While once upon a time rival the Ford Thunderbird always seemed ready to switch up it’s identity to keep up with the party, the Chevrolet Corvette stayed very close to its roots. Nearly 65 years later the Corvette remains the longest running mass produced sports car on offer from the good old United States of America.
It wasn’t without many a harrowing challenge, questions about its credibility as such, and many many death watches. How did it stack up during it’s sophomore season of its 3rd generation?
As known, the C3 Corvette would go on to be the longest lasting iteration of the car. With refinements it was offered from the Fall of 1967 through the Spring of 1982. In reality, under the skin, the C3 had many carry over components from the C2 version that ditched most connections to ordinary Chevrolets that the original C1 generation cars carried over since their 1953 introduction.
This meant the same transverse leaf spring independent rear suspension and coil spring independent front suspension, now with 4 wheel disc brakes. Out was the hoary old Powerglide automatic, in was the Turbo-Hydramatic now becoming the corporate standard for those who preferred more of a boulevardier in their ‘Vette.
For 1969, out went the beloved, free-revving 327 V8 for the more torque-y Chevrolet 350 V8 as the base engine. From that base point you could mix and match displacements, carb combos, transmissions and axle ratios. Posti-Traction axles, required with most optional set ups, saw a 95% take rate.
This provided buyers with the ability create anything from a close quartered personal coupe, to a drag racing king to a race track special ready to do battle with Ferraris and exotics costing 2 to 4 times as much. As Car and Driver noted in a test of a few of these beasts, “The small-engine Corvettes are marginally faster and extraordinarily civilized. The large-engine Corvettes are extraordinarily fast and marginally civilized.”
For reasons not understood, the ’68 redesign dropped the Stingray/Sting Ray name, perhaps in deference to the Mako Shark concept that donated most of the design details for the restyle. However the badge returned for 1969, sticking around through 1976.
On the inside, the same color keyed interior that could be loaded with more options and surfaces (including genuine leather) than before returned with the latest in regulated safety features. If anything, the Corvette remained All-American in its ability to be optioned with most, if not all of the creature comforts associated with mainstream American automobiles.
With all of the improvements, the 1969 Corvette saw sales become a bit more buoyant compared to the ’68 models. A total of 38,762 Corvettes found buyers that year, more than 10,000 units compared to the previous model year. A pretty healthy 16,663 of those units were the Convertible Coupe like our subject car.
Amazingly, for so early in the season of this particular Corvette, this wouldn’t be the production high water mark for this generation. We’d have to get deep in the heart of the 1970’s to see the sales peak, if not the performance peak of these beauties. However, had it not been for the genuine competence of these cavalier, capricious sports cars of the late 60’s, we wouldn’t have mid life crisis machines for Viagra users….err, we would have America’s most enduring performance car still with us all of these years later. You have to give the Corvette its proper dues.