Since 2003, "special edition" Corvettes have become somewhat common. Before we go any further, let's define the term. A special-edition Corvette is one that was assigned an official RPO code number, was only available as a package, and was specifically advertised and promoted as a special-edition car. Following the above criteria, and if you include the Indy 500 Pace Car replicas, there were 20 such Corvette models released from 1978 through 2010. Let's take a look at the various anniversary and commemorative edition Corvettes.
In retrospect, it's surprising that it took 25 years for Chevrolet to offer its first special-edition Corvette. Despite all the challenges of car designing in the late '70s, the 25th anniversary of the company's flagship sports car was just too big a milestone to ignore. Corvette designer Jerry Palmer came up with a silver treatment complemented by red stripes. Chevrolet was scheduled to pace the Indy 500, and at the last minute it was decided that the Corvette should do the honors. Suddenly, the Pace Car Vette had all the attention, and the Silver Anniversary model was reduced to a two-tone silver paint option for the bargain price of $399. Between the new fastback roof, 60-series tires, alloy wheels, and special paint, the '78 Anniversary car was one sweet-looking Corvette. Of the 40,274 Corvettes produced that year, 15,283 units had the Anniversary option. A loaded version cost just more than $12,800.
Performance interests aside, the C3 Corvette was a big success from a sales perspective. And as the last of the C3s, the Collector Edition Hatchback option was the proverbial cat's meow. Unlike the '78 Anniversary option, the '82 Collector Edition cost $4,247 on top of the $22,537 base Corvette. The most notable feature was the lifting rear hatch, something that should have been offered years earlier. The complete package included special silver-and-beige paint, decals on the hood and sides, pinstriping, '67-style finned aluminum wheels, a silver-and-beige interior with special emblems, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and horn button, and luxury carpeting. The Cross Fire 350 engine only had 200 hp, and there was no manual-transmission option. Overall, it was a $24,800 beauty that accounted for 6,759 of the 25,407 units sold that year.
Since production was shut down for 1983 to start work on production C4s, there was no 30th Anniversary Corvette. The next milestone came in 1988, for the Corvette's 35th birthday. Like the previous special edition, the 35th Anniversary option consisted of paint and special features, with no performance enhancements, but it was still an excellent package. For $4,795 on top of the $29,489 base price, buyers got a monochromatic white Corvette with a white body molding, a black B-pillar, a dark-blue tinted roof panel, and white, 12-slot wheels. The interior had white leather-trimmed seats, steering wheel, and horn button; a power driver seat; and a console-mounted plaque. Also included on all '88s were electronic air-conditioning controls, a lighted driver's vanity mirror, and rear-window and side-view mirror defoggers. Coupes with the 3.07:1 rear axle came with the 245hp 350 L98 and less-restrictive mufflers. Convertibles and 2.59:1-axle coupes had the 240hp L98 with quieter exhaust. To bring it all together as a worthy GT car, the Z52 suspension package was included. A total of 2,050 35th Anniversary Corvettes were sold, with a maximum price of around $25,600.
For 1993 Chevrolet offered the 40th Anniversary Corvette, nicknamed "Ruby Red" for its unique dark-metallic-red paint. While distinctive-looking, this package wasn't as loaded with extras as the previous anniversary Corvette. As such, it was priced at just $1,455 and was available on all-model Corvettes. Features included special paint, emblems, Ruby Red leather sport seats with anniversary embroidery, a power driver seat, and special wheel centers. The 300hp LT1 was improved to reduce noise on all '93s, but there was no power increase. A maxed-out coupe version cost just over $42,500, while the ZR-1 version was a whopping $74,150. A total of 6,749 units were produced.