Classic Car Watch

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

July 1, 2009
By Scott Lewis

I don't look at Corvettes much because my favorite years are usually out of my price range, and the price range for this column. But I wanted to see what was out there. My favorite years are the 1968-1972 "Mako Shark" or "Chrome Bumper" Corvettes.

Since I don't expect to find many, if any, nice examples for less than $15K I decided to see if $20,000 would be enough. It turned out to be just enough. I was able to find a few under $20K that look like they would make good drivers.

To show how you can save money by looking at "off" years, I included a few cars from the "plastic bumper" years (73-81). I skipped looking at 1982 because of the lame Crossfire Injection.

Let's see what's out there.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette - $19,900

Description: Corvette Stingray, # match 350, at, Cold A/C, ps, power disc, T-tops, tilt/tele, blue on black, tons new, excellent condition!

Source: Just Muscle Cars

Found: 4/6/2009

Comments: This is the car that started me looking for "affordable" chrome bumper Corvettes. A numbers matching Vette with A/C in blue (my favorite color) for just under $20K. How could I not start checking around to see what else was available.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette - $18,500

Description: Numbers matching L48-350, Turbo 400 trans, factory air, power windows, power steering and brakes, n37 tilt-telescopic steering column, new carpet and door panels, new am/fm/cass radio, last year for chrome front bumper, excellent driver.

Source: Ken's Classic Cars

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: From the pictures this would be my first choice to call. It is $1,400 cheaper than the car above that started this, plus the engine compartment looks more stock. Overall I just like Corvettes in this style... and in blue. I would love to see both of these cars side by side on a lot.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette - $18,000

Description: 1969 Corvette Stingray, with lockable T-Tops, original engine, original 4-speed transmission, original rear end, air conditioning, seats and carpets replaced with Mid-America products. Paint is Jalapeno Red and new Firestone tires and custom rims.

Source: Auto Trader Classic

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: Did this guy raid the Starsky & Hutch movie set to get these wheels. Slotted mags are way wrong for this car... they will have to go. But this car has a number of compelling features. First, it is an Arizona car. Although Corvettes are fiberglass, they still have steel frames that can rust. That should not be an issue here. Next is the color. I realize the limited number of pictures only show so much, but that color really pops in the first photo. Finally this car has the original engine with a 4 speed and A/C, how can I pass that up. Definitely worth a call.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette - $17,900

Description: L46 350-350hp # matching, 4 speed, ps, 4 wheel disc, T-tops, Rallye wheels, factory am/fm, protect-o-plate, original bill of sale, Excellent Shape!

Source: Just Muscle Cars

Found: 5/10/2009

Comments: If this car had A/C it would be at the top of the list. The pictures look good, and I like the overall look, even if it is not blue. However, this car does have the protect-o-plate, which is a nice thing to have come restoration time, or when selling. It would be a tough choice with some of the cars here. I would want to see this car in person before writing it off.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette - $18,900

Description: Code correct LeMans Blue exterior, code correct Black leather interior. Numbers matching 300hp 350ci engine, automatic transmission. This car has many original and correct parts, and drives very nicely as well. Paint is average, looking to be an older job. Chrome on this car looks to be original, and shows normal wear. Weatherstripping also appears to be original, and is mostly intact. Interior is very original and complete, with possibly original leather seat covers which are in overall good driver condition. Factory features include alarm system, air conditioning, power brakes, power windows, power steering, automatic transmission, AM/FM radio, deluxe interior.

Source: Buyavette Inc.

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: I was able to see some body/paint issues above the front bumper on this car. If you can see that on the picture above what more would be revealed by a close inspection? But this car is blue with a numbers matching engine and air conditioning, so it meats my main criteria. Couldn't hurt to take a closer look.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette - $19,995

Description: 73,584 actual miles. Powered by the original 350 V8 engine that has been rebuilt and freshened up and the factory 4 speed manual transmission. Finished in Ontario Orange with original Black leather interior. Equipped with headers, aftermarket CD player, factory gauge package, polished aluminum wheels, tilt steering, body colored T-Tops, new rear speakers, sub woofer, and dual exhaust. This is a beautiful looking corvette with mostly original paint. The interior still looks good with no major changes needed. The Frame and Body mounts are solid and rust free. Bright work is clean and shows very well. The weather stripping is still in good shape. The engine is highly detailed and is pushing about 370hp. Comes with complete documentation including receipts for work done.

