1972 Corvette Stingray: The End Of An Era

In 1972, a Chevrolet Corvette was launched with a muscular design which caught the eye of car enthusiasts, earning the moniker of shark models. Their fierce design makes them immediately recognizable with the broadened nose-and-overhangs of the car.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe, the third generation of the Corvette, was produced from 1968 to 1982 and is recognized as the shark model for its aggressive styling. It is instantly identifiable by its prominent blistered fender design and long dash-to-axle proportion, which gives the impression of motion.

Tags:  1972   C3

1972 marked the beginning of several exciting nationwide developments in music, art, movies, and technology.

You may know it as the year when the iconic movie, The Godfather, was released, or renowned star, Dwayne the Rock Johnson, was born. Some people may even relate this year to the Super-Beetle Volkswagon’s popularity or the much-loved video game Pong’s commercial success. However, here, we are going to talk about one of the most popular cars of that year, the Chevrolet 1972 Stingray Corvette.

What’s so special about the 1972 Corvette? Well, it marked the end of an era for the 3rd Generation in the Corvette series. Read on to know why.

The 1972 Corvette: Star of The 3rd Generation Corvette Series

The Chevrolet Corvette is a ravishing sports car designed and produced since 1953. The 1972 Corvette is part of the 3rd Generation Corvette, known as C3 (the most recent is the 8th Generation). The C3 Chevrolet Corvette was manufactured from 1967 to 1982.

The 3rd Generation marks the second time the name Stingray was used for the Corvette. This name remained in use from 1969 to 1976. However, the name was used as a single term this time, as opposed to Sting Ray used for the C2 Generation from 1963 to 1967. The name was then dropped until the C7 was released in 2014.

Like the other 3rd Generation Corvette, the 1972 Corvette was also characterized by a similar engine and chassis and a redesigned interior and body compared to the Corvettes of the previous Generation.

The design of the C3 Corvette was inspired by the Mako Shark II concept car designed in 1964 by Larry Shinoda under the General Motor Company’s styling and design head, Bill Mitchell.

Moreover, the 3rd Generation of Corvettes was produced as convertibles or coupes. As a coupe, the 1972 Corvette came with retractable T-top roof panels and a back window. As a convertible, the classic sports car featured a soft folding top, but you could get a hardtop for an additional cost.

What Changed in the 1972 Corvette?

Rather than adding to its features, Chevrolet dropped many of its specifications with its 1972 model. Let’s look at the features removed from the 1972 Corvette.

The Details of the 1972 Corvette’s Appearance

One of the most beloved muscle cars of all time, the 1972 Corvette Stingray marks the end of the C3 generation era.
1972 Corvette Coupe Stingray marked the end of an era for the 3rd Generation in the Corvette series. As a coupe, the 1972 Corvette came with retractable T-top roof panels and a back window. As a convertible, the classic sports car featured a soft folding top, but you could get a hardtop for an additional cost.

In the model year 1972, nothing major was added to the C3 Corvette appearance-wise. Instead, it marked the end of an era for the 3rd Generation Corvettes. Why? Because Chevrolet made a lot of changes to the car after that year. The Corvettes that came out in 1972 were the last made with both front and rear chrome bumpers, a retractable rear window, and an egg-crate grille. The newer models did not offer any of these features.

Realignment of the Engine Program

In 1971, the C3 Corvette engines were toned down with decreased compression ratios for higher compatibility with lower octane gasoline. Plus, they were powered by the highest output engines of that time. The LS6 454 cubic inch (7.4-liter) 425-hp big-block engine and automatic transmission made the Corvettes one of the fastest cars of that era.

But in 1972, General Motor Company realigned its engine programs, bringing noteworthy changes in the engine options offered by the Chevrolet Corvette.

The Engine Options Were Cut Down

The optional engine of the ZR-2 Package, known as the 454 cubic inch LS-6 big-block engine, was dropped by the company due to poor sales.

Only 188 Corvettes equipped with the LS6 engine and just 12 Corvettes featuring RPO ZR2 were sold. Hence, the company decided not to continue the production of this power-packed engine lineup in 1972.

