Many cross-flag folks regard the 1968-72 Corvette years as the last of the “vintage-era” Stingrays, and that’s simply because in 1973, ’Vettes began adapting to new regulations for both vehicle safety and emissions.

Fun Fact: In the C2 Corvette generation (1963-67), “Sting Ray” appeared as two words. In 1968, sales literature still used Sting Ray, but the name didn’t appear anywhere on the car, and in 1969 a script emblem appeared on the front fender making it one word: Stingray.

These early C3 ‘Vettes were adorned with chrome bumpers fore and aft, and still boasted impressive performance numbers—even as compression ratios began to tumble in anticipation of unleaded gasoline.

In the five years between 1968 and ’72, there was a subtle, yet significant styling refresh.

In 1970, egg-crate grilles replaced the vertical vent “gills” on the front quarter panels. Up front, the theme was continued, as 1970-72 Corvettes wore egg-crate lower grilles instead of the prior years’ horizontal grille treatment.

These early C3s also boasted a neat fiber optic light alert system. It featured jeweled indicators in the center console that were connected via fiber optics to the exterior lights, so you could tell if your lights were functioning properly. (Alas, the system proved troublesome and was abandoned after 1971.)

We were excited to see today’s Lot Shots feature roll into Summit Racing’s retail store parking lot in Tallmadge, OH on one of our few nice days we’ve had this spring at the OnAllCylinders’ office in northeast Ohio.

We’re pretty sure this C3 is a 1970 or 1971. Obviously it’s wearing the egg-crate grille, which puts it into the 1970-72 territory, and we know it’s not a 1972 for three reasons:

  1. It’s missing the built-in security key system located on the rear valence (which arrived in 1972).
  2. It has clear front grille marker lights, instead of amber (with the exception of a few late-production 1971 models, amber lights are unique to 1972).
  3. Inside, we found the dash panel for the fiber optic light alert system.

1970 was a labor strike-shortened year at GM which significantly affected production numbers, so we’re inclined to call this a 1971—but we can’t be 100-percent sure without a VIN tag.

*Edit: A very astute reader pointed out that the ‘Vette’s vanity plate reads “1970.” So we’re revising our 1971 assessment. 

This particular ‘Vette is wearing the big-block style hood, with a small bulge and chromed accents. (Not to be confused with the L-88 style hood, which was similar, but had a larger center bulge.)

That hood shape indicates that it’s carrying a 454, which should easily crank out north of 350 horsepower—again, not knowing this ‘Vette’s exact model year means a guesstimate on its engine specs.

The Stingray also sports a set of mean-looking side pipes, T-tops, and a four-speed.

It’s a neat early example of the Corvette’s third generation. If you want to see one of the later iterations of the C3 design, check out this other Lot Shots feature on a 1980 Corvette.

T-tops were introduced for the 1968 Corvette. A convertible with optional hardtop was also available through 1975. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
The side pipes are not stock—but they are rad. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
In 1972, the Corvette got a built-in security/alarm system that was engaged by a key cylinder located above the Corvette lettering in the tail. Since it’s missing here, we can conclude that this is a 1970-71 version. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
This all-silver treatment of the side egg-crate hints at a repaint. Stock, the grille would be body colored with small chrome accents. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Note the clear corner lights, indicative of a 1970-71 model. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
This is the “big block” hood, which was also shared with the small-block equipped LT-1 and ZR-1 models. The L-88 big block Corvette received a similar hood with a larger bulge. Base small block ‘Vettes got a third hood style, with a lower profile. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
The Corvette received unique versions of the signature Chevy “Rally” wheel. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.