Motor Shows

1969 Chevrolet Corvette (C3) Stingray

Following on from the C2 variant of the Vette, the C3 Corvette Stingray (all one word this time) was launched in 1967 and carried on until 1982.  This really long production run also encompassed new sales records in 1979 when over 53,000 models were purchased by an enthusiastic public.

The chassis for the C3 was lifted from the C2 generation, as was the engine range.  But the body styling was updated with a notchback design replacing the older coupe style from the C2.  The car adopted a T-bar roof (removable panels that left a bar in the middle) coupled with a removable rear window that was mounted vertically in the cabin.  The C3 was also offered as a drop-top which could be ordered with an optional hard top that had a glass rear window – very advanced thinking for the 1960s.

The new style retained the popup headlamps approach that I think is cool on any car.  But in this iteration, they were rotated using a vacuum pump rather than an electronic solution.  This vacuum approach was also used for the wipers that hid away when not in use – not very successfully as it turned out.  Check that these are working if you are thinking of buying this generation!

Other advancements included flush door handles, additional engine cooling vents in the front bumpers and an air vent system called Astro Ventilation.  The driver benefited from a speedo (a large one!) and an equally large rev counter slapped right in their eyeline along with a lot of secondary gauges positioned over the console.  As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of additional information being given to the driver – things like an ammeter, oil pressure, water temp, headlight monitoring system and a fuel gauge were clustered together in this car.

Like very other car manufacturer, the more you pay the better toys you get.  Here Chevy offered a rear window heater, an alarm, different wheel coverings and an FM-stereo along with the optional hardtop I already mentioned for the ragtop.   

While the chassis had been carried over, the weight distribution was improved by mounting the battery in the middle of the chassis (behind the seats).  Four wheel disc brakes and engines were also carried over along with the manual gearboxes but a new Turbo Hydramatic 3 speed auto replaced the older 2 speed Powerglide system.

There were quite a few engines available in this Vette range.  All the cars that had the 7.0 litre big block engines sported domed bonnets with 427 emblazoned along the sides of the power dome (427 signified 427 cubic inches, which equates to an engine capacity of 7.0 litres).  The engine line up looked like this:

  • L30 – 300bhp (224kW) 5.4 litre V8
  • L79 – 350bhp (260kW) 5.4 litre V8
  • ZQ3 – 300bhp (224kW) 5.7 litre V8 [replaced the L30 in 1969]
  • L46 – 350bhp (260kW) 5.7 litre V8 [replaced the L79 in 1969]
  • L36 – 390bhp (291kW) 7.0 litre V8 with a 4 barrel Rochester carb
  • L68 – 400bhp (298kW) 7.0 litre V8 with triple Holley 2-barrel carbs
  • L71 – 435bhp (324kW) 7.0 litre V8 with triple Holley 2-barrel carbs
  • L88 – 430bhp (321kW) 7.0 litre V8 with aluminium heads, higher compression and a 4-barrel carb.  Used only for racing.
  • L89 – as per the L71 but utilising aluminium cylinder heads

1969 model year

In 1969, Chevy upgraded the 5.4 litre engines to 5.7 litres and all cars gained wider wheels – 8 inch wide instead of 7 inch.  What became a very common optional extra was the Positraction rear axle setup – which, in non-Chevy speak, is basically a limited differential setup.  

Other changes for this model year included smaller steering wheels, headlamp washers, new door panels to give more interior space, headrests, side mounted exhausts (optional) and new rear light clusters.

A note around the ZL1 version – this was only available in 1969 and was supplied with a 7.0 litre all aluminium V8 punching out 430bhp (321kW).

Corvette Stingray 350 TurboFire (1969) – Vital Statistics

Power261 kW (350 bhp) @ 5600rpm
Torque515 Nm (380 lb/ft) @ 3600rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph)5.7 seconds
Maximum speed228 km/h (142 mph) 
Fuel consumption (average)19.6 l/100km (14.4 mpg)
Fuel type, tank capacityPetrol, 76 litres
Weight1472 kg
EngineGM Chevrolet Small Block 350 L46,
High compression (11.0:1),
Rochester 4 barrel carburetor 
Displacement5733 cc
Cylinders and valvesV8, 16v
Transmission4 speed Muncie M20 wide-ratio manual,
4 speed Muncie M21 close-ratio manual,
3 speed Turbo Hydramatic RPO M40 automatic 


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