Hagerty.com

Why the C3 Corvette’s bad rap is beginning to fade


#1

If you are of a certain age, the thought of a C3 Corvette—the third generation of America’s sports car (1968–82)—includes images of middle-aged men in “Members Only” jackets, who purchased one to ease the pain of a mid-life crisis.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/18/c3-corvettes-bad-rap

#2

I have a 69 with a small block, years ago back in the early seventies when I was in the Corps I had a big block 69. I have never been divorced, voted for Trump, and I don’t think I have had a midlife crisis. When I was growing up a C3 vette was the car to have, and has not changed in my way of thinking. If you are a mechanic, which I have certain skills a C3 is the only way to go. If you have a banker that is easily misled buy a C2 that has been restored by somebody else. Or you can buy one of the new ones that nobody but the dealer can wrench on. Leave the C3 to people like me.


#3

I purchased a new 76 Corvette while living in the Chicago Suburbs. This was a dream come true. Clearly, I can’t understand why the values haven’t soared over the years ? My biggest regret was selling the car in 1985 for $12K with only 16k on the odometer while living in Wisconsin at the time… I had a fear of moving the car on a truck to Florida and got a terrific price from one of my employees…paid only $8500 for the car originally. I would love to find the original car and would pay top bucks for it today. Bought an 85 vette but never liked it. Subsequently, purchased a new Porche 928 in 1986, kept it 7 years and sold it with only 6200 miles on it. Now that I am a “seasoned” retiree in Florida and have an 73 Corvette convertible and a 93 40th anniversary edition…bought new in Tarpon Springs. Only has 23K and looks and drives live the day I bought it. Bottom line, I loved that 1976 and maintain my favorite pictures of her in my man cave.


#4

I became the proud owner of a '73 (350) Corvette convertible in '78 during my bachelor life and kept it for several years … until I got married. To this day, I wish I had that car back! I know the “experts” will disagree, but for sheer sex appeal and dramatic styling, the '73 is my favorite 'Vette. It is the only year that combines the “soft” body-color nose with the “Kamm” style rear and chrome bumpers. To me anyway, it is the epitome of 'Vette styling and, because it is a single-year model, I’m surprised values aren’t stronger than they are.


#5

Totally agree. You won’t need a degree in electrical engineering to work on a C3. I dropped in a zz6 crate engine along with a Tremec 5 speed along with the 4:10 gears that are already in the car. Wow. Excellent performing car. My next upgrade will be to add a power boost to my 4 wheel disc brakes. The C3 handles very well and is great on the highway. I get a ton of thumbs up as I’m cruising the back roads and on the highway. Will I probably go too far economically with upgrades? Who cares? It’s just plain fun.


#6

I have my 78 Silver Anniversary since new and except for new paint and some soft engine mod the L82 has not been touched. At 100k miles it leaks a little oil and leaks a little ATF but is a sound performer and is a true touring car in my mind. I have had the itch to step up a few years but the engine is simple the AC finally works again and even with the stiffer suspension at 26 psi all round it is a very pleasant weekend cruiser. And on the back roads around here it is still quick and predictable through the corners. I took it last week on a clear cold winter’s day and I can hardly wait for spring for a good long drive.


#7

I have a 68’ that was handed down to me from my brother who was the original owner. I can never understand why C3 is not better appreciated and its value is not greater than it is. Mine is a Corvette bronze color with tobacco brown interior. Not your most usual color back in 68’ but ahead of the curve when you notice how many bronze colored newer cars are on the road today. When you look at the leap the styling took from 67’ these cars were like a car show concept car that finally made it to the road. The shape of these cars are just so cool not to mention the fighter jet style dash and gauges. Its just a special feel each time I sit in it that newer cares cant match. There may be a lot of nice fancy fast cars around today but whenever I take my vette out on the road it gets noticed! Hopefully its value will catch up to its looks some day.


#8

I bought my 1969 in 1983 for my wife as a first anniversary gift . She was driving a 71 Lincoln that was her dads that he had bought new. The vett was a 350/350,4 speed , with AC coupe . I taught her to drive the 4 speed and she drove it off and on until are first daughter was born . We took it out on the weekends for awhile but when we put it away for the winter of 86 the brake calibers leaked all the fluid out . We were in the process of building a new house (with a attach garage 40/44 for all my toys ) so the vett had to sit . The problem is the vett sat in the back of the garage for the next 23 years. In 2008 when my son turned 16 we started working on it we pulled the original 350 up graded the pistons to 11.5 / 1 installed the 30/30 soild lifter cam and an aluminium intake and 700 Holley .We replaced the brakes with stainless calibers and a new set of B F Goodrich tires. He said he really didn’t like the stick and would rather drive my 70 Nova with the blower and the manual automatic." NOT" Today I still love getting it out on the road and with the 308;1 rearend I can take it out and cruse with out worrying about gas .


