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In the 1970s You Could Have Owned a Four-Door Corvette

From the Archives: America!

Drew Hardin Nov 28, 2016
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“What else would you call this four-door version of the country’s only mass-produced sports car?”

That question opened Jim McCraw’s Feb. 1979 Motor Trend story on this, um, shall we say, unusual Corvette conversion done by California Custom Coach (CCC), a Southern California builder of fiberglass Auburn Boattail replicas and other specialty cars.

(It was the ’70s, folks. There was a lot of plastic fantastic weirdness going on in what was then called the “replicar industry.”)

“Starting with a new Corvette, CCC literally cuts the car in half and stretches it 30 inches,” McCraw explained, “rejoining the frame halves with a solid steel insert that plugs into the frames and is welded to both for rigidity.” The floor was made from steel, to which was installed a second set of Vette bucket seats. The rear cargo area was retained.

1979 Chevrolet Four Door Corvette 2/2

To ease servicing the car, CCC used as many stock Corvette components as possible in modifying the front doors and fabricating the rears (though the door handles were “changed from stock to Malibu mechanisms, which are infinitely easier to operate than Corvette latches,” said McCraw). Passengers sat beneath “a solid steel targa hoop with modified Corvette T-top sections and modified skins.”

The conversion added some 500 pounds to the Vette’s weight, and you’d think that the extra heft and length would have had a negative impact on the car’s ride and handling. But McCraw said “the additional wheelbase and weight seem to have smoothed out the ride considerably, at least on the prototype,” which kept the Vette’s stock suspension components. “The car is difficult to maneuver in tight quarters and in parking situations, but on the road it feels stable, tight and quiet.” The car’s 195hp 350 V-8 had “no problem” with the stretched Vette’s extra weight.

When McCraw wrote his story, CCC planned on producing 10 cars a month, sold through Chevrolet dealers “at approximately $35,000 each, exclusive of optional equipment.” Back in 1979 new Vettes were selling for less than half of that, which may explain why just six of these America conversions were built.



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