The Rare 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon

The Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon was never actually made by Chevrolet, it was an aftermarket kit developed for the C3 Corvette that solved its single biggest problem – the lack of usable luggage space.

When the third-generation Corvette was released in 1967, the Corvette proved popular thanks to its shark-inspired style. The only major drawbacks are the fact that there is no trunk lid, and the small luggage area can only be accessed through the car interior behind the seat.

Quick Facts – Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon

  • The Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon was built using kits supplied by a small number of manufacturers in the United States, mainly supplied by Chuck Miller, then by John Greenwood in a redesigned form.
  • The Sportwagon kit includes a new fiberglass rear roof that converts the Corvette C3 into a fire brake (two-door station wagon), greatly increasing the rear cargo area.
  • It is said that the first Sportwagon design was made for a drummer in a rock ‘n roll band who owned a Corvette and wanted to be able to mount his drums in the back.
  • It is not known exactly how many Sportwagons were built as they were sold as kits for home builders, most estimate that only a few dozen were completed.

The Sportwagon – American Shooting Brake

The “Shooting Brake” automotive body style is best described as a two-door station wagon coupe. It is believed to have been invented by the British, with a long rear cargo area used to place weapons and other equipment while hunting – hence the name fire brake.

Image description;  impressionThese two images show the cuts made to fit the Sportwagon (Greenwood) roof onto the standard Corvette C3, the finished car shown on the right.

Relatively few firing brakes are made by major manufacturers, except for cars like the Volvo 1800ES, Reliant Scimitar GTE, Chevrolet Nomad, BMW Z3 Coupé, Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, and the rare Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake.

Many firing brakes have been manufactured by coachbuilders, dating back to the early 20th century. Recently companies like Greenwood are developing their own kits for cars like the Corvette C3 specifically to increase the model’s practicality by increasing cargo space.

Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon

The Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon conversion kit was developed in two stages by two individuals, an idea sparked by Chuck Miller when he was approached by a drummer in a rock band who wanted to be able to incorporate his drum kit into his Corvette C3.

Miller developed a new fiberglass rear roof that would turn the car into a station wagon, or fire brake as the body style is known for in the classic way.

The Corvette has had a fiberglass body since the C1 was first introduced in 1953, this made the fabrication process much easier as it was only a matter of cutting the top of the rear trunk and bonding the new fiberglass roof.

Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon 2

Image description;  impressionThe Sportwagon’s roof design is well-crafted, fits perfectly with the lines of the original car and looks factory-made.

The original design by Miller is undeniably attractive, but it lacks a bit in the practicality department as the rear window stays in place and cannot be opened, this requires that all cargo be loaded through the interior via the folded back seatbacks.

A second design was developed later in the 1970s by John Greenwood, the Greenwood design included an open rear window and a number of other refinements, which significantly increased the overall practicality of the concept.

The Greenwood Sportwagon was first shown at SEMA in 1976 where many orders were taken, then produced by Greenwood for several years as a kit for home builders to match their own Corvette C3.

There are very few examples of the Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon extant, no one knows exactly how many were made where, so they are highly sought after by collectors.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon Shown Here

The car you see here is a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon that uses one of the rare original kits developed by Chuck Miller. Unlike many later Sportwagon conversions this one didn’t have side windows, it was called the “Panelwagon,” and the rear window didn’t open.

Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon 8

Image description;  impressionThe space at the rear of the Sportwagon is much more spacious, making this car much more practical than the original Corvette C3 if you need to carry luggage or other cargo.

The cargo hold is accessed through the interior of the car, you open the door and then lean the seat forward to get it in and out.

The car has a number of other custom touches, the pop-up headlights have been removed to give the car a smoother front, new headlights have been installed behind the black grille up front.

The car is equipped with 15” turbine-style wheels fitted with white lettering BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires, and power assisted four-wheel disc brakes. The interior is upholstered in black vinyl sourced from Al Knoch Interiors in 2021.

Power is provided by a 350 cubic-inch V8 crate engine featuring a single Edelbrock carburetor mounted to the Torker II intake manifold and an HEI distributor.

The car is currently being offered in live online auction at Bring A Trailer from West Harrison, Indiana. At the time of writing there are still a few days left to bid and you can click here to visit the listings.

Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon
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Image courtesy of Bring A Trailer

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