There were 4 big block options in 1969, and all were 427ci. Each had different power ratings: 390hp L36, 400hp L68, 435hp L71, and the insanely rare 430hp L88. The last two are heavily underrated (esp. the “430hp” L88 race engine), and were completely different beasts compared to the first two. The L36 and L68 are exactly the same engines, but the L68 has 3 carbs
The L36 (found in this example) was as close as you could get to the “everyday big block Corvette”. It was the stump puller of the group, sacrificing high RPM power for low end torque, giving it the ability to turn A/C and power steering pumps around town with ease. Its hydraulic roller lifters required no valve lash adjusting, and its single carb made it easier to work on than the tri-carb setups of the more powerful 427’s
The L36 427 engine option was $81.10 in 1969. The 400hp option was $131.65, and the 435hp option was $326.55
On their highest performing engines, Chevy went the solid roller route as hydraulic lifters are limited to <6,000 RPM - any higher, and serious valve float would occur (at this RPM, the internal plungers cannot bleed oil off fast enough, leaving the valve stuck in the open position)
Solid lifters don’t face this problem, and can rev as high as you need them to. However, the aggressive action of solid lifters will alter the spacing between the valve rockers and valves over time (the spacing is known as the “lash”). This means solid lifter motors require periodic valve lash adjustment. In addition, drivability at low RPM is reduced slightly compared to hydraulic lifter motors
The following year (1969) is the first year of the iconic side pipe exhaust option (RPO N14) for the C3 generation. While they scream performance, the side exit was pushed by the styling and marketing team rather than the performance team. The double-walled pipes were essentially a stretched low restriction reverse flow muffler with a single baffle in the middle. The inner pipe (only 1-7/8″) proved to be more restrictive than the standard rear exit exhaust. However, aftermarket side pipes are more performance oriented, and are a popular upgrade
While the “Sting ray” name was used throughout the previous C2 generation, the C3 launched in ’68 without it – the “Stingray” designation didn’t return until the 1969 model year (and it is now one word instead of two). To this day, it is unclear why
Key Model Year Changes:
First year of the C3 generation and the new Turbo 300 Hydra-matic (replacing the 2spd Powerglide)
Final year for the 327 Corvette. The following year (1969) saw the 327ci replaced with the 350ci
Final year with an ignition switch on the dash. All Corvettes moving forward had ignition switches on the steering column (until the C5 Corvette)
Final year of the low back seats (head rests were a rare option). Federal regulations required 1969 Corvettes to have headrests
Only year with 15×7 wheels. C2 had 15×6’s, and ’69 had 15×8’s
The recessed push button door lock disappeared the following year (1969), leaving a cleaner looking and more ergonomic door handle
The standalone reverse lights in 1968 were incorporated within the inner circular tail lights of the 1969 models. (This, plus the door handles and lack of a Stingray badge on the fender are the quickest way to tell a ’68 from a ’69)
The interior door panels were re-designed the following year (1969) to provide a less cramped seating position for passengers
Side exhaust pipes and trunk rack become a new option the following year (1969)
Half way through ’68 production, two frame stiffening gussets were installed triangulating the rear crossmember to the frame. This addressed a small weak spot in early ’68 Corvette frames
1969 models had a plaque below the shifter displaying the engine specs. ’68 cars simply had the Corvette flag emblem. 1969 also used a smaller steering wheel
*SAE rated from factory. May not reflect current output.
*Performance numbers pulled from either the factory brochure or reputable automotive road tests.
*Base price when new does not reflect original MSRP of this particular car, nor does it reflect what the original owner paid for it.
*Advertised price at time of posting. Sellers can raise or lower prices on their original ad at any time. Click on the original ad to view current price/availability.
Mileage Disclaimer: NOC has not confirmed if the mileage stated by the seller is true and accurate. It is up to the buyer to verify these claims. Vehicle history reports, service records stating mileage, and even inspections of odometer tampering are recommended.