With the removal of the LS-6 engine from the production line, the 1972 C3 Corvette was left with only three engine options, making it a model with the smallest selection of engines since 1956. The available engine options were:

  • The base engine of 350 cubic inches with 200 horsepower
  • The optional LT-1 small-block engine with 255 horsepower (Note that 1972 was the year for this engine and the ZR-1 racing package created around it)
  • The optional LS-5 454 cubic inch big block engine with 270 horsepower

An interesting thing to note here is that the LS-5 engine was not available in California, even though California was one of the major sales regions for Chevrolet Cars. This was because of the state’s stricter emission standards compared to the federal laws and the inability of Chevrolet to get a passing certificate for the engine on time.

But again, all three engines were similar to how they were in previous years.

The Engine Power Ratings Were Decreased

There was a dramatic fall in the power ratings of the 1972 Corvette Stingray compared to its 1971 predecessors. The reason for such conservative power ratings in 1972 was because it became mandatory to include emission-lowering components like power-steering pumps, water pumps, air cleaners, mufflers, and alternators.

The power losses from emission-reducing equipment also made it more appropriate to measure engine output using net horsepower instead of gross horsepower. Although the choice to use net horsepower for measurements lowered the power ratings, they seemed more realistic this way.

Other Minor Changes

The third generation, the Crossed Flags logo is noticeably without a circle motif behind it and with flag poles set at a wider stance.
The Corvette’s C3 generation (1968-82) features a Crossed Flags design without a circle motif behind it and a wider stance for the flag poles.

There were no significant changes in the 1972 Chevrolet Stingray besides the reorganization of Chevrolet’s engine program. However, some minor changes included the removal of features like the fiber-optic monitoring system, headlight washers, and 4-speed manual gearbox.

A noteworthy change was that a new center console replaced the fiber optic monitoring system. Chevrolet also made the horn-honking burglar alarm standard across all trims. This system could be activated and deactivated through a lock cylinder at the back of the car.

What Made this Car So Appealing?

Despite the changes in its engine power and size, The 1972 Stingray Corvette was immensely popular during the racing season because of its robustness and speed. However, its weight and speed were quite hard on the tires. Hence, the largest tire manufacturers worked on creating durable tires for the 1972 Stingray Corvette.

Some cars are famous for being the first of their kind, but the 1972 Corvette Stingray was popular because it was the last of its kind.

1972 Corvette Options/Specifications

RPO#DESCRIPTIONQUANTITY$ RETAIL
19437Base Corvette Sport Coupe20,4965,533
19467Base Corvette Convertible6,5085,296
n/aCustom Interior Trim8,709158
AV3Three Point Seat Belts17,693n/a
A31Power Windows9,49585
A85Custom Shoulder Belts (std with Coupe)74942
C07Auxillary Hardtop (convertible only)2,646273
C08Vinyl Covering (for Auxillary Hardtop)811158
C50Rear Window Defroster2,22142
C60Air Conditioning17,011464
n/aOptional Rear Axle Ratio1,98612
J50Power Brakes18,77047
K19Air Injection Reactor3,912n/a
LS5454ci, 270hp Engine3,913294
LT1350ci, 255hp Engine1,741483
M214-Speed Manual Transmission, close ratio1,6380
M40Turbo Hydra-Matic Automatic Transmission14,5430
N37Tilt-Telescopic Steering Column12,99284
N40Power Steering23,794115
P02Deluxe Wheel Covers3,59363
PT7F70x15 White Stripe Tires, Nylon6,66630
PU9F70x15 White Letter Tires, Nylon16,62343
T60Heavy Duty Battery (std with LS5 engine)2,96915
U69AM-FM Radio19,480178
U79AM-FM Stereo Radio7,189283
YF5California Emission Test1,96715
ZR1Special Purpose LT1 Engine Package201,010

In the 1972 Corvette advertisements, the main theme was “Chevrolet. Building a Better way to see the U.S.A. We have three magazine ads we are looking at for the 1972 C3 Corvette.

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