) until January 1983 and to serialize them as 1984 models.” So, essentially, the 1984 model year started production (manufacturing) in Jan, 1983. To put it in perspective, it is only August of 2013, but car manufacturers are releasing cars for the 2014 model year. Those cars will be 2014 models, but will have many parts that have a manufacturing date of 2013.

    • BobL says:

      Your 1984 taillights are marked with a 1983 date because 1983 Corvette was the first year that the lenses were designed to fit. Though the 1983 Vettes were not released for sale, any and all Corvettes that retained that lense design would theoretically be stamped with a 1983 date. That would include all C4′s up to and including the 1990 model year. 1991 introduced a slightly more square shape for the C4 taillights.

    • clarence says:

      ha my son in law have a vette with 83 tail lites so wht year is the vette

  12. V8 says:

    Oh yes commiefornia they dont like american cars there only toyotas…

  13. ConvertiBill says:

    I recently toured the museum and was also surprised to see this 1983. What I noted most were the wheels. I have a brochure for the 1984 and it shows the wheels that the 1983 at the museum has, but I’ve NEVER seen them on another car in person or in media before.

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  16. John says:

    I have a 1983 c4 model corvett that has never been built still unopned these were only give to GM workers when it was decided to push the c4 back to 1984 anyone have an idea as to where i might be able to find out how much its worth

  17. Richard huber says:

    I have one made in 3/83 titled 1984 with clear glass top was bought in Fort Worth tx.i live in ohio.

  18. Lori Rosa says:

    Hi, I had a 1983 Corvette. I still have the hard top – I would like to sell it.
    On the inside is printed: 3/11/83 – 31 #
    My cell: 401-374-7154 – Thanks! Lori R.

  19. Michael Daley says:

    I know of a 1983 they let me look at it, the car was a prototype that had hydraulic syspension, the guy who owned it had a mso that said 1983 so there are a few out there

  20. Simon Haaima says:

    I have a registered 1983 corvette. Was purchased in Florida and brought to Canada. I have a U.S. Ownership as well as a Canadian ownership for this vehicle. It is up for sale .

  21. john says:

    I have a 1984 built in 83 for sale
    Email me ..

  22. BobL says:

    Seeing the picture of the museums 1983 Corvette reminds me of a design feature it had; that black rubber bump strip that ran all around four sides of the car. Looking at that, it reminds me that my 1984 Pontic Fiero had a similar rub strip all around it. Though pieced together with parts from different GM cars, the Fiero was a fun driver. AND! 36 mpg on the highway!
    It would get me back and forth between Philadelphia PA and Rochester NY on a single tank, all 8 gallons.

  23. Tim says:

    If you look close at the 1983 in the museum, there are several differences in the 83 vs 84 corvette. So no its not the same car in 84.

  24. Terry says:

    People what do you not understand.. no corvettes were sold titled as 1983. I don’t care what you think you own or have owned… I don’t care what folktales you heard.

  25. Doug says:

    For those that say they have 1983 Corvettes, please post the first 10 of the VIN. If it is really an 83 Corvette, the 10th digit will be a “D”. An 84 will be an “E”. In Canada, getting insurance for an 83 Corvette will be just about impossible since the VIN will come back as invalid if there is a D in the 10th spot.

    The auto industry traditionally begins a model year production in the late summer of previous calendar year to the model year. Ford started production of the Mustang in April of 64, yet all cars were given 1965 VIN numbers. All were registered as 1965 models. There is no officially titled 1964 1/2 Mustang.

    The 1983 Corvette on display at GM is not a public released car. GM also says that they did not produce a 1983 model Corvette, while at the same time claiming the Corvette to be the longest running continuous car model.

  26. Steven Davis says:

    I have a vett with a tag that has 4/83 what year is my car

  27. ROGER HOLLEY says:

    i went to bowling green in 1985-there was no museum at the time-i have a picture of what exects told us was only one of two 1983 vettes-it is blue with red/white/blue stripe decor-the other one was in michigan-i have a trip booked to return this year-what happened to the blue one that was there in 1985??-

    • Ralph says:

      That vehicle was in the Corvette employee entrance until it was re painted to original paint and the given to the museum.

    • Randy Stubings says:

      I went in “05″ great place! You’ll have to check when you get there . Maybe it’s one of the cars swallowed by the In Museum Sink hole. A couple Vets were abandoned a couple fished out.
      Have fun!

  28. Brad says:

    I know of two more 1983 corvettes both owned by the same person who worked on the design of the car at that time both sitting and collecting dust few minor things missing on them though not for certain what exactly but I do know they have the D in the Vin indicating what they are.

  29. Zach says:

    Thank you so much for allowing us to see that beautiful car.
    I am a bit saddened that ppl cannot grasp the info posted. I do understand they wish the had something limited like it. We are not jay leno tho. Sure would be nice to buy the disabled parts in hopes of finding the parts to make one.

  30. kathryn guzowski says:

    What is the 1983 worth? My friend bought a 1983 corvette previously with a manufacturer plate from GM and the 3rd one made in production according to the sects state.

  31. Phil Ireton says:

    I bought a brand new red “1984 Corvette” in 1983, Kansas City, Kansas. I was told that they were called 1984 (although there were no other cars called 1984 models). I loved that car and had it until I moved out into the country that had gravel roads. Would love to have another.

  32. Roger says:

    I have a 84 C4 that says 4/83 but it’s a 84.
    As a few folks said manufacture date and parts .could be different.
    If your 10 letter of your vin is a capital D
    Then you truly have a 1983 ,which I doubt.
    If your 10 letter is a capital E then it is a 1984 .

  33. John hollander says:

    I also have a original sales book for the new 1984 corvette but it does not state the model year any where in it. It was available as t the parts counter at g m dealerships and it is dated Feb 1983.

  34. B/S INFORMATION says:


  35. Peanut says:

    Do you believe that it’s possible to have a corvette with a manufacturer tag of 06/83 to actually be registered as a 83 by two separate countries

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