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Corvette C3 (1968-1982)

The third generation, patterned after Chevrolet's "Mako Shark" (designed by Larry Shinoda), started in 1968 and ended in 1982. This generation has the distinction of being introduced to the motoring public in an unorthodox — and unintended — fashion. 1968 marked the introduction of Mattel's now-famous Hot Wheels line of 1/64-scale die cast toy cars. General Motors had tried their best to keep the appearance of the upcoming car a secret, but the release of the Hot Wheels line several weeks before the Corvette's unveiling had a certain version of particular interest to Corvette fans: the "Custom Corvette", a GM-authorized model of the 1968 Corvette.

In 1969, GM enlarged their small-block again to 350 cubic inches (ci) (5.7 L), and in 1970, the 427 big-block was enlarged to 454 ci (7.4 L). Power peaked in the 1970 and 1971 models, with the 1970 LT-1 small-block putting out 370 hp (276 kW) and the 1971 454 big-block having its last year of big power with 425 hp (317 kW). In 1972, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement for power (away from the previous SAE Gross standard), which resulted in lower values expressed in hp. Along with the move to unleaded fuel, emission controls, and catalytic converters, power continued to decline and bottomed out in 1975 — the base ZQ3 engine put out 165 nhp (123 kW), and the optional L82 engine put out 205 nhp (153 kW). Power remained fairly steady for the rest of the C3 generation, ending in 1982 with the 200 nhp (149 kW) L83 engine.

Styling changed subtly over the generation. In 1973, the Corvette dropped the front chrome bumpers for a urethane-compound "5 mph" bumper but kept the rear chrome bumpers. In 1974, The rear chrome bumpers became urethane, too, making 1973 the last Corvette model year with any chrome bumpers. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, and 1978 saw the introduction of a glass bubble rear window. In 1980, the Corvette got an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag.

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