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1968 Corvette (C3)

Culture | January 24, 2018

1968 Chevrolet Preview - Corvette...UNITED STATES - JULY 24: 1968 Chevrolet Preview - Corvette (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)

Guys and their cars… it is a relationship that has a special place in a man’s heart. It has been said that, to men, wheels are like breasts and a car has 4! There you have it ladies… we are hopelessly outnumbered, 2 to 1!

Car enthusiasts get very excited about their vehicles no matter what they drive. They treat them as an extension of their own 'bodies’.  If a person is lucky, he has that one special car that can sit in the garage under a cover and is only driven in the very best of weather conditions.  Before the car is returned to the garage, it will be hand washed and thoroughly inspected before replacing the cover in anticipation of the next outing.

Corvettes are a passion for many a car enthusiast and have a very distinct look which easily stands out among other cars. For the 1968 model year, both the body and interior of the Corvette were completely redesigned. That had a lot of people very excited and skeptical at the same time. The 1968 Corvette was the 3 generation of Corvettes that GM had produced. The coup model was converted to a notchback with a removable rear window and T-tops. The convertible model had a soft folding top but also came with a hardtop.

The operating system of the hideaway headlights and windshield wipers were converted to a vacuum operation system instead of the previously electrically powered system. It was obviously intended to be new and improved, but was it?

The door handles were repositioned to be flush with the top of the car door; side vent windows were eliminated and replaced with what was called, “astro ventilation”, which was to have been a better and fresher way to circulate air within the car.

The dashboard came with a large, round speedometer and tachometer positioned right in front of the driver; with the other gauges and the clock clustered just to the right of the steering wheel. A fiber-optic system was added to the console that worked the exterior lights and the glove box was completely eliminated.

The car’s battery was relocated to a compartment behind the seats, which was to improve weight distribution. New options included a rear window defroster, bright, metal wheel covers, an AM-FM stereo radio and an alarm system.

As hard as it is to resist, car enthusiasts will tell you that it is never a good idea to buy a redesigned car the first year of production. The reason being is that like with any new product, there are usually some bugs that need to be worked out. Although it was a beautiful machine, the 1968 Corvette is considered case and point for this argument.

When the 1968 Corvette was released, critics had some harsh words for some of the many changes that GM had made. One of the negative remarks was that the interior of the car looked nice, but the new design left it feeling cramped. The new operating systems for the headlights and windshield wipers were also problematic, and at times, unreliable.

To generate hype and excitement of the new design, GM went to great lengths to keep the details a secret until the official unveiling. Unfortunately, just prior to GM introducing the 1968 Corvette, their thunder was stolen right out from under their feet.

The toy company, Mattel had released a new line of Hot Wheels and much to the horror of GM executives, one of the cars released was an unauthorized model of what they called the “Custom Corvette”. It very closely and eerily resembled the new Corvette that GM was about to unveil. They were crushed!

In spite of the negative reviews of the 1968 Corvette, owners and enthusiasts were impressed, overall. The car offered state of the art features and was a thrill to drive. It was powerful, handled well and elicited attention wherever it went.

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.