As you might possibly be aware, the Corvette has been around for a few years. What an understatement! We're quickly approaching a rare and remarkable automotive milestone-the Corvette's 50th anniversary. Very few automobile models can lay claim to those bragging rights-half a century of production for one single model! America's Sports Car is certainly in a league of its own, as it has always been.
The Corvette was a considerable forerunner in longevity even in 1988, when it celebrated its 35th year-two years before its pseudo and onetime counterpart, the Thunderbird, and 12 years before that other American icon, the Mustang. Chevrolet had produced approximately 900,000 Corvettes in the 35 years since 1953, and this anniversary was anything but forgotten by the folks at Renaissance Center. For 1988, Chevrolet introduced the first true Anniversary Edition Corvette ever. True, in 1978 there was a special two-toned "Silver Anniversary" paint option (B2Z) and all '78 Corvettes wore "25th Anniversary" emblems, but there was no specific Silver Anniversary model.
A number of improvements, including slightly more power, better handling, wider tires, and improved brakes were all incorporated into the Corvette package for 1988. The '88 Vettes featured a number of new goodies, such as "zero scrub front suspension" that reduces brake pull on uneven traction conditions, revised five-link rear suspension to reduce rear ride camber for improved handling and stability, twin-piston front brake calipers and larger, thicker rotors, as well as America's first OE 17-inch Z speed-rated 40-series tire. The '88 coupes also gained 5 hp, thanks to lower-restriction mufflers that were deemed too loud for convertibles, and got an integrated rear parking brake rather than a separate brake drum and shoes.
On top of these basic improvements, the 35th Anniversary Special Edition package, designated RPO Z01, was offered beginning in late spring 1988.Out of the 22,789 '88 C4s built, 2,050 of them were Z01 Anniversary editions, and those were all coupes. Although it is not as limited in production as GM originally planned for (in the range of 500 to 1,000), it accounts for less than 10 percent of production.
The 35th Anniversary model received a unique appearance package, which included a white exterior with a black roof bow. Incorporated into this was a "white-out" package-B57-called "External Ornamentation Deluxe," and this deal consists of white door handles, white Corvette emblem on the tail, white body side moldings, polished wheels and centercaps with bright outlines and white flags on the centercap logo. The same albino crossflag treatment is found on the hood and fuel filler door. "35th Anniversary" badges above the left and right side fender grills identify the unique color scheme.
The same monochromatic white theme was carried into the plush interior by the B18 Interior Ornamentation Deluxe package. The Z01 package came with embroidered white leather seats that read "35th Anniversary." The steering wheel has a white leather rim and center, and the center logo wears a white flag with argent outlines. There's more, and it's all white, including a white leather shift lever boot, shift knob, console lid, door trim panels and armrests, upper sill plates and seatbelts. The console bears a "35th Anniversary" badge as well as a plaque showing the build sequence number.
The Anniversary Edition Corvettes were well equipped with luxury features inside as well. RPO Z01 automatically included all the premium Corvette options, such as the AQ9 leather Sports Seats combined with the six-way power options, electronic climate control air conditioning, and illuminated driver's vanity mirror. It also sported the rear window and side mirrors defogger option, blue-tinted transparent roof panel, and Corvette's top sound system, the Delco-Bose AM/FM stereo cassette. Upgraded suspension meant all Z01s came with the Z52 Sport Handling package as standard equipment. The result of all this was a top-of-the-line offering that required few options for the consumer.
Steve Herbetko, a retired engineer from Philadelphia, has begun his Corvette collection with a pristine and highly original "35th Anniversary Edition" coupe. It took Steve 43 years to fulfill his dream of becoming a Vette owner, but that didn't sap any of his enthusiasm. "I got hooked on Vettes at age 12, after the first one I saw in 1953," Steve reminisces. "I almost purchased a '58 convertible in my junior year of high school, but my dad talked me out of it by giving me his '50 Business Coupe." His father strongly suggested more practical uses for Steve's money, like a down payment for a house. He eventually put a '53 Blue Flame six in the coupe, but it still wasn't a Corvette.
Finally, after raising a family of four sons, who have in turn given Steve and his wife Barbara six grandkids, Steve is ready to play. He found this mint-condition '88 Anniversary Edition last February at an Atlantic City car show with only 12,000 miles on the clock. Steve's 35th Anniversary Vette, Number 0170 of the 2,050 built, is completely stock and original, sporting an MX0 automatic overdrive trans and RPO G92 3.07:1 Performance Axle Ratio. It was identical to another Z01 car he had been looking at for a while, but still brand-new right down to the window sticker. Steve hopes it's the first of many more Corvettes to come.
In the short year that he's owned his 35th Anniversary Corvette, Steve has jumped in with both feet and is thoroughly enjoying himself and the car. Its license plate illustrates Steve's devotion to the Vette. " 'FYN-CHYNA'-like fine china, it's rarely used." Despite this, he's joined the Corvette Club of Delaware Valley, the 35th Anniversary Registry, and the National Corvette Owners Association, as well as driven 4,000 miles in this virginal '88. Steve has also shown his Anniversary Edition C4 at many local shows and arrived at the 2001 Corvettes at Carlisle with the 35th Registry.
It took Steve 48 years from the time he fell in love with the first Corvette until he bought his first one, this 35th Anniversary C4. Now owner and car are well set to celebrate the Corvette's 50-year mark and beyond!