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Story of the c3 Shark

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C3 (1968–1982 Stingray or Shark)

This was the beginning of one of the longest running Corvette models as the C3 and was destined for government regulations by the 1970s. It had become the third generation Corvette which was branded with the  nick name "Shark", which was patterned after Chevrolet's extreme "Mako Shark II" that was (designed by Larry Shinoda), that had its beginning in 1968 and ended production in a successful design with major changes by 1982. This new C3 generation was to have the distinction of being introduced to the motoring public in an unorthodox—and unintended—fashion. In the year 1968 the influence and introduction of Mattel's now-famous and well known Hot Wheels line of 1/64-scale die cast toy cars began.

At first, General Motors had tried their best to keep the appearance of the upcoming sports car change a secret, but the urgent release of the new Hot Wheels line several weeks before the big Corvette's unveiling had a unexpected impact of particular interest to Corvette fans. This was the "Custom Corvette", a GM-authorized model of the 1968 Corvette. The truth is that the 1968 corvette was not actually sold with the title of "Stingray". However, it was almost identical to the "Stingray" 1969 model produced with its chrome bumpers. If you closely examine the  1968 models you will never find the word "Stingray."

It was back in 1969 that the popular 350 cu in (or 5.7 L) engine became available to the public in the Corvette sports car and was the only year that an all-aluminum high performance 427 cu in (or 7 L) big block titled the ZL-1 was made available. It was reported to produce anywhere from astounding 550 to 710 horsepower and was an intended race option. By the beginning of 1970 the 427 big block was bored to a huge 454 cu in (or 7.4 L) monster.

The small block power peaked in the 1970 models, with the 1970 LT-1 putting out over fast 370 hp (or 276 kW) with the '71 and '72 rated at enjoyable 330 gross HP. The 1971 454 cubic big block had its last year of brute power with the 425 hp (or 317 kW) LS6 engine. An even more powerful LS7 454 CID engine rated at an seat sinking 465 hp (or 347 kW) was in the planning stages and was even included in early GM assembly manuals. Unfortunately it never made it into any production cars. By 1972, GM converted to the SAE Net measurement for power (getting away from the previous SAE Gross standard). This resulted in lower values expressed in total HP.

This new standard lowered compression ratios in 1971 which was changed in anticipation of EPA unleaded fuels, government emission controls, and expensive catalytic converters in 1975. Because of this, power continued to decline and finally bottomed out in 1975 Corvette productions with the base ZQ3 engine which put out 165 hp (or 123 kW), and the optional poop deck L82 engine putting out barely 205 hp (or 153 kW). These changes kept HP power fairly steady for the rest of the C3 generations, which ended in 1982 with the  200 hp (or 149 kW) L83 engine. This may have had an impact for the slower demand in C3s and lower increase value to the buyer.

Styling changed gradually over the whole generation. The early model years came standard with an innovative Fiber-Optic light monitoring system. Yes, I said fiber optic. Strands of fiber optic wire were routed from the center console to the fold down headlights (for low and high beam), turn signals, tail lights and license plate light for a total of 9 monitored lights. Because of cost savings, it was soon discontinued after the 1971 model year. GM styled it with just small trim changes which occurred up to the 1972 model. In 1973, due to new changing government regulations, the Shark Corvette changed the chrome front bumper to a soft flexible urethane-compound with a 5-mile-per-hour rated (8 km/h) bumper but continued to keep the rear chrome bumpers.

By 1974, the rear chrome bumpers were changed to urethane as well, resulting in the first ever chrome-less production Corvette produced. By 1975 the public saw the last year for the convertible, which did not return again until 1986. In 1968 the "Sting Ray" name was not used, but it also returned in 1969 as a single word "Stingray" until 1976. In 1977, Dave McLellan succeeded Zora Duntov as the Corvette's Chief Engineer at GM. Because of that. 1978 saw a 25th "Silver Anniversary" edition, the first Corvette Indy Pace Car. The introduction of a "fast back" glass rear window, and the highest production number until the C-5. In 1980, the Corvette got an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in it overall drag. In 1982 model, an opening rear hatch was offered for the first time on any Corvette available but was only installed on the Collectors Edition model only. A new redesigned engine featuring cross fire injection, a fuel injection carburetor hybrid, was also introduced that year as the L83. It was the only engine made available in 1982, and was not offered with any manual transmission.

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