Did you make it to Corvettes at Carlisle last year? If so, did you take in the NCRS Gallery? If you did, you saw this all-original '82 Corvette Collector Edition in that awesome array of excellence.
As with many a restored Vette, there's quite a story behind not only the car itself, but also behind its discovery and restoration.
Bill Hermanek discovered it not too far from his Smithtown, New York, home, in a place he'd been driving past for years. "My friend told me, 'Pull over--let's see if they want to sell it,'" he recalls. Once there, they found a late-year shark that needed help. "There was a squirrel's nest in the engine, and acorns in the air filter," he says. "I cleaned all that out, started it up, and told the owner I was going to drive it down the street. She said, 'You're going to drive this thing? It hasn't been driven in years.'"
The '82's L83 350 sputtered and backfired, and the brakes were iffy at best, but Hermanek made it around the block, and then made an offer to buy it. "I said, 'I've got five-grand cash,' and she said, 'I'll take it.'"
That five grand was a far cry from the Collector Edition's $22,537.59 sticker price, the first time that a Vette's MSRP went above $20,000. For that, CE buyers got a fully loaded C3 with just about every available option, plus distinctive aluminum wheels (which were a throwback to the '67 Corvette's bolt-ons), the first-ever glass hatchback on a Corvette coupe, and a special Silver Beige color scheme inside and out. All of that was on the CE that Hermanek took home--along with some unpleasant "add-ons." "In the back, the rear window didn't seal right and water got in, [which] caused mold to grow everywhere," he says. "My wife wouldn't even get in the car because it smelled so bad."
Undeterred, Hermanek kept shampooing the carpets, the leather seat covers, and all the interior soft trim until the bad scent was gone, keeping the car all original instead of replacing the cabin bits with repro or junkyard-sourced parts. Under the hood, the L83 "Cross-Fire injection" 350 needed its share of attention. The first Corvette engine to combine throttle-body fuel injection with electronic engine controls (and the only engine available in the '82 Corvette), it proved trickier to troubleshoot than a typical carbed SBC.
"The toughest thing was figuring out why it wouldn't run right," says Hermanek. "We tried everything until we figured out that it was the computer. Once we put the new computer in, it ran like a champ." Once that was done, the cabin reinstalled, and the body detailed, Hermanek had a Collector Edition that would go on to score chapter, regional, and national NCRS Top Flight awards. It also looks great parked alongside the other Corvettes in his collection. That includes a '96 Grand Sport convertible with a one-of-53 red interior, a '66 coupe that's won the coveted "Triple Crown" (NCRS Top Flight, Bloomington Gold, and the top award at Chicago's Chevy/VetteFest), and a one-of-50 Malcolm Konner Special Edition '86 coupe.
Back in the day, the '82s were much maligned by Corvette purists and non-Chevy drivers. "People put Cross-Fire injection down, but I've never had a problem with it," Hermanek says of his CE, which only has about 30,000 original miles on it. "I love the car," he adds. "It runs and drives great, and it sounds great." Just 6,759 Collector Editions rolled out of the then-new Bowling Green Assembly Plant, part of an '82 production total of 25,407 that ended the C3's 15-year run. Over time, they've proven to be cool cruisers and attention- getters in their own right. As Hermanek says, "Every time I bring it somewhere, people say, 'Wow, what a pretty car. Did you put those decals on?' I tell them, "No--it's all original. That's the way it came.'"
And the way it remains, thanks to Hermanek's work to de-mold and de-squirrel it while keeping it original.
|'82 Collector Edition|
|Owner||Bill Hermanek; Smithtown, NY|
|Block||Stock L83 iron|
|Heads||Stock L83 iron|
|Valves||Stock 1.94/1.50 steel|
|Camshaft||Stock hydraulic flat-tappet|
|Pistons||Stock cast aluminum|
|Crankshaft||Stock nodular cast iron|
|Intake||Stock cast iron|
|Fuel Injection||Stock L83 electronic Cross-Fire injection with dual throttle bodies|
|Fuel Pump||Stock electric|
|Ignition||Stock Delco HEI electronic|
|Exhaust System||Stock with single two-way catalytic converter and twin tailpipes|
|Transmission||Stock 700R4 four-speed automatic|
|RearEnd||Stock with 2.73 gears and Positraction|
|Suspension||Stock coil springs, upper/lower control arms, antisway bar, and tubular Delco shocks (front); stock IRS with lateral struts, control arms, single transverse composite leaf spring, and tubular Delco shocks (rear)|
|Brakes||Stock four-wheel disc with power assist|
|Wheels||Stock Collector Edition cast aluminum, 15x8 in|
|Tires||Goodyear Eagle GT radial, P255/60R15 (front and rear)|
|Current Mileage||Approximately 30,000|