The Story Of The 1976 Corvette Steering Wheel

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.

Love it or hate it, the 1976 Corvette wheel has solidified itself in Corvette history. Those seeking to restore their Corvettes now have options for replacing their worn, or missing factory pieces. Photo: Mecum

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.

Corvettes built from 1977 through '79 without a tilt-tele column got the "Vega" wheel (left). Corvettes with tilt/tele columns received a three-spoke designed steering wheel (right). Photos: Mecum

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.

The Original Equipment Reproduction steering wheel from Classic Industries features the same grain pattern and fit as the original.

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.

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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