Some view 1975 as a rather lousy year for Corvettes, citing increasing girth, decreasing power, and numerous firsts that distinguish it from what came before. For example, it was the first year since its introduction in 1965 that a big-block was not available as an extra-cost option. It was the first year that unleaded fuel was required. It was also the first year for inclusion of numerous new emissions devices, including a catalytic converter. And since a single converter was employed, the true dual exhaust that had been a Corvette staple since the first V-8 was eliminated.
While it is easy to bash '75s, and for that matter all rubber-bumper Sharks for their shortcomings, it is important to recognize their attributes as well. Nineteen-seventy-five was the last year for a convertible body choice until re-introduction in 1986, making '75 drop-tops especially collectible today. Nineteen-seventy-five marked the first year for Chevrolet's High Energy Ignition (HEI) system, which was a vast improvement over all previous systems. Though lacking the raw sex appeal of a 454, the higher-performance L82 small-block continued as an available option through the '70s.
Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on concerning 1975 Chevy Corvettes, it is essential to put the cars in their proper historical context when discussing their relative shortcomings and attributes. Nineteen-seventy-five was a rather difficult year for the domestic automobile industry as a whole. Increasingly strict safety and emissions requirements dictated a number of changes that accomplished their stated purpose, but brought undesirable consequences along for the ride.
And regardless of how real or contrived it was, Americans were still reeling from the Arab Oil embargo and resultant gas shortages that caused widespread panic in 1973 and '74. This nation's sudden realization that the seemingly endless flow of cheap gasoline could indeed come to an end accelerated another simmering problem in the auto industry; the invasion of small, light, fuel-efficient cars from foreign lands.