In the eyes of an outsider, our world might seem small and flat, but the reality is anything but. There are collectors who buy cars for concourses, others who wish to race them on a track and those who prefer regularity races or revival rallies. There’s also a wide selection of cars to collect, pre-war models, 70’s classics, those with a more racing soul and those with added class. And this could go on for ever.
The same could be said about the Porsche 911, which has such a spectrum of combinations that in the eyes of a non-expert is simply inconceivable. And yet, if Europeans are familiar with the 911 in its individual variants (at least the most famous), very few of them have a firm understanding of the Quintessential American icon: the Chevrolet Corvette.
That’s why TCCT decided to hold a short but intensive course of Corvettology.
Understandably we will not focus on specific series, years or price ranges. We decided to walk our readers through – broadly, as is the case for such a large family – the entire “food chain” of the range, from plankton to whales.
We took advantage of the Mecum auction in Kissimee to make this roundup because, during this sale alone, 316 examples were offered!
Let’s start with the plankton. One of the cheapest Corvettes of all is the fourth series (C4 to its friends) Coupé. The C4 series was produced from 1983 to 1996 and Lot E99 was one of the first to be produced in 1984. The engine of the model on offer was the sleepy 5.7-litre V8, with automatic transmission and all the greatest American technology from the 80’s (hoping it works), from electric windows to power steering. The bronze colour matches its “peaceful-yuppie” style impeccably. The offers stopped arriving at just $3,000, not enough to sell but it wouldn’t have taken much more to take it home since others went for $4,400. That’s a lot of bang for your bucks.
1984 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
Moving up the budget chain slightly (and we have to do so quickly because if we lingered too much at each step we could write a 10-volume encyclopaedia on the model) we find an almost-used Corvette. The 2007 C6 Z06, which went unsold for $42,000, is a typical example of a modern supercar for the price of a new saloon. Unveiled in 2005, the Z06 was, at the time, the best performing Corvette ever with its LS7 engine – keep this acronym in mind for later – 7 litres and 505 bhp. The one on offer, in addition to being a rare Z06 model is an even rarer Ron Fellows Championship one (produced in 399 examples) and with just 3,500 miles from new. Virtually never used.
2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
In reality, $40-50,000 will buy you something from each series, from the best C4 (the ZR1 series or Gran Sport with a few kilometres on the clock), the excellent C3 and C6 or even a C2 with less powerful engine or perhaps a C1 that is driveable but by no means competition-standard.
Moving up and slightly to the side as we leave the European collector’s realm and walk fairly and squarely into a stars and stripes one: customs.
Here for $100,000 there are plenty of options: perhaps a 1960 C1 FI Big Brake or a C3 454/390 Roadster, or why not place your money on a nice C2 with modern engine? The one on offer at Mecum was a 1967 Roadster with a 400bhp LS2 engine taken from a 2006 model.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Alongside the youngtimers in America, there is another phenomenon (which has always existed) that is reliving a golden era. Because one the one side you can have all the style of a true 60’s classic, while on the other on the other you can enjoy the performance and driveability (not to mention the safety) of a fully-fledged modern car. Previously, I mentioned the engine with the acronym LS7; in fact the market appreciates the LS7 more (because of the increased power) but if the model we saw sold for $130,000 euros, for an LS7 you’d have had to add several tens of thousands of dollars more.
Moving on to Lot S193, a ’Vette from 1953 and here we arrive at the Gotha of the model. As many Porsche 911 collectors know, one year can make all the difference. A 2.7 Carrera RS from 1973 is not comparable to a 1974 2.7 Carrera. The same applies to the 1953 vintage compared to 1954. 1953 was the very first year so this is a prize in itself, and if we add the fact that they made only 300, you soon understand just how rare this model is, but put your mind at rest because if you don’t like white you’ll be hard pressed to find alternatives. Although this example was the last manufactured in that year, the price of $269,500 is perfectly in line with the value of the others. If you can’t afford this price point, go for the 1954 specimen that sold for $71,500. Plus, it was red.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
And so finally, we come to the whale, the Corvette Mona Lisa, the one dreamed up by those who have a 1953 C1 in their garage. If you think that in 1967 the Lamborghini Miura P400 with 350bhp was powerful, please take a step back because the L88-powered Corvette C2 had over 430. The first of the 20 produced went for sale in Florida and was one of the most significant examples of this very rare configuration. The price for this masterpiece? $1.85m. And, believe it or not, it was a bargain because a few years ago this model was very close to $3 million.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible
Of course, these are just examples because there were hundreds of versions, years, configurations and power variants on offer, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $1,850,000. But they all have a single denominator: they are American legends.
I will conclude this piece with a small anecdote: three years ago, Mecum offered a collection of eight Corvettes, all Roadsters and all produced in 1958 but each was one of the eight colours available from that year. As if to say: we’ve seen it all!