By now, you’ve probably memorized most of the Corvette story. From Zora Arkus-Duntov to the Mako Shark to the bailout years, each of the now seven generations has its own key moments and cast of characters. At this point, the third generation of Corvette accounts for the middle section of that story and, looking back, is a remarkably appropriate car to hold that place. With visible nods to both the car’s heritage and future, examples like this 1969 roadster are finding a firmer footing in the collector market that will inevitably grow stronger as time goes on. Restored from the frame up, this sleek C3 features options like an upgraded 390hp 427cid V8 and four-speed manual transmission. There is never a bad time to buy a good Corvette, so if you’re thinking about adding a C3 to your collection, don’t miss out on this one.
The 1969 Corvette had an especially long production run, spanning from September of 1968 all the way through December of 1969. A labor dispute in May caused a temporary break in production but, by June, everything was back in order. This Corvette left the assembly line shortly after on June, 27. Bought new and carefully maintained, the car has lived a pampered life, traveling just over 57,000 miles since new. Today, this C3 stays true to its origins thanks to a sympathetic frame up restoration that addressed only what held the car back. Paint simply isn’t meant to last 44 years, so step one involved spraying a fresh coat of code 986 Cortez Silver across the car’s fiberglass shell. Sprayed in 2008, the paintwork remains in excellent shape, with crisp lines and clean reflections all around. Fiberglass bodies have a bad rap when it comes to fitment but the panel gaps on this Corvette look great. With measured even lines all around, the car has a sleek profile that appears nearly seamless from certain angles.
With such a cleanly styled body, ornamentation could have potentially ruined the car. Thankfully, Chevrolet did a great job with keeping the brightwork minimal. At the front of its sinuous fiberglass body a familiar C3 cross-flag emblem combines with a bright chrome bumper and a small black chin spoiler to frame a natural combination of clear parking lamps and stainless-trimmed grilles. Above that bumper, a chrome-trimmed and “427” branded hood anchors like-new glass between a well-maintained stainless frame and a fresh black removable hardtop. Should you want a little more flexibility, a black soft is tucked in the space behind the seats, ready to come up at your command. The side profile hosts amber corner markers at both ends with little more than the traditional Corvette gills and “Stingray” badging finishing off the side view. At the rear, dual round taillights offered some signature styling from their place above a split rear bumper with a chrome-trimmed license plate recess in the center.
Corvettes have consistently offered awesome power and this C3 continues that tradition. Flip the hood forward and the original 390hp 427cid big block comes into view. Authenticated by a correct 3963512 casting number, June (F) 16 (16) 1969 (9) casting date, LM suffix code and a matching partial VIN stamp on the engine pad, this rebuilt big block retains much of its factory swagger. While the stock motor would have carried a single Rochester four-barrel carburetor, this 427 has been upgraded to a desirable period-correct 3x2 Holley setup mated to a Winters aluminum intake. At either side, stock heads are dressed with OEM chrome valve covers which, combined with the air cleaner and ignition cover, make for a well-dressed mill. At the front of the block, an alternator and fan spin off borrowed engine power while, opposite, a Harrison radiator connected to a keg-style overflow keeps the big block cool. Many of the hard parts in this bay have a patina that can only be achieved through surviving 40+ years under the hood of the car but don’t let their looks fool you. Turn the key and the big block roars to life, emitting an authoritative bark through the factory optioned side-exit exhaust system. Even at idle, this Corvette lets everyone within earshot know that it is not to be crossed.
Put this C3 in the air and the undercarriage shows more evidence of its low mileage and careful maintenance. Solid satin black floors set the stage while a lengthy list of correct factory pieces offer an authentic driving experience. It may not have the immediate wow factor of a smoothed, painted and polished chassis but, if originality is your thing, there’s a lot under here to like. In the center, a period-correct Muncie M20 four-speed manual transmission makes quick work of gear changes before channeling power back to a semi-floating GM Posi-traction rear end. Around the drivetrain, the stock suspension remains in place with double wishbones and coil springs up front. Single trailing arms and a transverse multileaf help keep the back end planted. When the road gets curvy, manual steering offers a rewarding driving experience while power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes make sure the big block doesn’t get away from you. At the corners, redline BF Goodrich Silvertown radials wrap around a set of familiar GM rally wheels dressed with top hat center caps and polished beauty rings.
Push down one of the chrome door levers and you’ll find a clean and very original black vinyl interior. Corvettes have taken a lot of heat for their interiors over the years but, looking over this one, any criticism of the C3 cabin was probably undeserved. Seating is provided by a pair of high-back bucket seats which have the same hard-earned comfort as a good pair of jeans. In the center, a simple but effective black center console offers room for the emergency brake handle, chrome shifter, an ashtray, power window switches and controls for opening and closing the two center air vents. In the center of the dashboard an updated
AM/FM/Cassette head unit looks right at home thanks to the “Corvette” script across its face. Above the stereo, an aircraft-style gauge cluster houses stock GM instrumentation that monitors fuel, water temperature, battery output, oil pressure, and even time thanks to a small analog clock. From the driver seat, more instrumentation comes into view in the form of a large speedometer and tach. The driver is connected to the front wheels through a factory tilt column topped off by a three-spoke GM wheel with a cross-flag horn button. At either side, nicely styled black door panels surround the seating area while black carpet completes the cabin.
Included with this C3 is an original owner’s manual that covers all the finer points of your new Chevrolet. There’s also an original 1969 Corvette brochure and a magazine article that offers some further insight into the car. Documentation comes in the form of an original tank sticker while a small stack of receipts cover most of the work the car has undergone.
With an upgraded 390hp 427cid V8, a rebuilt Muncie four-speed, side-exit exhaust and an easy-to-live-with interior, this is both a fun and comfortable car to own and drive. With many original pieces and a great vintage look, it’s also a great conversation starter with a bright future in the collector marketplace. Early C3 lines are some of the best and this is a great living example of that design. Don’t miss the opportunity to add it to your collection today!