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Buying first Corvette

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I'm still looking for that perfect first Corvette and I've found another one that I hope you all can help me to evaluate. It's a 1979, L82, 4-speed. It's silver with red leather interior. The interior condition is pretty good. There is one small tear in the carpet on the passenger side. There is also some slight darkening of the red leather around some of the corners. Other than that the interior is great. The exterior also looks very good. Everything visually appears to be straight and in-line. There are a few small paint nicks that have been touched up. The engine runs very strong and sounds great. It has a little over 25000 miles on it (I'm being told they are original miles). Researching this car is going to be tough because this car is currently owned by a dealership. However, it sounds like they may be able to get enough records together that would almost "prove" the mileage. The asking price is around $15900. It sounds like they are willing to come down to about $13500 if I pester them enough. All the electronics appear to work fine, headlights work, air conditioning works, stereo works, etc.

Does anybody have any help they can provide? Is this way too much to pay for a 1979 L82?

Thanks in advance for the help!!!!
I've posted before about buying a Corvette and it seems a lot of people think that anything much over $11000 is rediculous for a 1979. I'm just wondering - where are you guys buying your cars??!! To find an L82 4-speed has been quite difficult. Especially finding one in my part of the country. Maybe you guys can give me tips on where to look. I've scoured the internet for hours searching for the car that I want. Name a web site that sells Corvettes and I've been to it. I've kept up with local (and even not-so-local) newspaper classifieds. I've spoken with people in local Corvette clubs. I've checked dealerships and classic car dealers, etc., etc., etc..... Can someone please give me some more ideas of how to find my car?

I have another question...When most of you found your Corvettes, were they "fixer-upers" or were they "ready to show"?

Again, thanks very much for all your help!!!!

I think that you would br better looking around locally for a vette. Any dealership or Corvette sales lot is going to be high. If you want to go to a corvette lot just offer them 5 grand under what they said was there low price. A friend of mine just bought a 92 for 12,000 w/80,000 miles but it had been owned by a older woman who had it serviced properly. He also bought a 93 for 18,000 but that only had 17,000 miles on it. These were thru car lots but you can do better elsewhere.
In the year range your looking I would think you could find a nice driver for about 8000/9000 bucks. That would be something with a new motor or nearly new motor. Remember one thing "EVERYONE LIKES CORVETTES" but not everyone is going to buy a 20+ year old car for 8000.00 so this means there is a limited amount of buyers out there and this is in your favor.
Keep checking the paper and offer them according to what was done to the car recently.
I went to look at a 79 when I was looking and it was listed as 8700 dollars, but said it was 90% restored. When we got there it was 90% decomposed. So beware of what you are told.
Good luck
Price guides are good, but are a reflection of what dealers are getting for the cars as they are the ones that report to the pricing guide company. Dealer prices are kind of strange on the old vettes. Most of the dealers are making a killing doing in house and buy here pay here financing. There are a lot of old vettes running around out there that the owner still has no idea what they are even paying for the car. That is because and as you have found they sell the car as, $2,500 down and $200 a month. You can't get a straight answer as to the cash price, or what interest rate unless you push them.

In fact, most of the larger chain Vette dealers would much rather you bought the car on time rather than pay cash anyway. So, you are seeing some strange prices. Any of us that have tried to sell our cars on our own will flat out tell you that you just can't get that kind of money out of them.

We had an 89 six speed and tried selling it on our own for months at $9,500 (back in 97). Had several calls and a couple of people came and looked in person. Finally, I took it to a local dealer and sold it to them for $8,500. Here is the funny thing. No sooner did they take the car then they turned around and sold it with in house financing for $11,500. I ran into the new owner at a gas station about six months later. Where was he when I tried to sell it for two thousand less?????? Oh, that is right, I could not finance it for him so I was SOL (sorry out of luck).

So, what am I saying here, I have no idea.........it is just a numbers game and a patients game. Most of the time you get a better deal from an individual if you have cash in hand. Then again, some individuals get ahold of those price guides and then jack prices out of site. It is up to you as the buyer sometimes to EDUCATE the seller on why they can't ask $16,000 for a 79 as they are not a dealer and are not in a position to provide in house financing to you, any warranty, gurantee, or additional services. Let me say that another way. If you find a nice 79 with a private owner for $16,000, offer them $9,000 cash and see what happens. If they won't take that, then ask if they will personally hold the note for the difference, provide a limited six month warranty, and a professional detail and service at time of delivery. I guarantee 99% of the folks are not going to do that, and thus they have to sell for less. Yes, your bank or credit union will finance for you, and they use the same price guide as a jump off point, but they are reluctant to give long terms or low rates on these older cars. Thus, you may be making (for a shorter term) a higher payment then you could go out and buy a six year old Vette for at a longer term.

