1 2 3
Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/15/22 9:18 a.m.

I've been browsing MR2s, 944s and CRXs for about a year.  Gotten close to a few, tried to look at a 944 a half hour away recently but got busier than expected that weekend, and the following Tuesday night it had sold.

I've always thought C3 'Vettes looked cool, all the way back when I was a kid in the 70s.  I still remember building the 70s pace car version in both 1/24 and (whatever the next step up was) model kits.  I've seen quite a few on Marketplace within about 2hrs away, and some decent looking examples around $9500 or just under.  My budget has been $10K for whatever the new toy ends up being.

I've noticed a few photos of good ole carbs and air cleaners, and a few mention fuel injection.  Anything in particular to stay away from?  I'm not looking for a project, I've seen a few of those cheaper and just nope.

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UberDork
8/15/22 9:28 a.m.

Get the best example of whatever you are looking at. GM built half a million C3 cars. From chrome bumpers to Cross fire injection. Find one that you really like, have it checked by a specialist if you can, and enjoy it but don't expect it to drive and handle like a modern car.

*Just don't stick it in the garage on jack stands with a rebuilt LT1 motor and trans from a 9c1 Caprice and expect it to finish itself! (Note to self)

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
8/15/22 10:43 a.m.

It depends on what your goal and aspirations are for it.  Do you want something to just cruise around in or do you want true performance?  If you want the former, you're in great shape...the latter not so much.  The C3 had a very long shelf life, of which the last 8 or 9 years were rather poor performance.  The pace car you describe is a '78.  Personally, I like the '80 and '81 the best of all C3s made...at least from a looks standpoint.  They have the front spoiler and slightly different rear bumper and I think they're just super cool.  I absolutely love the wheels that came with them.  

I had an '80 a very long time ago.  I loved the car for what it was, a fantastic cruiser.  Mine had been warmed up some, with a mild cam, exhaust, carb.  Even still I would have classified it as "quick", not fast.  Handling?  Yeah, very funny.  Visibility out the front?  Good luck with that, you have to guess where the nose is.  The vacuum operated E36 M3...fairly primitive but annoying.  They also are known to have some rust prone areas, such as the birdcage.

Would I get another '80 or '81?  Hell yeah and I vaguely keep an eye out.  However it wouldn't be high on my list simply because they aren't as much fun to drive from a performance standpoint.

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/15/22 10:53 a.m.

In reply to SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) :

For this I'm thinking just a fun cruiser, I'd even go with an auto which seems to be popular.  I fully understand mid-70s anything wouldn't be known for it's power or handling.

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
8/15/22 11:05 a.m.
Jerry said:

I've been browsing MR2s, 944s and CRXs for about a year.  Gotten close to a few, tried to look at a 944 a half hour away recently but got busier than expected that weekend, and the following Tuesday night it had sold.

I've always thought C3 'Vettes looked cool, all the way back when I was a kid in the 70s.  I still remember building the 70s pace car version in both 1/24 and (whatever the next step up was) model kits.  I've seen quite a few on Marketplace within about 2hrs away, and some decent looking examples around $9500 or just under.  My budget has been $10K for whatever the new toy ends up being.

I've noticed a few photos of good ole carbs and air cleaners, and a few mention fuel injection.  Anything in particular to stay away from?  I'm not looking for a project, I've seen a few of those cheaper and just nope.

My C3 Corvette was a pure race car.  Wheel to wheel.  Driving it I felt like a stock car racer.   Stiff suspension because the geometry was wrong in the rear.  
   Lot of power  no subtle,   I briefly drove a 1967 427 street car that felt the same way. 
   The fuel injected ones are to be avoided if you expect others to tune it. It's mechanical fuel injection not electronic.  Carbs are straight forward.  Keep the fuel clean and 90% of the carb problems are caused by the ignition. 

chaparral
chaparral Dork
8/15/22 11:36 a.m.

The 1977 Corvette was heavier than the new-for-1977 Caprice. Don't expect much, especially with an automatic. The '80-82 ones are substantially lighter (250#) and with anything reasonable under the hood will be more fun. 

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/15/22 11:49 a.m.

It's worth driving a couple to see how they feel. I'd add C4 and C5 to the list though as they will drive better. I love the styling of the C3 but didn't enjoy driving it. 

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
8/15/22 11:55 a.m.
Jerry said:

In reply to SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) :

For this I'm thinking just a fun cruiser, I'd even go with an auto which seems to be popular.  I fully understand mid-70s anything wouldn't be known for it's power or handling.

No, certainly not.  The auto trans holds performance back significantly.  However, as I said with some very basic mods it can be made quick enough to be fun.  They are fantastic cruisers.  From a style standpoint, I still find them super attractive.  That's purely subjective, I know, but I find this thing to be drool worthy....

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
8/15/22 11:59 a.m.

Buy one for style  and accept the facts that every modern minivan will out pace it in every performance metric. 

The minivans just don't have the "style". 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
8/15/22 12:24 p.m.

1978 starts the rear glass bubble back but if I remember correctly that glass doesn't open? 

I have a vague memory that for 1981 & 1982 the glass then did open in a "hatch back" sort of fashion.  Is that correct?  Did any of these C3 years open?   I know the 1984, C4 opened.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
8/15/22 12:28 p.m.

