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Historic Road Test of 435-Horsepower 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 6 days ago Drew Hardin,Eric Rickman,Petersen Publishing Archives
a bicycle leaning against a white wall: 005-archive-1968-chevrolet-corvette-interior-1.jpg

On a rainy, late January day in 1968, Hot Rod's feature editor Steve Kelly and photo editor Eric Rickman were at GM's Mesa, Arizona, proving grounds to sample some "good news out of Detroit for Chevy lovers." Several cars scheduled to debut mid-year were there to drive, including a big-block Nova, Z/28 Camaro, and a Corvette coupe.

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Writing in the May 1968 issue, Kelly said he'd "been in a few" of the all-new 1968 Corvettes since their introduction, "but this was our first time in a coupe. There'd been some hang-ups at the start of production, and coupes had been backordered a good many days." He then explained to HRM readers that the coupe version "is the model with the lift-off top panels over the driver and passenger, and removable rear window. A slim pillar runs from the rollbar rear section to the windshield. The removal of all panels brings in lots of fresh air but still affords the safety of a hardtop." Those panels and window were "tight-fit pieces, causing some muscle exertion to get them in and out but also negating water leaks."

a car parked on the side of a road: 001-archive-1968-chevrolet-corvette-front-three-quarter© Eric Rickman,Petersen Publishing Archives 001-archive-1968-chevrolet-corvette-front-three-quarter

The Corvette Kelly drove had the triple-carbureted, 435hp L71 427 under the hood, joined to a manual transmission and a 3.55 rearend. "A steeper one (lower ratio, higher number) would aid acceleration, but rolling acceleration runs, from 50 or higher, proved out excellent."

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Kelly called the Corvette "a thoroughly enjoyable road machine, handling, steering, and stopping better than most any European car at twice the price." One of his photo captions called the car's "fully instrumented dash a credit to any good sports car." The rear window, tucked within the rear sail panels, "stays free of fog or ice as well as distortion." He did voice concern that, with the roof panels in their vinyl bags and strapped to the cargo floor, "there's little if any room for luggage, actually less than when a convertible top is down in rag-top Vettes. It's going to be difficult to travel and sun yourself in this car."

Considering the cloudy skies in Rickman's photos, and the raincoat Kelly was wearing in several of the pictures, sun wasn't an issue on this particular day in Arizona. And overall, Kelly's outlook on the new Chevys was brighter than the day's weather.

"Never having left the groove, Chevy is displaying a penchant for developing performance and performance potential. The 68-1/2 rendition of the plot seems to bear this out." Vette

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