September 14, 2016
Does anyone remember the four-door Corvette? Of course, it was a coach job which is why it is being discussed here, in a Detour.
The work was performed by California Custom Coach (CCC), out of Pasadena, California, a company most noted for their Auburn replicas. Starting in 1976, they offered the fiberglass two-seat Auburn 876 Speedster and four-seat 876 Phaeton, both boat-tailed convertibles. Those kits cost about $7,000 and required a chassis (full-size Fords were recommended for compatibility reasons). By 1978, the cars were being sold only as completed units for $37,500 and $42,500, respectively.
Considering the caliber of their existing product, I struggle to imagine the spark that inspired the Corvette America or what drove the company to actually produce it. An article in Super Chevy claimed it started as a collaboration between CCC and General Motors to explore the viability of producing a four-door Corvette, at roughly 40 per year. Costs were determined to be a prohibiting factor, increasing the standard $13,000 price to roughly $35,000. Thus, as that story went, the prototype’s design was relegated to custom coach status.
That seems hard to believe as the very premise defied Corvette’s nature. In the absence of additional information and since CCC is no longer in existence, none of that is certain. It seems just as likely it was merely a way for CCC to capitalize on Corvette’s popularity which had hit a fever pitch by the late 1970s.
According to most accounts, the Corvette America was quite literally made from two Corvette bodies. At first glance it looks like nothing more than a commercial promotional gimmick, or relic from a Cannonball Run movie, or maybe a 1980s high-dollar prom limo, and the list goes on.
What concerns me, though, is that I’m actually not too offended by its appearance. (Well, maybe the parts-bin door handles.)
The metallic targa bar is a bit abrupt but, from some angles, the car actually looks sort of natural and appealing.
The red Corvette America, above, is made from 1979 model Corvettes. There were others. Actually, five others from what I could determine.
It appears contested but this silver 1980 Corvette America is arguably the last remaining example. I came across claims that a brown one also has survived but the rest are apparently confirmed destroyed or beyond restoration.
You may have noticed this Corvette America does not have the clumsy door handles. Rather, it was fitted with a numerical keypad which granted access via a code. It also features an opening rear glass hatch which did not see production on regular Corvettes until the 1982 model year. The original owner of this car was Dorothy McGuire, of the McGuire Sisters.