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How do they hold up to today's automobiles?



Ok boys.......
My wife and I have always wanted a vette. Doesn't everyone! I have personally had F Body's my whole life from Camaro IROC-Z's to 94 Anniversary Trans-Am's. Always loved those cars. But they just don't add up to a Vette. I don't want a second rate corvette anymore I want the real thing! SOOOOO.... Never haveing been an owner, I have a couple of questions.

We want a hot rod! To be blunt. Something mean. The new C5 is nice and the ZO6 is personally the way I would go. However everyone has one now and there is nothing "special" about the new cars today like the old cars of yesterday. So we have decided on the 3rd gen body, especially the 68-72 because we like the chrome bumpers.

The question.

How do these cars handle compaired to todays automobiles. And how comfortable are they to drive daily or on long trips? I always found the F-bodies to be noisy and not really "solid" with that unibody. I know some of the Vettes came off the shelf with 500 quality bred horses. So they must handle rather well to harness that kind of power. Would the BB cars handle any better than the 350's with the beefed up suspension/breaks 'cause of the engine's weight/power? I don't plan on ripping the car apart and replacing everything that is Vette, and use aftermarket "improvements." But I do want that smart a#@ kid next to me in his mustang cobra/gt/Saleen (that his daddy just bought him) to really feel the rath of a true legend. :cool I know you all hear me!!! ;) I am not expecting to pull 10 g's in the corners like a C5 but I want/expect a lot more than what I am getting from the F-Bodies. The Vette is special. Nothing should be able to touch it.

Any input for this first time Corvette buyer would be great.

Welcome to CACC!

First, welcome aboard - I'm sure you'll get helpful advice both before and after your purchase from the friendly folks here.

I've got to say, you have good taste in wanting a chrome-bumper shark (not that I'm biased or anything). I've had mine for 4 years now and my heart still pounds every time I get ready to drive her. I would recommend test-driving a few cars before you make a decision. I have never driven a small-block shark but am curious to know what it feels like compared to mine. I've heard that they handle better because the engine weighs less.

To give you an idea of what it's like to drive a big-block (at least mine), you have to remember to "point and shoot". If you give her too much gas while going around a corner, it can scare the crap outta ya! On the other hand, if you're just cruising along and come across some curves, it's loads of fun because the car feels like it leans into the corners instead of away from them.

As far as long distance drives, I do not recommend the 4-speed. We just drove to Bloomington Gold (about a 2.5 hour drive) and the high RPMs got old. But for around town, you can't beat the stick for fun!

Something to remember is that you're talking about cars that are around 30 years old (mine turned 30 in May), so unless it just had a body-off restoration (which means big bucks), there's always something bound to need work. For instance, I just had to have the tranny worked on at a cost of about $1250, which was a completely new problem that just cropped up a few weeks ago. Also, be ready for the creaks, rattles and groans that go along with the age...

There is a good checklist on this website to take with you when looking at cars (under the Tech. Center). I wish I had that when I was looking! If you know someone who knows Corvettes, take them with you. I would also recommend paying a mechanic (someone who specializes in Vettes) to give it a once-over before you hand over the money.

Finally, when you own a Corvette you don't have to race away from every red light to be :cool, although when you have the power sometimes you just can't help it!

Good luck and have fun with your search!!
My C3 is 1978 L82 w/ Gymkhana suspension. It's currently wearing 255/60R15 BFG Radial T/A's on the stock alloys. I work with a guy that owns a 1995 Mustang GT conv. On wet or dry pavement I can easily pull away from him in the curves. If you're used to F-bodies you know they're light in the tail, but C3's have nearly 50/50 weight distro (especially when you weigh in at 235).

The chrome bumper cars are beauties, I think you'll be very happy with your choice to own a shark.
Ok.......Ill let you know about this very special 81 Vette.....its in Houston Texas, at Corvettes of Houston. It is new....it has 14K orginal miles on it .....and it looks and drives like a new one. If you want the "new"....and the old.....here it is....get it before its gone

I see U!

:eek: I did notice you Lady Barb, my apologies. Thank you for the advice.
Welcome Remnant!

I see that you are only about 40 miles from us, we just moved here from the Left coast, and really like the area!

Great choice of Vette, the Chrome-bumper-beauties, and specifically wanting a BB! Like Doug, I also have a 78, but mine is the L48. (less hp) However, since my engine isn't original, I'm thinking of letting hubby get his hands on it to "muscle-up" the engine! ...and like Barb, I am also a girl! There are many women here who enjoy their Vettes, and I drive mine daily. I find, for SOME reason :D, the Vette's driver seat is the most comfortable for me! ;)
Like Barb pointed out...please do take a Corvette nut with you while looking. That person will keep you from getting blinded by a good looking vette with a potential for large problems. Try to find one that has been taken care of and that the owner has kept the records...Decide if you want a modified Vette or an original one, with numbers matching. It was also good of Barb to point out that you will be looking at Vettes that are around 30...with age comes wisdom, but also creaks and groans! Perhaps you'll find one that has had a full body-off restoration, and it will be like having a brand new Vette!
Anyway, good luck in your search! You've found a great bunch of people here, check in anytime and keep us posted on your progress. People here are ready to help with your questions!
Happy Corvette hunting!
Silver & Hubby aka:Heidi & Ken
I know some people do, but I would never use my C3 as a daily driver. These are old cars, and need lots of TLC. Driving them every day is punishing. Just my .02 cents here.

