Category: Corvette

The most valuable Corvettes from C1 to C6 – Andrew Newton @Hagerty

The most valuable Corvettes from C1 to C6 – Andrew Newton @Hagerty

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Happy National Corvette Day! This celebration of America’s sports car, which happens to fall just four days before the 4th of July, marks 68 years since the very first Corvette rolled off the line. Chevrolet has sold over 1.75 million examples of America’s favorite two-seater since, spanning eight generations. Each of those generations is distinct, offering a wide range of looks, performance, and price. That means there’s a Corvette for nearly every taste and budget, from four-figure daily drivers to million-dollar historic race cars.

Our Valuation mavens currently track market prices of all regular production Corvettes from the first generation C1 (1953–63) to the sixth generation C6 (2005–13). The lowest #4-condition (Fair) value is $3600 and the highest #1-condition (Concours) value is $3.1M. With a gulf that wide, we can’t possibly cover them all on National Corvette Day, so we figured we would highlight the king of the collectibility hill for each generation. Strap in, Vette fans.

C1 (1953–62): 1953 Corvette Roadster

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $224,000

The 1953 Corvette was the one that started it all, and it’s good to be first. Although its sweet looks wrote a check that its Blue Flame six engine and two-speed Powerglide couldn’t quite cash, it set the Vette down the path to becoming America’s sports car, and for that reason it will always be collectible. With just 300 built, all in Polo White, 1953 is also the Corvette’s rarest year by far.

The Corvette got more refined and quicker as the 1950s went on, so if you want a C1 to drive a later one is probably a better choice. A ’53, meanwhile, serves more to round out a collection. If you’re in love with the ’53’s smooth sides and tail fins, however, a ’54 or a ’55 is a much cheaper alternative. The ’54 is essentially the same car but GM built over 10 times as many examples and a #2-condition car can be had for under $100,000. The 1955, meanwhile, has the looks of the ’53 but introduced the small-block V-8 to the Corvette for the first time. It carries a #2-condition value of $139,000.

C2 (1963–67): 1967 Corvette 427/430-hp L88 Coupe

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $2.5M

The C2’s five-year production run was the Corvette’s shortest, but a lot happened in that time. The car gained independent rear suspension and a coupe model in 1963, added disc brakes and available big-block engines in 1965, lost its optional fuel injection in 1966 (injection returned in 1982), and introduced what would become the most valuable production Corvette of them all–the L88–in 1967.

It’s a legend today, but the L88-powered Corvette was something of a secret back in 1967. Although it was technically available to the public, GM never actively promoted the L88, instead hoping that only serious race teams would order what was the most hardcore Corvette around. The L88 was essentially a competition engine for the road with aluminum cylinder heads, solid-lifter camshaft, and forged pistons for a 12.5:1 compression ratio. 103 octane fuel was required.

To further discourage average Joe from ticking the box for an L88, GM intentionally underrated it at 430 hp, 5 horses fewer than the cheaper L71. Selecting an L88 also added F41 suspension, Positraction, J56 heavy-duty brakes, heavy-duty aluminum radiator, and Muncie M22 four-speed while deleting a heater or radio. This was a Corvette for the track, not the turnpike.

The L88 option was only around for three years, 1967–69. The ’67 version is the only one with the more attractive C2 body. It’s also the rarest with just 20 cars built. By 1968, more people had caught on and 80 of them ordered an L88 that year. In 1969, 116 people ordered one. The last ’67 L88 to hit the open market was earlier this year at Mecum’s Glendale auction, where a Sunfire Yellow coupe sold for $2,695,000.

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Even the malaise-era Chevy Corvette is still fun to drive, and value-priced – David Conwill @Hemmings

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What’s the cheapest Corvette? It’s definitely not 1953 or ’54. The low book value on those doesn’t fall much under $45,000. How about 1958, with its exuberant use of trim? It has an average retail value of nearly $51,000, so probably not. Perhaps a 1965 roadster with a carbureted small-block and an automatic? That’s still $51,500.

Prices for the early third-generation cars (“C3” to most enthusiasts) continue to trail their older siblings. A ’68 Stingray roadster has a book value of $41,800, and the coupe is only $6,700 less. Fast forward a decade, however, and some of the sting had gone out of the Stingray: Big-block engines went away after 1974, the roadster was dropped after 1975, and the Stingray name itself was last seen on a Corvette in 1976 (at least until the C7 model debuted in 2014).

The 1978 Corvette was a heavily restyled car, thanks especially to its large rear greenhouse—somewhat recalling the 1963-’67 coupes. Nevertheless, it’s still recognizably the body that arrived 10 years earlier. The similarities notwithstanding, these days the average ’78 doesn’t quite garner $14,500.

Now, in fairness, 1978 isn’t actually the cheapest third-generation Corvette. For some reason, 1976 holds that distinction—your basic Bicentennial Corvette has an average value of only $12,800. Also, the equipment and condition make all the difference: The aluminum wheels and air conditioning on our feature car, owned by Mike Richards of Peoria, Arizona, bump the average retail up by another $2,000, but it’s still an affordable car by any standard.

