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;The 1981 Chevrolet Corvette

1981 Silver Two-Tone Corvette Coupe

1981 was the first year Corvettes were ever produced in two factories at one time. The new Bowling Green, Kentucky plant produced its first Corvette on June 1, 1981 while the St. Louis plant was producing its last Corvettes. The last St. Louis Vette was produced on August 1, 1981. All St. Louis Corvettes were painted with lacquer paints while the new Bowling Green plant had a brand new paint facility and used enamels with clear top coats. 1981 was the last year a manual transmission was available until late in 1984 with the C4. Automatic transmission Corvettes were equipped with a new fiberglass re-inforced rear mono-spring. This spring was 33 pounds lighter than the steel spring. Cars with the manual transmissions or the Gymkhana supsension package still received the steel spring. A new two-tone paint process was available for the first time from the Bowling Green factory. The computer command control which was used on the California Corvettes in 1980 was now standard on all Corvettes. The stainless steel exhaust mainfold from the California Vettes was also standard, it weighed 14 pounds less than the cast iron manifold and flowed better as well. A new chromed air cleaner cover was added to the engine compartment. California buyers could finally buy a manual Corvette this year. A quartz clock was now standard and a six-way power seat was optional. Electronic tuning radios could have an optional CB radio or an 8-track tape player. 1981 marks the first year that Corvette body style numbers were incorporated into the VIN number instead of being a seperate number.

Production Options and Build Statistics

Total 1981 Corvettes Built - 40,606

Serial Numbers
St. Louis1G1AY876xBS400001 - 1G1AY876xBS431611
Bowling Green1G1AY876xB5100002 - 1G1AY876xB5108995

The "Vehicle Identification Number" (also VIN or serial number) is stamped on a plate on the inner vertical surface of the left windshield pillar visible through the windshield.

Serial Number Decoder

11US built
2GGeneral Motors product
31Chevrolet Motor Division vehicle
4AType of non-passive passenger restraint system
5YCorvette car line series
6-787Body style number: two-door plainback special coupe

L81 350-cid V8, 190-hp

9?A check digit that calculates the characters in the serial number and gives it a single digit code and can be used to verify that the serial number is legitimate
10BThe model year where B = 1981
11S or 5S=St. Louis, MO and 5=Bowling Green, KY
12-17100001 and upProduction Sequence

Engine Serial Number Decoder

1981 Corvette engines have the last six digits of the VIN stamped on the block after the engine number. The date code the engine was manufactured was also cast into the block. The engine serial number includes a production sequence number starting with 0001001 and one of the suffixes below.

CodeEngineHorsepowerCompressionTransmissionFuel SupplyExtra Features
ZDAL81 350-cid190-hp V-88.2:1ManualFour-Barrel Carburetor
ZDBL81 350-cid190-hp V-88.2:1AutomaticFour-Barrel CarburetorCalifornia
ZDCL81 350-cid190-hp V-88.2:1ManualFour-Barrel CarburetorCalifornia
ZDDL81 350-cid190-hp V-88.2:1AutomaticFour-Barrel Carburetor

Production Options

1YY87Base Coupe$16,258.52 40,606 100.0%
A42Power Driver Seat$183.00 29,200 71.9%
AU3Power Door Locks$145.00 36,322 89.4%
CC1Removable Glass Roof Panels$414.00 29,095 71.7%
C49Rear Window Defogger$119.00 36,893 90.9%
DG7Electric Sport Mirrors$117.00 13,567 33.4%
D84Two-Tone Paint$399.00 5,352 13.2%
F51Heavy Duty Shock Absorbers$37.00 1,128 2.8%
FE7Gymkhana Suspension$57.00 7,803 19.2%
G92Performance Axle Ratio$20.00 2,400 5.9%
K35Cruise Control$155.00 32,522 80.1%
MM44-Speed Manual Transmission$0.00 5,575 13.7%
MX14-Speed Automatic Transmission$0.00 N/A N/A
N90Aluminum Wheels$428.00 36,485 89.9%
na5Standard Emissions Equipment$0.00 N/A N/A
QGQWhite Letter Steel Belted Blackwall Tires, P225/70R15$0.00 N/A N/A
QGRWhite Letter Steel Belted Radial Tires, P225/70R15$72.00 21,939 54.0%
QXHWhite Letter Steel Belted Radial Tires, P255/60R15$491.92 18,004 44.3%
UL5Radio DeleteN/A 315 0.8%
UM4AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ 8-track$386.00 8,262 20.3%
UM5AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ 8-track/CB$712.00 792 2.0%
UM6AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ cassette$423.00 22,892 56.4%
UN5AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ cassette/CB$750.00 2,349 5.8%
U58AM-FM Radio Stereo$95.00 5,145 12.7%
U75Power Antenna$55.00 32,903 81.0%
V54Roof Panel Carrier$135.00 3,303 8.1%
YF5California Emissions Certification$46.00 4,951 12.2%
ZN1Trailer Package$110.00 916 2.3%

