For most of us, the '78 movie Corvette Summer didn't quite hit the heights of some of the other movies that prominently featured cars, such as American Graffiti or Thunder Road or even Smokey and the Bandit. Even with the star power of Mark Hamill, fresh off his Luke Skywalker role in the blockbuster Star Wars, Corvette Summer was more like the kind of Saturday afternoon schedule-filler movie you'd tune across on one of the independent UHF channels enroute to some real entertainment like, oh, Roller Derby.
The plot has Kenny Dantley (Mark Hamill), a car-crazed Los Angeles high school senior, building a Corvette as a class project. The finished car gets stolen, and Kenny hitchhikes to Las Vegas to recover it. Who should pick him up but Vanessa (Annie Potts), an aspiring prostitute. Kenny tracks down his purloined Corvette, outmaneuvers pursuing bad guys, whisks the girl away from her sordid situation, and returns home to Los Angeles, where goodness prevails over evil.
Critics weren't impressed. "To enjoy Corvette Summer, it helps to abandon common sense. In this film there is not a single credible plot development or convincing character," wrote reviewer Frank Rich in the September 25, 1978, issue of Time magazine, concluding that "As long as one doesn't demand too much of it, Corvette Summer delivers a very pleasant two hours of escape."
OK, so we don't have cinematic royalty here. Still, we do have a genuine movie star car, even if the movie wasn't an instant classic. As a genuine movie star, its career began in an unlikely way. It was a '73 Corvette with the base L48 350 and Turbo 350 automatic transmission. Then it got rear-ended in traffic—hard. So hard that the insurance company declared it a total loss. Next stop, the junkyard. While awaiting its turn in the crusher, who should come along and "discover" the wounded Corvette but Producer Matthew Robbins and Director Hal Barwood. It was perfect for the movie they had in development, in which a high school kid builds his ultimate dream Corvette. They bought it and had one of their key characters.
The injured Corvette was turned over to Dick Korkes of Korky's Kustom Studios, who was given the assignment of turning it into a movie star for MGM. It emerged as the wild machine you see here.