LOG-IN
ARTICLES & RESOURCES
INFO GUIDE TO LIVING
MUSCLE CAR FORUM
MUSCLE CAR INSURANCE
ClassicMuscleCars.com
ExpeditiionForum.com
ExtremeChopper.com
ModernMusclecars.net
VintageCarKit.com
HOME













Chevrolet Corvette



History

Third Generation

1968-1982






Introduction: The Chevrolet Corvette first appeared in 1953 as a unique American entry into the sports car market dominated by European makes. Although not a muscle car by definition, the Corvette used muscle car powertrains and has represented American performance for almost fifty years.


Note: All Engine ratings before 1972 are expressed in SAE Gross figures. Engine ratings for 1972 and later are expressed in SAE Net figures.


1968 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The all new 1968 Corvette was a dramatic change in appearance from previous Corvettes. The all new styling bore a striking resemblence to Chevrolet's Mako Shark II concept car and was a bold look. The new Corvette also introduced hidden windshield wipers and removable T-tops on Coupe models. A new three speed automatic transmission replaced the previous two-speed unit. Under the hood, the Corvette gained several interesting engine options, including the 327 cid V8 L79 rated at 350 bhp, and the L89 aluminum head option for the L71. The rare L88 engine option was still available for a whopping $1,032, and just 115 were sold. Still rated at the same 430 bhp as the regular 427 engine, the wise buyers that checked off the L88 option were treated to a host of goodies such as a bubble top hood, the 427 engine with an aluminum intake and aluminum heads with a 850 CFM dual feed Holley carb. Mandatory options included an aluminum radiator, heavy duty brakes, and the Muncie M-22 transmission. Luxury options such as Power windows, power steering, and radios were not available. Corvette production hit a new record of 28,566 units.

Production: 28,566
Coupe: 9,936
Convertible: 18,630

Engines:
327 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
L79 327 V8 350 bhp.
L36 427 V8 390 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
L68 427 V8 400 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
L71 427 V8 435 bhp @ 5800 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
L88 427 V8 430 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.

Performance:
427/430 (L88): 1/4 mile in 13.56 seconds.


1969 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The Corvette was basically carry over for 1969, though now officially called the "Stingray" (one word) The coupe outsold the convertible for the first time, and would continue to do so in all subsequent years. Engine choices were changed with a new 350 cid V8 replacing the previous 327. In addition, two Corvettes were built with the ZL1 engine (a total of 69 Camaros also received this engine). One was a canary yellow car with sidepipers and the other was a Can-Am white t-top coupe with black ZL1 stipes. Technically, the ZL-1 was a $3,010 option that consisted of an assortment of aluminum cylinder block and heads on top of the $1,032.15 L88 race option. The ZL-1 featured thicker walls and main webbing, along with dry sump lubricating provisions. The bottom end was four-bolt, with a forged steel crank and rods with 7/16 inch bolts, Spiralock washers and full floating pins. Pistons were even higher domed than the L88s, yielding a compression ratio of 12.5:1. Cylinder heads were also aluminum and featured open combustion chambers and round exhaust ports and 2.19 inch/1.88 inch valves, a configuration adopted by the L88 in mid-1969. The aluminum dual plane intake was topped by a 850 cfm Holley four-barrel (double pumper) carburetor featuring mechanical secondaries. The ZL1's solid lifter camshaft was radical, so the engine could live in the upper revs.

Production: 38,762
Coupe: 22,154
Convertible: 16,608

Engines:
327 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
L46 350 V8 350 bhp @ 5800 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
L36 427 V8 390 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
L68 427 V8 400 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
L71 427 V8 435 bhp @ 5800 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
L88 427 V8 430 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.

Performance:
ZL1: 427/430: 1/4 mile in 12.1 seconds @ 116 mph.


1970 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: Chevy's new 454 V8 replaced the firebreathing 427s for 1970. But while the Chevrolet Chevelle SS received Chevy's top engine, the 454 LS6 rated at 450 bhp, the Corvette had to make due with the 454 LS5 rated at 390 bhp. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Corvette never received the LS7 engine, an iron block/aluminum head 454 race motor rated at 465 bhp nor the LT2 454. A total of 17,316 units were sold in 1970.

