Ask a Corvette aficionado about the history of the fourth generation (C4) Chevy Corvette, and they will probably begin by telling you that the C4 Corvette was available from 1984 to 1996. It was a total rework of the previous generation C3 that had been around since the 1960s for Chevrolet. All of that is true. But ask the same enthusiast what happened to the 1983 model year, and they will likely tell you that it did not exist. That is where they would be wrong.
C4 Chevrolet Corvette development
In the early 1980s, General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, was deep into the development of the C4 Corvette. As with any all-new generational change in the automotive world, a lot of testing, development time, and money is spent before bringing out the next newest thing. The new vehicle has to receive a lot of approving checkmarks before going to production.
Part of the development process of a new car includes creating pre-production test vehicles. In 1983, Chevrolet had 43 of the fourth generation Corvette test mules created. The intention was that if everything went well with them, then production would be given the thumbs up to start the factory lines in 1983. However, late into the development process, changes were made to the Corvette to allow for new stringent emissions regulations, and a change from a T-top, to a targa top. So, General Motors decided to push the launch of the C4 back to 1984. In essence, they leapfrogged the 1983 model year all together to make sure the vehicle would be ready.
Scheduled for destruction
The customary procedure for manufacturers after all the testing has been signed off on for a car is to destroy all the pre-production development mules. These 43 Corvettes were no different. All of the 1983 models were to be destroyed. All but one were.
Corvette fans and insiders disagree on the story of how this sole survivor was spared such an ignominious end. But, the end result is that many years later, it ended up at the National Corvette Museum in 1994. It is known simply as, pilot car RBV098, the only remaining 1983 model year Corvette.
National Corvette Museum
The story does not end there. In 2014, the National Corvette Museum suffered catastrophic structure failure to a good portion of its display area due to a sinkhole that opened up. Consequently, several historically notable Corvettes ended up being swallowed by the sinkhole and received significant damage. It almost seems like this car thinks it’s a cat with nine lives because the sole surviving 1983 Corvette was unscathed during the event.
Video from the museum regarding the sinkhole collapse is below.
The Rarest Corvette Ever
Pilot car RBV098, The lone surviving 1983 Corvette is truly unique. There was no 1983 model year for the C4 Corvette. All the other 1983’s were destroyed. Yet, this one does exist, against all the odds. As far as rare Corvettes go, this is the rarest.