The 1973 Corvette Review
Thank you for joining us again here at Hobby Car Corvettes, located in Martinsburg PA, for our continuation of the series, C3 Vette Rundown. This week, we will be discussing the well received 1973 Corvette.
In each post of this series, we will highlight the changes and upgrades, or in some years, lack thereof, of a specific year of the third generation of Corvettes. We started 5 posts ago with the launch of the third generation in 1968, and today we bring you a thorough rundown of the fifth year in, the 1973 Chevrolet Corvette.
If you tuned in for our previous C3 Series posts, you will recall that 1972 and 1971 saw very little aesthetic change. This year, Corvette engineers determined it was time for a makeover. But these aesthetic changes would serve more for function, rather than turning heads. 1973 is recalled to be the year that Corvette began transforming from muscle, to touring sports car. One of Chevrolet’s most notable advertisements this year stated:
“We gave it radials, a quieter ride, guard beams, and a nose job.”
The 1973 C3 Corvette, would be the first of its generation to see a true redesign.
The nose job Chevrolet wittingly referred to was a complete front bumper redesign. The nose was longer by about 2 inches and slightly heavier. The new design added 35 pounds to the 1973 Corvette. The front featured a steel bumper, covered by deformable urethane plastic, which was matched to the color of the rest of the body. This change from the former chrome bumper, made 1973 the first year of the “rubber bumper”.
This redesign was one of the first examples of Chevrolet’s credo, “form follows function”. While some may look at the redesign and think it was all for show, the motivation runs deeper. This front bumper redesign was actually in response to yet another federal mandate for a 5 mph impact-absorbing bumper.
Another front redesign was made to the air vents.The 1973 Corvette front fender now included simple, recessed air vents on each side of the car. These replaced the seperate cast vent grilles that had been included in the years 1970-1972.
1973 CORVETTE TIRE CHANGES
Another piece of the 1973 Corvette that underwent notable changes, were the tires and wheels. This year, Chevrolet introduced radial tires. By making this change, the new and improved tires had longer tread wear, better wet-weather grip, and added stability when operating at common Corvette speeds. Corvette is known to be fast, but it is also known to be safe. On the flip side of the coin, the change also contributed to longer stopping distances.
Another tire specific option offered to buyers, fell flat due to a design flaw. At time of purchase, a consumer could opt to have the new tires mated to new wheels that followed “form and function”. This wheel design was based off the XP-882 mid-engine Corvette prototype and included an 8-inch rim width, a deep-dish section, and 8 cooling vents. The design was received well in regards to aesthetics. The wheels were also built utilizing aluminum, dropping the weight of the car by 8 pounds each.
Only 4 consumers were able to purchase this option, as it was rejected by Chevrolet early on due to a porosity issue. It was rumored, however, that 800 sets had been manufactured before the recall. Stay tuned in the series, however, as 1976 may see the aluminum wheels redesigned and released yet again.
SAFE AND SOUND
While the first thing people may think of when it comes to Corvettes may be speed or style, Corvette has proven to make safety and comfort as much a priority. This year, while in response to a federal mandate, Chevrolet wasted no time in enhancing the Corvette to be safer and more enjoyable a ride for its consumers.
1973 saw the introduction of a longitudinal steel beam in each door to protect riders from side impacts. The design was spearheaded by General Motors. In each door, heavy steel beams were installed that extended from the door hinges to the lock plates. This new feature tied in well to the body’s steel “birdcage”, and only added to the preexisting sound structure of the Corvette, making for an exciting, but also safe ride.
Another redesign feature adding to the riders positive experience, included a change that would decrease the noise level inside the car by 40%. Extra sound-dampening insulation was strategically added throughout the car. A sound-dampening pad was installed under the Corvette’s hood. Carpeting was also made thicker and the mats inside the console, dash, and rear quarters were made thicker. In addition, The body mounts would now include a rubber/steel design that eradicated unpleasant vibrations felt inside the car.
1973 CORVETTE ENGINES
Because of previous year changes in federal regulations, the engines offered in 1973 again failed to wow the Corvette audience. However, it wasn’t necessarily that they did not perform well with what they had to work with, it was only that the engine options were viewed as a downgrade from the original release in 1968. Nonetheless, Corvette still maintained a reputation as a sharp and speedy car
Engine options this year included 2 350 cu in. small block engines. The base L-48 engine produced 190 hp. The L-82 was now the optional high performance small-block engine, delivering 250 hp. The 454 cu in. big-block engine option produced 275 hp.
DID YOU KNOW
1973 was the year for the first Off Road Suspension RPO Z07 produced and today it is considered a very rare production Corvette as only 45 were produced.
From 1968 to 1972, Corvettes were known as “chrome bumper” cars. However, in 1973 the Corvette dropped one its chrome bumpers for the front “rubber bumper”. For 1974 and beyond, all cars had 5 mph impact-absorbing front and rear bumpers covered by body-color urethane plastic.
The rare aluminum wheels that were recalled by Chevrolet almost immediately, carry the casting number 329381. While many of the 800 sets of wheels that were produced and not ordered, are thought to have ended up in the hands of consumers, it is unknown how many sets of the rare aluminum wheels still exist today.
1973 was without question, a good year. Sales increased from the previous year and prices only rose slightly. The “form and function” credo that Chevrolet seemed to be taking on and taking seriously, served them well this year. They were able to make changes for function that dually appeared to the public as aesthetically pleasing upgrades. A company that can make a design change that improves both performance and aesthetics, is bound to be successful.