Production: 17,316
Coupe: 10,668
Convertible: 6,648

Engines:
350 V8 300 bhp.
LT1 350 V8 370 bhp.
LS5 454 V8 390 bhp.

Performance:
LT1: 350/370: 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.2 seconds.


1971 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The Corvette finally received the powerful LS6 454 engine for 1971, but it was now detuned to run on unleaded gas and was rated at 425 bhp, down 25 bhp from the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS. The carryover LT1 and LS5 engines were also detuned. Interestingly, only 188 LS6 Corvettes were built, with 12 more appearing under RPO ZR2, the factory racing package.

Production: 21,801
Coupe: 14,680
Convertible: 7,121

Engines:
350 V8 300 bhp.
LT1 350 V8 330 bhp.
LS5 454 V8 365 bhp.
LS6 454 V8 425 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1972 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: Engine power ratings dropped across the board as GM ordered that all its engines be rated using the new SAE net method, which rated an engine with all accessories attached. True output remained similar to 1971 and the Corvette was still quite a performer.

Production: 26,994
Coupe: 20,486
Convertible: 6,508

Engines:
350 V8 200 bhp.
350 V8 210 bhp.
LT1 350 V8 255 bhp.
LS5 454 V8 270 bhp.

Performance:
350/255: 0-60 in 6.9 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.3 seconds.


1973 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The 1973 Corvette was the fifth generation "Shark" which debuted in the years of the first energy crisis. The 1973 Corvette was unique among Corvettes in combining a smooth body-colored nose with the original 1968-vintage "Kamm" tail. The front bumpers were updated to meet the new 5 mph standard, but the rear bumpers remained chrome, the last year the Corvette would use chrome bumpers. The engines were further detuned for cleaner emissions, which resulted in lower engine outputs. Generally, the styling was cleaner than previous years, with a rear hood extension to cover the windshield wipers (instead of a pop-up panel), and a fixed coupe backlight instead of a removeable one. The new Corvette was also improved with standard radial tires (the first time on the Corvette), a more efficient Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission option, and combined lap/shoulder belts. Of particular interest to enthusiasts was the availability of the RPO FE7 Gymkhana suspension (high-rate springs/shocks for only $7) and the similar Z07 option (with heavy-duty brakes).

Production: 30,465
Coupe: 24,372
Convertible: 6,093

Engines:
350 V8 190 bhp.
350 V8 200 bhp.
LT1 350 V8 250 bhp.
LS5 454 V8 270 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1974 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The 1974 Corvette received a new smooth urethane body-color rear end to match the front styling. The new rear end also hid the new Federal mandated 5 mph bumpers. Bowing to increasing government regulations, 1974 would be the last year for the big block engines and true dual exhausts, among other things.

Production: 36,657
Coupe: 32,028
Convertible: 4,629

Engines:
350 V8 190 bhp.
350 V8 200 bhp.
LT1 350 V8 250 bhp.
LS5 454 V8 270 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1975 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: Engine output hit rock bottom with the 1975 Corvettes, as big blocks were no longer available and the top 350 cid V8 was rated at just 205 bhp. Changes were few, and included the addition of small black-rubber bumper pads and electronic ignition. 1975 would be the last year for the Convertible, as falling sales and a threatened government mandated rollover standard (that never materialized), sealed its fate.

Production: 38,465
Coupe: 33,836
Convertible: 4,629

Engines:
350 V8 165 bhp.
L82 350 V8 205 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1976 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: Engine output climbed for 1976, due to higher compression ratios made possible by a newly adopted catalytic converter. A new four-spoke steering wheel was added and the rear-deck air-extractor vents were removed.

Production: 46,558
Coupe: 46,558

Engines:
350 V8 180 bhp.
L82 350 V8 210 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1977 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The "Stingray" name was officially dropped for the 1977 Corvettes. Changes included revamped controls and center console, standard leather upholstery, and no-cost power steering and brakes.