It’s also a capable car—despite being from the heart of the much-maligned 1973-’83 “malaise era,” when manufacturers were still struggling to catch up with emissions and safety mandates. At the time, people (mostly automotive journalists) looked down their noses at GM for keeping the basic Corvette chassis in production from 1963. The suspension architecture actually lasted right through the 1982 model year, giving General Motors plenty of time to refine it for whatever purpose it was used. Also, this is a classic car magazine, so when have vintage components ever scared us?

The third-generation Corvette’s 1960s heritage means it can be (and frequently was) turned into a capable mount for competitive road racing. The platform’s use during the brougham period of the 1970s means that it’s also capable of a more luxurious, grand-tourer type of ride. Funny folks called these disco-era ’Vettes “two-seat Buicks,” but ask yourself how much flat-out road racing you do in your muscle car, versus the amount of highway driving.

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The 1996 Grand Sport Corvette celebrates its Silver Anniversary – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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Conjuring up a special edition vehicle to trigger interest and promote higher sales within its model line is a well-established marketing tool that proves most successful when the result offers exclusivity in a captivating package. To those ends, Chevrolet ushered out the C4 Corvette era by offering the daringly hued, striped, and hashmarked Grand Sport coupe and convertible in 1996. Listed under RPO Z16, production was capped at 1,000 cars (ultimately 810 coupes and 190 convertibles) and its powertrain featured the new LT4 5.7-liter V-8 with the familiar ZF six-speed transmission

Borrowing its name from the five legendary 1963 lightweight Corvette race cars developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the 1996 Grand Sport wore Admiral Blue metallic paint that wasn’t offered on other Corvettes and a wide white stripe, both reminiscent of one of the ’63s that A.J. Foyt had raced. Red hashmarks on the left front fender of the C4 also paid homage to identifiers used on three of its C2 namesakes.

The coupe was also fitted with rear wheel-opening flares to contain its P315/35ZR-17 Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires, which were last seen on the then recently departed ZR-1, as were the P275/40ZR-17s up front. The five-spoke ZR-1 style aluminum wheels were painted black but maintained a bright outer lip, and they measured 17 x 9.5 in front and 17 x 11 out back. Convertibles retained the standard Corvette’s 255/45ZR-17s fore and 285/40ZR-17s aft on 17 x 8 and 17 x 9.5 wheels respectively (also with ZR-1 styling), thus no rear flares were needed. The brake calipers were painted black, and those in front sported “Corvette” callouts.

Embroidered “Grand Sport” lettering adorned the perforated-leather-upholstered power-operated Sport seats with lumbar support in the black or red/black interior. Floor mats and carpeting were also black.

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The Corvette Debuted 68 Years Ago – Elizabeth Blackstock @Jalopnik

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On January 17, 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette prototype was unveiled at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City at Motorama. But the car that we recognize today as synonymous with (relatively) accessible sportiness wasn’t as loved when it first appeared.

(Welcome to Today in History, the series where we dive into important historical events that have had a significant impact on the automotive or racing world. If you have something you’d like to see that falls on an upcoming weekend, let me know at eblackstock [at] jalopnik [dot] com.)

Harley Earl, head designer over at GM at the time, was convinced that a two-seater sports car was the way to go, and introducing a good one could make an impression in what was then a European-dominated market. People were curious, so Chevy had to make sure it filled its expectations.

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How the Corvette’s chassis evolved over more than 60 years – Mike McNessor @Hemmings

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Yes, the Corvette is about style and horsepower. But the car’s handling is what set the stage for all of those ‘Vette versus Porsche 911 magazine covers over the years. No matter what vintage, the Corvette was built with an eye toward being the best-driving sports car for the buck that it could possibly be. So, let’s put aside the fiberglass, the engines, and everything else for just a moment and look at how the Corvette’s underpinnings have evolved over the years.

Generation 1: 1953-’62 If you’re a traditionalist, you’ll find plenty to like under the first-generation Corvette. The chassis is an adaptation of Chevrolet’s 1949-’54 cars, but it soldiered on until the ’63 redesign—even after all other Chevrolet automobile front ends were updated in ’55. The earliest Corvettes bounced on front coil springs with upper and lower control arms bolstered by a stabilizer bar. While that was fairly cutting edge by prewar or immediate-postwar standards, it still used kingpins to mount the spindles, limiting the range of motion and also making accurate front end alignment tricky. Steering was accomplished by a worm-and-sector style box with a pitman arm attached to a drag link that connected to a third arm. The third arm then, in turn, moved the tie rods that turned the spindles. While the setup wasn’t complicated, it wasn’t as precise or smooth as you might expect from a sports car, even by 1950s standards. The first Corvettes also had the distinction of being the only ones equipped with a solid rear axle. The Corvette rear used a removable third member like Chevrolet passenger cars through 1964, and the housing was hung from longitudinal leaf springs with direct double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers. While not as exotic as an independent axle, it was a simple, durable, and infinitely rebuildable setup. The foundation for the original Corvette chassis was a sturdy perimeter frame with boxed rails and a massive X-member tying the two sides together. This was a common approach to eliminating chassis flex in an open-top car, but it added weight.

