By 1981, the carburetor's days were numbered. Technology was advancing, but hadn't yet produced a modern fuel-injection system for the Corvette. Beginning in 1980 with the California cars, and carrying over to all '81 models, an electronically controlled "feedback" carburetor--known officially as the Computer Command Control (C3)--moved carburetion closer to extinction. The system utilized an electrical spark-timing distributor rather than a vacuum setup. This system would pave the way for the two four-cylinder throttle bodies of the Cross-Fire in '82 and '84 which rapidly evolved, in turn, into Tuned Port Injection.
1981 involved additional transitions for the Corvette. It was the year that production moved from St. Louis to Bowling Green (with production overlapping at both locations in June and July). The Corvette was also on a diet during this period. The weight-reduction effort that began in 1980 (a thinner frame, body panels, and glass, and aluminum replacing steel for the differential housing and crossmember), continued in '81. A fiberglass rear leaf spring replaced the steel unit (on cars with automatic transmission and the standard suspension), paring 26 pounds off that item alone, and valve covers were fashioned from magnesium instead of steel.
This system is just fine for Richard Conti of Malapan, New Jersey. In fact, he loves everything about the Frost Beige unrestored original '81 he purchased from an acquaintance about six years ago. He claims a very rare interior color on this '81--Cinnabar Rust. The photos show the unusual hue. Richard had owned a '69 convertible as a teenager, and realized this shark could be an opportunity to recapture the Corvette magic of his youth. He drives the car "for special occasions" and takes it to local shows, where it takes First Place trophies, and it's captured two NCRS Top Flight Awards. Richard and his '81 have also taken the drive to Corvettes at Carlisle, where he hopes to find a '74 or a '75 to add to his collection. He owns a '90 as well, and his ultimate plan is to own a Corvette from every decade. Richard's goal may be a little quirky, but it proves that there's no single method to collecting Corvettes. It also provides evidence that, once you've owned one, you're hooked.