Production: 49,213
Coupe: 46,558

Engines:
350 V8 180 bhp.
L82 350 V8 210 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1978 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The Corvette celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1978, and all Corvettes received special commemorative emblems. All 1978 Corvettes received a new fastback roofline with a large, wraparound backlight. A four-speed manual was reinstated as standard, and a higher-output 350 cid V8 was available, though only with the automatic transmission. But the big news for enthusiasts was the addition of two limited edition versions of the Corvette. The true Anniversary editions were those Corvettes ordered with the "25th Anniversary Paint" B2Z option. It was a distinctive two-tone silver paint treatment with a silver metallic upper body color and a charcoal silver lower body color. Pin stripes accentuated the front upper profiles, wheel openings, front fender vents, bood, and rear license cavity. The optional aluminum wheels and dual sport mirrors were required. The second limited edition Corvette was the Pace Car Replica model, which commemorated the Corvettes which paced the 62nd Indy 500. The Pace Car Replica was decked out with a black upper body and silver-metallic lower body, plus the alloy wheels and fat Goodyear tires worn by the Silver Anniversary model. The Pace Car Replica also carried front and rear spoilers and the identifying "Pace Car" decals were supplied separately so the owner could apply them if desired. Upholstery choices were either silver leather or a silver leather/gray cloth combination. The seats were a new design scheduled for the 1979 Corvettes. Standard equipment included power windows, electric rear window defroster, air conditioning, sport mirrors, and other features which boosted the price of the Pace Car Replica over $4,000 more than the base Corvette. Because of its announced limited availability, new Pace Car Replicas fetched upwards of $28,000 and a flood of "fake" Pace Car Replicas flooded the market, then and now. The only true clues to a real Pace Car Replica are the seats which should resemble a 1979 Corvette more than the 1978 ones, and the serial number, which should be between 900001-906502.

Production: 46,776
Coupe: 46,776 (including 2,500 25th Anniversary and 6,502 Pace Car Replicas)

Engines:
350 V8 175 bhp.
350 V8 185 bhp.
L82 350 V8 220 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1979 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The 1979 Corvette saw many optional features become standard equipment to improve its "cruising" aspect, including air conditioning, power windows, and a telescoping steering column. The front and rear spoiler package that was used on the previous year's Pace Car was now available as an option on any Corvette. More Corvettes were built in 1979 (53,807) than in any other year, before or since.

Production: 53,807
Coupe: 53,807

Engines:
350 V8 175 bhp.
350 V8 185 bhp.
L82 350 V8 225 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1980 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: The 1980 Corvette was 250 lbs. lighter than the year before, mainly through the greater use of aluminum and plastic. The doors and hood were less thick, and the roof panels were less dense. New front and rear spoilers were moulded into the bumper caps, which helped aerodynamics. However, the speedometer now maxed out at 85 mph (to meet Federal Regulations). Due to strict California emission laws, a lower emission 305 V8 that was computer controlled was the base engine for Corvettes sold in California.

Production: 40,614
Coupe: 40,614

Engines:
LG4 305 V8 180 bhp. (California)
350 V8 175 bhp.
350 V8 185 bhp.
L82 350 V8 230 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1981 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: There were few changes for 1981 except a few more paint choices. The sole engine was now computered controlled and could meet California emission standards, eliminating the need for a separate engine.

Production: 40,606
Coupe: 40,606

Engines:
350 V8 190 bhp.

Performance:
N/A


1982 Chevrolet Corvette




Comments: 1982 was the last year for the 3rd Generation Corvette. In a sad statement about the decline of performance, all Corvettes came with automatic transmissions. A special Collector Edition Corvette was sold with silver paint with a gold base and a matching interior. This was the first year for the new Cross Fire fuel injection system.

Production: 25,407
Coupe: 25,407

Engines:
350 V8 200 bhp @ 4200 rpm, 285 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm.

Performance:
N/A








© MuscleCarClub.com
A Member of ClassicMuscleCars.com Group
All rights reserved.