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News: 30 years between friends (and Corvettes)

Rob

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30 years between friends (and Corvettes)

They both have four wheels and V8 engines. . .
but the similarity ends right about there.


By Wheelbase Communications
Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:56 AM PDT


They sure don’t build them like they used to. And if you’re talking about the straight-up comparison between a 1975 Corvette and a new model, that’s probably a very good thing.

Why are we talking about two seemingly related cars that are separated by 30-plus years of technology?

A friend called the other day to say he had found an absolutely immaculate 1975 Corvette and was in the process of negotiating the purchase. When he called, I was in the middle of writing a story about the current Chevrolet lineup. As he was describing his find, I just happened to be looking at a spec sheet that read 6.2 liters, 430 horsepower, 3,180 pounds and 29 mpg for a new Corvette.

My friend and I agreed that 1975 wasn’t the proudest moment in the history of “America’s sports car” what with the advent of bumper and emission regulations, but he was happy with his catch.

But a quick check of the specs for the 1975 Corvette showed just how far we have come in the intervening trio of decades. Back then, the Corvette was a portly 3,569 pounds and had a 5.7-liter engine producing a paltry 205 horsepower (that was a high-output model . . . standard ’Vettes were rated at a weak 165).

Not only does today’s equivalent car produce almost exactly twice the power, it weighs 500 pound less, goes more than double the distance on the same gallon of gas while producing exhaust emissions that are a mere trace of those from the 1975 model year.

A comparison of braking and handling is just as shocking. The standard street tire on the new car is far stickier than a full-fledged racing tire from 1975, dry or wet. It will also last two to three times longer and provide a much smoother and quieter ride. The added grip from modern tires means brakes generate, and have to dissipate, monstrous amounts of heat and energy. Yet, today’s Corvette will stop in about half the distance and do so all day long without fade or even close to the same wear.

Put a stock new Corvette on a race track alongside the old and the combination of more power, stronger brakes, reduced weight and suspension advances become even more evident.

But progress doesn’t just apply to an expensive big- performance two-seater such as the Corvette. At the height of the musclecar era of the late 1960s and (very) early 1970s, it was common for these 7.0-liter beasts to get down the quarter mile in about 15 seconds. The truly strong ones got into the 14s and a select few with the right gearing (and driver) dipped into the high 13s. A quick glance at what’s available today reveals some pretty eye-opening comparisons.

Before we had gone beyond the letter C in the current new-vehicle roster, we had discovered a pair of four-cylinder front-drivers in the 15s, two more in the14s and one in the 12s. There are more than a half dozen six-cylinder cars in the 14-second bracket.

When it comes to V8 motivation, the current crop really blows the old into the weeds. Heck, box-stock six-cylinder family cars are as quick as some of the slower musclecars, while today’s high-performance cars are so far ahead it isn’t even funny: 200 mph . . . for real.

In addition to clearly superior performance, modern high-output engines — in fact all modern engines — require practically zero maintenance, instantly fire up on the first twist of the key, in all conditions, and run as smooth as silk for hundreds of thousands of miles and are quieter and far more efficient.

This is the reason there are few gas-station mechanics these days: tuneups are a thing of the past.

Heck, a modern “mechanic” probably hasn’t even seen a carburetor, set of points or distributor. Exhaust systems and tires that had to be replaced every 10,000 miles will now outlast the initial owner . . . and even the fillup comes about half as often. Highway mileage is commonly in the 20s and most will get into the 30s.

We don’t need to get into the whole exhaust-emission picture do we?

Whether an inexpensive four-cylinder econobox or a luxo-laden cruiser, virtually every passenger vehicle today will turn and stop better than anything of the old era, and that’s with full air, cruise, anti-lock brakes, leather, etc.

How about the whole issue of protecting occupants in a crash? The old cars weighed considerably more, which on the surface would appear to be a benefit, but instead of absorbing the tremendous forces of a crash, they passed them along to occupants.

Yup they sure don’t build ’em like they used to. Thank goodness.

Richard Russell is a feature writer with Wheelbase Communications, a world-wide supplier of automobile news, reviews and features.
 

Tom Bryant

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A great comparison. Makes me wonder why I like old Corvettes. :L
 
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A fair perspective on the vastness between the two model years; however, the author's focused on performance misses the big picture -this vastness is a direct result from technological advance!

The same comparison would hold true between a late model Toyota Camry and the 1975 Corvette! In the same token, the same could be surmised between the 1975 Corvette and the 1955 Corvette, T-Bird, or any other car considered to be at the top of its technological evolution.

Heck, for that matter, a most recent example was today when I needed to find the users manual for the remote control of an indoor markee (those LED lit message boards that are becoming extinct...:ugh), and one of my youngest troops figure it all out by the time I had gone to the support website, downloaded it, and printed the user's manual. :confused:ugh:eek:hnoes (darn X-Box!!!)