Also, don't pay more for a "special edition"  1978.  The odd fact is the "special editions" like pace car and silver aniversery editions outsold the non special editions making the non specials the real rare cars.  

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
8/15/22 12:35 p.m.

I got a ride in a Corvette in the late 1990s, so it was probably a mid '80s-90s model year. I'd never ridden in one before and didn't know what to expect, and was disappointed. The interior, fit and finish, and rattling body panels were just oh-so GM at the time. We didn't do any crazy driving, so the impression was all about "everything else." I assume that they've improved since then and if I were to buy a used one now, I'd buy the most recent generation that I could afford.

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/15/22 12:40 p.m.
John Welsh said:

Buy one for style  and accept the facts that every modern minivan will out pace it in every performance metric. 

 

The minivans just don't have the "style". 

Murica.

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/15/22 12:44 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

For the C3 I think only the 1982 collectors edition had a rear glass that opened.  That was also the first iteration of cross-fire injection IIRC. 

81cpcamaro
81cpcamaro SuperDork
8/15/22 1:02 p.m.

They aren't terrible cars. My neighbor has a late 70's Vette, when I had my 81 Camaro. The Vette is definitely a bit smaller than the Camaro.  Good thing is if you want to improve it, there is plenty of knowledge out there on what to do. 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
8/15/22 1:03 p.m.

I was hot on one for a while, and would still love to have one some day. One of them that I looked at had a very clean frame - really nice with no visible rust. But the gap between the front clip and the doors was uneven - wider at the bottom and tighter at the top. Turns out that's a sign of a rusted out "bird cage" and that's a frame off repair job. Water gets in from above and rusts them below the windshield frame. Sure enough I looked in the access panels inside the toe kick panels and there were great gobs of flaky rust in there. It's not a problem if there's no rust, just be aware of it.

Extreme Birdcage Rust - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion

Again this was on a car where from underneath the frame looked great. But inside was a different story.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Dork
8/15/22 3:53 p.m.

SWMBO had a '78 anniversary edition.  I think it had only 180 hp.  It wasn't fast. It rattled and squeaked. It wasn't comfortable. It was fairly dependable.  I didn't like it.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
8/15/22 4:01 p.m.

The C3's are weird, man. Early ones hit during the height of the Musclecar Era and got all the best drivetrains GM had to offer, along with great styling. Then, they got frumpy in the mid-70's like most everything else, with default truck 350 power, and ended in the early 80's on a positive note with updated styling and some EFI tech at the very end. A family member had a '69 LT1 4-speed car with tons of mods when I was a kid, and I used to think it was the coolest. But as others have said, these are less sports car and more boulevard cruiser, like a smaller F-Body with transverse leafs and IRS. Honestly, I'd rather have a C4 or a 2nd Gen F-Body for that purpose. But if I had to pick one, I'd go with a 1980-82, especially one with the Crossfire Injection, just to be different. They look great, and if you aren't going anywhere fast, you might as well have an interesting conversation piece under the hood. Make mine black, please. 

Jerry
Jerry PowerDork
8/15/22 4:17 p.m.

I just looked at 4 I saved over the weekend, 2 are already marked "pending", including an 81 with the two tone paint that the pace car had. I liked that one.

Maybe I should find the closest one to me, even if out of my $ range, and see if I like it at all before I hunt one down 2hrs away and discover that I hate it.

Opti
Opti Dork
8/15/22 4:29 p.m.

You'd hate yourself because they are terrible cars and terrible to work on, and some of the weird stuff gets real expensive.

A couple friends have had them and we had a hell of a time sourcing rear calipers and the weird power steering setup was super expensive.

I hate the seating postion and the rarity of the manual. As mentioned earlier I've heard terrible things about the suspension design.

All that said I'm fully in the enable boat. I love the chrome bumper cars, and I hunt for them after missing one years ago. I've even grown more fond of the later cars.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/15/22 7:56 p.m.

It's an icon.  However it rides, drives and handles like a 60s car designed for bias ply tires.  You will have people want to talk to you every time you stop for gas and at every stop light.  You will love and you will hate it all at the same time.  This is the dilemma of the C3 Corvette. 

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/15/22 8:17 p.m.
frenchyd said: 

   The fuel injected ones are to be avoided if you expect others to tune it. It's mechanical fuel injection not electronic.  Carbs are straight forward.  Keep the fuel clean and 90% of the carb problems are caused by the ignition. 

That is wrong. 
 
C3 Corvette fuel injection is fully electronic. Mechanical fuel injection was over a decade and half obsolete by the time C3s got fuel injection. 

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UberDork
8/15/22 9:28 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

With the heart of a Vette and wheels to match Jean Clyde Damn Van would like to disagree!wink

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ SuperDork
8/15/22 9:59 p.m.
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to John Welsh :

With the heart of a Vette and wheels to match Jean Clyde Damn Van would like to disagree!wink

Nice work.  Too bad Corvette Box Jellyfish just doesn't have the same ring to it.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/15/22 10:32 p.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) :

You still don't want a fuel injected one.....  crossfire!  

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners
vOBoFq4HM00MoKg1rgcOpB3DeL7uSJtge8fhNjKZpfvK5BmoMOkEMTP85aA3zKaD