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C3 high performance parts


Well-known member
Aug 1, 2001
2003 Z06
I would really like a C3 one day. I've noticed that there is really a lot of C4 and C5 high performance parts out there. I've also noticed that they're really expensive as well.

I want to know if there is as much support for the C3 and if the prices, in general are a little lower.

Also, big block vs. small block, which generally has a lower cost to maintain, repair, etc...????
Generally, the small block is the lower cost of the two. As for performance parts, there are as many as there are small block parts manufactures. Go to Summit or Jegs and you can buy yourself into the poor house. I have just spent around $500 on some low buck performnace parts for my '73 C3. I plan to build a 400-425 HP 383 stroker for her over the next year or so and drop that in. So the sky is the limit on the C3 small block. Of course there are the big block guys who will tell you that there is "No replacement for displacement", and in general they are right. However, for my money (and this is totally personal preferance) the lighter weight of the small block makes the car feel more responsive. For straight line power, you want the big block. For cornering, the small block wins, in my mind, because you dont have as much weight up front. Hope this helps.
Thank you very much for your advice. I do have a Jegs catalog, but didn't see that much "Corvette specific" items in there.

How is a engine modified to become a 383 stroker? I know that it is a 383 ci, compared with the 350. Does that increase displacement? How much power do you gain? Is that work done yourself or is it something that's best left to a professional?
Bullwinkle, a 383 displacement can be achieved through changing bore & stroke. There's no set rule, as 383 can be achieved through the builder's preference. Power is another variable that is set more to component selection than just displacement. However, with more volume, there is an easier potential for higher performance.

As far as parts go, whatever works for a small-block or big-block Chevy will usually work. The limitations are hood clearance, which can be readily solved. It just comes down to what you want to do and how much you have to spend. --Bullitt
Normally, you mate a 400 small block crank with a 350 block. This is the basis for a 383 stroker. You can do the opposite and put a 350 crank in a 400 block to get a 377. It is basically a component swap issue. There are many good books on small block Chevy performance. The two I would recommend are, 1. John Lingenfelter on Modifying Small-Block Chevy Engines and 2. Small Block Chevy Performance (I like volume 2 on 1982 and later). Lingenfelter is a noted expert on the topic and his book is the one I prefer. However, the other book gives really good broad information. Both are worth the cost.

Many of the people on this forum can give you a wealth of info. Everyone has an opinion on what works best. However, start out with deciding what you want to do. If you are going to be driving your Vette daily, you would go with a very different setup than, say, I who plan on going to events with mine and doing some light racing.

The great thing about the small block in the Vette, is that you have more room to work on it, than you will with the big block. Also, unless you are looking for things like accessory brackets or tackling hood clearance issues (like with aftermarket intakes and carb setup's) focus more on small block performance. Dont look for Vette specific things. With early C1-C3 Vettes, everything is pretty generic. Its with the C4-C5 era's that you can look for Vette specific performance improvements. This is mainly because you will have to deal with the computer on board. Or with intakes and such, they may (on C4-C5's) be specific to the year model.

I hope this helps some.
The Computer

Is that actually a good or bad thing? I see it as a good thing because diagnosing problems could be easy. But I also see it as a bad thing because you usually can't take care of computer problems by yourself.

Well, it would pretty much be a daily driver. I don't do any of the racing part, at least not organized racing.:cool
computers BAD!!!

Spent the past three weeks tuning up my 74, timing points and general ignition all have to be tuned together but would rather diagnose and solve my problems over time than having a computer do it and deal with the computer going bad or be limited by an emission legal setup, If buying a vette I would go 74 and before. No emission crap, true dual exhaust, build it how you want.

wamp '74
Aren't some cars old enough so that you don't have to have them tested for emissions? Do they have a number of years for that?