Color Options for 1981

Interior options for exterior colors are suggested by Chevrolet. Any combination could be ordered.
Soft Top Color
Interior Color
01Primer Gray$0.001N/A N/A N/A
06Mahogany Metallic$0.001,092CM/DR N/A N/A
10White$0.006,387B-CH-CM-DB-DR-MR-SG N/A N/A
13Silver Metallic$0.002,590B-CH-DB-MR-SG N/A N/A
19Black$0.004,712B-CH-CM-DR-MR-SG N/A N/A
24Bright Blue Metallic$0.001CH-CM-DB-SG N/A N/A
28Dark Blue Metallic$0.002,522CM-DB-MR-SG N/A N/A
33Silver Metallic$0.003,369CH-DB-DR-SG N/A N/A
38Dark Blue Metallic$0.00496CM-DB-SG N/A N/A
39Charcoal Metallic$0.00613CH-DR-SG N/A N/A
50Beige$0.002,239CH-CM-DB-DR N/A N/A
52Yellow$0.001,031B-CH-CM N/A N/A
59Beige$0.003,842CM-DB-DR-MR N/A N/A
74Dark Bronze$0.00432CH-CM N/A N/A
75Red$0.004,310B-CH-CM-MR-SG N/A N/A
79Maroon Metallic$0.001,618B-CH-CM-MR-SG N/A N/A
80Autumn Red$0.001,505CH-CM-DR-SG N/A N/A
84Charcoal Metallic$0.003,485B-CH-CM-MR-SG N/A N/A
98Dark Claret Metallic$0.00N/ACM-DR-SG N/A N/A
33/38Silver/Dark Blue$0.00N/ADM-SG N/A N/A
33/39Silver/Charcoal$0.00N/ACH-SG N/A N/A
50/74Beige/Dark Bronze$0.00N/ACM N/A N/A
80/98Autumn Red/Dark Claret$0.00N/ADR-SG N/A N/A
Color Codes: B=Black, C=Cloth, CH=Charcoal, CM=Camel, CIN=Cinnabar, DB=Dark Blue, DR=Dark Red, L=Leather, MR=Medium Red, SG=Silver Gray

There were approximately 80 pilot vehicles painted with two-tone paints for 1981 that were a test for a new process. These paints had codes that started with an "E" to identify them

Interior Colors

13CSilver Gray Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
19CBlack Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
29CDark Blue Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
64CCamel Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
67CCinnabar Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
74CDark Red Cloth$0.00 N/A N/A
132Silver Gray Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
152Silver Gray Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
182Charcoal Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
192Black Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
292Dark Blue Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
642Camel Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
672Cinnabar Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
742Dark Red Leather$0.00 N/A N/A
752Medium Red Leather$0.00 N/A N/A

1981 Corvette Specifications

Mechanical Dimensions

Wheelbase98 inches (2.489 m)
Overall length185.2 inches (4.704 m)
Overall width69.0 inches (1.753 m)
Overall height48 inches (1.219 m)
Ground Clearance4.5 inches (11.4 cm)
Front tread58.7 inches (1.491 m)
Rear tread59.5 inches (1.511 m)
Wheel size15 x 8 inches
TiresP225/70R-15 SBR (steel-belted radial)
SteeringRecirculating ball
Front suspensionIndependent, unequal-length control arms with ball joints, coil springs, and stabilizer bar
Rear suspensionIndependent, trailing link, transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs
BrakesHydraulic, vented four wheel discs 11.75-inch diameter, single calipers
IgnitionHEI electronic
Body constructionSeparate fiberglass body and box-type ladder frame with cross-members
Fuel tank24 US Gal (20 Imp Gal) (91 liters)

Engine Specifications

FeatureBase Engine RPO L81
TypeV-8, 90-degree Overhead valve
BlockCast iron block
Displacement350 cid (5.7 liters)
Bore & Stroke4.00 x 3.48"
Compression ratio8.2:1
Brake Horsepower190 @ 4200
Torque280 lb-ft @ 1600
Main BearingFive
Valve LiftersHydraulic
Fuel SupplyRochester Quadrajet

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