Total 1981 Corvettes Built- 40,606, All Coupes

Corvette is a rolling showcase of new technology, new materials and new thinking – all part of an evolutionary process that continues year after year. Adherence to the principle of engineering excellence has been applied to all areas, from the front bumpers to the aircraft-style cockpit to the rear suspension system. It is these kinds of developments – detailed here – that make Corvette what it is today: one of the most renowned two-seat sports cars in the world. For 1981, Corvette engineers trod where none have gone before by developing the world’s first and only fiberglass-reinforced composite automotive spring (used with automatic transmission only). It even won the Society of Plastic Engineers Grand Award. This monoleaf rear spring – at 8 lbs. – replaces a 41-lb. steel multileaf spring. And it’s not just lighter, it’s more efficient. It can store six times the strain-energy per unit weight than a comparable weight of spring steel. This is the lightest possible leaf spring application to be found in any automotive suspension. And steel interleaf friction is eliminated. This fiberglass spring supports the weight of the car that resets on the rear wheels and provides suspension compliance. Wheel position is controlled by a system of links and pivots. Attention to detail for 1981 included other engineering developments such as magnesium valve rocker covers and stainless-steel exhaust manifolds. And an improved anti-theft alarm system with starter-interrupt feature to disable the starting circuit if forced entry is made, even if the ignition switch is bypassed. The whole system is passive – it is easily armed and disarmed automatically when you lock and unlocks the doors. Also new is an auxiliary electric fan that cuts in quietly and automatically if extra cooling is needed. This allows use of a smaller engine fan with fewer, lower-pitched blades for reduced drag and quieter operation. Computer Command Control. It sounds high tech, and it is. It’s an on-board computer that adjusts ignition timing and air/fuel mixture. By continuously monitoring specific functions, it fine-tunes the engine under all normal operating conditions as you drive. Altitude, barometric pressure and temperature changes are factored in. The whole system is even self-diagnostic. It pinpoints problems for your Chevrolet service technician. And it’s even covered by the 5-year/50,000-mile emissions system warranty. Ask your dealer for details. For automatic transmissions, a computer-controlled torque converter clutch in second and third gears is new. It engages at most road and load driving conditions for efficient rear wheel power transfer – unlike the slippage normally found in conventional automatic transmissions. Look at engineering breakthroughs introduced in 1980. Corvette’s front and rear bumper systems were reduced by 84 lbs. Fir and appearance were improved, as well as aerodynamic drag efficiency. The front bumper consists of a three-piece fiberglass supporting structure to replace the earlier steel parts. Aluminum intake manifolds eliminated another 24 lbs. And aluminum also found its place in a new rear axle assembly. A lot has gone into Corvette. The evolutionary process adds, subtracts and improves. It’s what makes Corvette the finely-honed performance machine it is today. And it’s what makes Corvette a unique experience to drive.

In line with the Corvette philosophy of evolutionary development is a brand-new assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that will replace during this year the plant at St. Louis, where Corvettes have been built for 28 years. The Bowling Green facility, which will build Corvettes exclusively, is an investment in Corvette’s future. It represents the experience and knowledge learned over all those years, which are reflected in the state-of-the-art innovative technology used to build Corvettes. Just one of these modern technological innovations is a new paint process. In addition to many solid colors, four new optional two-tone treatments celebrate the opening of the new plant. All solid and two-tone metallics employ a basecoat/clear coat application for outstanding beauty. This method allows use of glamor metallics with large-flake high-metallic content. And the clear acrylic enamel finish coat gives a depth of luster not possible with conventional paint finished. It also provides a measure of protection against the elements. The four two-tone color combinations are: Silver Metallic over Dark Blue Metallic, Claret Metallic over Dark Claret Metallic, Silver Metallic over Charcoal Metallic, Beige over Dark Bronze Metallic.

