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C3 Corvette (1968-1982)

The Stingray Era


1979 Corvette Coupe

From 1975-1982, the basic C3 Corvette had from 165 to 230 horsepower. That makes these the last of the older Corvettes to languish with prices under $10,000. That's good news for collectors who are willing to invest a little more under the hood.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

The C3 Corvettes are by far the largest generation ever produced. Of the 1.5 million Corvettes built between 1953 and 2010, over 540,000 were made in this era. These are the well-known "Stingray" design, although the slightly different name "Sting Ray" had been used as far back as 1963.

Changes Over Time

This generation of Corvettes started out strong, but emissions standards and GM's general malaise of the 1970s depressed both horsepower and collector values. 1975 was the lowest point, with the base engine offering just 165 horsepower - almost back to 1953 standards! 1975 was also the last year of the convertible Stingray, as GM management believed that Americans were no longer interested in top-down driving.

As the decade went on, 1975 was the last year for Zora Aurkus-Duntov as Chief Engineer of the Corvette, 1976 was the last year of the "Stingray" name, then 1977 was the last year of the C3 Corvette's distinctive fin-style rear window bodywork. Yet somewhat paradoxically, sales and production kept rising, and 1979 saw the greatest production numbers in Corvette history, with over 53,000 units built and sold.

Collectible Value

Third-generation Corvettes have languished with depressed values for decades, but are now seeing stronger sales prices. Bargain hunters who want the last of the affordable classic 'Vettes should seriously consider a C3 built after 1975.

Next page: Quick facts about C3 Corvettes

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