The Straight Axle Cars 1953 - 1962

All of these were convertibles, although a surprising number were the hardtop convertible, or the convertible with no soft top and only the hardtop. In many ways, this was fairly practical, as the hardtop gave good all-weather protection but today when they are not the primary transportation, they create a slight hardship in forcing you to travel with the top or risking getting wet by leaving it home.

Overall, these were basic and sound vehicles, using mainly standard Chevrolet items. Unless you are restoring one, you can keep a driver running with only minor effort and expense.

What to Look For

Many were raced, as this was the era of drag racing and early road racing. In the late sixties, these cars were dirt cheap and often were abused due to the valueless nature of them. Many had the transmission tunnels cut for Hurst shifters or even Ford Toploaders and some had the X member cut to ease transmission changes. There were even some converted to a front straight axle, like a T-Bucket or hot rod, to lighten the front end for drag racing. Be sure to check those areas to get a clue to the car's history.

There were no body tags indicating the paint color or interior color, so originality can be deceiving. If done well, you may never know it is not original. So check this carefully if originality is a requirement.

Even if you are not into restorations, check it out as most selling these cars do so because of the "value" of these old cars and you will pay the price. So be sure you know the right and wrong, because your only chance to buy at a reasonable price is to know what is wrong, and call their price on it. The days of buying at any price and selling higher to cover your mistakes are long gone. If you make a $5000 mistake today, you just lost $5000 because most other buyers have educated themselves to avoid such mistakes.

 

1953 - 1962 The Straight Axles

1953

The first production Corvette rolls off the assembly line in Flint, Mich., on June 30. The production differed from the Motorama show car in the chrome side trim and other changes. All '53s are Polo White with a Sportsman Red interior. Only 300 '53s are produced but there are 315 cars built, some of which are pilot or test cars for both the '53 model and the '54 model built in St. Louis. Of the 314 “1953”cars produced, only 183 were sold once word got around about the average to poor performance. All production '53s are built in Flint, Mich. The body sits on a frame with a center X member that stiffens it and has a 102 inch wheelbase. The front is a mix of A arms and knuckles on coil springs and a center drag link steering mechanism. The rear has a standard type straight axle on leaf springs.

The '53 to '55 look basically the same with the rounded body, smooth sides, rocket styled taillight pods, and the headlight grills.

- Zora Arkus-Duntov begins working on the Corvette program.
- Corvette production shifts from Flint to St. Louis, Mo.


Interior: All interiors are red and had a black convertible top.

Driveline: The 235 cid 150 hp inline "Blue Flame Six" 6 cylinder as the only engine and is backed by the Powerglide two speed automatic transmission. The standard Chevy inline six engine was juiced up with solid lifters, a new cam shaft, and three horizontal Carter carbs, power was way off the mark.

ENGINE
235 cubic inch inline 6
3 Carter YH one-barrels
Compression ratio 8.0 to 1
Horsepower 150@4200rpm

TRANSMISSION
2 speed Automatic

WEIGHT
2705 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
300

FACTORY PRICE
$3,498

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 167 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires 6.70X15

1954

The biggest change in 1954 is the addition of other colors that white exterior and red interior. Sportsman Red, Pennant Blue, and Black are added. Of course, if the '54 is white with a red interior, it is hard to determine if it is a '53 or '54.

Interior: A new color is available, beige. This is only available with the Pennant Blue exterior. All convertible tops are beige.

Driveline: Some changes occurred in the engine compartment. The air cleaners are different. Part of the way through the year, a modified camshaft added 5 horsepower from 150 hp to 155 hp.

OPTIONS
AM radio ($145.15)
Heater ($91.40)
Windshield washer ($11.85)
Parking brake alarm ($5.65)

1955

The V8 engine became available and as such, an enlarged "V" in the Corvette script above the side trim strip is on V8 models. The 6 cylinder models continued the 6-volt electrical system while the V8 models used the new 12-volt system. Production for the year is only 700 cars, primarily due to excess 1954 models, and Ford's introduction of the popular Thunderbird.

Interior:

Driveline: The 236 inline six cylinder is standard and the 265 V8 is optional. Both the Powerglide automatic and a 3 speed manual are available although there are some restrictions on their availability in the beginning.

ENGINE
235 cubic inch inline 6, optional 265 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 150@4200rpm (6) and 195@5000rpm (V-8)
Compression Ratio 8.0 to 1
3 Carter one barrels (6), Rochester 4 barrel (V-8)

TRANSMISSION
2 speed Automatic

WEIGHT
2705 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
700

PRICE
$2,934

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 167 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1955 OPTIONS
V-8 ($135)
AM radio ($145.15)
Heater ($91.40)
Windshield washer ($11.85)

1956

The new body style came out. Gone are the grills over the headlights and the rocket pod taillights. The headlights reached forward from the fenders and the taillights sat frenched in the rear fenders, only a small red lens deep inside a chrome recess. A side cove is added which reached into the front wheel well. A small fake scoop sat atop each front fender just in front of the windshield. Roll up windows are now included as '53-'55 had only removable side curtains.

Interior: A fresh air heater system taking outside air and heating it for inside became available shortly after the start of the year.

Driveline: A legitimate offering of the 3 speed transmission occurred and so both 3 speed manual transmissions and Powerglide automatic transmissions can be found. The 265 V8 could be found in multiple horsepower ratings.

ENGINE
Type 265 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 210@5000rpm standard, optional 225 and 240.
Compression Ratio- 9.25 to 1
Carter four barrel model 2419S, dual 4 barrels optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 2 speed auto optional

SHIPPING WEIGHT
2870 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
3467

PRICE
$3,120

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 167 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1956 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($175)
225 horsepower engine ($160)
240 horsepower engine ($175)
Power top ($100)
AM radio ($185)
Heater ($115)
Windshield washer ($11.85)

1957

The 1957 model Corvette is the first production car with standard fuel-injection, producing 283 hp on a 283 ci engine and the 4 speed became available this year. The body is the same as the '56.

Interior: This is the last year of the center dash mounted tachometer and gauges across the dash.

Driveline: The engine size increased from the 265 to the 283. When RamJet fuel injection is introduced, the top engine is the 283-283hp FI engine which boasted one horsepower per cubic inch. The four speed is also available for the first time. Corvette is becoming a real sports car that had power to match its looks and the means to control it.

ENGINE
283 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower- 220@5000rpm standard, optional 245, 250, 270 and 283.
Compression Ratio- 9.5 to 1
Carter four barrel model, dual 4 barrels and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2730 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
6339

PRICE
$3,465

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 167 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1957 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($175)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
245 horsepower dual carb engine ($140)
270 horsepower dual carb engine ($170)
250 horsepower fuel injected engine ($450)
283 horsepower fuel injected engine ($675)
Posi-traction ($45)
Heavy duty race suspension ($725)
15X5.5 wheels ($14)
Detachable hardtop ($215)
Power top ($130)
AM radio ($185)
Heater ($118)
Courtesy lights ($8)
Parking brake alarm ($5)
Whitewall tires ($32)
Two-tone paint ($19)
Motorola radio ($125)
Power windows ($55)
Windshield washer ($11.85)

Another new body style. Quad headlights marked this new style as did a louver across the front of the side coves. Three chrome spears are across the cove opening. In '58 only, the hood had a fake set of louvers and the trunk lid had thick chrome bars running forward across the lid. Taillights are now a red lens the length of the chrome recess for a smooth look. Production of the 1958 model is sufficient for the Corvette to turn a profit for GM for the first time.

