There are a few things throughout Corvette production that serve as milestones and classify a specific Corvette to the exact year of production. The split rear window for example, points instantly to the 1963 Corvette coupe. For convertible models, you’ll have to spot those faux grille panels on the hood of the car.
Within the C3 generation, there are equally telling tidbits that denote a certain year of manufacture. Many know exactly what year C3 they’re in, if they need to reach all the way to the dash to turn the key. Likewise, many (possibly incorrectly) suppose the subject C3 to have been built in 1976, if it happens to have the so-called “Vega” wheel atop the car’s steering column.
Problem is, not all “’76 Corvette wheels” wound up in 1976 Corvettes, or Corvettes at all! That wheel was also used in the Vega, which was surely a bone of contention for many owners who bumped up the buy-in price to get a Corvette. The result of a money-saving decision, it also found its way into many other Chevy products such as Camaros, El Caminos and even the Nova. Some owners found solace in replacing the wheel with a less-stigmatized version that could be sourced from other year Corvettes.
The four-spoke wheel also carried over to ’77-’79 Corvettes with the standard, non-tilt/tele steering column. That is why you may find other year sharks with a similar wheel. The ’76 steering column was very similar to the ’77-’82 units, but to utilize a newer wheel on a ’76 column, you needed to upgrade some of the components that mate the wheel to the column.
Many folks have no issues with the styling, or the heritage of their four-post steering wheels and now, Classic Industries offers reproduction steering wheels that fit just like the originals. This new wheel features a soft black padding, original grain material and that classic 4-spoke design. The horn cap, horn cap retainer, and horn cap mounting set are available separately.
Whether or not your Corvette had its steering wheel replaced years ago, or if your current wheel has years of crud and abuse showing, you can now get a wheel that will bring your 1976 (and non-tilt/tele ’77-’79) Corvette back to showroom condition.