The “C3” Corvette, a.k.a. third generation Corvette, was produced by General Motors for the 1968 – 1982 model years. The styling of the new C3 was considerably different than its predecessor with a longer, fully redesigned body and interior. However, designers still carried forward the shark like styling cues in the C3 coupe and C3 convertible versions.
Though its skin was markedly different the underpinnings of the C3 were carried over from its predecessor including suspension, disc brakes, small-block and big-block V8’s, and manual transmissions. That’s not to say that Chevrolet was letting the C3 corvette stagnate and in fact quite the contrary. Over its 15 years of production the C3 Corvette evolved into a product that became one of the most popular and coveted of all corvette generations – with respect to both styling and performance. From an engine standpoint alone there were almost 2 dozen variants. From a production standpoint over half a million vehicles were delivered.
What that means is that we here at Eckler’s Corvette know that there are a lot of C3 Corvettes out there. Maybe you have a barn find? If so then we have all the C3 parts you need to restore your corvette to as new condition. Maybe you have a daily driver? If so then we have all the right C3 parts and C3 accessories to keep your baby well maintained. Maybe you have a fully restored C3? Well, we all know that no Corvette project is ever “done done”. We also have a full line of upgrades, performance add-ons, maintenance, and car care products for your C3 vette.
The “Stingray” was officially used from 1969 through 1976.
1968 was the first year for the Turbo Hydromantic 3-speed transmission. Prior automatics were the two-speed Powerglides.
1968 was the first year where the battery was not in the engine compartment. It was placed behind the seats for better weight distribution and handling.
The styling of the new C3 1968 Chevy Corvette was considerably different than its predecessor with a longer, fully redesigned body and interior. However, designers still carried forward the shark like styling cues in the C3 coupe and C3 convertible versions. The "Mako Shark" show car heralded the beginning of the 3rd Corvette generation (C3). The 1968 Corvette had T-top roof panels and a three-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, and 1968 was the first year where the battery was not in the engine compartment. It was placed behind the seats for better weight distribution and handling.
Total Production: 28,566 (9,936 Coupe, 18,630 Convertible)
An extended production year yielded an unusually high build quantity. The '69 Corvette was visually identical to the 1968 model, with the exception of the "Stingray" (now one word) emblem over the side "gill" vents and the 350 replaced the 327 small block engine.
Total Production: 38,762 (22,129 Coupe, 16,633 Convertible)
The 70's came in with a roar, and that meant changes for the Chevy Corvette. The 1970 Corvette kicked up its power with a more 454 cubic inch engine and a more powerful 370 hp LT1 small block engine. While the car was improved, sales were down due to a late start in the production year. In fact, the sales were at their lowest since 1962.
Total Production: 17,316 (10,668 Coupe, 6,648 Convertible)
While the 1971 Corvette faced new emission standards, resulting in a decrease in power, the 454 LS6 engine under the hood produced 425hp. Visually the '71 Vette looked the same as the '70 Vette and is known to be the least changed visual model from previous years' models. Still, more than half the cars were ordered with air conditioning.
Total Production: 21,801 (14,680 Coupe, 7,121 Convertible)
The 1972 Corvette was produced with the now-standard fiber optic warning lights in the center console as well as an anti-theft alarm system. 1972 was the final year for the front and rear chrome bumpers, and the first year horsepower would be measured as net rather than gross. Nearly half of the 1972 Chevy Corvette produced were equipped with an automatic transmission.
Total Production: 27,004 (20,496 Coupe, 6,508 Convertible)
Chevrolet advertised the 1973 Corvette with the headline "We gave it radials, a quieter ride, guard beams and a nose job." The nose job was a new lighter urethane bumper, installed due to new federal collision safety requirements. The chrome rear bumper and new side-impact door beams remained. Some say this was the year the Chevy Corvette began becoming more of a touring sports car than a muscle car.
Total Production: 30,464 (25,521 Coupe, 4,943 Convertible)
The 1974 Corvette was produced with a new bumper system. The rubber bumpers were easily recognized, especially the rear bumper with its vertical split between the two halves of the bumper assembly. The new bumper cover essentially eliminated the tailpipe extensions, so the tailpipes were now turned down. The 1974 Stingray was fast. Equipped with an L48 195hp small-block it could take off from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds.
Total Production: (32,028 Coupe, 5,474 Convertible)
The 1975 Corvette was advertised by Chevrolet as the more efficient Corvette. The two piece rear bumper assembly was replaced by a one-piece unit. This was the final year of the Corvette convertible for the 1968-82 third generation of Corvettes. We wouldn't see another Chevrolet Corvette convertible until 1986.
Total Production: 38,465 (33,836 Coupe, 4,629 Convertible)
The 1976 Corvette didn't have a lot of changes, but a few upgrades were made including embedded heating elements in the rear glass window. Sales increased by about 12,000 from the previous year despite the fact that the Corvette convertible was no longer available.
The 1977 Corvette was produced with a now standard leather seat trim, with cloth and leather an option at no extra cost. The Stingray script was gone from the front fender, however. This was the last year the Chevy Corvette would have a vertically positioned rear window. Power steering and power brakes were standard and new options were introduced such as cruise control (available on cars with automatic transmission) and body-colored sports mirrors. The engine paint color was changed to Corporate blue, from the Chevy orange, early on in production.
1978 was the 25th anniversary of the Chevy Corvette. Every 1978 Corvette had a silver anniversary nose and silver fuel door emblems. The 1978 'Vette also had a new fastback rear window. There were two special editions produced for the 25th anniversary. One was a special edition two-tone paint option, which was the first two-tone paint option on a Corvette since 1961.
The 1980 Corvette had a completely redesigned front and rear bumper. The new look for the ’80 Vette was striking, with its more aerodynamic look and new hood design. Tougher emissions made it necessary for all Corvettes in California to be fitted with a 305 cubic inch engine.
The 1981 Corvette was the first model Corvette to use a fiberglass rear leaf spring, which is now a Chevy Corvette trademark. There was a two month period when Corvettes were produced in two facilities at once, when the assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky opened in June, 1981, and the old plant in St. Louis closed in August.
The Cross-Fire Injection fuel delivery system and a new 4-speed automatic transmission were introduced in the 1982 Corvette, and the Cross-Fire Injection emblems were added to the front fenders. This would be the last year for 8-track tape players in the Corvette. A 1982 Corvette Collector Edition coupe was offered, with two-tone silver and beige paint and interior, and a glass hatchback rear window. It also had separate serial number sequencing and special wheels patterned after the '67 Vette bolt-on alloys.