Interior:A new dash layout included a large 160 mph speedometer over the steering column. The tachometer is moved from the center dash to the center of the speedometer so that both are directly in front of the driver now. The gauges are clustered on both sides of the tachometer. A grab bar is in front of the passenger.

Driveline: The 283 is still the only engine but the horsepower increased on the top versions.

ENGINE
283 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 230@5000rpm standard, optional 245, 250 (FI), 270 and 290 (FI)
Compression Ratio- 9.5 to 1
Carter four barrel model, dual 4 barrels and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2781 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
9168

PRICE
$3,631

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 177.2 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1958 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($188)
4 speed manual transmission ($215)
245 horsepower dual carb engine ($150)
270 horsepower dual carb engine ($182.95)
250 horsepower fuel injected engine ($484)
290 horsepower fuel injected engine ($484)
Posi-traction ($48.45)
Heavy duty race suspension and brakes ($780.10)
15X5.5 wheels (no cost)
Detachable hardtop ($215)
Power top ($140)
Heater ($97)
Different cove color ($16.15)
AM radio- ($144)
Courtesy lights ($6.50)
Parking brake alarm ($5.40)
Whitewall tires ($31.55)
Power windows ($59.20)
Windshield washer ($16)

1959

Gone are the chrome bars on the trunk lid and the fake louvers on the hood. The body is much cleaner with removal of fake styling gimmicks.

Interior: A glove tray is added under the passenger grab bar. The seat trim is smoother and door handles inside are repositioned.

Driveline: Same as '58 with the 283.

1960

The 1960 is virtually the same as the 1959.Production finally breaks over 10,000 units, for the 1960 model. This had been GM's initial target for the 1954 model.

Interior:

Driveline: The aluminum radiators are available on the optional engines. The aluminum heads are available for a short time on the 290 hp FI 283 but are withdrawn due to problems.

ENGINE
283 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower- 230@4800rpm standard, optional 245, 275 (FI), 270 and 315 (FI)
Compression Ratio- 9.25 to 1
Carter four barrel model, dual 4 barrels and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2840 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
10,261

PRICE
$3,872

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 177.2 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1960 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
245 horsepower dual carb engine ($150.65)
270 horsepower dual carb engine ($182.95)
275 horsepower fuel injected engine ($484)
315 horsepower fuel injected engine ($484)
Posi-traction ($43.05)
Metallic brakes ($26.90)
Heavy duty suspension and brakes ($333.60)
15X5.5 wheels (no cost)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
Power top ($139.90)
Deluxe heater ($102.25)
Two-tone paint ($16.15)
Transistor radio ($137.75)
Whitewall tires ($31.55)
Permanant anti-freeze ($5)
Courtesy lights ($6.50)
Parking brake alarm ($5.40)
Power windows ($59.20)
Sunshades ($10.80)
Windshield washer ($16.15)

1961

The sharp edge of the Sting Ray tail appeared on the '61, being different from previous years featuring a redesigned back end, with four taillights. The toothy grill also gave way to a cleaner chrome insert. The traditional round nose emblem is gone for a thin chrome emblem with crossed flags. The side coves remained the same and are the last year to offer a contrasting color in the cove area and the chrome trim around the cove.

Interior: The door panels are different.

Driveline: This is the last year for the 283 engine and for the dual quad option. The aluminum T10 4 speed is introduced.

ENGINE
283 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 230@4800rpm standard, optional 245, 275 (FI), 270 and 315 (FI)
Compression Ratio 9.25 to 1
Carter four barrel model, dual 4 barrels and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2905 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
10,939

PRICE
$3,934

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 177.2 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1961 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
245 horsepower dual carb engine ($150.65)
270 horsepower dual carb engine ($182.95)
275 horsepower fuel injected engine ($484)
315 horsepower fuel injected engine($484)
Posi-traction ($43.05)
Metallic brakes ($37.70)
Heavy duty suspension and brakes ($333.60)
15X5.5 wheels (no cost)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
Power top ($161.40)
Deluxe heater ($102.25)
Two-tone paint ($16.15)
Transistor radio- ($137.75)
Whitewall tires ($31.55)
Blackwall nylon tires ($5.40)
Crankcase ventilating system ($5.40)
Permanant anti-freeze ($5)
Power windows ($59.20)
Windshield washer ($16.15)

1962

The '62 gained the 327, so this is the big excitement. But with all the years that have passed, you may find any engine in one today. The side coves lost the two color option and are now only the same as the body color. The chrome trim around the outside of the cove is gone, replaced by a fiberglass ridge, and the three chrome spears are now replaced with a grill. The front grill changes and the nose emblem changes also. This is the last year of exposed headlights and the last for a trunk.

Interior:

Driveline: The 327 replaced the 283 and horsepower took a jump. The Carter AFB carburetor appears. Previously, all V8 engines only used Carter WCFB carbs in various forms. The Powerglide had an aluminum case for the first time. This is the last year of the straight axle on the rear.

ENGINE
327 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 250@4400rpm standard, optional 300, 340 and 360 (FI)
Compression Ratio- 10.5 to 1
Carter four barrel model, dual 4 barrels and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2905 lbs

PRODUCTION TOTAL
14,531

PRICE
$4,038

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 102 inches
Overall length- 177.2 inches
Front tread- 57 inches
Rear tread- 59 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1962 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
300 horsepower dual carb engine ($53.80)
340 horsepower dual carb engine ($107.60)
360 horsepower fuel injected engine($484)
Posi-traction ($43.05)
Metallic brakes ($37.70)
24 gallon fuel tank ($118.40)
Heavy duty suspension and brakes ($333.60)
15X5.5 wheels (no cost)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
Power top ($161.40)
Transistor radio- ($137.75)
Whitewall tires ($31.55)
Blackwall nylon tires ($15.70)
Crankcase ventilating system ($5.40)
Permanant anti-freeze ($5)
Power windows ($59.20)

 

 

 

The Sting Rays 1963 to 1967

Coupes

Coupes in general are tighter than convertibles, both in the feel and in the weather-proof areas. The solid section of roof stiffens the chassis and makes them handle better. The chassis has less flex. As such, door seals and window seals tend to stay tighter and keep the elements out better. For everyday driving in northern climates, the coupes have the edge. If you live in a warmer, Southern climate, try to find one with air, although Corvette air conditioning was never that great and is less now that all you can get is the R-134 to charge it with.

 

Convertibles

Most convertibles do leak, true. Much of it is due to top alignment and the condition of the weatherstripping. My '63 conv. leaked around the rear of the top but nothing got wet except the deck lid. My '68 doesn't. It did for a short time due to sealant between the trim and the pillars going bad. But none will be perfectly sealed. Almost all leak like crazy in a car wash.

There were wind leaks at most corners of contact, like the vent window tip and the back of the door glass. Again, alignment can solve some, and you can live with the rest.