If you want a good deal have the cash in hand first. That is the only way to pull off a good deal. A private seller wants to sell the car and doesn't want to wait on you to get it finansed. He may be asking 12 grand but may take 9grand for it. Most people ask high hoping someone who is unaware will come along and pay it. If a good buyer comes along they will drop the price knowing they were asking too much anyway.
Chris is right about the buy here pay here scam (poor choice of words but accurate). How they work is :

1. Charge way too much for the car as the buyer doesnt have cash for get that sweet deal someway else.

2. Usually theres a good size down payment.

3. They usually have you pay by the week so it looks like you only have a small payment (say 200 bucks). Well 200 x4 is $800 a month. Well you can probably buy a 40,000 car for 800 a month payments.

4. Well you go for it anyway cuz you just gotta have that vette you fell in love with at first glance.

5. Now after two months of payments you figure out you can"t afford this and miss a payment. Well guess what they repo the car the next day. The car lot keeps your downpayment and all the other payments you made and still owns the car. So now next week they can sell it again to someone else and make the same deal. If they are lucky they can keep turning the car over and over.

6. If the buyer decides he can make the payments any keeps the car "who cares" as you are probably paying him at 30% interest rate anyway. They just go another car at the auction.
Well that was a bit of information

Bottom line....

Your cash
(or payments..however you slice it, your sweat).

You want a car.

You don't want to pay any more than it's worth.

You need money to fix it your way.

The ONLY leverage you have is compitetion
How much will that person sell his for????

and greed


Remember MOST car salespeople get paid on, yes you guessed it..SALES.....

No sale, No Dough

Private parties are a bit more reasonable, and certianly more honest.

Try www.CollectorCarTraderOnline.com
they publish
Corvette & Chevy Trader

The more you know... the better choice you can make.


I think they use helium in the pump for setting the price. But no more then the 15.9K.However I agree that Corvette & Chevy trader is high but it's a start.A good place to look online. I am looking there to get information.. I typically buy private party... always scrounging for deals.

It's frustrating

I know that you've really been patient for your Vette, dsosborne. It's hard to resist and not just dive in, so you can get a car that you really want. The thing you want to avoid, is not just buyer remorse, but regret. I know people who have had horrible experiences buying a car and still having to pay on a note for a car that they do not want. My future brother-in-law decided to lease a Jeep Grand Cherokee, earlier this year, that has been in the shop three times for a/c problems. He just wanted a newer car so bad that instead of waiting for the right deal to come along, he bought the first thing that looked good. Now he's stuck with the Jeep for 18 more months. The worse part of it, is that this is the second time he has put himself in the same situation. Some people are a glutton for punishment.
Maybe you guys can give me tips on where to look.
Well, if there are any car shows going on around you, see if those owners are considering selling their car. If not, they usually know of someone who wants to. Right after Christmas, bills start piling on people who overspent or are in the red. They need to sell something and it's the toys (Corvettes) that go first. Maybe the better deals are right around the corner. I know you've heard it before, so all I can do is give my opinion. Either way you choose, I hope that you end up happy. :) --Bullitt
I have been trying to decide for the last two weeks what Vette to buy.

I first found an 1981 that looks really nice (new paint and interior) with 42000 miles on it. The dealer was asking $17,900.00 for it and I could only get them down to $15,000.00 but the financing stunk. I think it was some type of lease to buy deal $3500.00 down, $268.00 per month for 60 months and then a $5000.00 buy out at the end. This car will cost be about $25000.00 if I went the full term on it.

Then I found a great 1996 with 46000 miles on it, that dealer wants $20400.00 for the car. $4000.00 down and $383.00 for 60 months then I own it.

Also found a 1982 Collectors Edition with 36000 miles on it that needs no body work but does need paint and a new rug and leather seat covers. They are asking $16900.00 and I could only get them to $12000.00 but the same type of financing deal as the first one.

Any thoughts?

Oh ya..... I also found for $5000.00 about three hours from me a 1982 with 120000 miles on the body and 17000 miles on a new Jasper motor, trans, radiator and water pump. The paint is lifting and there are several cracks on the front of the body. The interior has a mildew smell and needs to be redone. Car drove fine but when I got out I noticed a line on both fenders where it looked like work had been done. After asking they told me that the owners wife had "tapped" something and the front nose was repaired/replaced. Why would they cut the fenders an fiber glass on the piece instead of installing an entire door to door clip for a $1000.00?
Owning a C3 and C4 has taught me one thing. Clean straight Sharks are few and far between. Blue book of $6600 for a mint 82 is a joke. I'll buy every one out there today at that price. It's obvious that the C4 does not command the price that the Shark does. I have not seen a shark under 11k that I would even consider unless I was anticipating a full restoration. My 85 is mint and I couldn't get close to the price I can get for my 82 which is in excellent condition. It's simply a question of inventory. Supply and demand, not to mention how sweet the Shark looks:cool
The best deal in town right now is the C4. If I were to look for another C3 I would go to the west coast. Word is there is a large inventory of clean cars. I know you're won't find many on the East Coast that you'll want to buy.
In any case, best of luck in your search.
Hey Keith,
Your #'s are in line with reality. Check out Kelly Blue Book!
I can't figure out where they come up with their numbers.

