1980 Corvette Overview: A Chevy Made to Cruise

First introduced in 1968, the Chevrolet Corvette C3 is the third generation of Corvettes. The 1980 model had numerous changes made to it from its predecessor. This includes an overhaul of the exterior color options and the introduction of the California LG4 305-cid V8, 180-hp engine. The engine was designed to be compliant with California’s smog laws in 1980. The 1980 Corvette is now a popular collectible in the classic car world, although many agree that the 305 cubic inch engine is one of the worst engines married to our beloved Corvettes.

History of the 1980 Corvette

Chevrolet first manufactured the Corvette C3 (its third generation of the “Mako Shark”) in 1968. The company halted production after the 1982 model to introduce the new C4 generation in 1984. In 1968, Mattel introduced its newest toy, Hot Wheels. The product came out just weeks before the 1968 Corvette was released, ultimately spoiling the surprise of the Corvette’s appearance.

Throughout the years, the C3 has remained a popular model to purchase. The 1980 model was the first C3 since 1974 to have more than one engine displacement, although the new LG4 305-cid V8 engine option was anything but popular. This small-block engine came equipped with only an automatic transmission. It was designed to be compliant with California’s smog laws. The other engine options for the year (the base 350 V8 175 HP, the 350 V8 185 HP, and the 350 L82 V8 230 HP) were all considered to be better options than the California engine.

For the 1980 model, a total of 250 pounds were shed from its predecessor in order to make the car more fuel efficient and speedy. This was essentially a response to the energy crisis happening in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, in the fall of 1979, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) implemented a federal regulation that vehicles could have speedometers that would only show up to 85 miles per hour. The idea was that slower speeds would save gas.

6 Most Popular 1980 Corvette Features

1. The L-82 Engine

While the 1980 Corvette received a lot of criticism for its California engine, the L-82 was a decent option, even though it was only available with an automatic transmission. The L-82 350-cid V8 engine generates a solid 230 hp and 275 pounds-feet of torque. This was a step up from the Corvette’s 190 hp on the L-48 engine.

2. A Manual Transmission Option on the L-48 Engine

The 1980 Corvette was predominantly given automatic transmission. However, the L-48 350-cid engine could be paired with either an automatic or a manual transmission (unless the car was manufactured for sale in California where transmissions were only automatics). This 4-speed manual transmission option came at no extra cost to the consumer. This was a smart move made by Chevrolet to reel in buyers interested in a manual transmission.

3. The 4-barrel Carburetor

The 1980 Corvette model was the final year for the 4-barrel carburetor that came standard with all of the engine types. This 4-barrel carburetor was easy enough to keep up and was considered to be incredibly reliable.

4. Leather Interior

While the cloth inserts on the Corvette’s interior were standard, they even featured leather surroundings on the seating. Four cloth upholstery options were available (in Oyster, Dark Blue, Doeskin, and Claret). Furthermore, six leather options were available as well. If you wanted leather, you could choose from Oyster, Black, Dark Blue, Doeskin, Red, and Claret color schemes. The leather kept more with the traditional sporty feel of the older Corvettes.

5. Power Windows Included in the Base Price

Power windows were added as standard features to the 1980 Corvette. On the 1979 Corvette, power windows were add-on features that cost the customer an extra $141, making this another thoughtful touch from Chevrolet.

6. Great Tire Options

The 1980 Corvette featured P225/70R-15 blackwall steel-belted radial (SBR) tires that had center caps and trim rings. Customers could upgrade to a set of P255/70R-15 raised white letter SBR tires (which cost $54) or to a set of P255160R-15 White Aramid BR tires for $226.20. All of these tires were considered to be good options.

Getting Support for the 1980 Corvette

The 1980 Corvette is not a vehicle some younger mechanics might feel comfortable working on, although the engine compartment is not too terribly daunting. Your best hope for getting work done on a classic Corvette is to take it to someone with a knowledge of how classic Corvettes are built.

Additionally, you can join in discussions in online forums. You can even sign up as a member of the National Corvette Owners Association. This might be especially helpful if you have just bought or are looking to buy your first classic Corvette.

Further Information on the 1980 Corvette

If you are looking to buy a 1980 Corvette, be aware that many parts were often swapped out since the body shape was the same for the 1968-1982 C3 Corvettes. It is unlikely that you will find a Corvette from those years with all of its original components still in place. This, however is not an unachievable task. Many older Corvettes still exist in excellent condition if you are willing to pay the price for such a ‘clean’ model!


The 1980 Corvette isn’t exactly the most expensive classic around. You can also find them in decent condition for under $20,000. While this is not of the most well-liked Corvette models, the 1980 Corvette is still a sporty little automobile that has better horsepower and torque than some newer vehicles. Drivers who like more modern features will be able to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning and power windows on this cool classic Corvette.

Overall, the 1980 Corvette certainly has its share of pros and cons. Chevrolet has probably confused many Corvette owners by having an eight-track tape rack with a cassette player as one of the options of this mid generation Corvette. A lot of original components for this classic are now hard to find, however, not impossible. With our friend, Google, much of the world’s classic car parts are just a few clicks away!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons