We're Not Real Big on Corvettes, But This Black, T-Topped 4-Speed C3 Might Change That

1968 Corvette for saleThe C3 Corvette is an ostensibly terrible vehicle. Fragile, ill-handling and not particularly well put together, they’re also a representative of the decline of American Iron from the horsepower zenith around 1970 to the nadir or the late ’70s. They’re most commonly associated with bad hair and bad music. But it’s so easy forget all that and get lost in the chrome and curves of this black beauty.

1968 Corvette for saleBesides, a 327c.i. V8 backed up by a 4 speed and posi rear end can be fun in almost anything. In addition to an impressive options sheet that includes AC, this one looks to be in top notch condition.
1968 Corvette for saleWe’re not huge on numbers-matching-ness around here, but the seller claims it’s all-original. And that’s where things get a little weird. We thought numbers matching 4-speed Vettes in good condition would go for more than the $18,400 Buy It Now (and $10k current bid) that this one’s carrying. Are we missing something, or could this irony-free paragon of badassness really be going for used V6 Mustang money?
1968 Corvette for sale

26 Comments

  1. Love it. My uncle has a very similar black/rally wheels/t-top '73 (as well as a Safety Orange '73 convertible; he used to have a 5.0 fox body Mustang as a winter beater — the man doesn't screw around). Needless to say, I've always been fond of the C3s, particularly the earlier ones. If I had $18k to blow, I'd give this a look — it seems to be a fantastic example of what is, again, an ostensibly terrible car. The fact that these were, by most metrics, awful is irrelevant. They look great, and are easily hotrodded.
    Nice price!

  2. Any old Corvette should be checked out by an expert, particularly if the price is too good to be true – and this one appears to be. There's a lot of very clever fakery in the 'Vette world. If this is a clone, then the seller should be honest enough to say so, and anyone who lies doesn't get my money regardless of the seeming bargain. Also, be forewarned even if this is for real – 1968 was one of the very worst years for Corvette build quality, rivalled only by 1984. Seems Chevy had some problems with generational changeovers.
    The irony of the C3 is that the emasculated deep-malaise late '70s models generally sold better than any Corvettes before or after – it became the ultimate midlife crisis car around this time.

    1. I've got the years wrong, but the 77, 78 or 79 Vette and Mustang II were the biggest sellers of each model, and almost certainly the worst.

  3. I am not a huge fan of Vetts from this era, but this is pretty well sorted, or so it appears. Also, whitewalls usually induce my gag reflex, but not on this. This price is alright!

  4. First off, yeah, that price seems suspiciously low for what should be a pretty desirable car. That said, it's a damn-fine-looking car.
    These cars looked really dated by the mid-70s….and that was only halfway through the run. But imagine how radical this car was in 1968. Think about the other models that were fresh in '68. In context, this car was amazing, at least in the styling department.
    I'm of the opinion (not uncommon) that the early C3s look fantastic pre-smog and -safety standards (bumpers). I'll go so far as to say that they're one of a very short list of cars that actually looks right with side pipes. And this particular car, with it's small block and manual trans, would be a really fun driver.
    I've had the chance to drive C2-C6 'Vettes, and the early C3s might just be my favorites. That huge nose (penis joke) and ultra-low seating position just feel right. And as a child of the 80s, C3s were kind of my first exposure to "sports cars" that I could actually see on the street. Typically with an aging Douche McGouche behind the wheel, but still.

    1. For pure styling, I think the best-looking C-3 was the 1973 – it had the body-colored soft front bumper and a simple side vent (replacing the ugly '70-'72 eggcrate grille and vent) but still kept the ducktail rear.

  5. I have to think those who complain about the build quality of a C3 have never seen a C4. I think one should also remember that 1968 was right around when GM really got into using lots of plastic in interiors, and fit and finish declined in all car lines. Compare the jewel-like quality of a 1964 or '65 Cadillac with a '68 or worse yet a '71. Chevy and Pontiac, the same.

    1. Given our taste in cheap fast crappy cars, we should be big fans of the C4.
      Unfortunately, I just. can't. like them. They're right in that age gap where for me they're forever associated with aging assholes who think their 10-15 year old Vette is hot shit, when in reality it's coming apart at the plastic seams. C3s are old enough that I've no first hand experience with them or their owners.

  6. Oh man! T-Tops! The automotive G-String. Not quite naked, not quite a real cover… what a tease. I'd love to get my hands all over that. Now excuse me while I go take a cold shower.