Of course, the first day you cruise home from work with the top down, the first evening you slide under a canopy of stars, the first time you hear as you roll through town the comments about "that 'Vette" will more than make you think that a convertible is the only way to own a Vette.

General

The electric headlights can be problems since the parts are so exposed. Be sure they work fine as the parts can be expensive to fix. Check the headlight warning light on the dash when the lights are on but closed. Coupe doors may not seal along the top if alignment is wrong. Parts on these cars have been swapped from year to year so much that unless it is restored, and you know it, you may never realize all that is incorrect. If this concerns you, take someone who knows restored Corvettes. If it doesn't, at least know what is incorrect and what is correct so you don't pay for something you don't get.

Much of what is true about the 1953 to 1962 is true about the '63 to '67. During the early '70s, you could buy some of these for under $2000 as running, working, decent looking cars. As such, their value was low, and they were raced, beaten, thrashed, and in general used to the fullest. Often they lived many lives, through engine replacements, body customizing, and so on. Unlike most old cars of the '60s, Corvettes are very unlikely to have all of the original components still on the car. If you find an old Chevy Impala or Buick or whatever, odds are the engine, transmission, and other major components are the ones that left the factory on that car. With Corvettes, that is the exception, not the rule. The safest way to be around Corvettes is to be suspicious and skeptical.

 

 

1963 - 1967 The Sting Rays

1963

The Sting Ray arrives! The all new Sting Ray is unlike any car before or since. The hidden headlights were so different from earlier years it is easy to tell the difference. But from 1963 to 1967, they began to look alike. The '63 shared a grill with the '64 only. The fake grills on the flat hood are '63 only. On the coupe, the obvious difference is the spilt window. The side louvers in the roof behind the door are smooth. The side louvers are two horizontal indents only, non functional and only lasted to 1964. Hubcaps look like a silver pan with six thick chrome bars holding it. A spinner covers the center.

The wheelbase is shortened to 98 inches. The front suspension is all new and uses the A arms of the Impala to give unequal A arms in front and an independent rear suspension that holds the car up with a transverse steel leaf spring. Single trailing arms on each side locates the rear wheels.

The biggest difference is the new coupe, with its split rear window. The convertible is equally new, even as some thought it similar to the '62, since there is no trunk. Luggage on both cars is in an area immediately behind the seats and the gas tank is moved to the traditional trunk area. Production of the 1963 model reaches over 20,000.

Interior: The dash had cone shaped silver instrument centers. Door panels are simple flat panels with vertical ribs and the door locks are located near the back of the door in a red knob that served as a reflector. The top of the seat backs came to a point, unlike the '63 prototype that is seen on many catalogs and magazines. The first part of the year only the AM Wonderbar radio was available. Later the '63 AM-FM arrived and with AM-FM in red and green. The carpet has edging on all the pieces, which makes the interior look like separate pieces are used to cover the floor and luggage area.

Driveline: The 327 line up is the same as '62 with the 250hp, 300hp, 340hp, and 360hp FI. The Borg Warner T10D 4 speed transmission gave way to the new Muncie in January. This Muncie is unique as the input shaft housing is smaller than 1964 and up.


ENGINE

327 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower  250@4400rpm standard, L75- 300, L76- 340,
and L84- 360 (FI)
Compression Ratio- 10.5 to 1
four barrel, and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and
2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2859 lbs (coupe) 2882 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
21,513 (10,594 coupes) (10,919 convertibles)

PRICE
$4257 (coupe) $4037 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 175.2 inches
Front tread- 56.8 inches
Rear tread- 57.6 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1963 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
300 horsepower L75 ($53.80)
340 horsepower L76 ($107.60)
360 horsepower L84 fuel injected engine($484)
Posi-traction ($43.05)
Off-road exhaust ($37.70)
RPO Z06 performance package including: metallic brakes,
heavy duty shocks, stabilizers, knock off aluminum wheels,
positraction, four speed manual,
and 360 horsepower fuel injected motor ($1,818)
Metallic brakes ($37.70)
Power brakes ($43.05)
Power steering ($73.35)
Air conditioning ($421.80)
Sebring silver paint ($80.70
Woodgrain steering wheel ($16.15)
Aluminum knock-off wheels ($322.80)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
Transistor radio- ($137.75) AM/FM ($174)
Tinted windshield ($10.80) Tinted glass ($16.15)
Leather seat trim ($80.70)
Whitewall tires ($31.55)
Blackwall nylon tires ($15.70)
Power windows ($59.20)

1964

The '64 is similar in many ways to the '63 but the fake hood grills are gone, leaving only a pair of hood indentions. The roof louvers now have grills in them and so will the '65. The driver's side is functional, with a forced air system in the luggage area. The split window is gone and a huge one piece window fills the back.

Interior: The seats now have the squared off top that the '63 prototypes displayed. The silver instrument centers are now black and still cone shaped. The glove box door is now a brushed aluminum assembly instead of the plastic assembly of '63. The AM-FM radio has AM and FM in black. The red and green are gone.

Engines on the top gained power. The 327-250hp and 327-300hp stayed the same but the 327-365hp and 327-375hp FI are noticeable increases. The Muncie had a larger input shaft housing and would remain this way throughout production. Holley carburetor appears on the 365 hp engine.

ENGINE
327 cubic inch V-8
Horsepower 250@4400rpm standard, L75- 300, L76- 365,
and L84- 375 (FI)
Compression Ratio 10.5 to 1
Carburetor- four barrel, and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual
and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2945 lbs (coupe) 2960 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
23,229 (8304 coupes) (14,925 convertibles)

PRICE
$4,252 (coupe) $4,037 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 175.2 inches
Front tread- 56.8 inches
Rear tread- 57.6 inches
Tires- 6.70X15

1964 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188)
300 horsepower L75 ($53.80)
365 horsepower L76 ($107.60)
375 horsepower L84 fuel injected engine ($538)
Posi-traction ($43.50)
Off-road exhaust ($37.70)
Special brake and suspension package ($629.50)
Transistor ignition system ($73.75)
36 gallon fuel tank (coupe only) ($202.30)
Metallic brakes ($37.70)
Power brakes ($43.05)
Power steering ($73.35)
Air conditioning ($421.80)
Aluminum knock-off wheels ($322.80)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
AM/FM radio ($176)
Tinted windshield ($10.80) Tinted glass ($16.15)
Leather seat trim ($80.70)
Whitewall Rayon tires ($31.85)
Blackwall nylon tires ($15.70)
Backup lights ($10.80)
Power windows ($59.20)

1965

The hood is finally smooth, or at least for some of the year. The Mark IV 396 ci 425 hp V8 engine debuts on the 1965 Corvette and makes a hood bulge necessary to clear the air cleaner. The hood bulge has a functional grill on each side of the bulge. Each 396 car gets a Turbo Jet 396 emblem on the front fenders. In all cars, the side fender louvers become functional. The side louvers are now three vertical cut outs that bring hot engine air out. The front grill is slightly different than the '63-'64 in that it is black and has a different number of slats. The coupe roof still has grills in the roof louvers, with the drivers side functional. The hubcaps are a fake mag wheel with 6 spokes.The 1965 model introduces standard four-wheel disc brakes.
-


Interior: The interior changed with flat centers in the instruments, all painted black. The door panels changed to a bit more molded design, with a forward sloping door pull. The reflectors for the door locks changed to simple chrome knobs. The carpet is a molded design to allow single large pieces to cover each area.

