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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
general info ?'s, headlights, other

Hello everyone.

I don't own a 'Vette and have just recently been learning more about them. I'm more of a Japanese car guy, not really that fond of American cars but the Corvette has always been the exception to that. (Hopefully that doesn't offend anyone... Just a matter of personal taste, and the results of some previous bad experiences.)

My step-daughter dreams of owning one and I've been scanning eBay, etc hoping (not holding my breath though) to find a C3 (68-77) that is cheap but could be made drivable without spending a fortune, doesn't have to be # matching, etc. It would be an ideal present for her. She could fully restore it herself later when out of college and working. We both prefer the style of that generation.

My biggest question is, some of the ones I've seen had exposed headlights instead of pop-up, from some threads on here, these are all aftermarket mods, all c3's came with pop-ups right?

Other than that I guess I just want confirmation of the info I've gathered:

68-73 has the crome bumpers, 73 rear only. 74+ have body colored bumpers. 78+ changed the the hatchback style, more like the '80s models, which I do not like as much.
I know there are many engine differences, etc, but that doesn't matter so much to me. She doesn't need the highest HP, etc.

What about interior? Are there a lot of differences between years? Most places don't talk about that much.

One other question, since these are older, carbed with no ECU etc, can a manual tranny be replaced with an auto easily?

Thanks.
 

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IMO, if you want a decent reliable interior you need stick with 69-76 model sharks....why?? the center console and instruments were all plastic in later years, and as such tend to break apart, the a/c controller for instance is a POS, plastic gets tired, and the nubs will split and not take a screw anymore....dunno about price/availability...the interiors IMO are not as nice...

Your larges issue with any of them is RUST, especially around the windshiled and A pillar area...door hinge, inside the kick panel....and of course the famous rear frame area....front of the rear tire where that kickup/over is joined in...famous rust area....

rear suspension being IRS is famous for all sorts of wear, from output yokes on the diffy to 1/2 shaft universals, to wheel bearings, to the T arms themselved even rusting out....lower struts also have problems....and should be perfectly straight, if they bent, some one messed up....

All sharks came with the heavy, cumbersom complex operating headlights....they run by vacuum off the intake manifold, not electric motors...they are a PIA to work on, nothing complicated to fix, just a PIA....
I ditched mine....

A stick can be replaced by a auto rather easy, BUT it will require pulling the engine, OR cutting the cross member, like I eventually did to avoid the engine job on a tranny repair......I have had both a 700r4 o/drive auto and now have the smaller lighter, better 200 4r o/drive auto....both are 4 speed autos....

other than the rather obvious paint and interiors common to any car, there are relatively few other major points.....EXCEPT the brakes....they are a weird funny early on GM adaptation of aircraft designs, and as such are way overly critical in their set up, adjustment, and reliability....there are cures for that though, but that's another thread in and of itself....
 

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Gene has some good points. Since you are new to these cars I would suggest you go to some local shows and look into your local club. Talk to the owners to see what they say.

I would not buy a car off ebay unless you look it over or pay someone to inspect it. Bairs used to sell a very good video on car inspection- buy it, if you can still get, it will help you a lot.

If you are not wealthy or mechancially inclined stay with a jap car or C5 vette. These cars are 30-40 years old and the ones for sale are either over $40k for a really good one to $3k for rolling junk,maybe not even rolling. I have built several of these cars from the ground up and they take a lot of time to do and a lot of money in parts. Get some catalogs and look at the cost of parts then double or triple it for labor- that is if you find someone local who knows them. Look up the post I have on steering box surprise from last week. $40k in labor and the shop didn't rebuild the box other then 2 seals and a paint job!

Each year has their own problem areas but a lot of problems are created by past owners and mechanics, ie: brake system failure.

Good luck, if you find a car ask some questions here about it and remember the truely rare high dollar collectible C3's are few and far between. Most on the market are in need of work and if you make the commitment then don't expect to get your money back if you have to sell. Don't go by those TV shows where everything starts at $75k - up


:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the info.

Yeah, thats what I was considering, a $2-3K preferably somewhat running but obviously for that price having problems. Not really for an "investment" car that I can sell for $100K later, just a "cool" car she'd enjoy driving. I would to as much of the work as possible myself. (My current car is a '91 Honda CRX, there isn't much on that car I haven't taken apart at one point, and is currently in many pieces.) Granted, there will be major differences but I hope I can figure it out. The parts cost is probably what would kill me...
I'm probably just dreaming here anyway, if anything I'd wind up with an old wreck that I can't afford to do anything with...
 

