Monday, November 7, 2011

Cars in Yards: 1979 Corvette L-82 nearly crushed by an oak tree after 20 year hiatus

TIMBER! If a tree falls onto a Corvette and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This dark blue 1979 Corvette, parked for many years outdoors, beside a house, narrowly escaped the crushing blow of a falling oak tree. The long dormant Vette was completely hidden from view by overgrown foliage. Recently, a strong storm system that rocked Alabama this spring tried to destroy this disco duck.

Sections of the giant oak rolled against the ’79 Corvette after it initially survived the tree's crush undamaged. 

Missed it by...
To say this giant tree that fell from a neighbor’s yard “missed by this much” would be an understatement. Huge branches from the falling tree brought down the carport above the Vette. The protected cover provided by the carport had destroyed the plastic fantastic, right? No! Once again the Corvette escaped unscathed when the crushed carport fell down around it, but not on it. Wow.

Corvette numbers crunching
Of the 53,807 Corvettes that rolled out of GM’s 
St. Louis assembly plant in 1979, a total of 5,670 were painted this attractive dark blue. Chevy unimaginatively dubbed this royal color “Corvette Dark Blue.” (Research indicates dark blue as paint code 83, but I seem to recall a dark blue ’79 Corvette with GM paint code 29. Crazy, huh?) I would have called it “Super Sly Navy Blue” or “Darkest Day Blue” seeing as “Nocturne Blue” had changed names several times by GM in the 1970s. The super exclusive Corvette was deserving of a cool exterior name. “Corvette Dark Blue”? Please.

1979 Corvette’s red leather interior is a bit dirty after 20 years of disuse.

This shark had been given some extra fins with an aftermarket hood (blasphemy), aftermarket wheels (the very idea) and aftermarket exhaust tips (if you can’t say something nice). The exterior color was neatly accented with red interior. That’s not a combination that I would have guessed, although seeing it in person was pleasantly surprising. Equipped with an automatic transmission and a host of power options often found on many other Corvettes.

Parked to save money
This car only saw about ten years of action. It was last registered in 1989. The owner says he parked it due to high insurance premiums when he was in his 20s. That’s a shame. Once the tree is cleared, hopefully without damaging the Vette, the owner will decide if he is going to fix it up or sell it.

This ’79 Vette is an original L-82 car. The owner says it has a 400 small block in it now.

The tin-roofed carport protected the Vette from the falling tree’s limbs.

L-82 Vette with D-80 option
This is an L-82 Vette according to the 5th digit of the VIN being a four. L-82 signified a 350 engine, which was bumped up to 225hp. That was up from the 1978 power options of 220hp. GM attributed it to “better breathing.”
Bolt-on front and rear spoilers were standard on the 1978 Corvette Pace Car and were RPO D80 option on the 1979 models. This is one-of-6,853 (12.74%) of the record 53,807 Corvette built for the 1979 model year that featured this $265 option.

Last of the fast C3s 
We Junkyard Life guys wonder how long it held on to its factory hood and wheels. The wheels were beautiful no matter which option the buyer chose. The 15x8 Rally wheel or the new slotted aluminum wheel continue to make a classy and classic look.
  Some of the late 1979 Corvettes built received the 85 mph speedometers, which would become government mandated in 1980. I’ll bet the late 1979 Corvette buyers were happy about this! You know what that L82 would do to an 85mph speedometer. That mandate would not be lifted again until the late 1980s.

The dark blue paint is more visible in the sunlight. This ’79 Vette looks black in most of the photos.

Undervalued Vette? Buy now, save $ later
We wonder why these surviving examples have not hit the huge dollar collectible status as of yet. Even the 1978 Pace Cars can be had at a decent price. With all due respect to a popular saying, get them while they are not hot. Most all parts can be had or found. They have performance and comfort potential. And the most important and simple reason to rescue these shark-like, predator cars… it’s a Corvette. Say no more. Happy Hunting.

Ron Kidd, The Earth Roaming Car Guy at

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Where are the original ’79 Vette wheels?

Vines and bushes protected the Vette’s hood from damage by the falling carport.

Look closely and you might see this Vette from the road. Nah!

Removable glass roof panels and aftermarket window louvers.

Dark Blue or Black?

I like my Vettes stored indoors not under doors.

The remains of the tree that tried to kill a ’79 Corvette. The car is not visible from the road.

1979 Chevrolet Corvette advertisement.

If you had any doubts about leaving a classic car outside, this should convince you to keep it indoors. That is if "your going to restore it someday."

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