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Help please - looking at 1st Corvette



Hello! I am new to this forum and to Corvettes and would like some feedback from experienced Vette owners - there's a lot of advanced info on this forum but I need the basics. I have found a Corvette in pretty rough shape that has caught my eye, and I am thinking about getting it and trying to fix it up - not a full-on restoration or anything, just a project. I've never owned a Corvette or even been all that interested in them (I'm a Porsche fan, actually, but don't hold that against me!), but since I saw it a week ago it keeps showing up in my dreams and stuff, so I'm worried that I'm hooked!

The car is a C3 convertible. I've done a little research and have determined that it must be a 68-72 model because it does not have the body-colored front bumper. All the glass is broken out of the car, the roof is pretty much torn away, the paint is horrible, the headlights are both up and broken out, and there is a crack in the glas around one of the headlights. The driver's side mirror is gone and what looks like rust is around where it should be (do Vettes have steel doors?). The frame appears to be straight but I haven't looked under the car or under the hood yet - I've only checked it out as I walked by. I don't even know if it runs, but it has the look of something that's been neglected for years (the plates on the car expired in '92). I must admit I kind of feel like I want to "save" this car, if anybody knows what I mean.

I realize that's a pitifully small amount of information to go on, but any information, hints, or whatever would be much appreciated! Things on my mind are: what should I look at next? What should I check into and ask about? This car is out back at a dealer... what might that mean? Where can I find the VIN on this car, and what can that tell me? What price range would be reasonable for this car? What price would I be crazy to spend on such a car (and what price would I be crazy NOT to spend)? Are parts readily available? Bottom line: is this a car that I should consider, or should I just walk away and forget about it?

Again, I realize I haven't provided a lot of facts about the car... I am only looking for my next move. I think you can tell how little I know about Corvettes, so please don't think any response is too dumb for me. Thanks.

Wow...you have quite an intro!:eek As far as whether or not to buy that very neglected Corvette, the first thing I'd ask is how proficient are you with cars and the multitude of problems that are bound to arise when tackling such a major project? My initial thought is to keep right on walking by such a car...there are many more out there that may not be perfect, but wouldn't overwhelm you with all their needs, and could be purchased with not so much money. At the same time you're working on a less neglected Corvette, you could enjoy driving it...God knows, that's what keeps us going sometime!:cool

Look around...there are many that are not screaming for your attention and $$$!!!

Welcome to the CACC!!

Lemon Peel aka Elaine
Diamond in the Rough or

It could be your worst Nightmare. There are a lot of things to consider before you decide to take this project on. I suggest you start by getting a little history on the car from the owner. There must be a good reason they have left it deteriorate this way.
The owner will be able to supply pertinent info. It dosen't look like this car is going anywhere too soon so you have time to investigate it and to study up on the differences of Corvettes.
once you find out about the car :ie The year, what engine is in it, is it a numbers matching car, original color, etc. post it here and the knowlegable folks of the C.A.C,C. will guide you. What you described so far sounds like cosmetics and can always be remedied. Do some more homework fcjim, would like to know what you may have found. A Diamond in the Rough or The Mother of all Basket Cases.
Just my 2 cents
Joe V.

It could be somebodys old project that they have abandoned at the dealer, a recovered theft/vandelism that there was no insurance to repair, or one of those famous "no it's not for sale. I'm going to fix it up someday" cars that never get fixed up. Might be something that was traded in and nobody ever come up with a title.

First thing to do is ask at the dealer about the Corvette. That may be the end of it right there or you may find it's for sell. If so get the ser # and have the Police run it through the national auto theft data base to see if it is a wanted fugitive. Don't fork over any cash until you have a chance to compare the title to the car ser #.

If all is in order check the frame behind the door and the windshield pillars for rust out and list everything you can see. Engine/trans, options obvious damage or missing parts ect. We will be more able to help you determine if it is a saver or a parts car then. BTW there is a steel mirror reinforcement in the door that may be causing the rust you are seeing.

Welcome to the Corvette Action Center and the wonderful world of resseurecting dead Corvettes.

Major Project

I have been restoring my '79 Vette for the past 5 years. The price was right and the investment has been considerable. I have more in the car than it is honestly worth. I now have the car I want, done my way. Many times during the process, I had wished that I had spent more in the beginning to get a car that was in better shape. When you consider all the parts that need to be replaced and the amount of work to be done just to get it on the road you may have second thoughts. I would suggest getting several Corvette parts catalogs and figuring up replacing just about everything. If your figures come up to 12 or 15 thousand dollars, you are on the right path. If that is worth having this particular car and you are a certified mechanic, more power to you. Restoring a car to average condition can be an expensive proposition. My advise would be to let this one go.:nono
good advice

Everyone above has stated some very good advice. The final decision is yours, of course.

Find out all you can about this particular vette from the sources available. Dealership, vin, # matching or not, books on this generation/year vette, options and missing parts. I also think its a good idea to get the Vette catalogs and see how much parts will cost.

I think the main thing you have to decide, since the Vette is obviously in need of MANY repairs, is how much will you enjoy working on it to get it road worthy, so you can enjoy driving it? I drive mine daily, and when it's down, I want people working on it 'round the clock to get it back on the street! I know that's unreasonable, but I tend to GET unreasonable when I can't drive her!