Driveline: The line up is mostly the same as '64 with the 327-250hp, 327-300hp, 327-365hp, and the 327-375hp FI. But the 375hp FI is short lived in that the 396-425hp big block is released and would take top horsepower honors for a much cheaper option price. Holley carbs are on the 350, 365, and 425 hp engines with this being the last year of the Carter WCFB and the AFB. M20 continued to be the four speed, either wide ratio or close ratio depending one the engine, but the M22 showed up on the option lists as the close ratio behind the 396. It is highly questionable if any M22 transmissions actually are produced.

ENGINE
327 cubic inch V-8, 396 cubic inch V-8 optional
Horsepower 250@4400rpm standard, L75- 300, L79- 350,
L76- 365, L84- 375 (FI), and L78- 425
Compression Ratio 10.5 to 1
four barrel, and fuel injection optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual
and 2 speed auto optional

WEIGHT
2945 lbs (coupe) 2960 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
23,562 (8186 coupes) (15,376 convertibles)

PRICE
$4,252 (coupe) $4,037 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 175.2 inches
Front tread- 56.8 inches
Rear tread- 57.6 inches
Tires- 7.75X15

1965 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($199.10)
4 speed manual transmission ($188) close ratio ($237)
300 horsepower L75 ($53.80)
350 horsepower L79 ($107.60)
365 horsepower L76 ($129.15)
375 horsepower L84 fuel injected engine($538)
425 horsepower L78 396 cubic inch big block ($292.70)
Posi-traction ($43.50)
Off-road exhaust ($37.70)
Side mounted exhaust ($134.50)
Special brake and suspension package ($629.50)
Transistor ignition system ($73.75)
36 gallon fuel tank (coupe only) ($202.30)
Power brakes ($43.05)
Power steering ($73.35)
Air conditioning ($421.80)
Aluminum knock-off wheels ($322.80)
Detachable hardtop ($236.75)
AM/FM radio with power antenna ($203)
Teakwood steering wheel ($48.15)
Telescoping steering wheel ($43.85)
Tinted windshield ($10.80) Tinted glass ($16.15)
Leather seat trim ($80.70)
Whitewall Rayon tires ($31.85)
Goldwall tires ($51)
Backup lights and inside mirror ($16.15)
Power windows ($59.20)

1966

The '66 Corvette is very similar to the '65 in appearance. The front grill is now a cast pot metal egg crate design. On the coupe, the roof side louvers are gone and the roof is smooth behind the door. The lower rocker panels are ribbed again like the '63 but they are black. The front left corner of the hood has Corvette Sting Ray added to it, just like the rear right has had for '63 to '67. It is not the same emblem, but simply looks like it. The hubcaps gain a more mag wheel appearance, with 5 chrome spokes on a dark gray center.

Interior: Interior has changed again slightly. Metal door pulls replace the plastic ones from '65. Seat centers have smaller panels and more of them. Knobs change again.

Driveline: The engine line up changes with the 327-300hp, 327-350hp, 427-390hp, and 427-425hp. The 427 replaces the 396 and initially the 427 had the 390hp and 460hp versions but the 460hp is suddenly downrated to 425 without change. All engines get a Holley carburetor now.

1967

The last of the Sting Rays. '67 is the cleanest body yet, with only the Corvette Sting Ray emblem on the rear deck. The exception is the 427 emblem on the hood of the big block cars. Of course, the big block hood with a scoop appearance pretty well tells you this is a 427. Unfortunately for Corvette fans today, this is by far the most popular hood ever made and has found its way on Corvettes of many years in both original and aftermarket form. The side fender louvers are unique to this year only, being a series of forward slanting slats that function to pass engine air out. The back up light has moved from the inner taillights to a rectangular light in the center of the rear panel between the taillights. Hub caps are gone. Rally wheels are standard but they are 6" wide. The Bolt on aluminum wheels resembled the knock offs but are held by five lug nuts hidden behind the center cone.The 427 ci L88 engine with about 500 hp debuts on the 1967 Corvette. Only 20 are sold this year; price for the engine alone is almost $1000.

Interior: Seats are once again changed, with a pebble design on the vinyl and smaller panels in the seat centers. Knobs are different with larger round knobs and black centers. A padded headliner is overhead.

Driveline: The engine line up changes. The 327-300hp, 327-350hp, and 427-390hp are still here but a pair of Tri Power 427s are introduced: the 400hp and 435 hp. The 400 is basically a 390hp with three two barrel Holley carbs and the 435 is basically the old 425 hp with three two barrel Holley carbs. The 427-430hp L88 is introduced in the spring, but is downplayed to the public as it is intended for racing use only. Even the rating is downplayed so that customers who simply choose the highest numbers will not pick it by mistake.

ENGINE
327 cubic inch V-8, 427 cubic inch V-8 optional
Horsepower 300@5000rpm standard, L79- 350, L36-390, L68- 400, L71- 435
Compression Ratio 10.0 to 1
Four barrel, triple 2 barrels optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and automatic optional

WEIGHT
3000 lbs (coupe) 3020 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
22,940 (8504 coupes) (14,436 convertibles)

PRICE
$4,353 (coupe) $4,141 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 175.2 inches
Front tread- 56.8 inches
Rear tread- 57.6 inches
Tires- 7.75X15

1967 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($194.35)
4 speed manual transmission ($184) close ratio ($237)
350 horsepower L79 ($105)
390 horsepower L36 427 cubic inch ($200.15)
400 horsepower L68 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($305)
435 horsepower L71 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($437)
Aluminum heads for L71 ($368)
Posi-traction ($42.15)
Off-road exhaust ($36.90)
Side mounted exhaust ($131.65)
Transistor ignition system ($74.75)
36 gallon fuel tank (coupe only) ($198.05)
Power brakes ($42.15)
Power steering ($94.80)
Air conditioning ($412.90)
Cast aluminum bolt on wheels ($263.30)
Detachable hardtop ($231.75)
AM/FM radio ($172.75)
Black vinyl roof cover ($52.70)
Telescoping steering wheel ($42.15)
Tinted windshield ($10.55) Tinted glass ($15.80)
Leather seat trim ($79)
Speed warning indicator ($10.55)
Whitewall tires ($31.35)
Red stripe nylon tires ($46.55)
Headrests ($42.15)
Shoulder harness ($26.35)
Power windows ($57.95)

 

 

 

 

 

The Stingrays From 1968 to 1982

Yes, only '69-'76 actually had Stingray on the side, but they are still all the same body. Most of what was said for the Sting Rays holds true, except that the coupe of these years can leak more than the convertible, due to the T-top design which can let water leak in the center of the roof.

The vacuum lights can have problems, along with the vacuum powered wiper door. Be sure to check these for smooth operation. If you have problems, or expect to, the place to go is Chris Prow's Corvette Vacuum Home Page. Chris wrote the book, literally, on the vacuum systems on Vettes.

