The Corvette's hold on the public was such that its 1969 sales record was decisively smashed in 1976, despite the convertible's demise and few changes made to the remaining coupe. Dealers moved 46,558 Corvettes before closing the books on model year 1976, a reflection of the recovering economy and shrinking competition in the Corvette's price/performance class.
Style-wise, the veteran Shark looked nicer than ever for 1976. The faux air-extractor vents vanished from the rear deck, rear bumper trim was slightly altered, and a new four-spoke sport steering wheel arrived, though the latter irked some diehard fans because it was borrowed from the subcompact Vega GT.
To the delight of speed freaks, however, horsepower ratings began climbing again on slightly higher compression, again courtesy of the catalytic converter. The L48 gained 15 horses for a total of 180; the L82 went up to 210 bhp. Modified induction also helped. Both engines breathed through an intake that was now in front of and above the radiator instead of at the cowl near the windshield. The change was made to remedy the noise of air being gulped in so close to the passenger compartment. To increase rigidity and reduce heat seepage from the hotter-running engines, a steel subsection was added to the forward body structure.
Unfortunately, Chevrolet had no answer for the sharp inflation that had plagued consumers since the 1973-74 energy crisis, except to pass along the higher costs. Though the base price of the 1976 model was $7,604.85, a full complement of options and the usual ancillary charges could put it just over $10,000 as delivered. Enthusiast magazines' opinions remained tepid at best. Still, though prices were rising and the Shark may have been aging, there was still nothing else quite like the Corvette. There were certainly far fewer Detroit performance cars of any kind by 1976, which was a definite factor in the car's renewed sales strength.
Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:
||1969 Corvette||1970 Corvette|
|1971 Corvette||1972 Corvette||1973 Corvette|
|1974 Corvette||1975 Corvette||1976 Corvette|
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