Monday, December 5, 2011

Car Of The Day: December 5, 2011

Today's car of the day is Hot Wheels' 1968 Chevrolet Corvette.

The Chevrolet Corvette (C3) is a sports car produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1968 through 1982 model years. Corvette chief Zora Arkus-Duntov wanted a striking new Corvette; although engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the previous generation, its body and interior were new. "Though initially flawed, the 1968 like the 1958, would improve and mature into a car precisely right for its time." The so-called Shark was produced during one of the most troubled periods in America: civil unrest, burgeoning federal guidelines, fuel economy and pollution regulations, oil embargoes, rising fuel and insurance costs, runaway inflation, and a lingering recession. Through it all the third generation Corvette continued to set new sales records with an all-time high of 53,807 produced for the 1979 model year.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Chevrolet Corvette

The pink color scheme and "Dream Car" on the license plate is likely a nod to another Mattel brand- Barbie.

The Corvette C3 was patterned after the Mako Shark II designed by Larry Shinoda. Executed under Bill Mitchell's direction, the Mako II had been initiated in early 1964. Once the mid-engined format was abandoned the Shinoda/Mitchell car was sent to Chevrolet Styling under David Holls, where Harry Haga's studio adopted it for production on the existing Sting Ray chassis. The resulting lower half of the car was much like the Mako II, except for the softer contours. The concept car's name was later changed to Manta Ray. The C3 also adopted the "sugar scoop" roof treatment with vertical back window from the mid-engined concept models designed by the Duntov group. It was intended from the beginning that the rear window and that portion of the roof above the seats–be removable.

The "Shark" has the distinction of being introduced to the motoring public in an unorthodox—and unintended—fashion. GM had tried their best to keep the appearance of the upcoming car a secret, but the release of Mattel's die-cast Hot Wheels line several weeks before the C3's unveiling had a certain version of particular interest to Corvette fans: the "Custom Corvette", a GM-authorized model of the 1968 Corvette.

For 1968, both the Corvette body and interior were completely redesigned. As before, the car was available in either coupe or convertible models, but coupes had new removable roof panels (T-tops) and a removable rear window. A soft folding top was included with convertibles, while an auxiliary hardtop with a glass rear window was offered at additional cost. Included with coupes were hold down straps and a pair of vinyl bags to store the roof panels, and above the luggage area was a rear window stowage tray. The enduring new body's concealed headlights moved into position via a vacuum operated system rather than electrically as on the previous generation, and the new hide-away windshield wipers utilized a problematic vacuum door. The door handles were flush with the top of the doors with a separate release button. "Sting Ray" nameplates were absent on the new 1968 body, but Chevrolet still advertised the car as a Sting Ray. Front fenders had functional engine cooling vents. Side vent windows were eliminated from all models, replaced with "Astro Ventilation", a fresh air circulation system. In the cabin, a large round speedometer and matching tachometer were positioned in front of the driver. Auxiliary gauges were clustered above the forward end of the console and included oil pressure, water temperature, ammeter, fuel gauge, and an analog clock. A fiber-optic system appeared on the console that monitored exterior lights and there was no glove box. The battery was relocated from the engine area to one of three compartments behind the seats to improve weight distribution. New options included a rear window defroster, anti-theft alarm system, bright metal wheel covers, and an AM-FM Stereo radio. All cars ordered with a radio, like the C2 cars, continued to be fitted with chrome-plated ignition shielding covering the distributor to reduce interference.

The chassis was carried over from the second generation models, retaining the fully independent suspension (with minor revisions) and the four-wheel disc brake system. The engine line-up and horsepower ratings were also carried over from the previous year as were the 3 and 4-speed manual transmissions. The new optional Turbo Hydramatic 3-speed automatic transmission (RPO M40) replaced the two-speed Powerglide. The L30, a 327 cu in (5.4 L) small-block V8 engine rated at 300 hp (224 kW) and a 3-speed manual transmission were standard, but only a few hundred 3-speed manual equipped cars were sold. The 4-speed manual was available in M20 wide-ratio or M21 close-ratio transmission versions. The M22 “Rock Crusher”, a heavy duty, close-ratio 4-speed gearbox, was also available for certain applications. The engine line-up included the L79, a 350 hp (261 kW) high performance version of the 327 cu in (5.4 L) small-block. Also available were several variants of the 427 cu in (7.0 L) big-block V8, that taken together made up nearly half the cars. There was the L36, a 390 hp (291 kW) version with a Rochester 4-barrel carburetor; The L68, a 400 hp (298 kW) motor with a Holley triple 2-barrel carb set up (3 X 2 tri-power); The L71, generating 435 hp (324 kW) with a tri-power; The L89 option was the L71 engine but with much lighter aluminum cylinder heads rather than the standard cast iron. Then there was the L88 engine that Chevrolet designed strictly for off-road use (racing), with a published rating of 430 hp (321 kW), but featured a high-capacity 4-barrel carb, aluminum heads, a unique air induction system, and an ultra-high compression ratio (12.5:1). All small block cars had low-profile hoods. All big block cars had domed hoods for additional engine clearance with twin simulated vents and “427” emblems on either side of the dome. The new seven-inch wide steel wheels had F70x15 nylon bias-ply tires standard with either white or red stripe tires optional. Rare options were: L88 engine (80), J56 heavy-duty brakes (81), UA6 alarm system (388), L89 aluminum heads (624).

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