This book is, indeed, the essential Corvette powertrain parts reference for the V8-powered Vette's first 27 model years. Some consumers' first reactions might be to question the book's 50-dollar price, but when you consider its depth and detail along with the cost of its considerable research; most C1, 2 and 3 enthusiasts in need of a definitive text on V8 powertrain parts identification will agree the price is justified.
The book begins with a very interesting explanation by author Colvin of how he got started in the business of doing parts ID books, how the Chevrolet parts numbering system worked in the '55-'82 period, how he conducted his extensive research of Chevrolet and General Motors archives, information on how to use the book and his of views on the state of the restoration hobby. In that last section you get Colvin's wry observation, "Knowledge is the ultimate weapon against counterfeit Chevrolet muscle cars." The author's expansion on that thought is well worth reading.
From there, you get more information on Corvette powertrain parts than most people will ever need. Each part type gets a chapter, from engine blocks to rear axles. Want to know information as seemingly trivial as specifications of different harmonic dampers? It's in this book. There is even a chapter for coolant and heater hoses along with chapters on non-powertrain items such as Delco radios and Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) glass.
I became aware of this book through my use of Alan Colvin's outstanding four-book series, "Chevrolet by the Numbers" which documents Chevrolet passenger car V8 powertrain parts used from the 1955 through the 1975 model year. This new book continues that good research and outstanding detail of those books but carries the depth to near extreme by devoting one book to a single model rather than all models.
Oh yeah, there are a few small errors, which seems typical of Bentley Publishing's books of late but, in this case, considering the size of the book, the huge amount of information inside and the low frequency of errors, this is a minor problem. For example: in the chapter on carburetors, the text refers to the Rochester E4ME "electronic Quadrajet" being used on 1981 Corvettes but neglects to note that the same carb was also used on somewhat rare, 1980 California Corvettes with the 305-cuin., LG4 engine. Also, an accompanying chart lists the '81s and the '80 CA cars as using the M4MC when in fact it was the E4ME. The chapter on exhaust manifolds claims Corvettes from '81 to present use stainless steel rather than cast iron as the manifolds' material. That is not correct. From '81-'91 everything was stainless, but from '92-'96, Vette engines, other than the LT5, used cast iron manifolds. From '97-'00 it was back to stainless, but for '01, GM once again switched to cast iron which Corvette has used up to now and will use at least until the end of the '04 model year. Other than a few small errors like this, the book's information is dependably accurate.
"Corvette by the Numbers" is well-researched, easy to read and has a generous amount of illustrations and photos. It has quickly earned a spot on the top shelf of my Vette book case where I keep frequently used reference material. Anyone needing a high-quality textbook on Corvette powertrain parts identification should buy this book. It's well-worth the price.