Tri-Power 427!!! 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Now we’re talking! What’s not to like about a C3 Corvette, especially a convertible with a big-block, Tri-Power equipped engine? Nothing in my mind and today we’re going to take a close look at a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, located in Cortland, Nebraska and for sale here on craigslist for $42,900.

The Mako Shark version of the Corvette, which kicked off the C3 series, was introduced for model year 1968, though interestingly the Stingray moniker was dropped for ’68 only to return in ’69. The 1969 model was really just a refinement of the previous introductory year version. The standard engine changed, as did the door handles along with standard headrests and a mandated steering column locking ignition switch. The biggest change versus ’68 was unseen and that was an improvement to the fiberglass body which allowed for fewer squeaks. Underneath, not only was ’69 a repeat of ’68 it was really the same underpinnings that had been in use since the dawn of the C2 iteration in 1963. The C3 was really all about the external styling, a new interior and the inclusion of T-tops.

The 1969 model introduced the fairly new 350 CI small block engine to the Corvette; two versions, a standard at 300 HP and a more powerful optional version at 350. Kicking it up a notch was the big block 427 CI (7.0 liter) Mark IV, available in four flavors, 390, 400, 430 and 435 HP. Our subject car has the 400 HP, triple carburetor option. The carburetors consist of three Holley 500 CFM units that operate principally off of the center carburetor and then invoke the outer two when more “go” is desired. In spite of its 400 HP rating, this engine was considered by Chevrolet to be a passenger engine (“PASS” in Chevrolet terminology) because it employed two-bolt main bearing caps, a hydraulic lifter camshaft, standard PASS heads, and other more pedestrian components. The 435 HP engine, also triple carbureted, was considered a High-Performance unit (“Hi-Perf”) and cam with competition parts rather than passenger car components. As for this particular engine, the seller stats that it starts right up and drives great – it only has 57,000 miles on the clock. This Vette has the less commonly found automatic transmission in the form of a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed unit.

Moving inside, this Corvette’s leather interior appears to be in great shape right along with the carpet and dash. The leather covering on the driver’s seat has typically aged creases but looks fine. The lack of a glove box, typical for this version of the C3, is in plain view with the map pocket substitute visible.

Additionally, the panel fit looks right and the bonding seams, which aren’t showing, appear correct too, exactly because they are not showing. When Corvettes age and flex, the bonding strips can result in waviness along the seams, usually first appearing on the header panel near the headlight doors or along the top of the fenders.

Moving right along, the underside of this Vette is as clean as a whistle; the floor pans and frame show no signs of a problem – this appears to be a very tight car.

At the outset, I suggested what’s not to like about  a C3 big-block, convertible, Corvette and the only thing I can find is the faux L88 hood – yes, I know, a minor point. L88 references a special off-road racing version of the 427 CI engine that could be ordered for on-road use even though the sales brochure recommended against it. The L88 was offered in ’67, ’68 and ’69 and the last two years used a functional cowl induction hood to draw air into the carburetor from the base of the windshield. It’s great if you actually have one of the 196 copies that were produced between ’68 and ’69; beyond that, it’s being ginned up a bit. I really like this particular ’69 Corvette and the price is in keeping with similar examples that I have observed for sale – it looks like it needs nothing. If you were in the market for a C3, would you consider this one?

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Comments

  1. James

    This looks like GM’s Flame Red color, the same paint used on the General Lee. Sharp.

    Like 2
  2. Dustin Lisner

    don´t get me wrong I love the car but my answer to what is not to like about it is the auto trans either way this is a sweet car that´s held up incredibly well.

    Like 7
  3. Gaspumpchas

    Wow running a 43 large vette on craigslist??? Looks like a beauty. Goood luck to the new owner, I’m sure if it was a 4 speed the price would be up around 50 grand,.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 1
  4. TimS Member

    Man, what a ride.Would rather have a light-colored interior on a drop-top though. I hope the automatic makes all the snobs run away and drives the price down so mere mortals like myself can have a crack at it. Wishful thinking on such a fine-looking example.