Fiber optics were advanced for the time, too much for most to repair. Non-working Fiber Optics could indicate past body damage so check them and then check that area. Often body shops thought they were wires and would cut them, do the repair, and then tried to "solder" them together. If you are handy with such things, Radio Shack probably has enough fiber optics supplies to help you fix what you need.

 

 

1968-1982 The Sharks:
1968-1972 often called the Bumper Cars for their chrome bumpers;
1973-1982 often called the Rubber Bumper Cars.

 

 

1968

The Mako Shark lives! The Sting Ray body is gone now and the Coke®-bottle shaped body had taken its place. The chassis is basically the same but the body is all new. Items that turn out to be unique to '68 from later years are: no Stingray logo above the 4 side louvers (gills), backup lights are under the bumper, four red taillights ('69 - '82 have only two), silver front grills with round corner parking lights, a push button door lock that opens the door, no metal tips on the removable hardtop, black rocker panels, 7" wide Rally wheels. The round exhaust pipes are '68 and '69 only. DOT mandated side markers are small square lights on the front and rear fenders. The coupe features a scooped out roof line without the fastback look of the Sting Ray. This drastically cuts the interior room, but is not noticed too much as the roof panels on the coupe are removable to permit an open air "convertible" feel. The Rear window also removes and stores in a tray under the rear deck. There are three hoods, depending on the engine. The wipers hide under a trap door that pops up when they are running. The wiper door and the headlights are vacuum powered.

Interior: Interior is like a jet fighter or space ship. Gone are the two rounded pods for a flat, straight dash that arches down and away from the driver and passenger, giving more interior room, which is very much needed since it is removed elsewhere. The door panels are '68 only, with a sculpted look of fat armrests and shoulder supports and scooped out area to place the arm. Door pulls change three times, originally with only a molded recess, then a plastic insert as the recess tends to tear, and finally a horizontal pull along with the plastic recess. The ignition switch is in the dash and is the last Corvette to have this, as the key moves to the steering column as part of the thief prevention systems. The center console has the fiber optic monitors and a set of cross flags only.

Driveline: The engine is basically the same as '67, except the large journal small block has appeared. This is the last year of the 327 in a Corvette. 327-300hp, 327-350hp, 427-390hp, 427-400hp, 427-435hp and a bit more public, the 427-430hp L88, although it is still intended for racers only. The big blocks receive a different hood with a v-shaped rise and wide, flat look rather than the center bulge of the small block. The lower hood profile requires the intake manifolds to be redesigned on the big blocks so that they are virtually flat and actually have their runners go down into the lifter valley some. The L88 with its high rise manifold gets a special hood that is unmistakable due to a bulge in the standard big block hood that rises another three inches and opens at the rear to bring in cold high pressure air off the windshield. All big blocks have 427 on the side of the hood bulge. The Rochester QuadraJet carburetor appears for emission purposes and only the 400, 435, and 430 hp engines have a Holley.


ENGINE

327 cubic inch V-8, 427 cubic inch V-8 optional
Horsepower 300@5000rpm standard, L79- 350, L36-390,
L68- 400, L71- 435, L88 435+
Compression Ratio 10.0 to 1
Carburetor- four barrel, triple 2 barrels optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and
automatic optional

WEIGHT
3055 lbs (coupe) 3070 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
28,566 (9936 coupes) (18,630 convertibles)

PRICE
$4,663 (coupe) $4,347 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 182.5 inches
Front tread- 58.7 inches
Rear tread- 59.4 inches
Tires- F70X15

1968 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($226)
4 speed manual transmission ($184) close ratio ($263)
350 horsepower L79 ($105)
390 horsepower L36 427 cubic inch ($200.15)
400 horsepower L68 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($305)
435 horsepower L71 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($437.10)
435+ horsepower L88 427 cubic inch big block ($947.90)
Aluminum heads for L71 ($368)
Posi-traction ($46.35)
Off-road exhaust ($36.90)
Side mounted exhaust ($131.65)
Transistor ignition system ($74.75)
Power brakes ($42.15) Heavy duty ($384.45)
Power steering ($94.80)
Air conditioning ($412.90)
4 wheel covers ($57.95)
Detachable hardtop ($231.75)
Alarm system ($26.35)
AM/FM radio ($172.75) AM/FM stereo ($278.10)
Black vinyl roof ($52.70)
Telescoping steering wheel ($42.15)
Tinted windshield ($10.55) Tinted glass ($15.80)
Leather seat trim ($79)
Speed warning indicator ($10.55)
Whitewall tires ($31.35)
Red stripe tires ($31.30 White stripe ($31.30)
Headrests ($42.15)
Shoulder belts ($26.35)
Rear window defroster ($31.60)
Power windows ($57.95)

1969

The Stingray name returns to the front fenders above the 4 gills. The push button is gone and the handle flap now opens the door. This makes a cleaner design but will later prove to be a hassle as the flap spring tends to break or fill with ice in the winter, making opening the doors a hassle. The back up lights move to the inner two taillights, so the Stingrays only have two red taillights, and remains this way until 1984. The front grill is now black. The four side gills have an optional chrome insert package that make each appear as a chrome louver. This is '69 only but are easily installed in '68s. The round exhaust pipes are '68 and '69 only. Sidepipes are only '69 from the factory but are easily retrofitted to any '68 to '82. The '69 and up hardtops gain small stainless steel tips to protect the pointed tips by the rear window when the top is off the car.The 250,000th Corvette is built, a Riverside Gold 1969 model convertible.

Interior: Interior has been redesigned some to get extra room. The fat shoulder supports are gone so the top of the door panel is narrow and flows straight down to the arm rest. A forward slanted plastic door pull similar to the '65 handle is used, which turns out to be a continued source of aggravation to Corvette owners as they pull our and tear the panel. Also, the design must set stresses in the arm rest as this area will tend to tear and wear, such that otherwise good door panels become junk due to torn and cracked arm rests. DOT mandates head protection and so headrests become standard. They start as options but then become included. A few early cars may be found without them but any older cars should be questioned.. The center console gains a plate with the engine size and horsepower rating near the rear fiber optic monitors.

Driveline: The 327 is gone and the 350 takes its place. Still basically the same line up, with a 350-300hp, 350-350hp, 427-390hp, 427-400hp, 427-435hp, and L88. A very expensive option is offered on the L88 in the form of ZL1. For roughly $4800 over the base Corvette, you get an L88 with an aluminum block. Three are known to exist and only two are claimed to be original factory cars.

