For their third go for the 1995 Indy 500 Corvette, product planners decided to let the designers have at it!
Corvettes have paced the Indy 500 11 times and there have been six Corvette Pace Car replicas offered since 1978. When you look back at the cars in chronological order, there’s an interesting progression. The ‘78 Corvette Pace Car was very stately with its black and silver paint with thin red pin stripping. It was very much of a muscle car-type decoration. The ‘86 Corvette Indy Pace Car couldn’t have been more understated – yellow with lettering on the door. That’s it. Chevrolet hadn’t yet embraced the possibilities of a Corvette Pace Car option and basically wanted to avoid the angst the ‘78 car caused.
But by the time the ‘95 Corvette Indy Pace Car arrived, it was obvious that management let the designers have at it. These cars have to be seen in the daylight to be appreciated. The dark purple metallic paint on the upper portion looks like a lollipop. I don’t know the designer that came up with this design, but BRAVO! Since ‘95 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Cars have been, shall we say, brash, with the exception of the silver & black ‘08 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car, which was a salute to the first 1978 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car.
I covered the 1995 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car in my VETTE Magazine Illustrated Corvette Series monthly column in 2005. Below is the story. Enjoy. – Scott
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 99 – 1995 Pace Car Corvette “The Rarest of the Indy 500 Pace Car Corvettes”
1995 was an unusual year for the Corvette. It was the final year for one of the most exotic and expensive production Corvettes ever made, the ZR-1. It was also the third time a Corvette was used as the pace car for the “greatest spectacle in motor racing” – the Indianapolis 500. A Corvette paced the Indy 500 in ’78 and in ’86. Pace Car replicas have been the subject of some wild collectibility speculation, especially in 1978. But the 1995 Pace car Special would prove to be the all-time most desirable Pace Car Corvette.
The 1978 Pace Car Special came along during the darkest days of Corvette performance history. After decades of tire-burning performance in the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s, the Corvette had become a shadow of its former high-performance persona. But at least it survived the muscle car meltdown of the early ’70s. So when the ’78 Pace Car Special was announced, collectors and speculators went a little crazy thinking that the car would become one of the most desirable Corvettes of all-time. What was supposed to be a limited-production run of 300 cars, turned out to be 6,501 cars. And there was a serious issue over quality control, or lack there of. It ended up that many buyers paid way too much for their car and the collector value never was there.
The Corvette was reborn in 1984 and there was no looking back. The roadster returned in 1986 and the Corvette was given the opportunity to pace the Indy 500 once again. To avoid the big collector crunch, Chevrolet decided that every Corvette Roadster would be a “Pace Car Special.” This time Chevrolet produced 7,315 pace car replicas. There was also a big price increase from the ’78 Pace Car replica. In ’78 the 185-horsepower Pace Car option made the car cost $13,653 – a lot of money back then. The 230-horsepower ’86 Pace Car cost $32,032. 1995 was like a different world. The Pace Car Special now cost $46,481, had 300-horsepower under the hood, was lighter, and much more refined. And with only 527 units built, it was a true collectible.
The $2,816 Indy 500 Pace Car Replica option was arguably the nicest Corvette pace car package to date and was very distinctive. The paint scheme was dark purple metallic over arctic white and a white convertible top. The new style, 5-spoke ZR-1 allow wheels wore 275/40×17 Goodyear GSC tires. The interior had a black and purple leather seats with 1995 event logo embroidery on the seat headrests. All of the ’95 Pace car Special Corvettes were built in March and April of 1995 and the first 50 cars built had all black interiors. As we mentioned in a previous installment of this series, there was no horsepower increase for 1995, but there were many subtle improvements made to the car. The only options that were not available were the lift-out roof panels, the adjustable suspension package, and the ZR-1. A fully loaded 1995 Corvette Pace Car Special could cost over $51,500. The base price of a ’95 Corvette was “only” $36,785.
Chevrolet built three cars to pace the Indy 500 in 1995. Two of the cars built had the standard 4-speed automatic transmission and the third car had a manual 6-speed gearbox. The only things added to the actual pace cars were 360-degree strobe lights, a roll bar, five-point driver and passenger harnesses, and an on-board fire suppression system. Everything else on the cars was stock! With 300-horsepower, there was no need for any power enhancements or special performance engines. The stock ’95 Corvette was more than up for the job.
Chevrolet only allotted one ’95 Pace Car Special to each of the top Corvette retail dealers from 1994. Since the production numbers were so low, the current value of the ’95 Pace Car Special is still high, fetching between $24,900 and $36,500.
Chevrolet General Manager, Jim Perkins paced the 1995 Indy 500 with the only stick version of the pace car Corvette. – KST
PS – For more Corvette Pace Car art, visit our PaceCarCorvettes.com website, HERE. Each print measures 11″ x 17″ and is signed and numbered by the artist. Specific numbers are available upon request, IF available.
Each print is just $24.95 + $6.95 S&H. Buy two prints, GET TWO FREE!
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