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Many times it cost more to build a vette then it is to buy a turn key car.
There are a few corvette specific units that are unlike other cars, steering boxes, differentials, rear suspension, brakes, and vacuum systems are all corvette items that will test you quickly.
I would think it through before buying a vette, I've seen too many people get in over their heads only to sell the car for a loss.
 

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Thanks for the info.

Yeah, thats what I was considering, a $2-3K preferably somewhat running but obviously for that price having problems. Not really for an "investment" car that I can sell for $100K later, just a "cool" car she'd enjoy driving. I would to as much of the work as possible myself. (My current car is a '91 Honda CRX, there isn't much on that car I haven't taken apart at one point, and is currently in many pieces.) Granted, there will be major differences but I hope I can figure it out. The parts cost is probably what would kill me...
I'm probably just dreaming here anyway, if anything I'd wind up with an old wreck that I can't afford to do anything with...

If it is a metal bumper car, 3k will not get you anything but junk that will need LOTS of work and money...unless you get super super super super lucky!

Beware of Fleabay...lot of dissappointed vette buyers....most..not all...but most ebay vettes are there because the seller couldn't get anyone to buy it...just my opinion........get a thorough inspection before you commit.
 

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Gene has some good points. Since you are new to these cars I would suggest you go to some local shows and look into your local club. Talk to the owners to see what they say.

I would not buy a car off ebay unless you look it over or pay someone to inspect it. Bairs used to sell a very good video on car inspection- buy it, if you can still get, it will help you a lot.

If you are not wealthy or mechancially inclined stay with a jap car or C5 vette. These cars are 30-40 years old and the ones for sale are either over $40k for a really good one to $3k for rolling junk,maybe not even rolling. I have built several of these cars from the ground up and they take a lot of time to do and a lot of money in parts. Get some catalogs and look at the cost of parts then double or triple it for labor- that is if you find someone local who knows them. Look up the post I have on steering box surprise from last week. $40k in labor and the shop didn't rebuild the box other then 2 seals and a paint job!

Each year has their own problem areas but a lot of problems are created by past owners and mechanics, ie: brake system failure.

Good luck, if you find a car ask some questions here about it and remember the truely rare high dollar collectible C3's are few and far between. Most on the market are in need of work and if you make the commitment then don't expect to get your money back if you have to sell. Don't go by those TV shows where everything starts at $75k - up


:thumbsup:
Pay attention to Gary, he knows....

and YES, I forgot to mention to join your local vette club, go to some meetings, get to know the club guru....should be able to spot him o first meeting...PAY him for his time to examin a car preferable on a lift.....AFTER you see it first, and can tell you are not so turned off.....ask him about what specifically to look for before hand to to save you time and his efforts over junk.....

gotta remember, like any other car, they get really old and stuff fails, especially since design life was considered to be 10 years or so....
 

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Many times it cost more to build a vette then it is to buy a turn key car.
There are a few corvette specific units that are unlike other cars, steering boxes, differentials, rear suspension, brakes, and vacuum systems are all corvette items that will test you quickly.
I would think it through before buying a vette, I've seen too many people get in over their heads only to sell the car for a loss.
:agree: Buy the BEST one you can afford. Often you can find one that will cost more initially, but save you many $ in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I've taken some of your advice, I'm not concidering buying a non-running poor condition car that would take a lot of time and money just to put on the road, much less look good. I actually was concidering a '76 that was mechanically and stucturally in good shape (according to the owner), but had poor paint and some interior issues for $6400, but amoung other things, my stepdaughter read that the '76 has the lowest value of all C3's, and then someone else bought it anyway....

Got a couple more questions...

Something I've been noticing in cars for sale is a discrepancy between the engine code in the VIN (L48) and the engine the owner claims it to be (L82), is there an easy way to distinguish the two? I know I said before that the engine didn't matter that much, but 160HP in a V8? Come on, my CRX has that in a 1.6L L4 and weighs about half as much. Granted the torque is much less and the style doesn't compare, but still... She doesn't need the big block but I'd rather have the L82 at least. Plus I'm sure it makes a difference in the value. BTW, from what I've seen, within the 74-77 range, the highest HP small block is the '74 L82 at 250HP, is that right? ('74 also being the last year for big block if I remember correctly, been reading a lot, hard to keep it all straight.)

I'm eyeing a '74 t-top, repainted black still looks decent, interior good except for some fading in the dash, claims the engine was rebuilt and runs good, also claims its an L82 but VIN says L48 (claims the numbers aren't on the engine after the rebuilt, red flag?), automatic, aftermarket radio/cd player, just over 100K miles, supposedly garage keep and rust free, AC doesn't work. What would you concider a fair price for that assuming the description is honest? Obviously I'd have to inspect it in person before buying.

Thanks!
 
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