Corvette History through Ads: Rave Reviews

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With government regulations increasing pressure on car manufacturers to meet ever tightening standards in both CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) and safety, Dave McLellan knew the fourth generation Corvette would have to blaze new trails to remain at the top of the performance heap. But the very definition of performance had to be revised due to the government’s strangling regulations in regards to fuel economy and EPA standards. Where performance was synonymous with horsepower in the sixties and early seventies, the Corvette of the eighties had to be a combination of sophisticated styling, handling, and aerodynamics aided by a huge dose of technology. So in 1984 the Corvette customer was introduced to a sports car unlike any Corvette before.

The new generation car was not all new, however. The 1984 Corvette carried over the problem-ridden 350 cubic inch “Crossfire” V8 engine from the final 1982 third-generation model, which was fortunately replaced in 1985 with the LT1 and tuned port injection. But the new cleaner body styling of the C4 sat upon an all new chassis with aluminum brake calipers and an all-aluminum suspension for weight savings and improved rigidity. The center reinforcement bar on the C3 tee-top was replaced with a new one piece targa top. And one of the most talked about features of the new Corvette was an all new electronic dashboard with digital displays. And though the engine wasn’t a stellar performer, the new styling, world class handling and revolutionary technology captured the minds and hearts of the automotive press and they were generous with their reviews of the new generation of America’s sports car.

With all the praise the media heaped on the new fourth generation Corvette the Campbell–Ewald copywriters simply began quoting what automobile magazines had to say about the car in their 1984 advertisements. One ad was simply a compilation of various car magazines’ rave reviews of the C4. Motor Trend chose the new Corvette as the 1984 Car of the Year saying, “a star is born” and then went on praising the car, “never has… any US car maker… built a vehicle so good in so many ways,” and called it a “world class performer.”

AutoWeek lavished huge praise on the new Corvette when they wrote that the C4 was “in the same class as the best from Ferrari and Porsche,” and keep in mind that was the era of the Ferrari 288 GTO and the Porsche 959. Then Autoweek’s journalists said that “no car person will ever again think we (the US car manufacturers) can’t cut it in world competition.”

But perhaps it was Car&Driver’s comment that Corvette marketers were most fond of when they said the new Corvette was “the most advanced production car on the planet.” In fact the marketing department and copy writers liked it so much they built an entire ad around it.


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