I hear ya Keith. I just keep hearing about these incredible deals. You've got to be realistic when looking for a clean driver. A steal is few and far between. This past year I must have looked at twenty cars and the prices they wanted for these mistreated machines was like something out of the twighlight zone! My suggestion, be patient, be very patient.
first corvette

dsosborne, i bought my first vette 2 summers ago its a 79 too. wow did it look good body in good shape interior not bad but.... oh boy did lots of good stuff under hood now come to see i need all new suspension:( so be careful cause its just been one thing after another an it aint cheap. by the way i paid 8000.00 for mine

Without looking at the '79 I think what you found is good. A L82 and a four speed is first hard to find and then in a car in good condition.

When I was looking for a "rubber bumper" shark I too wanted L82 and a four speed. I traveled to look at three different cars before I gave up and began seaching for cars that included automatics. The first three cars I looked at were priced reasonable, but all had had the pi.. ran out of them as the back tires were slick and the front tires good! Also these cars all seemed to have been "modified" with many aftermarket performance parts to further increase the power of the L82. The original engine parts had been discarded when adding the new performance parts.

I am very happy with my purchase and no surprises. I wish that maybe I had held out a bid longer for a four speed transmission as the automatic is a bit too boring for me! I was looking at cars priced between 10k-15k.

As for dealers, I agree with the above members that they operate totally differently than a private party. The biggest difference I think is a dealer has no passion or interest in selling the car other than to make money. A private party is passionate as they may need or want to sell the car. Money reasons or maybe family matters such as divorce etc. As noted above, with private sellers you need to have the cash or at least the financing already completed for your set amount.

I think the best senario is a private party selling their Corvette that needs to, but doesn't want too.

Good Luck,

This is my first post on this forum in about a year, so I must say "Hi" to everyone!

One thing you will notice on these forums is that we tend to badmouth the value of our own cars. On the other hand, $13.5K is still a little steep for a '79 assuming you can get it for that price.

Flared69's idea of going to Carlisle this summer is a greart idea if you are willing to wait. One thing's for sure - you will see a LOT more in the local paper once winter ends. If you don't want to wait that long, here are a couple more sites in the event that you haven't seen them yet: www.collectorcartraderonline.com and www.vettehound.com. I bought my first Vette 3 years ago and started looking about this time of year. What I wanted was a clean, straight, 4-speed chrome bumper car. Nowhere to be found at my price range. What I finally found after a 3-month search was a straight, unmollested '76 4-speed L82. I paid $10K (probably too much at the time) but it suited me. I probably could have done better if I had waited till summer, but I really didn't have the patience to wait any longer.


Interesting post. I share your opinion on pricing - I can't understand why we talk down the value of our cars.

Like you I live around A2 and my vette buying experience was like yours. Wanted a chrome bumper car but in mid-winter couldn't find anything attractive (ever look at the prices ProTeam Corvette down in Napoleon OH ask?!!!). Ended up with a '73 that needs more work than I had anticipated. But I enjoy doing the work myself, so I guess that's OK.

I know I'll be a smarter buyer next time, when I get a car with 2 chrome bumpers!

dsosborne - this may sound crazy but here goes....up here in Maine you get to drive your Vette about 3 months...the other 9 months the skiing is just plain awesome!! (ha, ha). Seriously, my point is that there are not a ton of people that will keep a car for a long period of time when they find out that they only can use it for a limted period of time.

As a result, I constantly find C-3's and C-4's for incredibly good prices. Although you might think they are all rustbuckets, the reality is that most folks that own Vette's up here have them always in the garage. I consistently find C-3's in my neck of the woods at the lowest end of the price scale. I find that the mid to late 70's Vettes can be easily picked up for $7500 all day long...a near show car quality...under $10,000 all day long. The 79 to 82 versions seem to be a little higher on average but you can still get these around $10,000 all day long.

I realize that PA is a long way from Maine...but if you don't mind the ride or can afford to have a vehicle shipped try WWW.unclehenrys.com. This weekly publication is known by everyone in the State...kind of like the "Mainer's Bible"...and I see every week in the sports car section several Vettes that fall into your price range. For those of you looking for a steel bumper, I also see a couple at least once a month that promise to be decent cars for around the $10,000 mark as well. Check it out!
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