What’s The Mako Shark All About? (1968-1973)

Did Someone Say “SHARK”?

With flared fenders flying high above the front wheels and a flamboyant front

Flared Fenders Are In!

Flared Fenders Are In!

end favoring the nose of a shark, the 1968 Corvette, nicknamed the Mako Shark was spawned! The original concept car was almost four years old by now and was originally designed with a mid-engine which was soon abandoned.

With coupes and convertibles offered for 1968 and plenty of horsepower engine options, the new pointy nose Corvette was an instant hit. Chevy sold 9,936 coupes with a starting price $4,663 and 18,630 convertibles with a starting price of $4,347. Three very unique features for the ‘68 coupe were the two removable roof panels, later nicknamed “T-tops”, a removable rear window, and the design plagued concealed wipers.

Rare was the standard 3 speed transmission found only on the base model and 68’s ignition switch was the last year for the dashboard mount. The standard engine was a 300-hp 327 cubic inch small-block V8 married to a four-barrel carburetor. Engines options included a 350-hp 327 and the big-boy at 427 cubic inches.

Another Chance For “Stingray”

For ’69, the Sting Ray name proudly re-appeared spelled out on the fenders as one word, “Stingray” in chrome script.

"Stingray" Back On Front Fenders

“Stingray” Back On Front Fenders

The most significant change said “good-bye” to the 327 cubic inch V8 and the era of the famous and new 350 cubic inch was born! The new 350 motor had two options for horse power. The base model was rated at 300 hp and the optional “L46” was rated at 350 hp. And to protect this new baby, a factory alarm was new for 1969, operated by a key located on the back of the car.

The tilt steering wheel was introduced on the Corvette in 1969 and optional chrome side exhausts suddenly appeared to make the car look really mean. Both ’68 & ’69 models had four vertical side vents on each front fender and for 1970 a new crosshatch pattern was displayed. Mechanically, the standard transmission grew by one speed making a four-speed manual transmission standard equipment on ’70 Corvettes.

More Horsepower Please…

The 350 engine kicked up a new 370 hp “LT-1” option and the 427s moved over

Chevrolet Corvette's 350 Engine

Chevrolet Corvette’s 350 Engine

in favor of two new 454 cubic inch big-boys: a 390 hp “LS5” and a 460 hp “LS7”. The screaming LT-1 would now hit the quarter mile in 14.25 seconds at a speed of 102 mph. All the exhaust from these powerful engines found themselves quickly exiting through a square exhaust tip on the 1970 Corvette.

Detuning had begun with the 1971 engines due to stricter emissions controls. This would lower the compression ratios on all Corvette engines. The base 350 cubic inch motor was slashed to 270 hp. All other engine options were cut down significantly, such as the LT-1 350 reduced to 330 hp. 1971 Corvettes were the final year for the fiber optics light monitoring system and a headlight washer system.

More Changes Define Mako Shark

As the nation churned through a global gas crisis in the early ‘70s, the Corvette continued to loose power by reducing horse power over the next several years. For example, the base 350 cubic inch engine was now reduced to a sissy 200 hp rating all the way up to the big boy, the 454, cranking out a whopping 270 hp!   A special “club-racing” package was produced in a very rare ZR-1 version of the LT01 350, however only 20 of these limited editions were produced.

Now most of us know, if you ask the question, “when was the last Corvette produced with chrome bumpers at both ends”? you will typically get the correct answer of 1972.

Chrome Has Limited Lifespan

Chrome Has Limited Lifespan

This was also the final production year for the removable rear window common on all 1968-1972 Corvettes. By 1972, nearly one half of all Corvettes produced were optioned with an automatic transmission and the decline in engine performance correlated to the reduction in requests for convertibles.

Here is where the nose stretches a bit. For 1973 a body-colored rubberized front bumper was fastened to the front of our beloved Corvette. Does anyone remember why? Federal law required 5 mph light weight front bumper systems on all ’73 model Corvettes. Our adorned rear chrome bumper was carried over from 1972 and survived the cut! Well horse power didn’t survive the cut as our base 350 option engine (called the L-48) was sliced down to 190 hp. A new engine option was labeled “L-82” and achieved 250 hp.   The multiple side vents were now a single vertical opening and radial tires were standard for the very first time.

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] My Corvette story starts at 17, during my boring Junior year of high school in 1974. I was 17, hanging out in the front of my mom’s house, my girlfriend on my mind, but waiting for a friend to show up. He is usually late but suddenly he pulled up in a green ratty 1968 Corvette Convertible. […]

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