Go to content
C3 Facts
C3 Corvette
1968 - 1982
The C3 Corvette was introduced in the 1968 model year. It was based on the Mako Shark concept car from 1965. The car had several innovative features including a removable roof panel and back glass, pop up headlights, rear defroster, AM/FM radio, and the coolest feature was the vacuum operated pop up doors that hid the wipers.  It was also available as a convertible with an available removable hardtop. All under the newly designed fiberglass body.
The car came with a wide range of engine options from the 327 300hp base motor and four 427 big block motors including the L88. The 2 speed Power Glide transmission was replaced by the 3 speed TurboHydra-Matic, a 3-speed manual and a 4 speed Muncie transmission. Also, all big block cars had a hood bulge to accommodate the bigger engine size and to let everyone know it was something special.
427 Engines were:
  • L36    390hp
  • L68    400hp
  • L88    430hp yeah right
  • L71    435hp

The 1969 Corvette saw the end to the 327-engine replaced by the 350. There were minor changes to the 69 Corvette some new options, handling improvements, wider tires, side exhaust, and the Stingray nameplate.

1970 - 1972
Minor changes continued from 70 – 72.  Tougher emissions standards continued to affect performance, the ZR2 option was discontinued because the LS6 motor was not available.

The 1973 C3 came with some significant changes. It would be the 20th anniversary of the Corvette and a mid-cycle refresh was in order.  The most obvious was the 1973 Corvette had a urethane front bumper and chrome rear bumpers.
The 1974 Corvette now really started to feel the impact of emission standards with hp taking a major hit on all the available engines. The base small-block L46 engine was now only 190 horsepower. The L82 small-block was rated at 250 horsepower while the only big block, the LS4, was now a meager 270 horsepower. For the first time in over a decade, no Corvette engines were rated at 300hp Corvette.
1975 was a transition year for the Corvette, with increased sales even as the price reached $10,000. The 1975 Corvette was the first to have a catalytic converter, the first to not have a true dual exhaust, and the first time a big-block engine option was not available. It was also the last year the C3 was offered as a convertible.
The C3 would be 10 years old after the 1977 model year and emissions regulatory changes had all but neutered the Corvette.  The 1977 model year saw the 500,000th Corvette roll off the assembly line.

Only two engines were available: the 350 cubic inch small-block which produced 165hp and the L82 small-block which produced 205hp. The 1976 and 77 engines had slightly more hp. The base engine produced 180hp and the L82 was 210hp.
An HEI ignition and headlight on alert warning were added for 1975. For 1976, the performance cowl induction hood was eliminated.  steel floor panels replaced the fiberglass floors, new aluminum wheels were added after solving the problem of losing air pressure, and the 1976 Corvette Sport Steering wheel was from the Chevy Vega.
In 1977 the Stingray name was removed and replaced with the racing flag emblem. The dash and controls were redesigned and leather-covered seats became standard.
Chevrolet Corvette’s 25th anniversary was offered in 1979.  The Silver Anniversary Edition was just a special silver over gray paint scheme with a pinstripe, special anniversary badging, sport mirrors, and aluminum wheels.
The Indy 500 Pace Car version of the Corvette was also created as part of the celebration and featured a special two-tone paint scheme and Indy 500 graphics.
All Corvettes in 1978 featured the new fastback design, a new gauge cluster, glass T-top panels, wider tires. A/C was now standard along with AM/FM radio, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and power windows.
The base engine was the 350 cu L48 produced that produced 185 horsepower, and the L82 that produced 220, and was the only engine available with a close-ratio four-speed manual or an upgraded Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic transmission. The 1979 models received small horsepower increases to 195 and 225 horsepower.
The 80’s Corvettes maintained the C2 look with the fastback rear glass, standard leather interior, AC, power windows, and door locks. Two engine options were available the L48, 190 horsepower, and the L82, 230 horsepower. California’s strict emission laws only allowed a 305 cubic inch engine producing 180 horsepower, and only with an automatic transmission. Weight loss was a priority and was achieved with the use of aluminum and other revised materials throughout the car. The Corvette now had the federally mandated 85-mile-per-hour speedometer
In 1981 production moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to a state-of-the-art facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, improving build quality and providing the ability to build the vehicles that would be coming in the future years.
The last piece of the C3 Corvette puzzle was the 1982 Collector Edition.
In 1982 a single-engine, the L81, replaced both the L48 and L82 engines. It was rated at 190 horsepower, 280 ft of torque, and featured Cross-Fired injection or as it was sometimes called No-fire-Injection, stainless steel exhaust manifolds with additional cooling from an electric fan. A computer now controlled the ignition timing and the air-fuel mixture. New paint options were also added, including several two-tone paint schemes.
The end of the run of the C3 was a Collector Edition Corvette, with a frameless rear glass hatch, special emblems, and alloy wheels, a unique paint scheme, and special exterior-matching interior colors with leather upholstery, all for $20,000.
1982 was the last year of the C3. In retrospect, it had a long and successful run surviving ever-increasing federal emission standard, gas shortages, and financial problems. All that being said it managed to bridge the gap by surviving and making the C4 possible.


Back to content