There is, definitively, a different experience when driving a particular vehicle. Why are 1955 - 57 Chevy's so popular?? For the driving experience they provide!

When I see most old cars on the road, I tend to slow down while passing it, so that I can admire its simplicity, beauty, and technology of years past. :thumb

GerryLP:cool
 

Evolution1980

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As long as it's a comparison of stock to stock and of the same car, I like the article.
But what if you compared a 1967 L88 to a 1997 LS1? Or even the 1967 L71 compared to the 1997? :cool
Or how about a top of the line 1979 Corvette compared to a 2009 Corvette ZR-1? Now there's a real comparison! :L (Lessee...how many 1979 could I now buy for the price of a single 2009 ZR-1??? :Silly)

Start mixing in different breeds of cars, and I'll tell you that I don't care what year Civic it is, I'll take a 1980 Corvette over any Civic, 2010 model year or not! :upthumbs
 

Vette79

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There is, definitively, a different experience when driving a particular vehicle. Why are 1955 - 57 Chevy's so popular?? For the driving experience they provide!

When I see most old cars on the road, I tend to slow down while passing it, so that I can admire its simplicity, beauty, and technology of years past. :thumb

GerryLP:cool
Absolutely! I don't own a corvette, no matter what year, to just own one. I own a corvette because of the driving experience it provides me and others. The style and the technology (or there lack of compared to today) is what makes the ride so great. I love classic cars. There's nothing like cruising in a classic especially a corvette. If there were a choice between a new ZR1 and a C2 or an early C3, I would choose the C2 or C3 any day of the week.
 

Evolution1980

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If there were a choice between a new ZR1 and a C2 or an early C3, I would choose the C2 or C3 any day of the week.
I love the C2/C3's as well. But if I was gonna be given a choice absolutely free of charge (including insurance coverage), I couldn't pass on the new ZR-1. If I ever got tired of the ZR-1, I could always sell it and buy a couple C2/C3's :L
:upthumbs
 
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Rob

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I love the C2/C3's as well. But if I was gonna be given a choice absolutely free of charge (including insurance coverage), I couldn't pass on the new ZR-1. If I ever got tired of the ZR-1, I could always sell it and buy a couple C2/C3's :L
:upthumbs

I like your thinking! :upthumbs
 
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I love the C2/C3's as well. But if I was gonna be given a choice absolutely free of charge (including insurance coverage), I couldn't pass on the new ZR-1. If I ever got tired of the ZR-1, I could always sell it and buy a couple C2/C3's :L
:upthumbs

Andre,

what you are saying is a version of "I have my current [girlfriend, wife, spouse, lover] right now, but if I was given the chance to [date, marry, live with, or hook-up] with [Maria Sharapova, Bionce, Shania Twain] then I would go for that" :L ;LOL:rotfl

Is the same old argument one finds on the latest computers. Do people really use all the advantages on the latest and top of the line computers?....;shrug...Does that mean that Rob would sell his ZR-1 to get the new one? Eventually? Sorry, Rob, my bad... :SLAP:duh

Tongue in cheek guys...:L
 

Evolution1980

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Tongue in cheek guys...:L
Yes, I would happily put my tongue in the cheek of any of those ladies you mentioned (again, assuming it was free and there were no repercussions on the wife/spouse/etc side of things!) :L

As far as the car is concerned, given the opportunity, YES I would drive that thing to the limit! I already do that with my current ride! :upthumbs
 

Vette79

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I love the C2/C3's as well. But if I was gonna be given a choice absolutely free of charge (including insurance coverage), I couldn't pass on the new ZR-1. If I ever got tired of the ZR-1, I could always sell it and buy a couple C2/C3's :L
:upthumbs
Keep in mind that the C2 and/or C3 is all original in great condition. You still would get a ZR1? An all original C2 or early C3 in great condition and low mileage could fetch the price of a ZR1 and it's a classic which is the best part of this article. Either way, your still in a vette I suppose...LOL.
 

Evolution1980

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Keep in mind that the C2 and/or C3 is all original in great condition. You still would get a ZR1?
Yep, I'd still take the ZR-1 because you'd be talking about a cherry hi-performance C2 or C3, neither of which could run like the Z, thus I wouldn't be driving them as intended. The balance between power and chassis-ability is not as equal as it is in the Z. So I'd still be better taking the Z and then possibly picking up the cherry C2/C3 as a hi-perf cruiser on the flip side. :upthumbs
 
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I am with Andre on this one. I have great respect for the early Corvettes. Many of them were/are performance beasts. But I would take driver over garage art any day.
 

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