From 1987 to 1996, the American company Chevy produced a sedan as a tribute to Corsica. More than one and a half million cars have left the factories Delaware and New Jersey. Thirty years later, we can say it: it was not a success.
Four meters and sixty long. A seven ton of good American steel. A 2.8 liter V6 under the hood. And on the trunk lid, this signature: Chevrolet Corsica.
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From 1987 to 1996, the large American company marketed a car named after the island. Because the American manufacturers, at the heart of a society that sanctifies the car and in their desire to make customers dream, have often favored exotic names, postcard destinations: Chevrolet Monte-Carlo, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Orlando or Ford Capri, Ford Granada, Ford Gran Torino.
How did a Chevrolet engineer or executive down there in Detroit come up with the idea of calling a new model the Corsica? Legend has it that the Opel Corsa (1982) was given this name after a trip to the island for an executive of the German brand.
But for Corsica, the lambda researcher can consult thousands of websites, dive into the bowels of the company’s history, nothing suggests a happy event for the Chevrolet CEO in Calacuccia or a cruise of the chief mechanic in Scandola. No, it seems the name Corsica was chosen for its ability to evoke a trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth, perhaps the Latin side, the Mediterranean.
And so no one is unaware of the imprint, even the ancient one, of Corsica in the United States, its many immigrants who have made their fortune there or not, the surnames offered to several municipalities. The connection is undoubtedly tenuous, but the executives of Chevrolet have undoubtedly found real commercial strength, an argument. In what they were not necessarily wrong, as this model (designed by Irvin Rybicki, future vice president of General Motors) will sell more than 1.6 million copies during the nine years of its production.
The amazing TV commercial with extraterrestrials!
The first year of production, Corsica is reserved for rental and company cars of large companies. Solid sedan, from 90 to 150 horsepower depending on the model, it was marketed to the general public from 1988. And watch your eyes, you absolutely must watch (thanks Youtube), the TV commercials of the time. Especially the one where this model family driving at night on a country road is kidnapped by the beam of an ET-style spaceship! With incredible creatures, hydrocephalic of course, who neither more nor less decide to clone the vehicle.
So kitsch and eighties. Magazine ads are much more reasonable in comparison, relying on its family side (you can keep a BMX bike!) and its price. And it will work, since in 1988 the Corsica is the second best-selling car in the US after the Ford Escort. Family Circle magazine even named it car of the year. This success thus encourages the designers to present different models including LTZ, with leather interior.
But this only applies to the US. Or in Canada, where it will be marketed under the Pontiac brand, Tempest model. Corsica will never cross the Atlantic. At that time, Renault released its R21, Citroën its ZX. Hard to compete financially as the Chevrolet still comes out to $9,969 for the base model.
“Symbol of everything that was wrong with GM”
The invoice is not the only obstacle to importing an American car as explained by Olivier Ottobrini, at the head, after his grandfather, of America Garage, in Piedigriggio: ” we have never had it seems to me a Chevrolet Corsica here. Chevrolet yes, but not this model. It is extremely complicated to bring an American car to Europe. There are a number of standards that apply. Audio standards for example. Also pollution. If only the turn signals! For them they are red, for us it is orange. Suffice it to say, it really isn’t simple. And then you have to pass these vehicles to UTAC, which is a certification body, more demanding than a simple technical inspection, and which only exists on the continent. »
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To be perfectly honest, the Chevrolet Corsica was not a design gem. Ok, it was a wagon, so it wasn’t really the vehicle to go out to Acapulco at the time. But there are limits to bad taste. In fact the car went very well with a mule cut driver! Even Americans today are confused by the cut of Corsica. On his Autotrader website, Aaron Gold wrote: “ Oh, the Chevrolet Corsica, treasure of the rental fleet and symbol of everything that was wrong with General Motors… even as a family car, it’s not terrible, with a small trunk and small rear legroom. »
Elaine Duvet, on the getjerry side, tackles even harder and immediately asks herself: “ why do some say the Chevy Corsica is the worst car ever?…the plastic interior would crack, sink and warp in no time…if you ever come across one, be glad you didn’t drive it. »
Well, apparently it wasn’t necessarily a huge success despite pretty positive sales figures.
For once, Corsica had the opportunity to shine abroad, to make people dream, to make people talk positively about it (without ATC bringing out the checkbook!), it comes across a car, like all the world, or almost, want to forget.
It’s still bad luck. The fact is that Corsica is the only region in France, unless I’m mistaken, that has had the privilege of giving its name to a car and an American car. We comfort each other as best we can.