1980 Chevrolet Corvette - L83

Empire State '80 Now Sports Stout Stroker Small-Block

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Now that Zappia's got his '80 looking and running its best, what's it like to drive? "It's a very fun car to drive," he says. "When I leave it in Drive and nail it, when I hit Second gear it goes sideways a little bit."

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Zappia is one of the ROSCOs (Royal Order of Smithtown Corvette Owners), who get together once a week, and who were featured in an NBC News story about the Corvette's 50th Anniversary back in 2003.

Nineteen eighty saw 40,614 Corvettes roll out of St. Louis Assembly, a drop from the record 53,807 built the year before. Likely the second "oil shock" of the '70s in the summer of 1979, which sent pump prices over a dollar a gallon for the first time, scared off many would-be Vette buyers then.

Even so, with the big production numbers of the third-generation Corvette-with 10 years of its 15-year production run seeing more than 30,000 built-there are plenty out there for building your way, or showing and cruising if it already is. What's Zappia's advice if you're looking for one? "You've got to look out for rust," he says. "You've got to have a good frame. People think that because it's a fiberglass-bodied car, that it doesn't rust, but it does underneath the body." He adds, "With the C3, you either love it or you hate it, because of its 'Coke-bottle' shape. I think they look neat. It's a very affordable car to get into, but it depends on what you want [to do with it]. I wanted horsepower, and that's why I put that in."

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