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Help - Please C3

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New Comer

Thu 10 Jan 19 20:19

Help - Please C3

Hi all, Im new here and joined as heard lots of great things about the forums and friendly professional al advice that is given.

I am looking at buying a C3 and happy to wait to get the right one, would even consider importing one from the USA (any advice on doing this gratefully received).

I guess my man in questions:

1. Which is the best C3 i.e which year and what was the manufacturer spec on that year i.e. auto/manual, engine size etc.

2. What are the pitfalls with the C3 and things to look for?

3. How easy are they to maintain and obtain parts for?

Many thanks in anticipation.


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Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 08:40

Re: Help - Please C3

Hello HBR1;
I purchased a C3 from the US in Feb last year and then imported same and have been sorting issues with it to date and should have it ready for this Spring.
I wrote an article all about this and submitted it to the editor of the Vette News (CCCUK's magazine) which it hasn't appeared in yet, so not even sure if he received it, as I attached photos and my pc doesn't seem to like me sending docs with pics.
I should make contact with him again to see if it did get to him. Could be he just thought it was rubbish !!!!
Anyway, I could try and forward on the article to you, if you pm me an email address, as it explains why I went for my specific C3 and who I used for inspection, shipping and importing etc.
There are so many variants with C3's, given that they ran from 68-82, so it comes down to personal choice of style, engine size, transmission, spec vehicle has and the biggy, funds you have available.
Happy to assist in any way,
Jim Gill

Happy to be Grumpy

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Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 09:58

1) There is no "best" C3 - it is down to personal choice and what you want out of the car. E.g. do you like the chrome bumper look, or the later plastic bumper look? Do you prefer manual transmission or are you wanting an auto? Do you want outright power big block, or are you happy with the output of a small block? How much money do you have etc?

2) Pitfalls. Lots of things - they are all old cars now. My 1968 C3 I imported from USA seemed fine, but actually had a fair few issues that I've been sorting for the last year.

3) Generally they are quite simple cars to work on yourself, with no fancy modern electronics (bar the later C3s I guess - I have no experience of them). Parts are readily available, mostly from the states - see RockAutos for example. Cheap and good delivery.

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Daytona Vette

Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 11:26

Re: Help - Please C3

Get the Corvette "Black Book"

Full of Model year differences, options and code numbers for Engines etc

C3 choices in general 68 to 92

Body besides convertible: Chrome Bumper / Plastic Bumper / Big Back Window (78 style front or 80 style front)

Engines, small block or big block for higher torque - (need the Black Book here)

Main issues to check first are the integrity of the Chassis against rust - Windscreen Frame, Bird Cage and exit point of rear Trailing Arms.

Best of Luck

Barry - Daytona Vette

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vaughan watkins

Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 13:17

Re: Help - Please C3

First of all welcome to the asylum Very Happy
As explained above there are lots to choose from and as such there is no BEST C3 unless you are meaning investment wise ? if so generally earlier chrome bumber cars pre catalytic converter and unleaded days are looked upon as the Best of the C3, however if its drivability and what you want to use it for the later cars maybe more up your street, the later cars have the large back windows which is also another consideration if its looks that play a part, my suggestion would be look at what budget you have and that may well determine what is the BEST C3 for you as you can be in a late Vette needing love for under 10k or a mint 68 427 big block in the 50k and upward bracket

Live life!
Got me a 75 and a 66

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Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 13:45

Re: Help - Please C3


Well, you've already noticed that there is a fair bit of expertise here, so if and when you find the right car, don't hesitate to ask questions!

My advice to any potential buyers is to buy a few books. Barry mentioned The Black Book. That gives the codes, specifications etc for each year, but is somewhat "clinical". I'd suggest at the very least getting hold of a copy of Tom Falconers "Original Corvette 1968-1982". While it does go into the detail of the cars when new, Tom also gives, in his own inimitable style, his thoughts and impressions of the car, not to mention an insight into the history and heritage. You'll discover a massive amount of information.

As has been said, "The Best C3" is subjective. The Chrome Bumper cars do have a cahchet, many prefer the over the "soft-bumper" cars, but in my view the latter is unfairly maligned, mainly by journalists, who fail to grasp what a great job Chevy did in the face of federal mandates (look at the awful abominations that BL hung on the MGB, Midget, XJs etc etc). Of course, being an owner of a 1978 for 30 years, I'm a bit biased!

Vaughan has hit the nail on the head. Look at your budget, it may make the decision for you! Decide what you want from the car, do you want a manual or an auto, do you plan to use it for touring and decent weekends away, in which case the added luggage space of a post-'78 is a huge bonus. Are you looking for a project, or a nice car to use straight away. Do you want a "show car". And, do you want a Big Block or Small Block.

As for maintenance, yes, they are pretty straightforward. I'm no mechanic, but have done all the work on our '78 for 25 years, with exception of re-building the diff, although we removed and fitted it!. You'll need a good trolley jack and some decent axle stands, plus some good "imperial sized" tools. There are a few specialist things, but I suspect they would come later, unless you do actually want a project! Parts are easy to obtain, either from UK suppliers or those in the US.

Finally, there is a very good Buyers Guide, available on this forum, to members only I think. I think it'll tell you all you need to know with regard to what to look for and what to avoid. PM me if you need any more info.

Stephen J Irons
CCCUK Lifetime Member
Corvette Club France
Corvettes of Southern California
NCM Family Member
Stephen & June's Web Site
Red Corvettes Have More Fun!

Apple IS Genisys!
The "Born-Again Greenies" are killing the planet! It's time to wake up and smell the rain-forest burning!

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Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 15:16

Re: Help - Please C3

1969 L88 . Best Corvette full stop

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Jack Cooper

Club Member

Fri 11 Jan 19 20:19

'L88's got a fair point.....biased?....Mike...!?
Anyway, one thing to watch out for - once you've studied your Black Book and got acquainted with RPOs - is the rear suspension on post-'74 cars. Option 'FE7' is called
'Gymkhana Suspension', whereby the rear transverse spring is multi-leaf STEEL (can't remember if it's 7-leaf or 9-leaf). This will give you a damn hard ride, which - in fairness - is the main point, but in my experience is not very satisfactory on the majority of roads in the UK. The standard rear spring is a single-leaf composite (fibreglass) effort, which
I found more tolerable on the C3 I had (an '82).

Good luck with your hunt.
J.C. (1911)

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Committee Member

Sat 12 Jan 19 07:35

Re: Help - Please C3

Earlier C3 suspension option was F41 'Slalom' option - with unrated shocks and springs. Rear spring was 7 leaf. IMHO the option gives the Vette 'ride' that is more akin to European expectations although still a little soft on the front end for really spirited driving. Option in later C3's became 'Gymkana' I believe.

Last edited by roscobbc on Sat 12 Jan 19 10:18; edited 1 time in total. [1 %]
CCCUK Chairman
'68 coupe - 4 speed - 3.08 - 489 cu in - 570 bhp @ 5850 rpm - 606 ft/lbs torque (821 Newton Metres) @ 3850 rpm

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Club Member

Sat 12 Jan 19 09:17

Re: Help - Please C3

F41 on C2 and early C3. Jack I don't know Mike, I'm Frank.

You have to make your own decision on favourite year then get the best you can afford ideally from a private owner who has the car fully sorted having spent too much on it over the years. You need to know the basics with a spanner, easy car to work on but costly if someone works on it.

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