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1968-1972 Chevrolet Corvette


1968 Chevrolet Corvette Design

The fifth-generation 1968 Chevrolet Corvette had its fair share of development bugs (like any new car), which explains why the new Corvette's introduction was postponed from 1967 to 1968. It was probably just as well. Although the government's first safety and emissions standards took effect nationwide with the '68 model year, Chevy would doubtless have seen to it that the engineering of an all-new '67 reflected the new standards.

As it was, the delay took some of the pressure off of "federalizing" the new design, to the undoubted relief of harried engineers who had to worry about government scrutiny of the five other model lines in the Chevy fleet.

Critics of the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette called its styling excessive.
Critics of the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette called its
styling excessive -- along the lines of
an "Image and Gadget Car."

The new-design 'Vette garnered decidedly mixed reviews. To many, its styling was wretchedly excessive. "We wish we could express more enthusiasm for the new model," Road & Track confessed, "but we feel that the general direction of the changes is away from Sports Car and toward Image and Gadget Car. And since the Corvette is America's only sports car, this direction is a disappointment to us." In particular, the magazine decried the new model's seven-inch gain in overall length (to 182.1 inches). There was less luggage space, too, and weight was up by some 150 pounds.

R&T went on to praise driving position and major control relationships, but deplored the difficulty of getting in and out and griped about the secondary gauges being in the center of the dash, away from the driver's direct line of sight. The editors also groused about inadequate interior ventilation despite the arrival of Chevy's new flow-through "Astro Ventilation" system with dash-mounted vents, exterior air extractors on the rear deck -- and no door ventwings.

As with the first Sting Ray, '68 powerteams were essentially those of the previous year, beginning with the standard 327-cid small-block V-8 hooked to a three-speed manual transmission. Equipped with a single four-barrel Rochester carburetor, it was good for 300 bhp at 5000 rpm. Options included a 350-bhp 327 that required a four-speed transmission, and 427-cid mills that generated 390, 400, and 435 horses, the latter two with triple Holley two-barrel carbs. The 435-bhp engine peaked at 5800 rpm and made 460 pound/feet of torque at 4000 revs. Fitted with a special cam, solid lifters, and an 11.0:1 compression ratio, it was available only with the close-ratio four-speed. (A rare aluminum-head L88 427 rated at 430 horses was still available, too.)

All other engines could also be had with a wider-ratio four-on-the-floor, and all but the 350- and 435-bhp engines A ere available with an automatic transmission. However, the autobox was now GM's fine new three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic rather than the old two-speed Powerglide.

The carryover Sting Ray platform meant the 'Vette retained a 98-inch wheelbase, five-member ladder frame, and fully independent rear suspension projecting from the frame-anchored differential. But that's not to say Corvette mechanicals were totally ignored for '68. Drum brakes were consigned to history as the previous all-disc option became standard equipment. Also, Duntov was able to order a change to higher spring rates to reduce fore/aft pitching, especially under hard acceleration. This also served to lower the rear roll center and was nicely complemented by newly standard seven-inch-wide wheels wearing low-profile F70X15 tires.

­With these modifications and the resulting wider track dimensions (now 58.7/59.4 inches front/rear) the '68 clawed the road even better than the Sting Ray The penalty was a perceptibly harsher ride.

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