In July 1967, Chevrolet invited journalists to test drive its upcoming ’68 models at what we call a “long lead” in our business. The name comes from the long amount of time print publications required (and still do) between when a story is generated and when it is published. Having the long-lead preview in July meant Chevy could count on coverage of its new models hitting the newsstands in the fall, when the cars would start appearing in showrooms.
While the press had the full line of Chevy products to sample (can you identify all the models in the photo?), the hit of the ’68 event was, by far, the all-new Corvette. Yes, the Chevelle and El Camino were rebodied for the year, as was the Nova. But journalists expended most of their column inches—and dug deep for some pretty gushing praise—on the third-generation Vette.
Dan Roulston was no different. As Editor of Car Craft, he was at the long lead gathering information for a story on “Detroit’s ’68 Drag Stockers” that would appear in the Oct. ’67 issue. His assessment of the new Vette: “Chevrolet has electrified automotive enthusiasts everywhere with the introduction of their almost legendary Mako Shark as a production line unit.” How good was the redesign? The excitement it generated, Roulston wrote, would trickle down to even the Corvair, “the car you didn’t think would be around this year.”
While its styling was the Corvette’s “immediate appeal,” he wrote, “once you get past the swoopy front end, removable top panels, the aesthetic and functional rollbar, removable rear window and the ‘Karated’ rearend—it’s chopped—you will find an impressive array of powertrain combinations that should give you just what you always wanted.” Those powertrains, he noted, ranged from “a pair of 327 inchers” plus “390, 400 and 435 horsepower versions of the brutish 427.”
Inside the new Vette, “you simply blow your mind. It’s wild!” Roulston wrote. Just sitting in the new bucket seats will make your “ego grow. From the ‘clean’ exterior, move inside to the detailed instrument panel and console with aircraft-type gauges. If Lindbergh’s ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ had been equipped with this much instrumentation, he could have flown around the world instead of just to Paris.”
As if that weren’t praise enough, he said this about the Vette’s driving experience: “Pop the coupe roof panels, remove the rear window, stow them in the luggage compartment and hang loose for the most sophisticated open-air driving you have ever enjoyed—and enjoy it you will.”
“Corvette,” he said in sum, “is a car for a happening to happily happen in.”