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