Photos courtesy Corvette Mike of New England
Many, many 1978 Indianapolis 500 pace car replica Corvettes were mothballed with hopes of the cars turning into super collectibles, so finding a low-mileage example today isn’t hard. In fact, there are seven for sale in the December issue of Hemmings Motor News. One, formerly on display at the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, has just 116 miles on the clock. Another is advertised as having been driven just 700 miles. If you want a car you could actually drive, there’s a 1978 Indy Corvette with 22,900 miles.
Unfortunately, the demand predicted for these cars back in the Disco Age has yet to arrive. If you like ‘Vettes, you wouldn’t kick a 1978 pace car out of your garage, but as Corvettes go, these are considered lackluster performers and too many were built for them to ever be considered rare.
According to the Corvette Black Book, the original plan was to make 300 of the black and silver ‘Vettes. Mike Yager’s Corvette Bible claims 2,500. Had Chevrolet stuck to either of those figures, Indy Pace ‘Vettes would probably be more collectible today. But for Chevrolet, the profits these cars were raking in must’ve been as irresistible as coke at Studio 54. The Indy cars received a lot of hype, so demand went through the roof and Chevrolet cranked out 6,502 copies – more than one for each dealer.
With a base price of $13,653 compared to the standard Corvette base price of $9,446, the Pace Cars were expensive and profitable because they were loaded with “mandatory options.” Power windows, power locks, removable roof panels, rear window defogger, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping column, AM-FM radio with 8-track (or CB radio at extra cost) – all were included. Even this probably doesn’t help the value of these cars as luxury tends to be the exact opposite of what Corvette collectors crave today: radio delete, heater delete, oversized fuel tanks (when they were available), manual transmissions. You get the drift – racing-related stuff on a Corvette is hot. Stuff that you would normally associate with a Caprice Classic is not.
Anyway, receiving almost as much press as these cars received when new is a barn-find pace car offered for sale by Hemmings advertiser Corvette Mike. The car has been all over the Internet due to the fact that it has only 13 miles on the odometer. It’s even covered in an authentic layer of scurvy storage grime.
The pace car’s bonafides include a CB radio, Gymkhana suspension and the 220hp L82 350, all of which are cool. The fact that it’s an automatic makes it a little less so. Check it out for yourself over at Corvette Mike’s.