I'm pretty sure you have emissions testing but I don't know how stringent they are with inspections. Just be careful. A lot of these C3s have been illegally modified. Removing smog equipment is a federal offense and is usually enforced through state inspections.

If you want a real C3 hot rod, then you need to stick with the early sharks (pre-emissions), just like you want. Find a good driver and then drop in a brand new GM ZZ4 SB 355hp crate engine with a 700R4 tranny. You be flyin then!

Also, be sure to SHOP AROUND! Sharks are a dime-a-dozen and a real buyers market. And, its a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Check out whats available using the search engine on this web site...


good luck!

Tom gives good advice, it's a buyer's market...for now.
I wanted to build a street rod and when I was looking for the raw material the c-3 Corvettes measured up pretty well to rusty Novas, Camaros, T-buckets etc.
It is easy to take weight off the front and back, moderize the suspension and drivetrain and build a wild engine.
Even with the stock 15" tires and wheels it handles as good as my WRX Subaru in the dry and sounds sooooo much better.
The stock 4-speed with a gearvendors overdrive gives you the fun around town and a mellow highway cruise.
I'd still like to do some standard setting in a new Z-06 :)but I don't think I'd get the long- term pleasure from low cost updated shark.
TomS77 said:
Sharks are a dime-a-dozen

...so that means you'll sell me your Shark for $.0083?

Remnant did specify that they are interested in the chrome bumpers, which aren't necessarily in the "dime a dozen" category and, if they are inexpensive, really need to be looked at closely... :(

A question for redmist , how can you build a "wild engine" and still "take the weight off the front"??? :confused

Barb :w

There are so many light allow high performance parts available for the small block like heads, intake, water pump and various brackets and pulleys. You can make a significant reduction in front end weight while making gobs of horsepressure.

Seat belts/crush zones/reinforcements

The C3 does have a different feel than the average car of today. An unrestored 20-30 year old vette with average miles on it will not compare to the F-body experience. That is because the typical vette owner (at least some that I know) bought the car for the looks and does not pay any attention to the suspension details.

I have been in a few scary C3 models with worn rear tailing arm bushings, and bad front end parts. Every time you hit the gas the back end would shift 2". A weld broke on the lower front control arm mount on my old 74. That let my left front wheel kind of move around while I was driving. Very scary.

So, getting an expert to go with you is good. Don't be surprised if the one you drive is kind of scary. Chances are, unless it is a frame off, or has recent docs to support little to no miles or suspension work, it may drive very poor. The suspension technology in the C3 was born in the 1950's. There are way too many moving/wear items as compared to a modern rack and pinion.

Get everything right, and they drive pretty nice.

Not good for long trips. Most have a constant source of heat on your feet and the seats are not that great.

One major consideration for the chrome bumper models. They are not very safe. Many of the early ones you find don't even have seatbelts. If they do, you will be surprised to see how they connect to the body. There are no side impact beams on the early C3 models either. They just don't hold up very well in a collision. If you hop into a 500 hsp chrome bumper C3, you have a lot to think about before thrashing the throttle.

I guess my point is like you have seen in the other posts. These cars are old and DO NOT measure up to today's saftey standards and reliability. Today most cars can go 100,000 miles before the first tune up. You are going to find C3 vettes out there that did not make it 100,000 with the original engine.
Although I do :love our 72 LT-1, I would not use it as a daily driver, or as a long distance car. I want to take it to Bowling Green this Labor Day but if we do it will go on a trailer and we'll drive it around the area. Hercules is to uncomfortable to drive that far, and the steering is exteremely touchy! I'm on the edge of the seat almost any time I drive him, although I do enjoy driving him greatly!:D As several have pointed out the floorboards get very hot, the seatbelt configuration is not the same, and the cars are 30 years old, even if they have been properly maintained.:w
light weight

In response to BBB454
Tom again is right on the money:
Aluminum radiator
Aluminum heads
Aluminum intake
Mini alternator
Mini starter
Aluminum bracketry
Remove front license plate mount/bumper (this thing weighs a ton!)
Remove excess front bumper bracketry
lose the mechanical fuel pump
chuck the air cleaner system for a K&N X-treme system
Convert to fixed headlights, use plastic headlight lenses (those vacum operated things are a ton and infront of the front wheels!)
Lighter aftermarket wheels/tires - love those torq thrust 2s!!
Relocate EVAP system to rear
Tubular A-arms
aluminium pulleys
TomS77 said:
Also, be sure to SHOP AROUND! * * * Sharks are a dime-a-dozen * * * and a real buyers market. And, its a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Check out whats available using the search engine on this web site...


good luck!

I must of done something wrong... I put $.10 in and did a search for several C3 model years and came up with nothing...

TomS77 said:
Sharks are a dime-a-dozen and a real buyers market.

I know Illinois is a long way from Virginia but geez:eek , if that's true I'm moving. It took me one and a half years and well over 1000 miles of driving to find the one I wanted. I guess if I felt like settling for one that didn't fit my specific wants this wouldn't have been the case. :w

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