Chevrolet Corvette C3 (1968 - 1982) Review

Chevrolet Corvette C3 (1968 - 1982) Chevrolet Corvette C3 (1968 - 1982) Chevrolet Corvette C3 (1968 - 1982)

As we look at the seven generations of the Corvette, this time we focus on the third gen C3, from 1968-82



If you had to nominate the runt of the Corvette litter, many would point the finger at the C3. The sexy C2 was always going to be a tough act to follow and the C3 utilised a number of carry-over parts and utilised them for a very long time. In terms of units sold, however, the C3 is the undisputed uber-Vette. The C1 shifted 69,015 units in its total production span. The C2 shifted 117,964 cars. The C3 wiped the opposition out, selling 542,861 cars over a production run that encompassed the very darkest days of both the 1973 and 1979 Oil Crises when V8 cars were about as popular as a huntsman in your headphones. In case you’re interested, registrations for the next three generations totalled 358,180 for the C4, 238,230 for the C5 and 215,125 for the C6. Even on the basis of sales per year, the C3 comfortably crushes the others.

So why was the formula so right for this car? Perhaps the C3’s sheer ubiquity dulled our appreciation for a very pragmatic piece of vehicle design. In fact, it sprang from the Mako Shark II design study which was initiated in 1964, a mere year after the Corvette C2 hit dealer floors. The ’68 Vette was launched with a 435hp 427ci engine, ushering in the T-top targa roof alongside the more traditional full convertible. The following year saw the 250,000th Corvette roll off the line on November 19th, wearing the revived Stingray badge, albeit scripted as one word for this generation. The C3 introduced some familiar Corvette nameplates like LT-1 and ZR-1, but perhaps the most noteworthy part of the C3’s history came in 1975 when Dave McLellan replaced Zora Arkus-Duntov as the Corvette’s Chief Engineer.

The C3 also ushered in a tradition where the last of each particular Corvette line is marked by a limited run model, in this case the Collector Edition of 1982. As it happens, this was a real clunker of a car, the C3 now subjected to open derision by the automotive press. It got silvery leather upholstery, turbine wheels, lift-up rear tail glass, silver-beige metallic paint and fade graphics atop the hood and along the sides. It was a hopeless, overblown, disaster in dun. To add insult to injury, the Collector Edition was the first Corvette to cost more than $20,000. It was the only C3 model to have an opening glass liftback though, so it had that going for it. Had the C3 bowed out five years earlier, it might have been remembered more fondly.


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