ENGINE
350 cubic inch V-8, 427 cubic inch V-8 optional
Horsepower 300@4800rpm standard, L46- 350, L36-390,
L68- 400, L71- 435, L88 435+
Compression Ratio 10.25 to 1
Four barrel, triple 2 barrels optional

TRANSMISSION
3 speed manual standard, 4 speed manual and
automatic optional

WEIGHT
3091 lbs (coupe) 3096 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
38,762 (22,154 coupes) (16,608 convertibles)

PRICE
$4,763 (coupe) $4,420 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 182.5 inches
Front tread- 58.7 inches
Rear tread- 59.4 inches
Tires- F70X15

1969 OPTIONS
Automatic Transmission ($226)
4 speed manual transmission ($184) close ratio ($263)
350 horsepower L46 ($105)
390 horsepower L36 427 cubic inch ($200.15)
400 horsepower L68 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($305)
435 horsepower L71 427 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($437.10)
435+ horsepower L89 427 cubic inch big block aluminum heads ($832.05)
ZL1 427 cubic inch 500+ horsepower (only 2 were built) ($3000)
Posi-traction ($46.35)
Off-road exhaust ($36.90)
Side mounted exhaust ($147.45)
Transistor ignition system ($81.10)
Power brakes ($42.15) Heavy duty ($384.45)
Power steering ($105.35)
Air conditioning ($428.70)
4 wheel covers ($57.95)
Detachable hardtop ($252.80)
Front fender louver trim ($21.10)
Alarm system ($26.35)
AM/FM radio ($172.75) AM/FM stereo ($278.10)
Black vinyl roof ($57.95)
Telescoping steering wheel ($84.30)
Tinted glass ($16.90)
Leather seat trim ($79)
Speed warning indicator ($11.60)
Whitewall tires ($31.35)
Red stripe tires ($31.30 White stripe ($31.30)
Custom deluxe shoulder belts ($42.15)
Rear window defroster ($32.65)
Power windows ($63.20)

1970

The cheap plastic grills are gone and in typical Chevrolet fashion, the lightweight grills are replaced with heavy pot metal items that weigh much more and will corrode severely, such that maintaining a quality look is very hard without replacement. The same happens to the simple and clean side gills as a heavy pot metal egg crate grill becomes an insert into the side. The front parking lights become large and square with a clear lens. The fenders develop a heavy look as lower fender flares are added, to cover the wider 8" wheels. As is discovered in '69, the wider wheels can cause the fenders to take a beating from rock chips so the lower fender is flared out at the rear to block the rocks and debris like a mud flap.

Interior: Interior changes most with the seats, as headrests are now incorporated into the seat.

Driveline: The engine line up changes with the 454 replacing the 427. All big block hoods now have 454 on them. The LT1 small block is introduced. It uses the same hood as the 454 but with a stripe decal and LT1 decals rather than the chrome numbers used on the 454.

ENGINE
350 cubic inch V-8, 454 cubic inch V-8 optional
Horsepower 300@4800rpm standard, L56- 350, LT1- 370,
LS5 390, LS6- 460
Compression Ratio- 10.25 to 1
Carburetor- four barrel, triple 2 barrels optional

TRANSMISSION
Buyers choice of automatic and close or wide
ratio 4 speed manual

WEIGHT
3153 lbs (coupe) 3167 (convertible)

PRODUCTION TOTAL
17,316 (10,668 coupes) (6648 convertibles)

PRICE
$5,469 (coupe) $5,129 (convertible)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase- 98 inches
Overall length- 182.5 inches
Front tread- 58.7 inches
Rear tread- 59.4 inches
Tires- F70X15

1970 OPTIONS
350 horsepower L56 ($158)
370 horsepower LT1 ($447.60)
390 horsepower LS5 454 cubic inch big block ($289.65)
460 horsepower LS6 454 cubic inch big block tri-carbs ($3000)
Optional gear ratios ($12)
Off-road exhaust ($36.90)
Side mounted exhaust ($116.65)
Transistor ignition system ($64.16)
Special suspension front and rear ($29.20)
Power brakes ($33.55)
Power steering ($105.35)
Air conditioning ($428.70)
4 wheel covers ($57.95)
Detachable hardtop ($252.80)
Front fender louver trim ($21.10)
Alarm system ($26.35)
AM/FM radio ($172.75) AM/FM stereo ($278.10)
Black vinyl roof ($57.95)
Telescoping steering wheel ($84.30)
Tinted glass ($16.90)
Leather seat trim ($79)
Whitewall tires ($31.35)
Custom deluxe shoulder belts ($42.15)
Rear window defroster ($32.65)
Power windows ($63.20)

1971

The '71 repeats a pattern known in Corvettes as providing a virtually identical car to the previous year. This is partly due to the strike at GM in 1970 which made the '70 model a very short year. Other than engine changes, mainly due to dropping the compression for the unlead gasoline to come in 1975, the '70 and '71 are nearly the same. One change is to the orange parking light lenses during the production run, although some still have clear.

Interior:

Driveline: Compression drops as GM gears to have all cars using unleaded fuel. The horsepower drops across the board, and is further hurt in image as both Gross SAE and Net SAE ratings are shown.

1972

This is the last of the design. Basically, the car is the same in later years but the rubber bumpers for impact protection change the cars forever. The rear window is still removable but the fiber optic system is removed so that the alarm system can become standard.A “Car & Driver” magazine reader poll votes the Corvette the “Best All-Around Car.”

Interior:

Driveline: Horsepower appears to take a terrible plunge, but it really took that drop in '71. The plunge is only due to the ratings only being in Net SAE and are actually the same as '71.

1973

There were rumours that a mid-engine Corvette would be introduced for 1973, but nothing that radical appeared. The most obvious change is the rubber front bumper that is introduced to meet the crash standards. This bumper is the same in '74 but different from '75 up in that it had a straight line to the point. The rear chrome bumpers of previous years are retained. The side louvers are replaced with a single slot opening with an indented area behind. The rear window in the coupe is no longer removable. This provides a better weather seal against leaks and more interior luggage room as there is no need for the window storage tray under the deck. The hood is a functioning cold air intake, or cowl induction, hood and looks the same for both the small block and the big block, with a wide raised area that sweeps forward towards the front. The new hood eliminates the wiper trap door and leaves a gap where the wipers can come out.

Major changes for 1973 involved the following:
a new domed hood
body-color urethane plastic front bumper
a fixed rear window which added a little more trunk space
a new coolant-recovery system
new chassis mounts
steel-guard-beam doors
the "egg-crate" front fender side vents of the 1971-72 models were replaced with non-trimmed air-duct types
radial tires
increase of sound-deadening material

Interior: Interiors are much the same but the window storage tray under the rear deck is gone and provides more luggage room.

Driveline: The engine line up is still the 350 and 454. The L82 appears.

1974

The rear chrome bumpers are now replaced with the rounded rubber bumper. '74 is unique in that it is the only one with a split in the bumper.The Corvette “Two-Rotor” and “Four-Rotor” show cars are publicly displayed. They incorporate Wankel rotary engines.
-Zora Arkus-Duntov retires from Chevrolet.David McLellan takes over as chief engineer of the Corvette.
Interior:

Driveline: This is the last year of the 454. The cowl induction system is still on all cars.

1975

The 1975 Corvette is introduced with no big-block 454 ci engine option, and all models include catalytic converters. The rear rubber bumper is now one piece without the split of '74. Corvette is still spelled out in individual letters on the bumper. The front bumper no longer has a straight line on each side of the V it forms. Near the center, a section of the front bumper cover merges back into the bodywork. This will continue for several years. Fake rubber pads appear on both bumpers as bumper guards. These remain until 1979.

Interior:

Driveline: The 454 is gone. Only the 350 L48 base engine and the optional L82 are around.

1976

The convertible is gone, due to decreased interest in the convertible model. All 1976 Corvettes are coupes. A new Corvette emblem is on the rear bumper instead of the letters. The rear deck vents, which were only used in non-air conditioned cars anyway, are gone. Record model year production jumps again, to over 46,000 for 1976.

