The new Chevrolet C8 Corvette may be the first in the model’s history to officially be sold in the UK, but it certainly won’t be the first to touch our Tarmac. Imported examples of the C3 generation (1968- 1982) are easy to come by here so you could own one of the most radically styled and iconic American cars of all time from as little as £12,000.
Available in coupé and convertible guises, the C3 ’Vette took its power from a variety of small- and big-block Chevy V8 motors during its 14-year lifespan, packing up to 460bhp from a whopping 7.4-litre unit in its most potent form. Later models, however, suffered at the hands of tightening emissions legislation throughout the 1970s, with unleaded fuel and catalytic converters reducing their output to as little as 165bhp – despite the 5.7-litre V8 under the bonnet.
Go for an early model if you want big power and properly lairy styling. Late 1960s and early 1970s cars packed mostly 7.0- or 7.4-litre big-block motors and could crack the 0-60mph sprint in as little as 5.5sec. Take heed, though: American roads are straighter, wider and better paved than our humble byways, and such earth-shattering potency is not for the faint-hearted. They’ll also be more expensive to run than their quieter (it’s all relative) counterparts.
Whatever your poison, you’ll find the C3 is about as easy to own and maintain as any other sports car of its era. Reproduction parts are readily available through suppliers such as Claremont Corvette, Eckler’s Corvette and Corvette Kingdom, and the Classic Corvette Club UK forum is a fount of knowledge for prospective buyers and owners alike. These resources are invaluable given the C3’s propensity for glassfibre panel problems and electrical gremlins and mean most jobs can be carried out at home if you’re handy with the spanners.
Despite the C3’s age and collector car status, there’s a wide variety of models available on the UK marketplace, ranging from tatty, run-out T-tops to showroom-condition chrome-bumper cars with the all-important Stingray emblems, which were discontinued in 1976. You might have to venture to the other side of the Channel to find the car you like – there are plenty of C3s for sale at specialist dealerships in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – but trailering a car, even if it’s right across Europe, is much more cost-effective and less risky than importing from the US.