How long has the 350 small block been used in the Corvette for?
I'm a shadetree mechanic who knew nothing before I bought my vette almost 3 years ago. I had not even changed oil before. Working on the Chevy smallblock is easy and fun to learn on. Parts are plentyful from either you local Autozone to your local speed shop. You can spend a little or a lot, the choice is yours. GM produced over 40 million small blocks(according to Car Craft article) since its creation, so you will not find another engine with more available parts.

With the help of this forum and others as well as books and magazines, you can learn very quickly how to fix and service a vette. I've already replaced the heads, rebuilt a carb, rebuilt the powersteering system, replaced brakes and rotors etc...... Again this is with no prior experience working on cars. I even gained enough confidence to work on my wife's Volvo.

I've never had more fun than experiencing the frustration of trying to get a bolt undone that has not been moved in over 20 years. My wife says I smile the most when I have bloody knuckles from working on the car.

As for which year to get, thats a matter of great debate. Its true that the older ones have less emissions restrictions. Check with your state laws. In NC, the law states that all cars over 25 years old are exempt from the sniffer but still require a visual check. I would be more concered about getting a clean and reliable vette as oppossed to the particular year. A solid clean 77 vette is better than a beater 69. You would be supprised how expensive it gets to restore a beater. Just my .02 worth. Also, go to the Idaho Corvette page. They have an article on how to purchase a corvette. Good luck!


my 2 cents

Corvette started putting the catalitic converter on the 75 vette, If your state requires emission then thats why I said pre 75. your high performance bolt-ons (carb, intake, headers, exhaust) are plentiful for these years because they do not have to conform to the emission codes. If you want a 77 I give you a great deal on one, email me.


wamp '74
To add to Wamps comments, if you do purchase a post 73 vette and your state requires all the emissions stuff make sure its all there. Many vette owners have had to spend a small fortune getting their vette emissions legal. What a mess.


I will agree with Jim. The older Vette's, as any old car, are very tons of fun to work on. Unlike Jim, I have been a shade tree mechanic for the past 20 years and have worked on just about everything. However, the Vette is a lot of fun to work on. It is surprising how easy they are to work on. Yes, they are much tighter than the later C4-C5's, especially in the engine compartment. But I have only run into a few areas where they are a real challenge.

If you are going for a daily driver, let me offer this. The later models (C4-C5) that have really updated technology and computer control will probably prove better for a daily driver. Even a later year C3 would be a good option, for this reason and to keep your cost down. This is not to say an early C3 is not reliable. I have driven many an early 70, late 60 car or truck daily with no poblems. However, the later technology engines tend to be more mild mannered than earlier small blocks for daily use. However, with this said, you can learn to work on an earlier model car easier in my opinion.

I know all of this can be confusing. There are arguments on either side of the coin. For what you want, I would say stay late C3 model year. This will give you both worlds. Some computer control and will still be fairly easy to learn to work on.

Good luck
My 88 is a pretty wonderful machine, but I really want to get back to something that has less computers. A more at home mechanic friendly kind of car.

I really wouldn't mind just getting a beater and slowing restoring it since I'm in no rush for a daily driver. Plus, our winters here don't let us drive the 'Vette in the winter.
As per your last post about gettin a 'beater'. I'd be careful of buying a vette that needs tooooo much work! It's easy to dive into a project that'll sink all future bank acct's and never seems to progress or finish! Do what I did. Look for a 'bail-out'! I found a guy (with alot of searching) who was more than ready to bail-out of his project vette. He got caught in this loop of investing too many years and dollars and just wanted out. Alot of good work and dollars were spent, but it was still along way from done. Perfect for me! The paint was done. (did'nt choose the color, but I like it) Some of the drivetrain and suspension had been rebuilt. Parts were purchased for future install for many components of the car. Again, perfect for me! It's not a numbers matching, but that's not me anyways. In my book, I stole this car! Outright, I paid the guy a very fair price according to him. We're both happy! And the car, it's coming along just fine! Best of Luck - Dave
No limit to what's available for C3. :cool

What emission standards?

New cars meet the amended Clean Air Act standards for the first time. "

Find out what you need for your state.

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