Five years earlier the
1963 Chevrolet Corvette would establish the Corvette name as a design tour de force. The 1968 would reinforce that reputation
with an all new body style.
The new design would become a classic. Corvettes for the next forty years - including the C4, C5 and C6
generations - would follow the same basic lines and be recognizable as a relative of the 1968 trend setter.
The new Corvette featured
what became known as the "Coke Bottle" shape. It's in reference to the fenders which bulged out in comparison to the doors.
Also note the emphasis on the fenders as they arched upward - a continuation of the C2 Corvette.
The shape of the new C3 also featured improved aerodynamics when compared to the C2 Corvette. Front end
lift during high speed was a problem that many racers complained about. Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov said in
interviews that the C2 'vette "had the aerodynamics of a bad airplane".
With the introduction
of the 1968 model, Chevrolet was greeted with something it had not heard with regards to the Corvette for a long time: criticism,
much of it quite harsh. Although the new styling was well liked - and time has proven it to be a winner - it did require compromises.
The interior was hard
hit by the critics, who marveled at how the Corvette managed to grow bigger in the exterior while at the same time shrinking
the interior. To accommodate a lower roofline, the seats were angled at 33° vs. the 25° in the previous generation. Support
and padding was also lacking as was the overall level of comfort. The other problem was the center console that was widened
to accommodate a three speed automatic transmission. Making matters worse was the door panels which intruded into the passenger
There was also a sometimes perceived, sometimes reality based quality control problem. A long list of
mostly nuisance items, many of which were corrected by hobbyist owners, was part of all 1968 Corvettes. Most of the issues,
a lot of which were build quality related, were fixed in the 1969 and subsequent years. This reputation still plagues the
'68s however, affecting their value. Defenders of the '68 respond that the concerns were overblown, making them attractively
As with the C2 Corvette,
the new generation featured hidden headlights. Unlike the C2 however, the new design popped up rather than rotate. They were
vacuum operated (C2s used an electric motor) and they were reliable and fast.
Another new for 1968 feature was hide-away windshield wipers. Like the headlights, they were vacuum operated
and both aesthetic and aerodynamic advantages were the goal. Unlike the headlights however, their operation was not reliable.
Other changes including locating the battery behind the passengers and deletion of side vent windows.
The door release
was thumb operated an exclusive feature in the 1968 Corvette and an easy way to identify that model year. 1969 and later designs
opened the door with the depression plate with a flush mounted keyhole in the same position as the thumb release.
had a tradition as an open car since the first examples exited the assembly line in 1953. The 1968 coupe also featured a T-Top
arrangement which was an excellent compromise. The removable roof panels offered the best of both worlds: the security, weather
sealing etc. of a fixed roof and the open motoring experience of a convertible. It would not be until 1999, with the introduction
of the C5 hardtop that an exclusively fixed roof Corvette would be sold.
The body style
may have been all new, but the chassis was exactly the same as first introduced in 1963. This was still a good thing as even
five years later it offered great performance and excellent value. The new body did allow for an increase of 1" of wheel width,
so seven inch wheels were standard. Also unchanged was the engine selection, which was the same offering as 1967.
The L88 427 V8 had an
advertized HP rating of 430hp but that wasn't actually true. The real horsepower was closer to 550hp. This
engine was built to offer the ultimate in big block performance. The carburetor was a monster Holley R3418A atop a cast
aluminum intake manifold. The fuel had a minimum 103 research octane. No pollution control was fitted.
Induction was through a special cold air hood, which took high pressure air from the windshield base, and filtered it through
a hood mounted filter. Only 80 1968 L88 Corvettes were made and about only 40 are still around today, making the
1968 L88 a super rare car just as it was in 1967.