Standard Equipment. Engine: 5.7 Liter (350 CID) 4-Bbl. 90ﹾ V8 engine. Black-accented magnesium rocker covers. Tubular stainless-steel exhaust manifolds. Chrome-plated air cleaner cover. Sealed side terminal Delco Freedom II heavy-duty battery. Auxiliary electric cooling fan. Computer command control. High Energy Ignition system. Drive Train: Fully synchronized 4-Speed manual transmission or auto-matic transmission with converter clutch feature in both second and third gears. Console-mounted shift lever with leather boot. Limited-slip rear axle with aluminum differential housing support. Electrical: Power windows with console-mounted controls. AM/FM push-button radio with dual front speakers and fixed mast antenna (may be deleted for credit). Air conditioning, heater and defroster with 3-speed blower. Full instrumentation – speedometer with trip odometer, 7000-RPM tachometer, voltmeter, oil pressure and water temperature gages. Quartz analog clock. Warning lights for low fuel, brakes, electric choke, seat belts and generator. Washer and dual-speed wipers with time-delay feature. Illuminated visor mirror for passenger. Courtesy and dome lights with time delay. Ashtray and cigarette lighter in center console. Dual-unit retractable headlamps with halogen inner high beams. Automatic cornering lights. Dual horns. Under hood light. Body Exterior: Steel-reinforced fiberglass construction. Removable roof panels, with stowage bags and tie-down. Tinted glass for all windows. Magic Mirror lacquer, enamel, or enamel/clear coat on all paint finished. Dual body color sport mirrors with remote controls. Body Interior: Molded shell seats with foam pads and high pivot folding backs that fold flat (passenger only). Padded vinyl and carpeted doors with map pockets. Leather with vinyl bolsters or full cloth seat trim. Molded cut-pile carpeting with carpeted floor mats. Glove box lock and light. Dual padded sunshades (driver’s shade extends). Rear underfloor storage compartment with lock. Interior hood release. Tilt-Telescopic steering wheel with leather-wrap rim. Center console with coin tray. Carpeted luggage area with concealment shade. Day-night rearview mirror. Chassis: Power steering. Power four-wheel disc brakes with dual hydraulic circuits and brake warning light. Steel-belted radial ply black wall tires (4). Rally wheels with bright trim rings (4) and center caps. Lightweight bias ply fully inflated spare tire and wheel. Independent front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar. Independent rear suspension. Fiberglass-reinforced composite single leaf spring with automatic transmission, steel multi-leaf spring with manual transmission. Integrated energy-absorbing front and rear bumpers. Side lift jack. 24-gallon fuel tank with high-density polyethylene liner. Corrosion resistance: Steel-reinforced fiberglass body. Galvanized steel body floor. Hot-melt-wax frame coating. Zincroterne coating for power steering, fuel and brake lines.

Safety Features. Occupant Protection: Manual lap/shoulder belts for driver (with reminder light and buzzer) and passenger. Energy-absorbing steering column. Passenger guard door locks. Safety door latches and stamped steel hinges. Energy-absorbing padded instrument panel with anti-reflective upper surface. Laminated windshield/tempered side and rear glass. Safety armrests. International identification symbols for controls and displays. Anti-theft: Anti-theft audio alarm system with starter interrupt feature. Anti-theft ignition key reminder buzzer. Anti-theft steering column lock. Accident avoidance: side marker lights and reflectors. Parking lamps that illuminate with headlamps. Four-way hazard warning flasher. Backup lights. Lane change feature in direction signal control. Windshield defrosters, washer and dual-speed wipers with time delay feature. Vinyl-edged inside mirror. Dual remote outside rearview mirrors, convex right-hand. Dual master cylinder brake system with warning lights. Starter safety switch.