Source: Holt Auto Sales

Found: 4/23/2009

Comments: This one is a hot rod. These wheels look a lot better than the slotted mags elsewhere on this list. Too bad it doesn't have A/C. The color looks excellent... though not blue. With this car you are hoping the engine mods are well done. Take a close look at this one and be careful. If the mods are well sorted out this could be a nice, fast Vette.

1972 Chevrolet Corvette - $15,900

Description: Ontario Orange Exterior/Saddle Leather Interior, 350/200H.P. Numbers Matching, Turbo-400 Automatic Transmission, Option Include: Power Steering, Power Disc Brakes, Air Conditioning, Tilt-Tele Steering Column, Deluxe Interior Trim, Shoulder Belts, AM/FM Radio, Soft Ray Tinted Glass, & Rally Wheels w/RWL Radial Tires. This is a true 1-owner car purchased on 4/8/72 at Jay Mark Chevrolet in Laport TX. and comes complete with all the documentation (original bill of sale, Protect-O-Plate and owners manual). The car was repainted its original Ontario Orange in the late 80s and the engine was rebuilt 4000 miles ago. Excellent example of a perfect 1972 Corvette!

Source: Corvettes Only of Denver

Found: 5/29/2009

Comments: You will notice this is the lowest priced chrome bumper Vette I found that I liked enough to put on this list. This means I should be able to find a decent driver with the options I want for under $20K. Those options are... numbers matching engine, A/C, and preferably blue in color. I could go either way on a transmission... auto or 4 speed.

This car has everything... chrome bumpers, numbers matching engine, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The only thing missing is power windows, and the color blue. I can live with it. From the pictures this looks like a decent driver quality car. I would love to see it in person and try to buy it. Too bad I don't have the cash... yet.

1974 Corvette Convertible - $28,995

Description: NCRS second flight award with 78,694 actual miles, and less than 200 of those miles have been since its complete restoration. This car has had a complete body off restoration including complete motor rebuild, transmission rebuild, and a complete suspension rebuild including body mounts, brakes, and brake lines. Powered by the original numbers matching 350 with original automatic transmission. Finished in Corvette Medium Blue (recently repainted) with fully restored original Dark Blue interior. Fully restored 3 owner Corvette. Equipped with power steering, power windows, power disc brakes, Rallye wheels, all properly working gauges, and BFG tires. This Corvette comes with both a blue hard top painted to match the car and a new white soft top. This Vette was judged and awarded the second flight by NCRS, and it really shows the quality and time spent restoring this beautiful Corvette. You wont find a nicer one around.

Source: Holt Auto Sales

Found: 4/23/2009

Comments: Once we get past the chrome bumpers the price usually starts falling off. However, I wanted to show this car. Yes, it is well above the $20K limit I set, but if this car is as good as they say it might be worth it. It would cost more than $29K to do a good quality, frame off restoration on one of these cars... and the NCRS award should prove that.

1977 Chevrolet Corvette - $12,495

Description: Powered by a 350 V8 engine with 4 speed manual transmission. 60,609 miles. Finished in Bright Blue with Black cloth interior. Equipped with power steering, power 4 wheel disc brakes, power windows, air conditioning, factory radio, factory gauges, floor mats, remote mirrors, manual locks, body colored t-tops, Corvette rally wheels, and dual exhaust. 4 speeds are very rare in this body style and are highly sought after.

Source: Holt Auto Sales

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: Let's start with blue for the plastic bumper Vettes. This car has everything I want. Numbers matching engine, air conditioning and the color. The 4 speed is a bonus. Better yet, this fits in my usual $15K budget for this column. If you are going to save some money on a classic Vette this is the way to go.

Note: While researching a future column I saw the price of this car change. It was listed at $12,495 on sale from $14,995. Cool! It pays to keep checking... and always assume the price is negotiable.