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1952 Ford F-100 Is Fully Custom, Restomodded With LT1 Corvette V8 Engine –

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1952 was the final year for the original F-Series pickup, and the most powerful engine that Ford offered for the half-ton model was the Flathead V8 with 239 cubic inches of displacement. The F-100 we’ll talk about today is a little different under the hood, though.

1952 Ford F-100

Not only did it win “First Place for Outstanding Engine and Interior at the ISCA Summit Racing Equipment Auto Show,” but the single cab in the photo gallery sports a Corvette powerplant from the small-block family. The LT1, to be more precise, and the automatic transmission comes from General Motors as well.

The Turbo Hydra-Matic 700R4 is one of the finest choices you can make for a restomod. Smooth but also stout, the four-speed gearbox switched from hydraulic logic shifting to electronic in 1993 when it was known as the 4L60. 1987 and newer transmissions are extremely popular with race, street, and even off-road builds.

Turning our attention back to the custom truck with sparkling light tan over brown paintwork and a bright orange pinstripe, the Ford F-100 “took over a year to build” according to Worldwide Auctioneers. Offered at no reserve, the go-faster pickup features a TCI chassis with chrome plated arms, Coy wheels, and Nitto radials.

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CHEVROLET’S RESPONSE TO VIPER IS A ZR-1 SS PROTOTYPE

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Former GM Heritage Center Corvette Donated to Museum

In the late 80s, Chevrolet was not-so-secretly developing what some dubbed a ‘Super Vette.’ But at the 1989 New York Auto Show, it was the debut of the Dodge Viper RT/10, complete with a 488-cid V-10 engine that sent GM engineers on a new path to develop a ‘Viper-Killer.’ Dodge credited the ’65 Shelby 427 Cobra as the inspiration for the Viper, but the model wouldn’t be available until 1992.

By 1990, then Corvette Development Manager, John Heinricy, had three projects for his engineering team to tackle, which would affect future Corvettes:

1) Response to the Viper: The newest Corvette adversary would soon arrive, a car that was light weight, utilized simple technology, but wielded brutal power. Heinricy wanted to study ways to lighten their ZR-1, should Chevrolet need to “skin the snake.”

2) Drop the Pounds: New safety regulations added more weight to the Corvette, which in turn decreased fuel economy. With the gas-guzzler tax looming, GM faced reduced performance to make up the difference, and they couldn’t afford that either. Lightning the weight of the car would improve the speed and efficiency.

3) Ideas and Innovation: A new product would bring the team together and inspire new ideas from the development engineers.

With a common theme flowing between these ideas, it made sense to use the same car for development. A white non-saleable 1989 ZR-1, which had been used in Chevrolet’s 1990 model year media preview, was hand-picked (VIN 00081). It was one of only 84 production ZR-1s built in Bowling Green for evaluation, testing, media preview and photography. No 1989 ZR-1s were released for public sale initially, but several have since found their way into private hands.

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Cemented in history: Entombed 1954 Corvette joins museum’s collection – Larry Edsall @Classiccars.com

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In 1954, Richard Sampson, a successful business owner in Brunswick, Maine, bought a new Chevrolet Corvette.

Cemented in history: Entombed 1954 Corvette

“After driving it for four years, he wanted to park it somewhere safe,” reports the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentuck

Cemented in history: Entombed 1954 Corvette

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Related – Through the generosity of donors, the National Corvette Museum hopes to grow its collection

NOS, in the GM crate, 1963 (64-65) Rochester Fuel Injection Unit 7017375

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Rochester Fuel Injection Unit

Rochester Fuel Injection Unit

Very Rare part for that special restoration, 1963 Corvette Z06, split window coupe or simply adding to the parts collection. Part number is 7017375, but can be used on 64-65 vettes too, part # 7017380.

The listing is here

Related – STU HILBORN – INCREDIBLE INJECTOR MAN

 

 

Bill Mitchell’s wife didn’t drive an ordinary Corvette – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

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Happy wife, happy life.

Bill Mitchell’s wife didn’t drive an ordinary Corvette

Drop the term COPO, or Central Office Production Order, and most enthusiasts conjure up images of big-block-powered Camaros. The COPO program had more pedestrian roots, however, and was typically used by dealers to special order de-contented vehicles for fleet sales. Sometimes, it served other purposes, too, such as when GM head of design Bill Mitchell wanted to order a new 1967 Corvette convertible for his wife, Marian.

Mitchell had a particular fondness for the second-generation Corvettes, citing a Bahamas diving trip as his inspiration for the Larry Shinoda-designed Corvette Sting Ray. Around April 1967, four months before the third-generation Corvettes entered production, Mitchell reportedly placed an order for a Corvette roadster, using the COPO system with the assistance of Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Read the article here

Related – A farewell to the front-engine Corvette on Route 66