For the 1969 model year, the Corvette build cycle ran from September 1968 until December 1969 – making it one of the longest ever for a domestic passenger car. The third generation Corvette, released the prior year, underwent many refinements for 1969. Many of these are covered in the video below.
The base 327 CI engine yielded to the Flint, Michigan-sourced 350 CI V8. The all-aluminum ZL1 could be ordered as an RPO and the Tonawanda-built mill was typically under-rated for output. Officially listed at 430 HP, the 7.0-liter engine has been reported to push out as much as 560 HP. In that form, high 10-second quarter miles were not a problem. Very few were ever built, though.
Otherwise, engine choices were plentiful as the decade of the 60’s came to a close. The L46 350/350 V8 was only available with a manual transmission, but the choice of 3.55 or 4.11 rear gears could be made. The entry level L36/L68 big blocks pushed 390 or 400 HP out of the 427 CI displacement.
With three 2-bbl Holley carburetors, mechanical lifters and a 11:1 compression ratio, the L71 427 upped the power spec to 435 HP and could be specially ordered with 4.11 gears. This was also the last year for the RPO L88 engine option, first released in the 1967 model year. With 600 HP at 5800 RPM and 550 ft-lb torque at 4000 RP, yet officially rated at 435/460, the L71 made for a potent car that was notably successful in racing efforts.
During the run of the C3 generation, 1969 was the only year that side exhaust was offered as a factory option; otherwise all 1969 Corvettes were built with a 2-inch dual exhaust setup. The Stingray name returned as well, acknowledging the Mako Shark-inspired styling first introduced in 1968. Just under 39 thousand Corvettes were built this year – a production level that wouldn’t be seen again until the 1974 model year.
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