BTW, I TOTALLY understand the sentiment behind dreaming about the vette and being hooked, and also wanting to save this poor vette. We ALL suffer from it here, so you are in good company.

Please don't be put off by the negative train of our posts. If you are capable, skill-wise and dollar-wise, this could be a very rewarding project. However, if you won't enjoy being a fixer-upper, don't buy one that needs fixing-up. From your initial explanation of how the Vette looks at a casual glance, I certainly wouldn't spend more than $2k on it, and even then, since it doesn't sound like it has any redeamable or useable qualities, I'd STILL try to talk them down even further! Hey, it's at a dealership...HAGGLE for all you're worth! (so you don't have to pay "all you're worth!") ;)

Silver & Hubby aka:Heidi & Ken

ps: Welcome to CACC!
Much To Consider

First, Welcome to The Best Corvette Site Going, Thanks to Rob and all the very friendly and knowledgable members. You have your work cut out for you but never having done a restoration, there's one thing that comes to play, $$$$. Whether you have the ability mechanically, and the seemingly endless time to devote, you're in for a big money trip. You have to consider a number of things as the other members have said, do you have a place to do the work, the tools but most of all the time. Time is money, and if you're in no hurry to be driving your dream, check out all the history you can, buying price and make your decision expecting to replace everything, and to have it done right, if not, you'll pay for it later. Another way to go is make the buy and have it done by a reputable Corvette mechanic, which, is certainly not going to be cheap. As some of the members said, you may want to look for something road worthy to start with, more money to start with, but you'll be on the raod and living your dream. Fear not, there's ALWAYS something that needs attention so like any fine machine, preventative maintenance is a must, but having a strong car to start with, knowing how much either time and money it will take you, or how much money a shop will charge you is important. I know of a few people that bought a severely neglected vette with all the enthusiasm in the world, but after a reality check, the cars were sold, or are still sitting being neglected. Which ever way you decide to go, keep us posted and good luck. I recently read a great article by Ben Stein about being raised by his parents programed to save, live conservative only to find out MUCH too late in life, if you don't enjoy what you work for, in so many words, it's all for nothing. Looking at something and saying "the next two years will take forever but having the sense to look at how fast the last two years went by you may help you make a choice".
RUN, don't walk away unless you have unlimited funds and or are experienced in engine, trans, suspension, frame, fiberglass repair, and painting just to name a few areas this car probably needs attention to. I've read the smartest thing to do when buying a used car (and a 30 yr one at that) is buy the best car you can afford. If this is the best you can afford all I can say is GOOD LUCK, you'll definately need it!!
There are too many nice vettes out there that might need "some " work, that are selling for a good price then to get involved with a basket case.
Just my opinion of course.
Thanks to all!

Thank you to everyone who responded to my post - I think I came to the right place! I appreciate all your help, and I will keep you posted on whatever develops. I'm not looking for a car to drive any time soon... the idea of rebuilding something from the ground up doesn't deter me at all (that's what I'm looking for, actually), but the fact that really stands out for me is that it hasn't been plated in nearly ten years, and a LOT can happen to a car sitting out for that long. With that in mind, I'm leaning towards letting this one go and looking elsewhere, but we'll see.

Just a couple more questions I hope someone can help me with: I took another look at the car but was unable to find a VIN number (the hood latch was busted), but I did find a tag with a "trim code" on it, along with the color code, inside the driver's side door. The trim code was "Z04" or possibly "204." Where can I learn what that means, if it means anything? And is there a way to discern a '69 from a '70 without the VIN? Two taillights said "68" and two said "69," so my guess is that it's a '69 but I'm not sure. Thanks again, everyone!
vin location

The vin on my 78 is on the driver side windshield pillar.
The trim codes you saw, if you go to the top of this page, click where it says "specifications" and enter 1970, and do 1969 also. It should have the codes for those years. I think those codes, found inside the door/body area are for original paint color and interior color.
If you are specifically looking for a ground up restoration, this might be what you're looking for. See if you can get PAID to remove the eyesore from the dealership! Do expect weatherstripping, gaskets and seals to have deteriorated, especially sitting outside that long.
Good luck!
How to tell some of the years: '68 and '69 were the only years when they used vertical slot's (C3's). The '68 will have a button on the door handle to open the door along with the hand grip. The '69 will NOT have the extra button. The '68 will have the key on the dashboard, the '69 was the first year to have the key on the steering column. The '69 (and '68) will have round front turn lights. A '70 will have a square type turn signal light. A '70 is the first year with the "egg crate" on the side's (instead of the slot's). The turn signal should be clear for a '70 and amber for a '72. In '70 the headrest was built into the seat ('69 looked like it sat on top of the seat back, '68 had no headrest).
I hope this will help you to idenitify the car. GOOD LUCK!!
Just wanted to add one more thing to A69vettes 68 decription. The 68 had seperate reverse lights from the 4 round tail lights that are traditional to the vette. You can find these lights just below the rear bumper. Hope you have fun looking for your vette. I too am in the market for a vette. I have been eyeballing a 78 pace car vette that needs restoration. My father doesn't like the idea of another vette because of the high price and time it takes to restore em. We have partly restored a 68 vette. But time has gotten away from us and with the final touches on my cobra he now looks forward to finishing his car. After finishing my cobra project I feel that I can now tackle the real american dream, restoring a chevrolet corvette. Looking for ward to it!

Goodluck and if you get the chance take some pics for us!

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