  7. Everyone loves the 63-67 Vettes but forgets the 68-82 cars have the EXACT SAME chassis. My first automotive love is a 77 Corvette that I got in 1991, my junior year in high school. I drove it until 1996 and it has been sitting awaiting a new engine/restoration since. Even the worst of the C3s will run rings around a Datsun Z or any of the other praised sports cars from the late 1970s short of a Porsche Turbo, Ferrari, or Lambo. A 77 Vette ran Road & Track's slalom test at 63.6 mph compared to 62.8 for a Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera! A later test showed it ran the same time as a 1st gen RX-7. So what is this about ill handling? Sure compared to anything modern it sucks.
    Fragile?! Maybe a few of the interior bits and some accessories, but since when is a Chevy Small Block V-8 and a Turbohydramatic or "Rock Crusher" transmission considered fragile?

  8. Yea, I'll take one. I was thinking about them just recently. I like the c3 and would even consider the c4 just for the ironic 80's-ness. Id like to find a c4 for cheap that needs only a paint job, I would so cover the thing in several silvery rolls of duct tape.

  9. When I was about 10 years old, I saw one of these cars in a parade. This being the mid-late 90's, it contrasted somewhat starkly with the cars I was used to seeing. I turned to my father and asked, "Dad, what's THAT?"
    He said, "Why that's a Stingray Corvette, son."
    I replied, "I think you should get one.", and like that my love of classic cars was born. At 21, I'm too young to have seen anyone driving one of these that wasn't either an enthusiast or old enough to have bought one new and loved it while others dumped theirs for the latest and greatest. Both types of drivers I can respect, so unlike some of the other posters, there's nothing to stop me from lusting after this gorgeous car. When I see one of these from a year before they lost the chrome bumpers, with the right paint job, black interior, lowered just enough from the too-high stock ride height, and rolling on properly fat tires with bold, white letters on them, I have to change my pants. What people do these days with modern cylinder heads, FE, electronic ignition, and shocks just sweetens the deal.
    I'm not sure there's any car that better illustrates the malaise era than this one. The '69 'Vette's small block made 300 or 350 horsepower depending on how you optioned it, the big blocks made between 390 and 435, and if you can find ZL1, it's generally accepted to have made at least 100 hp more than the 430 horses it was rated for. (and 100 is being conservative, wikipedia tells me it's estimated between 550 and 680.[Citation needed.] Yikes.)
    By 1977, the base small block coughed up 180 ponies, the optional engine only 210. The big blocks were flat out gone, (Yes I know what the big blocks did to the handling, but they're still nice to talk about, right?) and for all it's trouble it gained about 150 lbs. Oh, the humanity. (Carmanity?)

    1. Remember, though, that the 300/350 hp ratings of the '69 small block were SAE gross ratings, while the 1977's 180/210 hp numbers were more accurate SAE net figures. The 1969 engines were definitely more powerful, but not by quite as much as the published ratings would suggest. There's no formula for converting gross to net, but my guess for the '69 would be something like 225 for the base engine, maybe 275-285 for the hotter version.

      1. You're quite right. I've often wondered exactly how much difference is between SAE net and gross. Any time I try to figure it out by looking at how a motor's numbers changed at the switch, I come up dry: power levels were falling so rapidly at the time that I can never know how much change came from the new measurement system.

  10. I love early C3s. The curves, the chrome, the available big block power. They have their flaws for sure, but it's hard to argue the sex appeal. This one looks like a winner to me, and at $18k it's a bargain. Unless rust has taken over the birdcage, then she's trouble.

  11. It could be just the picture but it looks like there is a lot of fresh black and silver spray paint on the undercarriage. This one has a "RARE REAR WINDOW DEFRONSTER". I'm not sure what a defronster is, but it used to be that most of these you saw on the street needed a "de-Fonz-ster", as the occupants just couldn't pull off their imitations of the Happy Days character. The days of "your chest must be this hairy and your gold chains this big to ride this ride" may be passing though, as the folks I see in these things these days seem more like regular car guys and less like 70's holdovers. I can't help but appreciate the curves. And a small block with a 4 speed is a beautiful thing. Nice Car!

  12. I would love, love, love, love, love a C3 Corvette. Even if the factory setup is not the greatest, you can always buy better off the shelf. $18k is a little out of my comfort zone, but if I had the money I'd go for it.

  13. Owned a C3 before, and currently own a C4. Forshame on all hoons who don't dig C4s. Anyway, the price on this thing is too low even with the C3 market completely colapsing in the last few years. Beware frame rust and birdcage rust even if this is a CA car. If that checks out, it's a great price!

  14. Regardless, this is still the best example (hell, the ONLY example, outside of the Ford GT) of American design that currently exists.

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