The C3 Corvette lived in a turbulent era for the automotive industry, but it remained America’s flagship sports car with styling that went from 1960s radical to the fiberglass embodiment of ’70s automotive excess and cutting-edge computerized improvements. It was going to take a stunning design to be a worthy successor to the impressive 1963–67 Corvette (C2), and that’s why you might want one.
So let’s get a high level overview of every year of C3 Corvette, and highlight special editions so you’ll know which Corvette is best for you.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
Minor addendum for 1972: A/C was offered as an option with the LT-1 engine option. Only around 200 were sold, making this combination one of the rarer Corvettes.
Regarding the '73, the article states "... while switching to steel-belted radials made for better overall performance." I don't know if the switch to radials was to blame or whether other suspension changes are to blame, but the handling of the '73 was dramatically poorer than its predecessors. The first car I ever purchased was a '73 Vette, fulfilling a dream I'd had since I first saw a '63 Stingray coupe when I was in the 8th grade. It was an absolutely beautiful car - dark blue metallic, black leather interior, 4-speed and an L82 engine. However, the handling was a big disappointment. While in the Navy, I occasionally drove a buddy's '71 Vette. It tracked like it was on rails and, if I recall correctly, could pull almost 1g on the skidpad. But the '73 handled like an ordinary sedan, capable of only about 0.7g on the skidpad. I think it took a year or so for Chevy to figure how to tune the suspension to radials.
Thank you for your feedback with your personal experience. It seems like the suspension wasn't yet tuned for the radial tires, but ride/wet weather traction/high speed stability was still better. So I will edit the article to reflect this.
Did yours have the Z07 package? It would be interesting to see what a 73 with the Z07 package would do relative to the performance of that 71 you drove, though I have a hard time believing even a ZR1 would pull 1G in cornering. Car and Driver said the 1971s are 0.75 to 0.85G on the skid pad, as per Zora's feedback.
I pretty much agree with the other reply. 1g cornering was no where near a reality due in large part to the tire technology of the day. Also, the early C3’s with a big block were never known to have the agility of the small block models. Many years ago I went toe to toe driving an LT1 against a 427 out on the track. We were both running 235 wide radials on all 4 corners. He simply could not stay with me in the twisties. The only place he could start reeling me in was on the straights about 100 feet out of the last corner when he could finally get it hooked up, and give it full throttle.
As the proud owner of a #'s matching 350/350 '69 Silver Convertible, with factory side pipe option car I can say that the article was well written and covered the details of the C3 series well. The '69 had received a thorough restoration from a previous owner, very nice job. I recently sold my first year C3'68 T-Top car after I completed a fairly good restoration to it (New paint, Stainless Steel Brake updates, re-chromed bumpers, and a totally new interior/seat covers, and all other mechanical updates that were needed. After that rather expensive experience, I can tell you it might be better to look for a car that the previous owner has already done the work for you (I went WAY over my initial budget for the '68 T-Top).
The C3 cars (especially the chrome bumper cars) still turn a lot of heads and are very collectible right now. The later C3's with the lower Horse Power engines (due to Smog and gas mileage concerns) and rubber bumpers are not quite as "hot." But in their day they were the pinnacle of performance from the Bow Tie company. If you are considering purchasing a C3 car, they are a good time capsule back to the early days of Corvette ownership.
Let me tell you why there was no Corvette built for the public in 1983.
They built the C3 for 15 years. Slowly, meticulously, improving it every year, with great pride until they reached perfection in 1982. There was just nowhere to go, no way to make it more beautiful, so they shut it down! Finally in 1984 public demand made them start production back up with the C4, but the C3 has never been equaled. You just cannot improve on Perfection!
I have a 1969 coupe, riverside gold red interior,350/350 with 51,000 miles.
i have owned it since 1972 and have the original protec-to card.
Its kinda bare bones but it has factory side pipes and chrome fender louvers.DJP
As the original owner of an '82 with the "Corvette Gold Metallic" paint scheme (purchased in Feb '83), and as a previous owner of a '77, it was great to read the trends from year to year. Brought back great memories!!
Very good article. Only thing missing is the pricing for 1982 (which was way up) and the production numbers, around 26,000 which were way down. Oh, quarter mile times would have been nice to, so a good comparison could be made. We are original owners of a 1982 Silver green metallic with less than 15,000 mi. Getting it back on the road and going to drive it more!
Wow, thank you for reading and for your kind words! I have updated the 1982 section with production and price info. Thank you for this.
The 1/4 mile times are too hard to get and make it relevant, as magazine numbers are usually only for a specific engine/trans combo, and documenting them all would make this article even longer than it already is. Not to mention those times are sometimes slower than what people could put down on their local tracks.
Would love to see photos of your '82 Corvette sometime here on the Hagerty Community!
I had a '69 L36 coupe that was the spitting image of the '68 car you used as an example. Le Mans Blue with a black standard interior, M21 4 speed tranny, 3.36 gears and the F41 handling package. It had the dealer installed luggage rack and the inserts in the gill slits but no side pipes. I bought the car in 2004 and sold it in 2011. In the seven years I owned it I put seven thousand miles on the car to run it all the way up to 77K. It was a low optioned unit with no AC, which would have made it impossible to own outside of the SF Bay Area where I lived at the time. I had it judged by NCRS and it won a Top Flight award the first time out. It was probably the most uncomfortable car I have ever owned and you couldn't even get a set of golf clubs into it, but I still miss it for its head turning ability. People just wanted to talk to me about that old Stingray.
I own a 1968 triple black convertible with optional hard top. It has a 427ci/435hp tri-power/aluminum head engine (L89) - only 624 were produced in 1968 (the L88 was the only other engine option with less built). Why wasn't that listed in your article as an engine choice in 1968?
Awesome article ! Thank you for writing it. I have a '69 convertible with L-46. It had sipe pipes too, but they rotted and have rockers now. Some day i will get the side pipes back on !