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1968 Chevrolet Corvette Overview

Continuing its apparent quest to honor cartilaginous fish, the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was a close relative of Chevrolet's "Mako Shark" concept car created by Larry Shinoda. This popular Sting Ray Corvette featured a complete redesign; as the sales brochure said, "all different all over."

Like a shark, the '68 Corvette was muscular and aerodynamic in external design. It also appeared to have no eyelashes, with wipers that were hidden from view when not in use. Also like a shark, it was scary powerful. (Okay, no more shark analogies, I promise.)

The base engine was a 300-horsepower variant of the venerable Chevrolet 327 small block; the wildest was the 427-ci, full-out race-bred RPO (regular production option) L-88. Hugely underrated at 430 horsepower, this cold-air fed monster produced as much as 540 horses on independent dyno tests of the time. The L-88 engine package itself was a carry over from the C2's last model year, 1967. The 5 horsepower higher-rated 435-horse engine was, in fact, the more civilized street option, and was a comparative pussycat to drive in every day use.

1968 was the first year of the third generation of Corvettes (C3).

The 1968 Corvette was to be a Targa top in standard form, but late in development, the engineers determined that the old C2 frame (which was being carried over almost intact to the new C3), couldn't be made into a Targa coupe without demonstrating unacceptable levels of body flex (the same amount of flex that was always present in the convertibles, but less noticeable, since the convertible top easily flexed with the twists when up, and was not a factor when stowed); thus the addition of the bar down the center, to provide some much needed rigidity.

The T-top was born!

Joining the optional convertible, it replaced the standard coupe body style, and continued through the 1982 model year. In one of the many odd Corvette historical coincidences, the C3's replacement, the C4 (due for introduction in 1983, but delayed until an early introduction as the 1984 model year) was supposed to be a T-Top as was it's predecessor. At the last minute (again), the engineers were informed that this time the Corvette would finally be a true Targa!

After freaking out for the appropriate amount of time, and realizing that the lessons learned in the C2 to C3 conversion still applied, the engineers knew that even though the C4's chassis was completely new, it had been designed as a T-top coupe. This new chassis would have to have added rigidity in order to be able to eliminate the structural bar that creates the T-top. Thus, the addition of a bar of steel down each side of the body provided the necessary strength to the chassis for the duration of the production run of C4's. Those bars also drew the most complaints from owners; that the sills were too high for comfortable entry and egress.

But, the designers at last had their Targa, and the T-top was dead!

Updated by Anonymous

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