Friday, March 16, 2012

Car Of The Day: March 16, 2012

Today's car of the day comes from Firehawk73's collection and is Racing Champions' 1969 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

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).

In 1969, small block engine displacement increased from 327 cu in (5.4 L) to 350 cu in (5.7 L), though output remained the same. All other engines and transmission choices remained unchanged from the previous year, though the L30 base engine was now the ZQ3 and the L79 motor was redesignated the L46. All cars featured 8-inch-wide (200 mm) steel wheels (increased from 7 inches). Tire size remained the same, although this was the first year for optional white lettered tires and the last for red striped tires. Carried over from the previous year were seven available rear axle ratios ranging from 2.73 to 4.56. Standard ratio remained 3.08 with automatic and 3.36 with manual transmission. The optional Positraction rear axle, mandated on many engine/gearbox combinations, was installed on more than 95% of the cars. "Stingray" script nameplates appeared on front fenders, now one word, in contrast to the “Sting Ray” name used previously. Exterior door handles were redesigned so the finger plate would actuate the door, eliminating the separate release button. Backup lights were integrated into the inboard tail lights, headlight washers were added, and front grilles were made all black. Side mounted exhausts and front fender vent trim were options for this year only. On the inside, revised door panels provided additional shoulder room in the C3's tighter cabin and headrests became standard. Steering wheel diameter was reduced from 16 to 15 inches to permit easier entry and exit, the ignition switch was moved from the dash to the steering column, and map pockets were added to the dash area in front of the passenger seat. Accounting for 57% of the cars, coupes with their removable roof panels, began a trend of outselling roadsters. An extended production cycle due to a labor dispute increased '69 volume. This was the last year for the L88 engine and the only year for the ZL1 option, which offered an all aluminum 427 cu in (7.0 L) big-block engine listed at 430 hp (321 kW). Rare options: ZL1 aluminum block (2), J56 heavy-duty brakes (115), L88 engine (116), L89 aluminum heads (390).

Car and Driver magazine wrote in October 1968, “The small-engine Corvettes are marginally faster and extraordinarily civilized. The large-engine Corvettes are extraordinarily fast and marginally civilized.”

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