The iconic shape of a Corvette Stingray can turn heads even now, 30 years after the last Stingray was produced. This report is intended to provide information concerning the Corvette Stingray to all Corvette fans, whether you already own a Corvette, are contemplating buying a Corvette, or just like interesting facts and figures regarding classic Corvettes.
The C3 Corvette Stingrays are the creation of Corvettes produced between 1968 and 1982. When the term”C3″ is used, it refers to the fact they are the 3rd generation of Corvettes. Each generation of Corvette was given a designation as such. The recent Corvettes (as of 2011) are known as C6, or 6th generation Corvette. Each generation refers to any major changes that are made, such as body design, drivetrain, etc.. Of course, each year model within one generation varies slightly from one year to the next, yet they still maintain the same overall look and feel as the rest of their generation. In the case of C3 Corvettes, the engine and chassis components were mostly carried over from the previous generation, however the body and inside were new, thus the new generation designation. This can be very useful when looking for information regarding a particular year Corvette, as most Corvette enthusiasts refer to the generation more often than a specific year or range of years.
One of the most obvious truth that stands out about the C3 Corvette is that it was the first use of T-top removable roof panels at a Corvette. Lots of the 3rd generation Corvettes had detachable glass or fiberglass tops that allow the driver or passengers to remove the roof panels, therefore allowing a more open top.This was a somewhat novel concept at the time, and it wasn’t the originally intended design. The designers originally wanted to make the car a Targa Top, which means the whole roof panel is removable, therefore the shortened name T-Top. After testing, the engineers determined that the lack of a support brace in the middle proved structurally inadequate for the powerful V-8 engines. This combined with the fact that the body was made of fiberglass made for a potential design flaw that could cause the body to bend under acceleration, leading to cracked windshields, chipped paint, and other complications. As such, the designers added the brace in the center, which appeared to resemble the letter T. The name stayed”T-Top” even though the design was changed substantially from the original and the title was supposed to reflect the previous layout.
Throughout the C3 years, GM made many attempts to further the evolution of the Corvette, which ultimately has led to the present design. 1 such attempt, which is also a relatively little known fact, is that there was once a Rotary Engine Corvette. In 1970, Chevrolet licensed the Wankel rotary engine (similar to the type used from the famed Mazda RX7 and RX8) and started building a two-rotor and a four-rotor Corvette in its testing and experimental department. A fiberglass mockup was approved in June 1971 by then GM President Ed Cole. On September 13, 1973 that a 266 cubic inch two-rotor Corvette was exhibited in Frankfurt, Germany. The four-rotor 390 cubic inch Corvette was put on display in Paris, France on Oct. 4, 1973, in addition to the two-rotor. The 2-rotor engine GM developed was a fuel and petroleum hungry engine, and wasn’t practical for production. On September 24, 1974, GM President Ed Cole postponed the introduction of the Wankel engine, most likely because of emissions difficulties together with fuel and oil concerns. This venture failed to prove useful, however. It helped GM comprehend the limitations of the car, and venture forward into other areas of exploration.
Another of those innovative ideas was taking shape around the exact same time. GM attempted to produce a mid-engine Corvette, to rival the mid-engine sports cars of Italy. The engine was a 400 cubic inch small block V-8 mounted behind the seats, transversely (like the majority of the front wheel drive cars, with the engine sitting sideways). Shortly after the 2 were constructed, John DeLorean, the man who later started the firm bearing his name behind the famous DeLorean cars of Back To The Future fame, became Chevrolet general manager. John cancelled the program, as it was expensive and impractical to construct. It was the hit of the car show, but GM never produced or marketed the XP-882 Corvette. At least one, if not both, of these extremely rare Corvettes is still known to exist.
If you are a collector, or wish to find a rare and valuable piece of history, look for a 1970 Corvette. 1970 Corvettes are regarded by many among the most desirable of the C3 generation, as just 17,316 were produced that year because of production issues stemming from labor strikes. To give you an idea why that amount is applicable, the Ford Mustang production for the same year was 190,727, more than 10 times the quantity! This was the cheapest production number since 1962, and quality illustrations in good shape are becoming harder and harder to find.
If you are looking for rarity, one of the rarest and most desirable of all production C3 Corvette Stingrays is the 1969 ZL1 Corvette. The $4,718 ZL1 package required many different options, including $1,032 L88 Special L88 (all aluminum block) 427 cu. in. Radio and air conditioning were not available with the ZL1 bundle, and only 2 from the 38,762 Corvettes made that year had the ZL1 package. The complete package price of the car new was approximately $11,000, including the base price of $4781. To put that number in perspective, $11,000 was the price of some small 3 bedroom houses, or a brand new Ferrari at the moment! The same year, a buyer could find a well equipped Pontiac Firebird Trans Am for around $4,300, which makes this a really rare and exceptional car.
The C3 Stingray generation are to date the greatest generation of Corvettes ever produced, and are the most popular today with collectors. Of the over 1.5 million Corvettes built between 1953 and 2010, over 540,000 were made during the C3 generation, between 1968 and 1982. These are the well-known”Stingray” design, although the slightly different name”Sting Ray” was used as far back as 1963. It rolled off the assembly line to important fanfare on March 15, 1977. This is an exceptional collector’s car, as it celebrated half a million Corvettes ever made.
It’s a well-known fact that all Corvettes today are produced in just one place, that’s the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However, this wasn’t always true. The past St. Louis Corvettes ever constructed left the factory on June 1981 and July 1981. Are you curious as to why they only produced one each month? Bowling Green production was already in effect, and for several months both factories worked in tandem, allowing the St. Louis factory to assemble as many cars as they could with the parts still left in their inventory. This enabled them to save on shipping and labor costs, as moving large parts for automobiles is a rather expensive and labor-intensive undertaking. After these two cars left the factory, Bowling Green, Kentucky, became the only factory to make Corvettes. This is the only time when Corvettes were produced simultaneously in two factories. Producing the cars in just one factory allows much tighter quality controls, providing quality over quantity, so that has remained the standard for Corvettes. The very last one built in St. Louis was white and has a build date of July 31, 1981. Somehow, the car was able to survive for 30 years, and is now restored exactly as it was originally constructed, with all the frame and chassis markings, and every detail exactly as it was when it left the factory. A hidden plaque was initially installed by the plant workers in the cars right front fenderwell to designate the last car down the production line, which helped authenticate the vehicle. The car sported a 350 Cubic inch engine at 190 horsepower and a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 350 automatic transmission.The car was sold in the Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction in September, 2010 for $150,000.
I hope that these details about Corvette Stingrays has proven both interesting and useful. The Corvette has truly been an iconic car, capturing the hearts of generations, both young and old.