Interior: The interior had subtle changes. Most noticeable is the infamous "Vega" steering wheel. In reality, all received the same wheel, Corvette, Camaro, and Vega. It is a padded design that is needed for driver safety but is mocked for being the same in a Vega. Actually, it is much better than the previous years, as it is thicker and easier to hold.

Driveline: Engine line up stayed with the 350 L48 base engine and the L82 option. The cowl induction hood is replaced with a standard hood. Fresh air is ducted from the front to the air cleaner.

1977

The last of the vertical rear window cars, the '77 also is devoid of the Stingray script on the fenders. The Corvette emblem on the rear bumper is different than '76. The 500,000th Corvette is built, a Classic White 1977 model.

Interior: The center dash and console changed. For the first time, a standard radio could fit in a Corvette. The dash had a flatter look to it.

Driveline: The engine line up remained the same with the 350 L48 base engine and the L82 optional engine but the silent secret is the lack of a Muncie under the shifter, replaced by a Saginaw 4 speed.

1978

The new fastback style makes these easy to recognize. This is the 25th anniversary and all '78 Corvettes carry the 25th Anniversary emblems on the gas tank lid and the side fenders. A Silver Anniversary model is announced with a two tone paint scheme. About the time it is released, news of a special Indy 500 Pace Car is announced with special two-tone paint for about $6,000 over the regular model.. This causes confusion to many who rushed to buy the Silver Anniversary, thinking it is the Pace Car replica. A Pace Car edition comes out later, with 6502 copies made for sale. The Pace Car is black over gray with special aluminum wheels while the Silver Anniversary model is Silver over Gray and standard optional aluminum wheels. (You could get the SA with Rally wheels.) The Pace Car also has special seats, front and rear spoilers, and a special VIN to prevent counterfeiting the cars.The base price of the 1979 model hits $10,000 for the first time.

Interior: The interior console area is extensively redesigned. The addition of a glove box, the first since '67. In some ways, the '78 is reminiscent of the '67 with two tone paint (although '67 is just a hood decal, not even paint), the fastback coupe, and the aluminum wheels.

Driveline: The base L48 and optional L82 remain.

Production 46,776 Corvettes in 1978, (Coupe 24,991 units
Silver Anniversary Edition 15,283 UNITS
Indy 500 Pace Car 6,502 UNITS
7,138 UNITS WERE PRODUCED WITH THE FACTORY AM-FM CB RADIO

1979

The '79 is cleaner than the '78 due to the lack of the huge 25th anniversary emblems that are attached everywhere. The Pace Car spoilers are now an option on any Corvette. A new Corvette Cross Flag emblem is used. Record model year production jumps again, to over 53,000 for 1979. This record still holds.

Interior: The interior changed again, with the Pace Car seats becoming the standard seat for '79, hinging higher on the back, and providing a lumbar support.

Driveline: The base L48 and optional L82 remain.

1980

New front and rear bumpers incorporate spoilers into their design so the added on look of the '79 spoilers is gone. Side grills filled the old side vents in the front fenders, the first time these have changed since 1973.

Interior:

Driveline: Two engine sizes were available for the first time since '74. In California, emissions dictated the use of the 305 and automatic only. The L48 and L82 were still available in the 49 states. The 4 speed could not be had with the L82 although some early cars may have this.

1981

Some of the '81s arrive from Bowling Green, the first time for a new Corvette plant location in 28 years and the first time Corvette is built in two locations. The body is basically the same, with minor changes. A two tone paint scheme is available for the first time since 1961 on Bowling Green produced cars.For the first time since 1954, there are no engine options. All 1981 Corvettes come with a 190 hp 350 ci L81 engine.

Interior:

Driveline: A single engine is available, the L81. It is computer controlled, like the California required 305 in '80. Both the four speed and automatic are available.

1982

The last of the body style. A Collector's Edition hatchback is offered for $22,538, the most expensive Chevrolet car to date. The rear window becomes an opening hatch to allow greater access to the rear luggage area. The CE also has a distinctive two tone paint scheme to separate it from the standard '82. For the first time since 1954, all Corvettes are built with an automatic transmission. Production of Corvettes moves from St. Louis to a new facility in Bowling Green, Ky.

Interior: The Collector's Edition had a special two tone interior color to match the exterior paint scheme.

Driveline: The carburetor disappeared from Corvette. The Cross Fire Injection system is developed from the use of two Throttle Body Injections atop a cross ram manifold to supply sufficient fuel and air to the 350 as the TBI is designed for much smaller engines. A Cross Fire Injection emblem appeared on the fenders. All '82s are automatics, due to emissions, and feature the relatively new 4 speed 700R4.

 

 

 

The 1984 - 1996 Corvette

Electronics

Electronics have entered in a big way and has had their problems. This has not slowed the more enthusiastic fans as they have ways to repair anything. The dashboards tend to have problems so check them carefully for intermittent or missing displays or lights. This is typically a $300 repair that is available from most Corvette vendors. Some of the injection controls like the burn off relays have regular failures. VetteNet is a good source of what are common problems so ask around before looking. Then check these out.

Interiors

Many find the pump up seats to fail. There are fixes for these on VetteNet. The Bose stereo is not compatible with normal stereo systems so if it isn't working, check on why or do some bargaining.  

Bodywork

The body is not fiberglass like the years before. A special repair procedure is required, although some have no doubt bought K-Mart fiberglass kits and "fixed" them. Be sure to check for any damage.

 

1983-1996 C4 - The Clamshell

1983

Chevrolet builds 61 1983-dated Corvettes; 18 are prototypes, the other 43 are pilot-line cars built with production tooling. All but one are destroyed; none are sold to the public.The only one left is white with a blue interior. For years it has lived inside the Corvette plant at Bowling Green but has been moved to the National Corvette Museum across the street. The '83s are all test cars and there are no production ones sold.

1984

The '83 is released as an '84, the first all-new Corvette since 1963. The body changed drastically and yet brought back memories of the '68 with its vertical rear panel and large round taillights. The hood opened in a clamshell design, where all of the engine and suspension are exposed. The rear window as a hatch on all models now. The chassis is now partly unibody, partly frame, as the Lotus inspired backbone chassis holds the car together. The wheelbase is shortened to 96 inches. The IRS is retained but now uses a 6 link set up rather than the old 3 link set up. Fiberglass transverse springs support the car at both ends. Much of the suspension is made of aluminum. Brakes are larger and a newer design, requiring 16 inch wheels. The manual transmission is again available as an option. Base price is now over $20,000.

Interior: The overwhelming feature is the digital dashboard. An LED display gives all information to the driver.

Driveline: A Cross Fire Injection 350 is the same as the '82 but would be the last as '85 received the Tuned Port Injection.

1985

The rub strip on the front fenders now says "Tuned Port Injection" rather than "Cross Fire Injection like the '84.The 1985 Corvette introduces the 230 hp L98 engine (25 hp more than for 1984), with fuel injection returning for the first time since 1965. “Car & Driver” declares the Corvette America's fastest production car at 150-mph.


Interior:

Driveline: The engine has changed, with the TPI replacing the CFI used in '82 and '84.


