It all depends on what y ou are looking for in a C3 Vette ! Are you looking for maximum performance, best investment, best economy, chrome bumpers or doesnt it matter ? Its sort of like going to a big Donut Store and asking :"What is the best Donut you have ". Give me some of your criteria in what you want in a C3 Vette, and id be pleased to offer my humble $.03 worth of advice.
My first thought would be a 69, then 80, then 74, then 73, then 70-72, then what ever is left but the last 2 would be 68 and 82, not particually in that order. But any C-3 is better then no C-3...........Steve
I am going to say 1970. I bought mine by "accident", but knowing more about it, I realize it was a good choice. 1970 was the last year of high compression performance engines. My base model convertible has a 300 horse small block. '70 also has some neat fender flares to protect the sides of the car. Then the strike in 1970 caused it to be a low production car, which won't hurt resale value down the line. So, I have a car that is a "little" more refined than the '68 or '69, with the same style and performance with a with the potential for holding it's value pretty good.
Whatever year C3 you own is the best. I do like the steel bumpers but personally I think the 80 is the best. May not be the quickest, but after all there is nothing easier to get more horses out of then a 350 Chev motor. And of course black paint just makes it so much the better.
I have a fondness for the functionality of the 1978 and newer cars. The storage area behind the seats is downright practical. I can fit golf clubs, or my guitar case, and even a sleeping bag and backpack. If you plan on driving yours daily or frequently, than this stuff might matter. If you are going for collector quality, then the older chrome bumpers cars probably make a lot more sense.
Ditto on the storage space for guitars (hubby) and golf clubs (both).
I also use the area to stow my saddle and horse supplies when going riding, and for my sewing machine and quilting supplies when going to a class...grocery shopping, X-mas shopping...any kind of shopping...
The space limitations also keep me from spending or buying too much.
For looks and power alone, I adore the steel bumpered Vettes...but the 78 is my first Vette experience...and I know I prefer having the extra room in this grocery getter (and the ice cream doesn't have time to melt).
Think "Corvette" and fix in your mind the 'picture' you come up with. From your comments, in general, a C3. The C3 generation has a wide variety of engine and body variations to choose from. Think about what you will use the car for, and choose accordingly.
I previously owned 2 79's had problems with overheating and the rear end in both. I have an 80 right now, but my preference was an 82, but I got such a good deal on this 80 that I couldn't pass it up. But really any year of vette is a beautiful sight to the eye.....
-Performance is a big factor... I know the earliest C3's put out the most ponies from the factory, but can some of the later models be souped up to match the earlier models? If so, how much $$$ are we talking about?
-Styling: I love the chrome bumpers, but I also love the 78-82 fastback models... bummer I can't have both. But I would definaty want one of the two.
-Economy: How do the different years compare in gas milage?
-Reliablility: are any years infamous for poor reliablility?
-Price: Cost is an issue. I'm looking for something around $10,000
Thanks for everyone's input. I'm getting lots of ideas by reading your replies.:cool
From your comments, I am afraid you may have a tough decision ahead. I am not an expert, far from it, but from what I have learned here on CAC...the later C3s will be closer to your price range than the earlier ones, which had more power from the factory.
Reliability depends on how well the engine and drivetrain were maintained and cared for. My 78 has been very reliable, we've made some major repairs, but I manage to keep it well maintained. A lower hp engine can be souped up with some modifications...exhaust, intake, heads and cams...however, you'd need to ask someone with more mechanical experience than I.
The best advice I can give, is to thoroughly check the car before purchase. Having a Corvette experienced person with you can help. Contact local vette clubs in your area if you wish, for someone to help. Lastly, buy the best Corvette you can afford. Fixer-uppers while cheaper, usually cost more in the long run...and I'd only reccomend this avenue if you can do most of the restoration yourself.
CAC Administrator Rob, has a Corvette Pre-purchase check list here on the site, check it out and refer to it during your purchase adventure!
I have a 69 350/350 Coupe. You were asking about fuel economy. I check my milage at every fill up. It will clue you in about potential problems. Anyway, I filled up a hour ago and got 16.5 MPG. I don't think the BB (big block) guys do quite so well.
From what I've seen lately, a small block coupe in decent shape could be had for $10,000
If you are a teenager who totalled his first car in an accident...i doubt you are going to be able to afford full coverage on a Corvette of any year, unless you have a very well paying job. Even if youre on your dads insurance with you as a secondary driver, its going to be very high. Id be interested in knowing what the premium will be...can u check that out and let us know on this thread ? Thanks.
Re the cost of increased performance. I've been looking into this a bit for my 80. I figure for around $1500 in parts will put me in the high 200 to 300 hp range. A set of chevy heads with 63cc combustion chambers will raise your compression ratio from the stock 76cc heads approx 5-600$, a bit more if you want 2.02 valves. A cam like the comp cams energizer series ,high lift short overlap gets a new charge in without a lot of unburnt fuel going out the exhust. Makes it easier to pass emissions tests. Exhust at least high flow cat and mufflers,headers and a dual system if you can still pass your states emissions test. This isn't the first 350 I've built, my 72 SS 350 Camaro will still probably be able to blow the doors off my vette after I get it finished. The biggest expense depends on what you can do yourself verse having to pay someone to do. If your engine has a lot of miles on it you really need to think about looking into the bottom end before doing to much to the top end , I'm lucky only 22000 miles on my 80. A lot of how you build will depend on where you want the power, traffic light cowboy,highway screamer or as in my case playing in the Colorado mountains.