In their February 1979 issue, Road & Track staff published an article about this one-off 4-door Corvette and the author of the article, a Thos Bryant, began by asking the reader this question: “Blasphemy or brilliance?”
Good question, even today. First of all, I said one-off but it wasn’t a one-off. California Custom Coach, that’s the name of the company that built it, had plans to build 20 units a month (at $35k a pop, more than twice the price of a standard Corvette at the time), which was a tall order in 1979. The America, this is what they called their creation, was based on the 1975 Corvette (C3) and because I couldn’t find any clear indication as to what engine it might have been using, I’ll go right ahead and assume the engine was the same as in the standard Corvette. Which means this car is (probably) using a 5,7l V8 with 190ps (more or less), although I’m sure it’s lost a few since then.
The Corvette America still exists. I think we can be more than certain they never managed to produce 20 a month, not even close, but they definitely built a few and not long ago a man in Byron, California was trying to sell his own Corvette America, with only 20k miles on the clock, for $275k.
The main issue with this car, which never really made it past the prototype stage (the ones they managed to make and sell were nothing more than road-legal concept cars), is that it’s good for showing off but you probably wouldn’t want to drive it. Maybe that’s the reason why the one on sale by that man in Byron had only done 20k in nearly 40 years. Altering the structure and the body of the car is always a perilous exercise, it’s tricky when carmakers do it, and it’s downright dangerous when smaller companies, men in shed or coachbuilders do it unless it’s done properly. Which is difficult and expensive.
Personally I think the car looks great. I’ve always had a soft spoft for the shooting brake body type, which is what this car would be called if it were made today.
What do you think? Would you like Chevrolet to make one today? Let me know in the comments.