Tuesday, January 21, 2020

C3 Corvette Genealogy: Documentation, Info and Literature

Family-genealogy is important as it connects us with the past, helps determine where we came from, and can even give us a sense of pride. By the same token, the lineage and past history of your C3 are equally valuable and important.

Unfortunately, in most cases, many if not all of the original documents and related information are lost over the years.

So unless you bought your Vette from the original owner or a subsequent owner who kept as much of the original documentation with the vehicle, you may be left to your own devices to determine the lineage and history of your pride and joy.

However, thanks to the Internet you can, to some degree, recover a portion of significant and specific info relating to your Corvette.

Decoding the VIN and trim plate will provide valuable basic information that you need to know and confirm anyway. Things such as body style, engine code, model year, assembly plant, and production number, while the trim tag will show the body build date, interior trim, and body paint code, for example.

The trim tag on my '76 Vette (photo below), shows that my car was built on Thursday, October 9, 1975 (C09). It also shows that it had a black leather interior (Trim 192) and it was painted metallic silver (13L). Production of 1976 Corvettes ran from August 1975 through August of 1976.

The date shown on the trim plate does not mean that my car rolled off the assembly line that day, although it could have, considering that the St. Louis, MO plant built 4,289 Corvettes that month.


If any of the previous owners saved and provided documentation specific to your Corvette, start organizing all these documents in a binder. But don't just throw them in there haphazardly.

Organize them by categories such as repair and parts receipts, photographs, articles, dealer documentation and literature, insurance documents, Vehicle Title and/or Bill of Sale to name a few.

And if you or a previous owner were fortunate to locate, retrieve, and save the original Build Sheet, this is a very important and valuable document to have, and one that will add to the provenance of your Corvette.

From what I've read and heard, build sheets can be found in places such as behind the wiring harness in the speedo/tach area, behind the radio, tucked in the springs under one of the seats, under the carpet in the storage compartment, and even behind one of the kick panels. However, the usual place for this document is the top of the gas tank.

After four decades, the chances of finding it in legible and good shape are slim to none.

I have installed new carpeting and completely removed the interior of my Vette in order to fix, restore or replace many items, but I have not found the build sheet. The only place I haven't looked is the fuel tank, although I am not sure I want to remove it just to have a look.

The original build sheet will list all RPO numbers used for the configuration of your Corvette during the building process. RPO stands for Regular Production Option. Searching online will—in most cases—give you specific RPO decoding information for your vehicle.

I created the RPO Code list shown here for my own records after researching RPO codes for the 1976 Corvette Stingray.

It also allowed me to confirm certain information such as the original paint color (Silver 13) and the interior trim (Black Leather 192) as shown on the trim plate.

By the way, having a VIN and Trim Plate decoder during the pre-purchase inspection may help you ascertain the originality of the vehicle you are considering buying.

A great book that both prospective and current Corvette owners will benefit from having is the Corvette Black Book, long considered to be one of the best reference books for Corvettes.

Other period literature such as dealer sales brochures and the factory owner's manual can be easily found on sites such as eBay or Amazon. But if the condition or price of some of these "rare" items gives you pause, there's no need to worry or pay a mint for them.

You can easily find exact GM-licensed reproductions online for your exact model year, at reasonable prices.






But factory reprints are not limited to brochures and owner's manuals; you can also buy exact reprints of factory service manuals which are identical to the old books, without the grease-smudged dog-eared pages. So you definitely have options.

Additionally, you can still find clean copies of Corvette News of the 1970s which contain important and relevant information for each model year.




I made reference to the Build Sheet earlier, which is a unique item. And, unless Chevrolet discovers Corvette production documentation of the St. Louis plant somewhere in an old warehouse, that information is gone forever.

As far as I know, you can order build information for Corvettes produced in Bowling Green, but car production data before the 1981 move to the Kentucky Corvette plant was, allegedly, destroyed.

There may be companies offering reproduction build sheets, and you can search online to see if anyone offers something like that. Of course, reproductions of official documents should never be used for deceitful purposes.

Another desirable and somewhat rare factory document is the Window Sticker, and Davies Corvette offers a free online service that allows you to generate one as a PDF which you can save on your computer and also print. It does not look 100% official but it is free.

Additionally, you can customize it to reflect any modifications you might have made to your Vette.

Visit Davies Corvette for more details.

However, if you want a realistic window sticker, Window-Sticker.com offers such a service for $40. These window stickers are available for 1959 through 1981 Corvettes.

Alternatively, you can buy a year-correct, blank reproduction sticker and make your own, again, for car show purposes, for example, and not to deceive anyone.

Collecting the right documentation for your C3 Corvette can be a fun process and one that can add value to your vehicle.

Thank you for following my '76 Corvette Blog!


Product Links... (#sponsored)

Corvette Black Book | 1953-2019
1976 Corvette Dealer Sales Brochure | GM-Licensed Reprint
Corvette News Magazine | Oct-Nov 1975
1976 Corvette Stingray Owner's Manual | GM-Licensed Reprint
1976 Corvette Service & Overhaul Manual
1976 Corvette Service & Overhaul Manual CD-ROM


Resources

National Corvette Museum
Corvsport - Ultimate Corvette
VetteFacts.com
C3 Vette Registry
C3 Corvette Land
Wikipedia Chevrolet Corvette C3
Corvette Forum | C3 General

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