    Like 7
  5. J_Paul Member

    I would prefer a manual transmission, but I can’t deny that this is a gorgeous car — easily one of the most striking C3s out there. Orange is a great color!

    Like 4
  6. Jeremy

    My only gripe is the lack of the required (to me, at least)M21 muncie “Rock Crusher”4 speed.

    Like 2
    • Tony Primo

      You better check on that, the “rock crusher” is the M-22.

      Like 3
    • Russell Woolsey

      ” Jeremy ” It was a M-22 Muncie “Rock Crusher” 4 speed behind the L-88. But yes I agree.

  7. tiger66

    Quote: “…though interestingly the Stingray moniker was dropped for ’68 only to return in ’69.”

    …though interestingly the Sting Ray (two words) moniker was dropped for ’68 only to return as Stingray (one word) in ’69.

    Fixed that for you.

    Like 6
  8. David

    it’s hard not to really like this one, auto or not. However, it needs those period correct sidepipes. Vroom vroom

    Like 2
  9. gbvette62

    68’s may not wear a Stingray emblem, but the 68 sales brochure calls the car a “Stingray”. 68-77’s have a glove box. There are two storage compartments behind the seats, and Chevrolet considered the locking center one a glove box.

    This looks like a decent car, though I’m a little concerned that the seller makes no mention of the engine/drivetrain’s originality. The seller’s a dealer who has a number of Corvettes, Camaros and snow mobiles for sale.

    Automatic’s aren’t the deal killers they once were. Few younger buyers can drive a stick, and many older ones are dealing with things like hip and knee issues, often making an auto a plus. I sometimes wonder how many people complaining about automatics, actually own a manual trans car themselves?

    Like 8
    • Sean

      Thanks for speaking up for us bad knees and ankle guys!

      Like 4
  10. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I’ve co-chaired a charity car show the last 3 years. A couple of years ago a guy showed up with a 69 427 Tri Power 4 speed coupe and it was beautiful. I had a chance to talk to the owner a little before the show started. He said he bought it back in the mid 70’s when OPEC came about and they were just cheap cars, expensive cars to operate and he street raced it. Now days he said he just trailered it to shows as it was too expensive to drive to the shows, what with it needing Hi test fuel along with octane booster to keep from rattling the engine to pieces and a thirst like a camel in the desert.
    It’s a beautiful car but not too practical for someone without the deep pockets to maintain and operate it. Wish the seller well but don’t expect it to see much street time IMO.

    Like 2
  11. Frank Sumatra

    Another side to the “automatic vs. 4-speed ” chat- I was at Corvettes at Carlisle many, many years ago and there was an orange 1969 L-88 roadster with an automatic and it was pretty impressive went that bomb started up in the morning. I would have been very happy to drive that automatic.

    Like 2
  12. Kenbo52

    WOW , Santa , I’ve been real good this year . This is Sweet . Santa are you listening. Please ????

  13. John

    These cars never seem to gather a lot of miles. Perhaps the 8-10 mpg rating is part of it but, I wonder, if after the new has worn off, these cars are simply not comfortable daily drivers. I’ve sat in a couple, and it seemed hard to see out of it. The one I rode in had bone-jarring suspension and the little door that comes up to let the wipers out had long since quit working. Rain was handled by a good layer of Rain-X.

    But, this one is a superb example of what one should look like. I’d guess its mechanical parts have had similar care over the years. This should be a good alternative to the $745K Big Tank version listed below.

    Like 2
  14. TimM

    Beautiful car and the price isn’t much higher than what we’ve seen rollers going for!!! I am with the majority here though about the automatic transmission!!! Sure it would be a fun car to drive but there’s no comparison of how much fun it would be to grab second at a stop light and feel that 400 horses waiting for third!!!

    Like 1
  15. John Oliveri

    A complete running big block 69, try restoring one of these for that money, when they pull them out of the bottom of a creek they start at 20 grand, if I wanted a Vette w no A/C this would be it

    Like 2

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