1974 Chevrolet Corvette - $10,900

Description: Auto, A/C, Racing Green Metallic with Light Pinstriping, side pipes, front spoiler, chrome under hood, Indy 500 White letter tires, Rallye wheels, stored 14 years then reconditioned.

Source: Auto Trader Classics

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: This was the lowest priced Corvette I could warm up to. At this price we are surely looking for a driver quality car. So a quick inspection should tell us if it is nice enough to drive without being embarrassed by it.

1979 Chevrolet Corvette - $17,900

Description: L-82 4 speed with only 44,000 original miles. Red with oyster leather interior. Just purchased from longtime female adult owner. Options include A31 power windows, C49 rear window defogger, C60 air conditioning, D35 sport mirrors, L82 high performance motor, close ratio 4 speed transmission, N37 tilt/telescopic steering column, UN3 AM/FM stereo cassette. This car has just been completely serviced and has had new stainless steel brake calipers, brake pads, new exhaust, fresh tune up and all fluids changed. This beautiful Corvette runs and drives excellent. No squeaks or rattles. Under the hood the original L82 motor is untouched and even still has the original smog pump. Never used in bad weather and the underside shows this as it is extremely clean and rust free. Only 4,062 4 speed Corvettes were built in 1979 out of a production run of 53,807 total units built.

Source: Northwest Auto Sales

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: After the LT-1 went by the way side as emissions standards choked the performance out of these car, the L-82 was its replacement. That does not mean the L-82 provided good performance. It didn't. This car probably has no more than 220 hp. But the foundations is the key here. The L-82 engine had all the right parts in the bottom end. Forged steel crack, forged connecting rods, 4-bolt main block and forged pistons. In other words... if you were going to add some aftermarket cylinder heads & camshaft to get better performance, this is the engine to start with.

Other than the L-82 there is nothing special here. It is not blue and I don't prefer the "bubble" rear window (later made into a hatch). I prefer the upright, tucked in rear windows of the earlier years (see the blue 77 above). But that L-82 is hooked to a 4 speed and has air conditioning. I think those options are worth consideration.

1980 Chevrolet Corvette - $15,900

Description: 1980 Corvette 350, automatic, A/C, tilt/telescopic wheel, power windows and remote mirror. Nice paint and very clean "cloth" interior. Frame is rust free, no issues. Mileage is a low 57,829. Very nice driving car and everything works as it should.

Source: Northwest Auto Sales

Found: 5/9/2009

Comments: I love this color combination. It is only part blue, but this two tone paint scheme from the factory was a huge hit with me when these were new. By 1980 the performance of this car was all in its reputation, and none of it on the street. I bet this car's engine is rated at less than 200 hp. Meaning any and every V-6 coupe today could probably beat it in a straight line. That's what the aftermarket is for. The first this to do is get rid of that dorky padded steering wheel cover. In fact, do it before buying, in case it is covering a cracked steering wheel. Then get rid of the dorky cup holders. Who needs them?

This car will be a cruiser until we can fill it with some performance enhancements. But that should not be much trouble as all Corvettes from 68-82 are essentially the same under the skin. Performance parts are easy. And I live in San Antonio where we don't have tailpipe emissions testing... yet.

1981 Chevrolet Corvette - $12,900

Description: Ivory exterior, Saddle leather interior, Glass tops, Working smog equipment, Automatic, 67,000 miles - stated on title, Cold A/C, Aluminum intake,
New tires, Very clean!

Source: Vintage Motors of Sarasota

Found: 5/31/2009

Comments: You have got to love it when they show you how cold the A/C is blowing. And from the pictures (there where more on the web site) it really does look very clean. This is the second lowest priced Vette here. However, the 74 Corvette above has a butt crack. That's right. Go on the internet and search for pictures of the rear bumper of a 74 or 75 Corvette. The rear bumper is in two pieces, giving the appearance of the car having a butt crack. It took Chevrolet a couple of years to get the hang of the plastic bumpers and making it a one piece affair. So, although I listed the 74 above for its low price, I would be hard pressed to get a 74 or 75.

I remember when the 1980 Corvette came out with this front and rear treatment. They looked very sharp. I still like it. I really like the low mileage. It's like buying a regular used car to drive around every day. And at this price that is exactly what I would do.