1986

Possibly the first thing noticed is the third brake light. These are added and sets the '86 off from previous years. A convertible is available as the Indy 500 Pace Car replica and is the first convertible available since 1975. The 1986 model introduces standard anti-lock brakes.Base price of the convertible passes $30,000.

Interior:

Driveline: Same as '85



1987

For the 1987 model, buyers can select "Callaway Twin Turbo" for an extra $20,000. Callaway Engineering installs 345 hp twin-turbo engines with a top speed of 178 mph. A total of 184 buyers select this $48,000-plus car.

Interior:

Driveline:L98 engine continues.


1988

Possibly the first thing noticed is the wheels. '88 had a different style wheel for the standard 16" design and a 17" wheel came out for the Z51 and Z52 options.The 1988 Callaway Twin Turbo option creates a 382 hp Corvette for $55,000+, for 124 buyers.

Interior:

Driveline:

 

1989

The 1989 model features a new, optional, six-speed manual transmission.
- Chevrolet builds 84 1989-dated ZR-1 Corvettes for testing and press reviews, but none are sold to the public.

Interior:

Driveline: L98 engine continues. The 6 speed ZF transmission is introduced. The ZR-1 is produced to about 80 cars but only released as test cars to selected people after initial testing by Chevrolet. They are not released to the public for sale.

 

1990

Chevrolet introduces 1990 model Corvette ZR-1. It features a new 350 ci 375 hp LT5 engine, with four overhead camshafts and 32 valves. Over 3,000 ZR-1 Corvettes are sold, at a minimum price of $59,000. The ZR-1 is easy to spot, look for the larger rear section like the 1991 - 1996 Corvettes.

Interior:

Driveline: The L98 is still in the regular Corvette and the LT-5 is only available in the ZR-1.

 

1991

The bumpers are rounded from the sharp edges they had. The side louvers changed to narrow horizontal insets. The four taillights are now rectangular in a convex rear bumper, similar to the ZR-1.

Interior:

Driveline: L98 engine continues in regular Corvettes and the LT-5 in the ZR-1.

 

1992

The 1992 Corvette features a new standard engine, the LT1, rated at 300 hp (compared to 1991's 245 hp L98). It seemed the new aluminum heads were causing problems in some aplications. A traction control system is standard for all Corvettes. The base convertible now reaches over $40,000. Adding the ZR-1 option produces a $72,000+ Corvette. The 1-millionth Corvette is built, an Arctic White LT-1 1992 roadster with red leather interior.

Interior:

Driveline: The LT-1 engine becomes the standard engine. The ZR-1 is still available with the LT-5 engine.

 

1993

The 1993 model includes an optional 40th Anniversary Package, specifying Ruby Red metallic exterior, Ruby Red leather seats, and other refinements.This is the 40th anniversary of Corvette and all get 40th Anniversary badges on the seats.  Only some of the the Ruby Red get the special Anniversary Model  emblems on the side of the hood. Horsepower of the ZR-1 increases to 405. “Car & Driver” declares the 1993 Corvette ZR-1 the fastest production car at 179-mph.

recall bulletins

Interior:

Driveline:Same as '92.

 

1994

The National Corvette Museum opens in Bowling Green. 118,000 people and 4,000 Corvettes visit over the weekend.

Interior:

Driveline:Same as '92.

 

1995

The last year of the ZR-1 total production since 1990 is 6,939. The standard Corvette received a new side louver design, where the leading edge is raised around a single opening, with ridges on the indented surface. The Indy Pace Car appears again, limited edition special pace car replicas are offered for sale to the public, in purple trim.

Interior:

Driveline:The LT-1 and the LT-5. This is the last year for the ZR-1 and the LT-5 engine.

 

1996

A new engine is available as an option on the 1996 Corvette, the 330 hp LT4. Several models are available this year: the Collector's Edition with Sebring Silver exterior and many refinements. The Grand Sport is available only in Admiral Blue with a huge Arctic White stripe down the center of the car limited to 1,000 Corvettes. This is to bring back memories of the '63 Grand Sport. The last of about 300,000 fourth-generation Corvettes is built.

Interior:

Driveline:The LT-1 and the LT-4 are both available. The LT-1 had the automatic behind it only and the LT-4 had the six speed only behind it. This is the last year for the ZF six speed.

 

 

 

The 1997-2002 Corvette

These have a few problems and a few bugs. But then, what Corvette doesn't? They are being discussed constantly on VetteNet and I'd recommend anyone wishing to buy one of these used to spend a month on VetteNet to see what problems have arisen and how they are handled.

 

 

1997 - C5 - The Late Model

1997

The body brings to mind a mix of the late 3rd generation Firebird nose, the rear clip and greenhouse of the NSX, and old Corvette coves and side louvers mixed together. Or so is the opinion of some.

The tail is Corvette with the four large, oval taillights. The front fenders have more swoop and rise than the C4 Corvettes and the hood area is shorter. Side coves that are functioning louvers streak along in the door for the first time since 1962. It is Corvette, and while similar to the previous years, has its own identity. The gas lid is behind the drivers door, first time since 1962. The coupe has a frameless rear hatch window. Four oval taillights bring pure Corvette while being different than the traditional round taillights of years ago. The wheelbase is increased to 104 inches with the body ends shortened, to stay roughly the same overall length.

The '97 debuts in January but it takes a few months for most to get out to the dealers and into the hands of new owners.

Interior: The interior has been improved to hold two bags of golf clubs. And GM makes every effort to demonstrate this. Most Corvette enthusiasts are appalled at this mentallity but never the less, it is roomier. The console is different and has more scattered in the center. The door sills are lower and easier to get into. The drive is quiet, isolating, and plush.

Driveline: The LS1 5.7-litre V8 engine is introduced delivering 345 hp to the rear transaxle. A 6 speed Borg Warner rear mounted transmission moves part of the mass to the rear, to increase the polar mass while decreasing the front mass, giving a better fr/rr weight ratio and better road manners, at the expense of autocross performance. Most thought this would be a transaxle, but instead, a transmission is merely attached to the front of the differential.

The coupe body is the same, with a few new colors added. Of course, it is a pretty minor change. The convertible has been added, for the first time since 1962, this Corvette has an externally-accessed trunk, larger than most soft-top two-seater cars.. A Pace Car version is out again, for the '98 Indy 500. An Indy Pace Car Replica option is available for over $5,000 and to outdo the previous pace car versions, this one has some very wild graphics on the sides. “Motor Trend” selects the 1998 Corvette as its Car of the Year.

And in spring of '98, a few of the fixed roof coupes have been seen at the plant, the so called "Billy Bob" hardtop that is the "stripper" version. It appears it will be a 1999 model and no rumors of being out early as a late '98. However, the '99 dealer sheets indicate on the surface it is actually the base type Corvette many have wanted for a long time, lighter, less gadgets, and more serious motoring if the performance suspension is ordered. We have to wait until '99 to know.

Interior:

Driveline: The same as '97.

1999

Chevrolet unveils the 1999 Hardtop Corvette. An optional Head Up Instrument Display projects various instrument readings onto the windshield.

2000
 
2001
Chevrolet introduces the 2001 Z06 Corvette, with 385 hp LS6 engine, and titanium exhaust systems. Base price of any Corvette now exceeds $40,000.
2002