Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
The third generation was patterned after the "Mako Shark II" concept car. The C3 was introduced for the 1968 model year and lasted through 1982, and at 15 years was the longest running Corvette generation. It came out on top of the performance era of the 60's, sold in record numbers through the EPA rules and gas crunch of the 70's, and stood its ground against its competition into the early 80's.
It saw monikers now revived such as LT-1, ZR-1, and Collector Edition. It became the first Indy 500 pace car and celebrated Corvette's 25th anniversary with a limited edition Indy Pace Car replica and a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition.
The "Sting Ray" nameplate was not used on the 1968 model, however Chevrolet still referred to the Corvette as a Sting Ray, and 1969 models had "Stingray" fender nameplates. The 350 cu in (5.7 L) engine replaced the 327 cu in (5.4 L) engine in 1969, and it was the only year for a C3 side exhaust
option. (right) 1969 was also the only year the all-aluminium ZL-1 427 cu in (7 L) was available.
The special big-block engine was reported to produce 550 horsepower and only 2 cars so-equipped were produced. In 1970 small-block power peaked with the optional high compression, high revving LT-1 producing 370 hp (276 kW). The 1971 and 1972 LT-1 was rated at 330 hp (246 kW). 1971 was the 454 big block's peak in power with the 425 hp (317 kW) LS6 rating.
An even more powerful LS7 454 CID engine rated at 465 hp (347 kW) was planned and even included in early GM assembly manuals, but was never installed in any production cars. The ZR1 special engine package was an option available exclusively with the LT-1 engine option. It included the solid-lifter small-block engine, heavy-duty four-speed transmission
, power brakes, aluminium radiator, and a revised suspension
with special springs, shocks, stabilizer bar, and spindle-strut shafts.
Only 53 1970-1972 ZR1's were built the 427 big block was enlarged to 454 cu in (7.4 L). The ZR2 special engine package was a (1-year only) option released in 1971. It included equipment for the big-block LS-6 engine. Only 12 were built.
1973 Corvette Stingray Coupe
In 1972, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement for power (away from the previous SAE Gross standard), a more realistic rating which included installing all the power consuming accessories (alt. fan, water pump) and mufflers on the engine during testing which resulted in lower HP values . Along with lowered compression ratios from 1971 in anticipation of unleaded fuel, emission controls, and catalytic converters in 1975, power continued to decline and bottomed out in 1975 — the base ZQ3 engine produced just 165 hp (123 kW), and the optional L82 engine produced 205 hp (153 kW).
Power in 1982 was the 200 hp (149 kW) L83 engine. Early model years came standard with an innovative Fiber-Optic light monitoring system. Strands of fiber optic wire went from the centre console to the headlights, turn signals, tail lights and license plate light monitoring a total of nine lights. It was discontinued after the 1971 model year.
1974 Corvette Stingray Coupe
Styling changed subtly over the generation and minor trim changes occurred through the 1972 model. An aluminium wheel option (left) was seen on '73 and '74 pilot cars but was withheld for quality issues and wouldn't be available until the 1976 model year. In 1973
, due to government regulations, the Corvette's chrome front bumper was changed to a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) bumper system with a urethane cover. The rear chrome bumpers remained unchanged. In 1974, a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) rear bumper system replaced the chrome bumpers and matched last year's front system with a 2-piece urethane cover with recessed tailights. 1975 saw the last year for the convertible, which did not return until 1986.
In 1977, Dave McLellan succeeded Zora Duntov as the Corvette's Chief Engineer. In that year, the word Stingray was no longer used, ending the 13 year run where the names Corvette, Sting Ray and Stingray were synonymous. 1978 saw a 25th "Silver Anniversary" edition, the first Corvette Indy Pace Car, the introduction of a "fast back" glass rear window, and a new interior and dashboard.
The highest production year was 1979, and would last up to the C5 model. In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic
redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag. In 1982, an opening rear hatch was offered for the first time exclusively on the Collectors Edition. A new engine featuring cross fire injection, a fuel injection
carburettor hybrid, was also introduced that year as the L83. It was the only engine available in 1982, and was not offered with a manual transmission