1969 Corvette: Facts And Photos – See The Evolution Of This Iconic Car
Discover the History and Power in Vette Vues’ 1969 Corvette Overview as we look at the Shark Body Style and V-8 Engine that still captivates Corvette Enthusiasts today.
An icon of American muscle, 1969 introduced Chevrolet’s second production year of the third generation of Corvette, the C3 line.
The 1968 C3 Vette brought dramatic changes to both form and function. With anticipation high, the 1969 C3 Corvette had much to live up to. Keep reading to learn the history of this American icon.
On November 19th, 1969, the St. Louis, Missouri plant rolled out its 250,000th Corvette – a convertible boasting a Riverside Gold paint job and black interior. This timeless classic was outfitted with a powerful small-block engine and a four-speed transmission.
“Stingray” Is Back
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
With the arrival of the 1969 Corvette came the revival of the “Stingray” name, now one word. The “Sting Ray” name (two words) originally appeared on the C2 Corvettes, starting in the 1963 model year and continuing until 1967. However, the name disappeared with the arrival of the 1968 C3 Corvette.
Badges could be found above the 1969’s slanting air vents and were visible on the front fenders. The name would remain on Corvettes up until 1976.
Much of the 1969 Corvette was a carryover from the 1968 model year. However, the changes that did arrive removed many of the annoyances from the 1968 C3s and were well-received by consumers.
1969 Corvette Dash
Interior changes included a smaller steering wheel, going from 16 inches to 15 inches, and the ignition was also moved from the dash to the steering wheel.
1969 Corvette Front 1969 Corvette Luggage Rack
Exterior changes included a frame with increased rigidity, headlight washers, black front grilles, optional side-mounted exhausts, and single-lever handles. Some of these changes were for aesthetic purposes. Others, like the ignition placement, were due to new federal regulations.
It is also worth noting that this was the last model year where tires with red striped lettering were available. This was also the model year where white-lettered tires became an option.
1969 Corvette Exterior Color Choices
1969 Corvette Interior Color Choices
|411||Bright Blue Vinyl|
|412||Bright Blue Leather|
The 350-CID V-8 engine was the base engine for 1969. This option gave 300 horsepower. There was also a suped-up version with a firmer crankshaft and longer washer head bolts, an improved cooling system, and overall sturdier engine construction, which added an additional 50 horsepower.
Besides that, other engine options included a 427-CID big-block V-8 which came in four options. Two were 4-barrel versions, and the other two were 3×2 barrel versions. The 4-barrel versions produced between 390 and 400 horsepower, and the 3×2 barrel versions produced 430 to 435 horsepower.
There was also a crazy option that was the rarest of them all. The ZL1 engine was the first aluminum engine found under the hood of a Corvette. As a result, it was lighter and more powerful, and though rated at 430 horsepower, the actual number was estimated to be between 525-600 horsepower.
Did you know? Only two 1969 ZL1s were ever sold. This is the rarest factory-built engine of all time that came with the $4,718 ZL1 option, which included an all-aluminum 427 L88.
1969 Corvette Specifications: RPO #, Descriptions, Quantities and Cost
|19437||Base Corvette Sport Coupe||22,129||4,781|
|19467||Base Corvette Convertible||16,633||4,438|
|n/a||Genuine Leather Seats||3,729||79|
|A01||Soft Ray Tinted Glass, all windows||31,270||16|
|A85||Custom Shoulder Belts (std with Coupe)||600||42|
|C07||Auxillary Hardtop (convertible only)||7,878||252|
|C08||Vinyl Covering (for Auxillary Hardtop)||3,266||57|
|C50||Rear Window Defroster||2,485||32|
|F41||Special Front and Rear Suspension||1,661||36|
|G81||Positraction Rear Axle||36,965||46|
|J56||Special Heavy Duty Brakes||115||384|
|K05||Engine Block Heater||824||10|
|K66||Transistor Ignition System||5,702||81|
|L36||427ci, 390hp Engine||10,531||221|
|L46||350ci, 350hp Engine||12,846||131|
|L68||427ci, 400hp Engine||2,072||326|
|L71||427ci, 435hp Engine||2,722||437|
|L88||427ci, 430hp Engine||116||1,032|
|L89||Aluminum Cylinder Heads with L71 Engine||390||832|
|MA6||Heavy Duty Clutch||102||79|
|M20||4-Speed Manual Transmission||16,507||184|
|M21||4-Speed Manual Transmission, close ratio||13,741||184|
|M22||4-Speed Manual Transmission, close-ratio, heavy duty||101||290|
|M40||Turbo Hydra-Matic Automatic Transmission||8,161||221|
|N14||Side Mount Exhaust System||4,355||147|
|N37||Tilt-Telescopic Steering Column||10,325||84|
|P02||Deluxe Wheel Covers||8,073||57|
|PT6||F70x15 Red Stripe Tires, Nylon||5,210||31|
|PT7||F70x15 White Stripe Tires, Nylon||21,379||31|
|PU9||F70x15 White Letter Tires, Nylon||2,398||33|
|TJ2||Front Fender Louver Trim||11,962||21|
|U15||Speed Warning Indicator||3,561||11|
|U79||AM-FM Stereo Radio||4,114||278|
|ZL1||Special L88 (aluminum block)||2||4,718|
History of Design
The 1969 ‘Vette followed “the Shark” body style like the previous model year. Similarly, this was a design that greatly resembled the Mako Shark ll design. The Mako Shark ll came out in the 1965 model year, designed by Larry Shinoda.