#9

Ordered my '79 just the way I wanted it in Nov '78. Took delivery in May '79. After the 1 year warranty ran out, I “backdated” the L-82 to copy a '71 LT-1. Still not satisfied, I eventually ended up with a GM Motorsports Bow Tie block, roller cam and aluminum heads - bored and stroked to the same 400 ci size as the “cheater” engine Richard Petty used to win the Daytona 500 witnessed by Ronald Reagan. In '89, swapped in a Doug Nash 5 speed - probably the best “mod” on this car. With 225,000 miles on it, still using it when I want to drive a “manual”. Otherwise I’m in my '87 Grand National or '89 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Pace Car.


#10

I’ve got a 1978 25th Anniversary Corvette Pace Car. This article is a little bit of a relief to be honest. I love my Corvette of course but my boss seems to always say that the C3 corvette is the worst of all the corvettes it started to make me wonder if others felt the same and if I made a mistake on buying the car. I’m young and bought the car to restore so that’s why I was a little worried but now I’m glad that the C3’s corvettes are becoming more desirable.


#11

My favorite body styles are the C1,C3 convertible and the C3 fast back.


#12

I have owned a 65, 68, 72, 73 and a 95 vette. My favorite is the 72 that is featured in the Hagerty article on Canadian cars. I love the Elkhart green and with only 4000 miles on the car it runs and drives like a new 1972. I hope someday my son will love it as much as I do.


#13

C3s are not the worst Corvettes by any means. I’d rather maintain a C3 than a C1, C2, C4, C5, C6, C7… The C3 styling stands out among the “globs” and “flying potato” styling of today’s cars.


#14

I bought a 75 Convertible in September & I haven’t stopped getting compliments about it & offers to buy it from me! Even the C7 drivers notice the “old school” ride pulling up next to it. The exhaust has just the right sound & the Malibu blue paint job is perfect for Ca. This is my 3rd Corvette & the best yet!


#15

I purchased a well-optioned L82 Silver Anniversary last year with only 114Km or 70K miles on it for $9000 Cdn. It had been in garaged for several years, so needed the Quadrajet rebuilt and the brakes and master cylinder redone. Before storage the car had been repainted in base clear and the interior redone. The undercarriage is rust free and the factory rims are perfect. With a true dual exhaust system, and no cat, the horsepower is bumped to around 250 from 220 stock. Still has the air pump and EGR intact. Fun to drive and handles well with the gymkhana suspension. Gets lots of compliments and is great “bang for the buck.” In BC insurance is cheap with collector plates.


#16

I agree totally about the C3 they have absolutly beautiful lines, they are easy to work on , and I have found them very dependable. I think one reason for the bad rap is there are a lot of the C3 sitting around due to owners taking them apart and running out of money or time to complete them and they sit for years. Most people won’t take on a project that has been started if you gave them the car. You don’t see many at all on the road these days. I rarely see one. As far as lack of power for the 71s on up that’s a joke there are very few if any that have not been modified in the last forty years. .I always wanted a C3 Something unmolested, then I found it a 1977 with 25k documented miles for 13k . It needed what I expected lots of things as nothing was ever upgraded or replaced. But it drives like new.


#17

I’m in the market now and will probably buy a C6 , I owned a 1969 454 4 speed back in the day and I loved it. The sexy lines have never been duplicated , I liked the 1969 because you could take the back glass out along with the t-tops , I believe that was the only year you could do that . I would love to find an affordable 69 but I have two T/As that are built 455s one street and one drag car so I’m kinda looking for all the modern creature comforts. Nothing like driving a big block C3, my 454 was a LS6 which you could find back in the early 80s for cheap , love the C3 , miss my old car.


#18

Never was a corvette fan, but ran across a 1971 with a 454 in it and felt I just had to buy it. That was a number of years ago. Now I need to downsize ourselves and looking to sell it if folks have an interest. It has been appraised by Steve Linden. Factory Blue, Rally sports, engine and trans matching numbers, 32K miles.


#19

Have always loved the corvette my friends uncle had a 63 convertable fuelie later other friends had 66 big block coupe then I worked for a chevy dealership and acually got to drive one big block 69 corvette t-top all just fueling my passion threw the years have had many also got married and bought a house it looked like the corvette years were over but kids gone and out things looked better picked up a 69 T Top with a 350 350 4 speed many years after that a friend called and asked if I was still interested in his 65 convertable 396 4 speed I said yes now have 2 the C2 has always been my favorite but the C 3 is a close second


#20

I am curious if anyone at Hagerty can tell me why they don’t include the L82 engine option in the list of added value options for the 1978 Corvette in their valuation site? I’m sure it must make the car more valuable, as it isn’t only the engine that is upgraded, the Turbo 350 gets a different, higher stall converter as well as the positraction 3:55 geared rear end. NADA values the L82 higher than the basic L48 car?? Surely just as/more important than alloy wheels or a tilt steering column.