Road & Track Magazine stated this about the 1973 Corvette after a road test:
“For all its age, size, and compromises, is the Corvette is equipped with the right options, it is a pleasant and rewarding car to drive and this 1973 example was one of the best Corvettes we’ve ever driven.”
Thank you again for checking in with us here at Hobby Car Corvettes for the C3 Vette Rundown. We invite you to come back every week as we release new posts weekly. Should you have any questions or curiosities about owning your very own Corvette, we would be happy to speak with you!
We currently have the following 1973 corvettes for sale:
SPECS FOR 1973 CORVETTE
|MODEL||1973 CHEVROLET CORVETTE|
|BODY STYLE||Two-door convertible/coupe, front engine, rear wheel drive|
|MANUFACTURING LOCATION||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Sunflower Yellow, Pewter Silver, Bryar Blue, Elkhart Green, Classic White, Mille Miglia Red, Targa Blue, Ontario Orange Steel Cities Gray, War Bonnet Yellow|
|Black, Midnight Blue, Medium Saddle, Dark Saddle, Red Vinyl|
|CONSTRUCTION||Uniconstruction: fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP or “fiberglass”) body, backboned by a steel cage outlining the passenger compartment. Principal members – underbody, front and rear end assemblies, dash panel and hinge pillars are bonded, riveted, or bolted together and to each other. Hood is plastic with bonded plastic reinforcement. Coupe: two removable roof panels and removable rear window. Frame: all welded, full length, ladder construction with 5 crossmembers. Side Rails and intermediate crossmembers box section; front crossmember box girder section. Eight body-mounting points.|
|VEHICLE NUMBERS (VIN)||1Z37J3S400001 – 1Z37J3S434464|
|ENGINE SUFFIX||CKZ: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL
CLA: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC
CLB: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CLC: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CLD: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC
CLH: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CLR: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL
CLS: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CWM: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL
CWR: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC
CWS: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275 HORSEPOWER, AUTOMATIC, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
CWT: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275 HORSEPOWER, MANUAL, CALIFORNIA EMISSIONS
|ENGINE BLOCK NUMBER||3970010: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HP, 250HP
3970014: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190 HP, 250HP
3999289: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275HP
|HEAD NUMBER||353049: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275HP
330545: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250HP
3998993: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP
333881: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP
333882: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP
|CARBURETOR NUMBERS||ROCHESTER Q-jet #7043200: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275HP, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7043201: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275HP, MANUAL TRANSMISSION
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7043202: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP, AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7043203: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP, MANUAL TRANSMISSION
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7043212: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250HP, AUTOMATIC
|DISTRIBUTOR NUMBER||1112098: 350 CUBIC INCH, 190HP
1112114: 454 CUBIC INCH, 275HP
1112130: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250HP
1112150: 350 CUBIC INCH, 250HP
|ALTERNATOR NUMBER||1100544: 350, 454 CUBIC INCH, AIR CONDITIOING
1100950: 350, 454 CUBIC INCH
1102353: 454 CUBIC INCH
|AXLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER||AA: 3.55:1 RATIO
AB: 3.70:1 RATIO
AC: 4.11:1 RATIO
AW: 3.08:1 RATIO
AX: 3.36:1 RATIO
LR: 3.36:1 RATIO
|PRODUCTION ENDING VEHICLE||AUG., 1972: 401138, DEC., 1972: 410679, APR., 1973: 421933, SEP.. 1972: 403539, JAN., 1973: 413600, MAY, 1973: 428892, OCT., 1972: 406054, FEB., 1973: 416301, JUNE., 1973: 431731, NOV., 1972: 408696, MAR., 1973: 419253, JULY, 1973: 434464|
Options Codes, Production, & Pricing
|1YZ37||Base Corvette Sport Coupe||25,521||$5,561.50|
|1YZ67||Base Corvette Convertible||4,943||$5,398.50|
|–||Custom Interior Trim||13,434||$154.00|
|A85||Custom Shoulder Belts (std with coupe)||788||$41.00|
|C07||Auxiliary Hardtop (for convertible)||1,328||$267.00|
|C08||Vinyl Covering (for auxiliary hardtop)||323||$62.00|
|C50||Rear Window Defogger||4,412||$41.00|
|–||Optional Rear Axle Ratio||1,791||$12.00|
|LS4||454ci, 275hp Engine||4,412||$250.00|
|L82||350ci, 250hp Engine||5,710||$299.00|
|M21||4-Speed Manual Transmission, close-ratio||3,704||$0.00|
|M40||Turbo-Hydro-matic Automatic Transmission||17,927||$0.00|
|N37||Tilt-Telescopic Steering Column||17,949||$82.00|
|PO2||Deluxe Wheel Cover||1,739||$62.00|
|QRM||White Stripe Steel Belted Tires, GR70x15||19,903||$32.00|
|QRZ||White Letter Steel Belted Tires, GR70x15||4,541||$45.00|
|T60||Heavy Duty Battery (std with LS4)||4,912||$15.00|
|U58||AM-FM Radio, Stereo||12,482||$276.00|
|UF1||Map Light (on rearview mirror)||8,186||$5.00|
|YF5||California Emission Test||3,008||$15.00|
|YJ8||Cast Aluminum Wheels (5)||4||$175.00|
|Z07||Off Road Suspension and Brake Package||45||$369.00|
|P||Muncie 4-Speed, Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case|
|A||Muncie 4-Speed M20 Wide-Range (2.52:1 1st gear)|
|B||Muncie 4-Speed M21 Close-Range (2.20:1 1st gear)|
|CK||Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 with 350 L-48 Engine|
|CY||Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 with 350 L-82 Engine|
|CS||Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 with 454 Engine|