CC Capsule: 1988 Chevrolet Corvette – Let’s Get Physical

The wedge-shaped, fourth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, in production from between model years 1984 and ’96, was the then-new Corvette that many in my generation grew up dreaming of owning one day.  The C4’s run actually ended a few years after I had graduated high school, with production overlapping with most of my grade school years.  This was the iteration that many of us thought of when Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” would play on our portable radios or Sony Walkmans.  I spotted this example in front of one of my former health clubs, and it triggered some memories.

One of the things I remember vividly about the 1980s was a new focus on health and fitness that seemed to be prevalent everywhere.  My family had granola bars and Fruit Roll-Ups in our pantry cupboard.  No pop.  No “sugar” cereals.  There was Hi-C or Sunny Delight in the fridge only on occasion, if we were lucky.  I also remember viewing the brief, five-minute episodes of “ABC Funfit” between my Saturday morning cartoons, and watching kids do jumping jacks along with that program’s hostess, Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Mary Lou Retton.

I also remember mandatory participation in the nationwide “Ronald Reagan Physical Fitness Program” and its accompanying tests at my elementary school.  I was not at all an athletic kid, and I loathed doing push-ups, rope-climbs, or any of that other stuff that didn’t involve dodging or kicking a giant, red, rubber ball, or running and playing “tag” with friends in the giant field behind our school.  At the time, that President Reagan-initiated program seemed like a pointless exercise (pun intended) in reinforcing for the class bullies who their easiest targets were, in full view of the entire class.

Fast-forward some thirty-odd years, I have made peace with exercise and (wait for it…) actually, really enjoy it.  When the C4 came out in 1983 for model year ’84, I remember thinking it looked like a much leaner, more athletic C3 – almost like it had lost its baby fat in adolescence and had gotten a weight bench for Christmas.  Today, I might prefer the dramatic curves of a C3 (even a later edition), but when the fourth-generation cars were new, to me they looked very lithe, smooth and impressive.  More importantly, the ’84 Corvette just seemed like a natural-born winner, an association that a slightly awkward kid like me could totally appreciate.

Your author, c. 1985. Flint, Michigan.

As I beheld the newest Corvette at that age, I was suitably blown away by what looked like the perfect new look for the high-tech ’80s.  Judging by its wheels, this example looks to be an ’88 or ’89 model.  Seeing it in front of the former World Gym made me smile as I thought about how great it is to be an adult, to be of good health and fitness… and also how I’ll never have to do a Reagan program-style chin-up ever, ever again.

Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, April 28, 2013.

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