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1988 Corvette 35th anniversary edition: Artistry in black & white

1988 Corvette 35th anniversary edition
1988 Corvette 35th anniversary edition

1988 was a certainly a world of wonderful living color in the automotive community with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors offering hundreds of hues. Indeed, the 1988 Corvette was offered in twelve different exterior colors including seven shades of metallic paint. However, the star Corvette for 1988 came only in black and white.

Limited Edition Corvettes

The first limited production edition of the Corvette was the 1978 Pace Car which was discussed in 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 pace car – the leader of the pack parts 1 & 2. The publicity and sales generated by that special Corvette made an impact on GM management and as the Corvette sped on toward middle age in the 1980s GM thought it was time do issue another limited edition, but the opportunity did not present itself until 1988.

1983 was the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the first Corvette at the Waldorf Astoria in 1953, but the development of the all-new fourth generation (C4) Corvette lagged behind its scheduled introduction for the 1983 model year. Chevrolet continued to make 1982 Corvettes until the C4 was ready which was not until well into the 1983 model year. Rather than introduce a delayed 1983 model, Chevrolet introduced the C4 as an early 1984 model. There was no 30th anniversary edition of the Corvette simply because there was no production 1983 Corvettes.

1986 saw the reintroduction of the Corvette convertible and its selection as the Indy 500 Pace Car. The convertible was not limited in production and all 1986 Corvette convertibles are considered to be Indy Pace Car replicas.

35th Anniversary Edition

The next logical occasion for a limited edition Corvette presented itself in 1988, Corvettes 35th birthday and GM did not miss the opportunity. Recalling the debut of the Corvette at the Waldorf Astoria in 1953, the 35th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette was introduced at the New York Auto Show on April 1, 1988.

The Anniversary Edition option package (RPO Z01) cost $4,795 was offered only on the coupe. It included a bright white lower body, matching door handles, mirrors, body molding, and white 17-inch wheels. The bright white was contrasted by a black roof frame and transparent black acrylic roof panel. Commemorative badges appeared above the front fender vents, in addition to embroidery on the seatbacks in the all-white leather seats of the black and white interior. Other standard features on the special edition car included dual six-way power sport seats, automatic climate control, the GM Delco/Bose audio system and heated side mirrors.

All Corvette coupes for 1988 had a less restrictive exhaust system which was credited with upping the output of the 350 cu. in. engine to 245 hp. The new exhaust system was deemed too noisy for the convertible which retained the 240 hp engine rating.

The preliminary thinking among the 35th Anniversary design teams was to replicate the color combination of a white exterior with a red interior that was the only combination available on the original Corvette. However, when the new red interior was found not to be within the budget allotted to the project, the teams redesigned the interior to carry over the black and white theme of the exterior. They succeeded in creating a car with a tasteful appearance that is set apart from the others by its classic simplicity.

Only 2,050 35th Anniversary Editions were made, 1,870 with automatic transmission and 180 with the 4+3 manual transmission. Needless to say, they have become highly sought after collectible Corvettes.

A Brand New 35th Anniversary Corvette

One of the great things about the Corvette community is its many facets. There are those preservationist owners who get their satisfaction by keeping their Vettes unmodified and factory fresh, and then there are those owners who are never satisfied with a stock Corvette.

At the forefront of the preservationist collectors is, perhaps, Roger Judski a principal in Rogers Corvette Center of Maitland, FL. Roger began dealing in low mileage pre-owned Corvettes back in 1965 and his business has prospered since then. In addition to being a purveyor of Chevrolet’s finest, Roger is a noted collector of rare, low mileage Corvettes. Rogers complete collection can be viewed here, but of particular interest to us is his 35th Anniversary collector’s edition.

Roger bought the car brand new in 1988 ordering every option except automatic transmission. When it was delivered, he placed it in his collection exactly as it was sent to the dealer. It has never been dealer prepped, titled or driven. It still has the plastic seat and steering wheel coverings in place as well as the cardboard floor covers. The front spoiler has never been installed and the optional transparent top is still covered and resides in the cargo area. Oh yes, the car has accumulated a grand total of 8 (that’s eight) miles.

Making an Extraordinary Corvette Even More So

Some potential Corvette owners are never satisfied with a stock Corvette even when only 2,050 were ever made. These potential owners could have their 35th Anniversary Edition ordered with RPO B2K from their Chevrolet dealer of choice. This option saw the Corvette delivered to Callaway Cars Inc in Old Lyme CT for the installation of the Callaway twin turbo system and other bespoke Callaway parts. The Callaway modifications boosted the output to 382 hp, a significant increase over the stock 245 hp.

Only seven 35th Anniversary Edition Corvettes received the Callaway B2K upgrade, four with manual transmissions and three with automatic transmissions.

Classic Design Withstands the Test of Time

The 35th Anniversary Edition Corvette has stood the test of time. These cars are now 20+ years old, yet they still stand apart from the crowd and look as fresh as they did at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1988 – the true test of a classic design.

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