Others who contributed to the 1969s design were Chevy head engineer Frank Winchell and the original designers of the C2 Corvette, Billy Mitchell, and Zora Arkus-Duntov.
The two body styles available were the coupe and convertible options. The coupe came with a removable hardtop. Those who opted for the convertible could choose even further between a removable hardtop or a stylish soft top.
The sales of the 1969 Corvettes were very high compared to the previous year. In 1968, 28,566 Corvettes were sold; 9,936 were coupes, and 18,630 were convertibles. In 1969, 38,762 Corvettes were sold. Of those, 22,129 were coupes, and 16,633 were convertibles.
One of the reasons for this dramatic spike in sales was a labor dispute in the spring of 1969. This dispute stretched the production run for four additional months. This is also another factor contributing to the low number of sales in 1970.
Should You Buy a 1969 ‘Vette?
When considering purchasing a 1969 ‘Vette, it’s important to know its strengths and weaknesses. As much as was refined in 1969, many weaknesses still carried over.
Similar to the 1968 C3, the 1969 model had poor engine balance. The 350-CID, the 1969’s base engine model, lacked acceleration. The larger L88 engines and the monster ZL1 engine were fast; however, many don’t recommend them for street use.
Other weaknesses included poor visibility, especially blind spot visibility, if the optional luggage rack was utilized.
Its strengths, however, were significant, especially when compared to the previous model year. For one, safety features were abundant. An anti-theft ignition system and anti-theft steering lock ensured your expensive Corvette would remain in your possession.
Other safety features included improved reverse lights, a warning light for when headlights didn’t fully open, shoulder and seat belt restraints, and an anti-glare instrument panel.
The 1969 Corvette also had noticeably less vibration. This could be credited to a stiffer frame. Stability also improved thanks to the increase in wheel size, from 7-inch wheels to 8-inch wheels.
So should you buy a 1969 ‘Vette? Absolutely! Parts for this vehicle are much easier to locate than for the 1968 C3. One cause of this is because of all the subtle changes in it. So if you plan on restoring one, it will give you a lot less headache. You can find some great C3 Corvettes in our Corvettes for Sale classified section on our blog.
The 1969 Corvette: Classic American Muscle
The 1969 Corvette was a welcome improvement on the original 1968 C3. Subtle improvements to the interior space and overall design were just enough to capture the hearts of all ‘Vette lovers.
This was also a car of many firsts. The 1969 Corvette was the first to bring back the “Stingray” name as one word. It was also the first to introduce an all-aluminum engine, a trend we see continued in modern-day Corvettes.
Here are some other articles you might enjoy:
Check out Vette Vues’ latest blog posts so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. Better yet, sign up for our Free e-Newsletter, which comes out twice a month with links to the latest blog posts. Join Now.
Enjoy Vette Vues’ Premium articles each month by subscribing to Vette Vues Magazine. Every month, Our Corvette magazine covers Corvette history, racing, Corvette owners and features, as well as Corvette events throughout the country. Subscriptions are mailed right to your home or office. Stay up to date with all the latest Corvette news by signing up today. Get your 12-issue Subscription Today!
While you are here, check out our great selection of Corvette T-shirts, Corvette Hats / Caps for Sale, and assorted Corvette Totes, Coolers, and Bags for Sale, all offering Free United States Shipping.