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1976 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Chevrolet Corvette was conceived by General Motors design guru, Harley Earl, in response to G.I.’s bringing home European sports cars after W.W.II.

Earl loved sports cars. He managed to convinced GM to build a two-seat sports car. In 1951 Earl’s Special Projects team started working on the new car, “Project Opel”. Reactions to GM’s EX-122 per-production Corvette prototype had been enthusiastic and by late 1953 production had begun.

GM executive Robert F. McLean, mandated off-the-shelf mechanical components including the chassis and suspension design from the 1949–1954 Chevrolet passenger vehicles. It had a 102-inch wheelbase. The 235 CID in-line six that powered all other Chevrolet models was used. It had a higher-compression ratio with 3 Carter side-draft carburetors, and an aggressive cam output was rated at 150 horsepower. A 2-speed Powerglide automatic was used. GM decided to use the then innovative material, fibreglass, for the body. 0-60 m.p.h. time was 11.5 seconds.

Despite early production issues and poor response from the public GM continued building what was to become an automotive icon known around the world.

In 1963 Chevrolet introduced the new model of Corvette and added the moniker Sting Ray. The car was slightly smaller then its predecessor and came with 4-wheel disc brakes (introduced in 1965), hidden head-lights, independent rear suspension, and the fast-back. Chevrolet introduced a fuel injected option on it’s 327 CID (5.36L), but the introduction of the 396 CID (6.49L) for $245 less would cause Chevrolet to discontinue the fuel injection option at the end of 1965. Chevrolet would cease production of the C2 “Sting Ray” at the end of 1967.

For 1968 Chevrolet would radically change both the interior and exterior of the new generation Corvette. It used essentially the same chassis and engines as the C2. The coupe had a lift out T-tops and removable rear windows. The 2 -speed Powerglide automantic transmission was replaced with a the 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic. The 327 CID an engine with a 3-speed manual transmission, yet very few Corvettes were purchased that way. In 1969 the small block 327 CID would be replaced by a 350 CID.

In 1975 new emission standards were in place and all cars were equipped catalytic converts and in 1976 the floor panels were now steel to deflect the heat. Car and Driver Magazine took a 1976 L 48 4-speed Corvette on a 6,400 km road trip to Alaska. The writers summarized their experience with the car: “The Corvette was a big hit–we expected and thoroughly enjoyed that–but we were surprised at how well it withstood the ordeal…once we recovered from the trip we conceded that we’d developed new respect for a car we’d long regarded as something of a put on. In every sense of the word, our Yukon Corvette proved to be tough and we’d have to say that even the production versions impressed us as coming closer to being real touring cars than we might ever have thought. There’s a lot more sincere ring now to our stock answer to the question, Why a Corvette?”  in C&D March 1976.

During the 1977 production run a milestone of half a million unit were built. In the 15 year production run Corvettes base price went from $4,663 USD in 1968 to $18,290 USD in 1982.

The dictionary defines Courage as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty,danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. But for firefighters it is often so much more., they run toy drives, do educational outreach, and drive in parades (LOL). Whether it is to put out fires, extract victims of car wrecks, or answer any variety of calls for help, firefighters are  an essential part of our communities.

Chief John Whalens’ ’76 Corvette is a tribute to the brave firefighters of Quinte West, Ont.


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