A Little Corvette History
This generation of Corvette has become known as shark because their appearance, including the nose, grill, and gills in the sides of the fenders. This 3rd generation is now commonly referred to as C3, a numbering scheme that didn't start until at least the forth generation which ran from 1984 through 1996, and included my 1986 model.
In the beginning, of course, they were just Corvettes. Then in 1963 we got the Sting Ray (notice it is two words). After the Sting Ray we got Stingray, the C3s. At that time the Sting Rays were known as MidYear Corvettes, and still are often called that, although nowadays C2 is preferred by most people. The C1, or Solid-Axles ran from 1953 through 1962, or 10 model years. C2 production run was pretty short with only 5 model years. They are probably the most obtainable and valuable of collector Corvettes - the C1s are often worth more, but there are not as many of them,
So we come back to the C3 generation, the longest running in Corvette history, 1968 through the 1982 an amazing 15 model years! During this time the Corvette changed a lot in many ways. Body-wise, we have the Chrome Bumper series, '68-'73, although the '73 only had chrome at the rear. Starting in '73 and through the end is the Rubber Bumper series, and this is further broken down by cessation of the convertible after 1975, and replacing the flat rear window and flying buttress "sails" with a fast-back bubble rear window in 1978.
One reason for the long C3 production run was this was the period Detroit had to clean up engine exhaust to meet smog regulations. It was also the beginning of the safety requirements, the rubber bumpers being the first visual manifestation. So we saw horsepower reach a zenith in 1968-1969 and then slowly drop off as unleaded fuel and other EPA requirements took hold. Big Block engines of 427 and 454 cubic inches disappeared after the 1974 model year. What the later C3s lacked in raw power they made up in refinement and comfort options. The cars got slower but quieter, smoother riding, and more comfortable.
Naturally, with this long production run there were a lot of C3 Corvettes built: 542,861 to be exact, more than any other generation to date.
My C3 or Shark, being the second model year is more of a rough and tumble car than the later ones, but it is an accurate reflection of how they were built back then.
For more information about Corvettes, some recommended books include:
- Corvette - America's Stan-Spangled Sports Car - The Complete Story by Karl Ludvigsen - out of print
- Corvette From The Inside by Dave McLellan Corvette Chief Engineer 1975-1992
- Zora Arkus-Duntov The Legend Behind Corvette by Jerry Burton
There are countless other Corvette books out there so stop by a book store and look them over.