A Different Corvette
Corvettes are not like other cars. Even amongst a line of cars known for its individuality, the 1968 Corvette stands out.
A lot of the "different" can be explained away as first year jitters. Many people will not buy the first model year of a car, not wanting to take the risk that the bugs haven't been worked out. The 1968 Corvette is pointed out as justification for the theory.
When introduced, the 1968 Corvette was criticized in a number of areas, one of which was interior room. The door panel, above left, looked good but (right) intruded on interior room leaving many occupants feeling cramped in the shoulder area. Starting in 1969, a redesigned interior panel (above right) solved the problem. The door panel in the 1968 Up Close profile Corvette featured a pull handle which was a late 1968 addition. Earlier 1968 Corvettes made do with a horizontal slot which did not last long.
Topping the differences list is the fact that the 1968 Corvette did not carry the "Stingray" moniker. The mid years Corvettes (1963 to 1967) were known as "Sting Rays" and 1969 through 1976 carried the label "Stingray" (right) above the front fender vents. Why 1968 was passed over is not known.
1968 was the last year for low back seats (above left). Headrests (RPO A82, $42.00) had been available starting in 1967 and only 7.68% of the Corvettes were equipped with them. That percentage went up to 11.19% in 1968. They were listed as the same option in 1969 (for $18.00) but due to federal safety regulations, all Corvettes were equipped with them.
Below left: the dash mounted ignition switch was last seen on 1968 Corvettes. Federal anti-theft rules caused it to be moved to the steering column (below right) starting in 1969. During those years Corvettes were a prime target for car thieves, so there was justification behind the move.
In the time honored tradition of answering a question that nobody asked, a compartment was supplied behind the hand brake so the seat belt buckles would have a home when they were not in use. I've never actually used them other than to demonstrate their use and to take this photograph. Not seen on previous Corvette years, they also were not continued in 1969.
Above left: 1968 Corvette door handle. The lock also served as the door release button and was mounted in a depression in the door. Since this mounting was 1968 only, it is an easy way to identify that model year. But there was an ergonomic down side in that it forced anyone entering the car to use their left hand for the drivers door and their right hand to on the passenger door. Above right: For 1969 and later the rectangular chrome lever, easily operated by either hand, served as the door pull and activated the opening latch.
The shift console surround was different for the 1968 Corvette. Starting in 1969, the area below the shifter (above right) had a plaque offering the vital engine statistics. The red lettering labeling the gears along with the chrome vent controls was not part of 1968 production; I'm not sure how it appeared on my car. Below: 1970 LT-1 engine numbers plaque.
1968 and 1969 Corvettes have a subtle body difference in the wheel flare, which extended to the lower area in 1970 and later Corvettes (above and below right). The 1968 and '69 (above and below left) models were prone to accumulate dirt in the lower rear areas.
Another exclusive: 1968 Corvettes had 15 inch x 7 inch wheels front and rear. They are the only year with this size; 1967 'vettes were 15 inch x 6 inch and 1969 models featured 15 inch x 8 inch wheels.
Continuing with the long list of items differentiating the 1968 Corvette: The backup light (above left) was located under the bumper for 1968. Above right: for 1969 and later years, it was integrated into the tail lights. This was a cost savings, no doubt making the GM bean counters happy.
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