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The history of the Corvette C3: Years 1968 - 1982

The Corvette C3 (third-generation) is a two-seater sports car manufactured by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors Corporation, between the years 1967 (the model year 1968) and 1982. The Mako Shark II concept served as a prototype for the C3 Corvette and the body of the C3 was largely the same as the C2 generation, but otherwise, the design had little in common with the previous generation.

The Corvette C3 is the longest-produced Corvette generation, during the C3 generation, several technical and appearance changes were expected for the model.

The Chevrolet 350 was the most common engine type, the big block was only available as an option from 1968 to 1974. In the early 1970s, the causes of the oil crisis reduced the output of Corvette engines to only 165 horsepower (year 1975). During the production years of the C3, more than 20 different engine options have been available for it, which you can find out more about on the main page under engines and from this article.

A manual transmission was available from the factory in all years except 1982. Starting in 1975, automatic transmission Corvettes outnumbered manual transmissions in production.

Carburetors were in use until 1981, after which crossfire injection was introduced. The engine control module (ECM or ECU) was first used with the 1980 LG4 engine and since then in all 1981 and 1982 cars. All cars from 1968 to 1980 were manufactured at the St. Louis assembly plant and late 1981 and 1982 cars were manufactured at the Bowling Green assembly plant.

Until 1976, the Corvette C3 retained the Stingray name from the previous model series. This is a common point of debate as to whether all C3 Corvettes are Stingrays even though the emblem was no longer in use. You can read more about this here: Is the Corvette C3 always a Stingray?

Yellow Corvette C3

1968

The first year for the new Corvette C3 generation.

1969

The first year for Corvette 350 cu in small block, which replaced the 327 cu in.

"Stingray" front fender emblem added.

1970

First year for LT-1 small-block and 454 cu in big block

Three-speed manual transmission was replaced by a four-speed manual transmission.

1971

In 1971, the emission regulations became stricter and the power of the engines started to decrease.

The first year when the engines were designed to run on low-octane unleaded gasoline.

1972

General Motors started to advertise horsepower as net power, and not measured without additional equipment as before, this reduced the advertised horsepower even though the relative power of the engines was the same.

Last year for LT-1 engine

1973

The chrome nose and grille were replaced by safer urethane bumpers mandated by federal law.

1974

The rear bumper was also replaced with urethane bumpers (1974 is the only year with two pieces rear bumper due to manufacturing issues.)

Last year for true dual exhaust and big-block engine.

1975

The last year when a convertible was available during the C3 generation and the first year of the catalytic converter.

1976

Similar steering wheel to Vega.

New one-piece rear bumper emblem, last year for Stingray fender emblems.

1977

New climate controls, and dashboard gauges.

The Stingray emblems were removed.

1978

New fastback rear window and a redesigned interior.

Special Editions: Silver Anniversary and Indy 500 Pace Car.

Corvette Pace Car

1979

The 25th anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette.

Sports seats as standard, which were introduced in the previous year's Pace car special edition.

1980

Redesigned hood, front, and rear bumper covers.

California cars powered by 305 cu in V8 producing 180 horsepower.

1981

The St. Louis plant was closed and production moved to the Bowling Green plant.

The last year for manual transmission.

1982

The new Crossfire injection was introduced.

New automatic transmission (TH400) with overdrive.




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Last Updated 11/24/2022