In 1968, Chevrolet unveiled their much-anticipated, thoroughly redesigned third-generation Corvette. Known internally as the “C3,” the new Corvette Stingray shared much of the outgoing second-generation C2 chassis and engine range but with striking new bodywork to launch it into the 1970s. Larry Shinoda’s superb 1964 Mako Shark II concept car served as the inspiration for the design, which was modified and adapted for production under the direction of GM design czar Bill Mitchell. Well-proportioned, low-slung, and with flowing curves intersected by sharp creases, the new Stingray is a triumph of sports car design for the period. Pre-1973 models are defined by their Kamm tail and chrome bumpers, while after 1973, the Corvette gained smoothly integrated urethane bumpers to comply with federal five-mph impact bumper regulations. The clean, uncluttered solution was considerably better resolved than many of the ungainly overriders that sullied some of the Corvette’s competitors, and the design stayed fresh with only one more facelift through the end of 1982.
The C3 chassis was effectively a carry-over from the C2, featuring four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and minor refinements to improve the ride, handling, and weight distribution. Engine options varied by year, and as the 70s wore on, emissions and economy standards spelled the end of the heady high-horsepower and big-cube engines. In 1976, Chevy offered the Corvette with two 350 cubic-inch V8 engines - the base L48 with 180 horsepower or the optional L82 with 210 horsepower. Car and Driver magazine tested both versions in period and found the performance nearly identical, praising the Corvette’s poise, comfort, and ability as a long-distance Grand Tourer.
Finished in its de rigueur 1970s shade of Dark Brown Metallic over Buckskin leather upholstery, this fantastic, time-warp 1976 Corvette coupe has covered 2,418 miles from new and remained in the hands of its first owner from 1976 to 2021. The car’s original owner, Mr. William Madden of Brighton, Michigan, had just started working for GM in the early 70s and wanted to treat himself to a new Corvette, but in 1975, he lacked the seniority in the company to qualify for the full employee discount. As a workaround, he turned to his uncle, Mr. Arthur Snyder, a senior GM employee, to order the car in his name to get the best price. The order was confirmed in September 1975 via Trumbull Chevrolet in Detroit. Both Arthur and William are named on the purchase agreement, and soon after William took delivery, he re-titled the car in his name alone.
Mr. Madden equipped his Corvette Coupe with options including power windows, rear defogger, air conditioning, power brakes, tilt/telescopic wheel, black wall radials on rally wheels, heavy-duty battery, AM/FM stereo, and the Hydramatic transmission paired with the L48 engine. He methodically preserved every document from the purchase, including the original window sticker, dealer invoice, tank sticker, owner’s manual, warranty card, and more – all of which are still with the car.
The same obsessive preservation was applied to the car, which Madden drove on only a handful of occasions, keeping the mileage amazingly low. As offered, the car is completely unrestored and presented in original condition. It retains the original paint, exterior trim, and wheels – while the tires were replaced in 1979 due to the originals being recalled by Firestone. Some slight discoloration and distortion are noted on the urethane bumper covers, along with a small crack in the rear – common issues afflicting nearly all Corvettes of this era, but it is otherwise just as it rolled out of Trumbull Chevrolet some 46 years ago.
With fewer than 2,500 miles on the clock, the interior is expectedly in excellent condition and free of any appreciable wear, with all the original upholstery, switches, and trim appearing like-new. Likewise, the underhood presentation is excellent, with factory-applied finishes, decals, and labels intact. Some surface corrosion is present on raw castings, but the engine bay is otherwise preserved in its original order. The underside is also well-preserved, thanks mainly to the Ziebart anti-corrosion coating applied on October 13, 1976.
When it comes to the cars of the mid-70s, many collectors today are taking note of their affordable nature and unique period charm. This incredible time-warp Corvette is a rare survivor of the era, ideal for top honors in the AACA historic preservation (HPOF) class or as a benchmark example for a serious Corvette collector to round out their collection.
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