Optional Equipment. Delco radios: Choose a Delco AM/FM stereo radio or select from available Delco ETR AM/FM stereo radio models: with 8-track tape player, with CB and 8-track tape player, with cassette tape player, with CB and cassette tape player. These ETR (Electronically Tuned Receiver) AM/FM stereo models feature LED readout, improved power (40% increase over 1980 models), improved AM noise reduction, electronic station memory, front/rear balance controls, automatic loudness control and more. All Citizens Band ETR radios include power tri-band antenna. Power antenna optional with other radios. All ETR radios include a digital clock (standard clock replaced by oil temperature gage when ETR radio is ordered). Dual rear speakers, with extended frequency range, included with all stereo radios for dynamic sound reproduction. Electric twin remote control sport mirrors. Twin sport mirrors are electrically controlled by two switches on the center console. Automatic speed control with Resume Speed feature. Designed to operate above speeds of approximately 30 MPH (50 km/h). The speed you preset remains constant up or down hills until braking or turning the system off. Six-way power driver’s sea. Six-way control provides good seat position for comfort, visibility and operating control access. Electric rear window defogger. Aluminum wheels. Removable glass roof panels with solar screening to help keep vehicle interior cooler. Goodyear white-lettered, steel-belted radial tires (P225/70R-15, P225/60R-15 – Eagle GT). Roof Panel carrier (rear deck). Gymkhana sports suspension includes rear stabilizer bar, higher rate rear steel springs and special tuned front and rear shock absorbers (included with trailering equipment package). Power door lock system. Heavy-duty shock absorbers. Trailering package includes heavy-duty radiator and Gymkhana suspension (requires automatic transmission). 2.87 ratio performance axle for automatic transmission (California only).


Corvette Power Teams
Engine Transmissions
Std. all states Ordering Code Displacement Compression Ratio Net Horsepower Net Torque 4-Speed Manual Automatic
5.7 Liter 4-Bbl. V8 (A) L81 350 Cu. In. 8.2:1 190 @ 4200 RPM 280 Lb. – Ft. @ 1600 RPM Standard (B)
  • Produced by GM: Chevrolet Motor Division.
  • Available in place of standard 4-Speed manual transmission at no extra charge.

Corvettes are equipped with GM-built engines produced by Chevrolet Motor division.
General: Rear-Wheel Drive, Front Engine, Corrosion-resistant, steel-reinforced fiberglass body.
Transmission (standard optional): 4-Speed manual with 2.72 Final Drive ratio (No Extra Charge) 3-speed automatic with 2.87 final drive ratio.
Chassis (Front suspension/rear suspension): Independent. Upper and lower control arms. Coil springs. Stabilizer bar. Independent, traverse leaf spring. Lateral struts, Fiberglass-reinforced Monoleaf Rear Spring (standard with automatic transmission).
Steering-Type: Power-assisted recirculating ball and tilt and telescopic adjustments. Steering wheel turns, lock to lock 2.58. Turning circle, curb to curb 40.4 feet.
Brake System: Power four-wheel 11.75-inch ventilated disc brakes with dual hydraulic circuits and warning lights.
Tires: Steel-belted, radial ply black wall – size P225/70R-15

Dimensions (Inches)
Wheelbase 98.0
Length (overall) 185.3
Width (overall) 69.0
Height (loaded) 48.0
Tread-Front 58.7
Tread-Rear 59.5
Head Room 36.2
Leg Room 42.1
Hip Room 49.9
Shoulder Room 47.5
Usable Luggage Capacity (cu. ft.) 8.4

Approximate Curb WTS. (lbs.) Manual Transmission 3345, Automatic Transmission 3345

Color Choices
Solid Exterior Red, Yellow, Black, White, Beige, Silver Metallic, Dark Blue Metallic, Mahogany Metallic, Claret Metallic, Maroon Metallic, Charcoal Metallic, Dark Bronze Metallic, Dark Claret Metallic
Two-Tone Exterior (Upper/Lower)
(Optional at Extra Cost)
Claret Metallic/Dark Claret Metallic, Silver Metallic/Dark Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic/Charcoal Metallic, Beige/Dark Bronze Metallic
Cloth Bucket Seats Camel, Dark Blue, Silver Gray, Dark Red, Black, Rust
Leather/Vinyl Bucket Seats Silver Gray, Charcoal, Dark Red, Camel, Dark Blue, Black, Red, Rust, Silver


Long Recommended Service Intervals
Engine Oil 12 Months or 7,500 miles
Oil Filter 12
Months or 7,500 miles (every 15,000 miles thereafter)
Spark Plugs 30,000 miles
Chassis Lubrication 12 Months or 7,500 miles
Automatic Transmission Fluid Change Every 100,000 miles