Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
This 1969 Corvette is powered by its matching-numbers 350/300-hp 8-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The rest of the drivetrain is matching numbers as well. It comes well optioned with a bright blue interior, T-tops, pop-out rear window and an AM/FM radio. It rides on a set of replacement tires from the mid-’70s and comes with receipts and ownership history.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Chevrolet Corvette 350/300 coupe
Years Produced:1968–82
Number Produced:22,129 (1969 coupe)
Original List Price:$4,781
SCM Valuation:$22,000
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Tag at base of windshield, driver’s side
Engine Number Location:Pad at passenger’s side front of block, below cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1966 Ford Mustang coupe, 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, 1970 Pontiac Firebird
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 349, sold for $23,100, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Northeast Auction June 21–23 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. It was offered at no reserve.

Chevrolet cranked out more than 38,000 Corvettes in 1969, the second year of production for their new Stingray (one word, not two as in the previous iteration). Of those, 22,129 were coupes, and 10,083 were equipped with the base 350-ci 300-hp V8. The Muncie M-20 wide-ratio 4-speed manual was the most popular transmission offered that year, with 16,507 of them making it out the door. Nearly every Corvette had an AM/FM radio. Overall, our subject car was not terribly uncommon or unusual in its day, but finding one in this condition now is quite a bit more difficult.

Wearing a National Corvette Restorers Society sticker in the removable rear window, this Can-Am White example looks to have been the subject of a thorough restoration.

A new Corvette

The Stingray was a radical departure from the previous Sting Ray model of 1963–67. It was inspired by the 1964–65 Mako Shark II concept, which was an evolution of the Corvair Monza GT concept first seen in 1962. Bill Mitchell, then head of GM Styling, said he wanted “a narrow, slim, center section and coupe body, a tapered tail, an all-of-a-piece blending of the upper and lower portions of the body through the center (avoiding the look of a roof added to a body), and prominent wheels with their protective fenders distinctly separate from the main body, yet grafted organically to it.” Larry Shinoda gave Mitchell just what he asked for.

Zora Arkus-Duntov, long considered the Father of the Corvette, had for years pushed to make the fiberglass wonder competitive with the very best Europe had to offer. He felt the 1963–67 mid-year Corvettes had done just that. The Sting Ray had four-wheel independent suspension, great balance (in the small-block models), available mechanical fuel injection, iconic styling, and beginning with the 1965 model year, four-wheel disc brakes. To Duntov, the function-follows-form styling of the “Shark Body” Stingray was a huge step backward. Zora wanted the new Stingray to be smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic than its predecessor. He wanted the new car to be mid-engine. He wanted a true performance car.

Mitchell, on the other hand, wanted a stylish new Corvette that looked more aerodynamic, but he was less concerned with outright performance. This difference of opinion fostered numerous ongoing arguments between the two, most of which Duntov lost to the higher-ranking Mitchell.

A teething shark

The third-generation Corvette, beneath its curvaceous fiberglass skin, was very similar to the previous car.

The new body had much more overhang at both ends. The interior was more pinched, courtesy of the narrow mid-section. It was over 150 pounds heavier. There was less luggage space and the ride was harsher. There was less airflow through the radiator, requiring the addition of a chin spoiler. The seat backs were akin to recliners, with a 33-degree angle that made it seem like you were almost lying down. The relocation of the secondary gauges to the center pod, away from the driver’s line of sight, was of particular consternation. Road & Track magazine quipped, “We wish we could express more enthusiasm for the new model, but we feel that the general direction of the changes is away from Sports Car and toward Image and Gadget Car.”

Initial build quality on the Corvette was well below par. Body panels did not align properly, knobs fell off, the new Astro ventilation worked poorly, and fiberglass and paint quality were poor.

There were bright spots, however. By carrying over the engines and most of the transmissions from the previous generation, the Stingray had a full complement of proven powerplants. The base motor was the 327/300-hp V8, with an available 350-hp option. Also on the option list was the 427 rat motor, which could be had in 390-hp, 400-hp, 435-hp or mighty L88 variants. Despite quality complaints, 28,566 Corvettes left the St. Louis assembly plant in 1968.

A good buy

For years, the C3 was the butt of automotive jokes. It was the Disco ’Vette, to be owned by the hairy-chest, gold-medallion crowd — the crown of the recently divorced or midlife-crisis participants.

So many third-gen Corvettes were produced that the exclusivity waned and resale prices for all but the rarest models languished. But in recent years, the 1968–82 Corvettes have begun to experience a rebirth — particularly the chrome-bumper cars. Swoopy bodywork, combined with the last years of the muscle-car era, big-block engines, rumbling exhaust, and power not yet stifled by emissions regulation have made the 1968–72 Corvettes attractive again. These years represent the last of the “visceral” ’Vettes.

Our subject Corvette is a 1969 model year. In ’69, the Stingray moniker returned to the Corvette fenders, having been absent in 1968. The push-button door lock of the ’68 was gone, replaced by a more flush lock combined with the stylish scoop handle. The gills behind the front wheels could be trimmed in stainless steel, as seen on this example. All of the other curvy styling cues remained, and quality control had improved.

This example was clearly the recipient of a solid, recent restoration. The engine compartment is clean and mostly correct, with the chrome factory ignition shielding in place. The Bright Blue vinyl interior shows very little sign of use or wear. The Can Am White finish is sharp and crisp. Adorned with an NCRS sticker in the back window, the car appears to have been lovingly restored. While it isn’t the hottest option under the hood, the base 350 is peppy enough and really usable, and that 4-speed will make it fun. It won’t be finicky out on the road.

Although the sale price is dead-on American Car Collector Pocket Price Guide median value, getting this much car in this condition for this little money seems like a true bargain. Considering what must have gone into getting this car to this level, the buyer should be pleased. Well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

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