Corvette Lovers......Need some buying Info!

netshoundJune 10, 2007

Hi All, A family member of mine is beginning to look at Corvettes. Is there any year or model they should stay away from? Any that have certain common problems? They are looking at the 70's and 80's. Any info would be much appreciated. They've waited a long time to be able to purchase thier "dream" car and the day is finally here so they don't want to make a mistake!

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I wouldn't describe myself as a corvette lover. I do have an '87 that I drive every day. From your post, I'm guessing you're more interested in the c-3 series, 1968-1982, than the c-4 series, 1984-1996.

Neither c-3's or c-4's are worth a lot of money at this time, so be carefull not to over spend. $10k will get you about as nice of a driver as you can get till you get into the 1990's or so. Expect to pay into the teens for a good 1993-1996, but if you drive it, it will depreciate.

These cars are 20-30 years old now and WILL have old car issues regardless of how many miles are on it, what you paid for it, or what the previous owner did to it. If it's going to be a driver, general consensis is the newer the better.

Don't buy one looking at it as an investment. It's not. I would recommend not buying one if you don't want to or can't do most of your own repairs. After buying one, your next purchase should be a factory service manual, not one of the phony ones you can get anywhere, but the real deal. It'll cost $100 or more but will pay for itself the first time you use it. Good news is you can buy just about any part for any of these cars through Year One, Mid America, Corvette Central, ect.
The link below will take you to guys who can tell you anything you want to know about any year. Also how to do any repair or modification you can think of.

Bumped my keyboard by accident so if there's a double post, I apologize.

Here is a link that might be useful: corvette site

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 11:53AM
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Are there any years that are notorious for certain problems or are there any years that are better than others all-around?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 12:08PM
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They are all old cars now so they're all going to have more issues than normal. Many problems that existed when the cars were new have no doubt been repaired or upgraded by now on the cars that have been maintained.

Here's what I remember. 1968, the first year of the c3's, was pretty much a basket case off the lot. They just didn't have all the bugs worked out at the time. Those from 1973 on up to 1981 were better from a fit and finish and everything working ok stand point, but as muscle cars go, a bit of a disappointment.

Common problems on all the c4 series cars are water leaks that run down the moulding along the windshield and drip by the door, intermittant no start condition due to VATS (vehicle anti theft system) problems, 'Bose' stereo system problems if so equiped, and headlight motor problems. The early ones, can't remember which ones for sure, 1984-1988 at least, have a digital dash that can malfunction.

1991 and later have what's called the LT-1 engine. It has an 'opti-spark' ignition system that causes problems. The distributor is mounted in front of the engine under the water pump. It's a pretty hostile environment there to begin with, and if the water pump starts to leak, it leaks on top of the ignition system often times taking it out. Costly repair if you have to pay someone to do it. Several hundred even if you do it yourself.

Except on the earliest c3 vettes, the front and rear bumpers are made of some kind of plastic. In time those parts warp badly. They can be replaced but it's not cheep or easy. Replacement bumpers made of fiberglass can be purchased. That will stop the warping problem, but then if you bump into something, it doesn't bend and bounce back like the original, it just breaks.

All of them are made of some form of fiberglass. That creates a host of potential problems of it's own. For example, the air conditioning compressor on many cars of this era leak a little oil. That oil gets slung onto the underside of the hood. No big deal if it's a steel hood. Vettes are fiberglass. The oil sometimes wicks through to the painted surface which of coarse causes it to lift off at that spot. If that happens, time for a new hood. There is no fix that I know of.

Same thing will happen if someone used a chemical stripper to remove original paint. If someone's done that, it's pretty much ruined. You can prep and paint it and it will look good for a couple years. Then the paint will either blister or fall off in sheets.

Kind of hard to find correct tires for the '84-'87s. You can buy them but the selection is pretty limited. They're also kind of spendy.

Don't know if any of that's what your looking for. The point to remember is these are old cars and are always going to need something if you drive them. For many owners, it's part transportation, part hobby. For others it's just a hobby.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 3:10PM
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Thanks for all the info. I'll pass it along to the future buyer. If anyone else has anything to add, please feel free. Any info is very much appreciated!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:38PM
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They had an episode on the Speed channel all about the older corvetes!! talking about the plus and minues of each of the years!! I instantly recalled this post,lol I was half asleep so don't really recall any info, but maybe u can search and find some info on it??

Here is a link that might be useful: Speed

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 4:23AM
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Check out the price of car insurance for it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 9:03PM
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Car insurance is'nt an issue with them. They just want to make sure they are happy with the purchase and hope they don't wish they had bought a diffrent year.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 7:00AM
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not sure what references you've been looking at but the early model "c-3's" (68 through 74 with the chrome bumpered 68-72 leading the pack) are quite desirable and commanding some big bucks. These were performance cars before the smog years of ~75 and on. you could still get a variety of engine options. The mighty ZL-1 is in this category as are 427's and 454's.

"c-4's" are you're best bet for short money and I think the prices of the ZR-1's are a steal these days. Just my 0.02

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 11:56PM
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**not sure what references you've been looking at but the early model "c-3's" (68 through 74 with the chrome bumpered 68-72 leading the pack) are quite desirable and commanding some big bucks.**

From memory mostly. I was a dealership mechanic in the 70's. Worked on and drove most of them except '82. Went to work in a truck shop then. I drive an '87 every day and interact with other people who own that series (c-4). I am under the impression the poster is looking for a driver, not an expensive show car. So, I'm looking at it from a what goes wrong with them rather than what's it worth perspective.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 12:02PM
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