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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. Louis): 1G1AY876xBS400001 through 1G1AY876xBS431611
Serial numbers (Bowling Green): 1G1AY876xB5100002 through 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.
Position Character Description
1 1 US built
2 G General Motors product
3 1 Chevrolet Motor Division vehicle
4 A Type of non-passive passenger restraint system
5 Y Corvette car line series
6 & 7 87 Body style number: two-door plainback special coupe
8 6

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
10 B The model year where B = 1981
11 S or 5 S=St. Louis, MO and 5=Bowling Green, KY
12-17 100001 and up Production Sequence

Engine Serial Number

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.

Suffix Engine Horsepower Compression Transmission Fuel Supply Emission Control System
ZDA L81 350-cid 190-hp V-8 8.2:1 Manual Four-Barrel Carburetor  
ZDB L81 350-cid 190-hp V-8 8.2:1 Automatic Four-Barrel Carburetor California
ZDC L81 350-cid 190-hp V-8 8.2:1 Manual Four-Barrel Carburetor California
ZDD L81 350-cid 190-hp V-8 8.2:1 Automatic Four-Barrel Carburetor  


Production Options

RPO Description Price Production
1YY87 Base Coupe $16,258.52 40,606
A42 Power Driver Seat $183 29,200
AU3 Power Door Locks $145 36,322
CC1 Removable Glass Roof Panels $414 29,095
C49 Rear Window Defogger $119 36,893
DG7 Electric Sport Mirrors $117 13,567
D84 Two-Tone Paint $399 5,352
F51 Heavy Duty Shock Absorbers $37 1,128
FE7 Gymkhana Suspension $57 7,803
G92 Performance Axle Ratio $20 2,400
K35 Cruise Control $155 32,522
MM4 4-Speed Manual Transmission $0.00 5,575
MX1 4-Speed Automatic Transmission $0.00 N/A
N90 Aluminum Wheels $428 36,485
na5 Standard Emissions Equipment $0 N/A
QGQ White Letter Steel Belted Blackwall Tires, P225/70R15 $0.00 N/A
QGR White Letter Steel Belted Radial Tires, P225/70R15 $72 21,939
QXH White Letter Steel Belted Radial Tires, P255/60R15 $491.92 18,004
UL5 Radio Delete $-118 315
UM4 AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ 8-track $386 8,262
UM5 AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ 8-track/CB $712 792
UM6 AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ cassette $423 22,892
UN5 AM/FM Radio, ETR stereo w/ cassette/CB $750 2,349
U58 AM-FM Radio Stereo $95 5,145
U75 Power Antenna $55 32,903
V54 Roof Panel Carrier $135 3,303
YF5 California Emissions Certification $46 4,951
ZN1 Trailer Package $110 916

Color Options for 1981

Interior options for exterior colors are suggested by Chevrolet. Any combination could be ordered.
RPO Exterior Interior Production Facility
01 Primer Gray N/A 1 St. Louis
06 Mahogany Metallic CM/DR 1,092 St. Louis
10 White B-CH-CM-DB-DR-MR-SG 6,387 St. Louis
13 Silver Metallic B-CH-DB-MR-SG 2,590 St. Louis
19 Black B-CH-CM-DR-MR-SG 4,712 St. Louis
24 Bright Blue Metallic CH-CM-DB-SG 1 St. Louis
28 Dark Blue Metallic CM-DB-MR-SG 2,522 St. Louis
33 Silver Metallic CH-DB-DR-SG 3,369 Bowling Green
38 Dark Blue Metallic CM-DB-SG 496 Bowling Green
39 Charcoal Metallic CH-DR-SG 613 Bowling Green
50 Beige CH-CM-DB-DR 2,239 Bowling Green
52 Yellow B-CH-CM 1,031 St. Louis
59 Beige CM-DB-DR-MR 3,842 St. Louis
74 Dark Bronze CH-CM 432 Bowling Green
75 Red B-CH-CM-MR-SG 4,310 St. Louis
79 Maroon Metallic B-CH-CM-MR-SG 1,618 St. Louis
80 Autumn Red CH-CM-DR-SG 1,505 Bowling Green
84 Charcoal Metallic B-CH-CM-MR-SG 3,485 St. Louis
98 Dark Claret Metallic CM-DR-SG N/A Bowling Green
33/38 Silver/Dark Blue DM-SG N/A Bowling Green
33/39 Silver/Charcoal CH-SG N/A Bowling Green
50/74 Beige/Dark Bronze CM N/A Bowling Green
80/98 Autumn Red/Dark Claret DR-SG N/A Bowling Green
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

RPO Color Production
13C Silver Gray Cloth N/A
19C Black Cloth N/A
29C Dark Blue Cloth N/A
64C Camel Cloth N/A
67C Cinnabar Cloth N/A
74C Dark Red Cloth N/A
132 Silver Gray Leather N/A
152 Silver Gray Leather N/A
182 Charcoal Leather N/A
192 Black Leather N/A
292 Dark Blue Leather N/A
642 Camel Leather N/A
672 Cinnabar Leather N/A
742 Dark Red Leather N/A
752 Medium Red Leather N/A
Note: Cloth inserts have leather surrounds on seating.

1981 Corvette Specifications

Mechanical Dimensions

Feature Coupe
Wheelbase 98 inches (2.489 m)
Overall length 185.2 inches (4.704 m)
Overall width 69.0 inches (1.753 m)
Overall height 48 inches (1.219 m)
Ground Clearance 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)
Front tread 58.7 inches (1.491 m)
Rear tread 59.5 inches (1.511 m)
Wheel size 15 x 8 inches
Tires P225/70R-15 SBR (steel-belted radial)
Positraction standard
Steering Recirculating ball
Front suspension Independent, unequal-length control arms with ball joints, coil springs, and stabilizer bar
Rear suspension Independent, trailing link, transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs
Brakes Hydraulic, vented four wheel discs; 11.75-inch diameter, single calipers
Ignition HEI electronic
Body construction Separate fiberglass body and box-type ladder frame with cross-members
Fuel tank 24 US Gal (20 Imp Gal) (91 liters)

Engine Specifications

Feature Base Engine RPO L81
Type V-8, 90-degree Overhead valve
Block Cast iron block
Displacement 350 cid (5.7 liters)
Bore & Stroke 4.00 x 3.48"
Compression ratio 8.2:1
Brake Horsepower 190 @ 4200
Torque 280 lb-ft @ 1600
Main Bearing Five
Valve Lifters Hydraulic
Fuel Supply Rochester Quadrajet

 


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