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Know Your Corvettes Before Buying

by Keith Cornett on September 21, 2006

1970 Corvette ConvertibleSo you want to buy a Corvette and you have a general idea of the Corvette generation you are interested in. Now it is time to narrow your choice. By narrowing your choices to one, two or a span of three model years, you can gain the knowledge you need prior to purchasing the Corvette of your dreams. Focusing in on that one to three year model span will allow you to make an informed buying decision. You don’t want to be blinded by the first Corvette you see. You’ll want to look beyond the style and paint to insure that you’re buying the right corvette with the right options that is right for you. Corvettes, like most cars, are always changing year to year. Sometimes those changes are design based, sometimes regulatory based. I had a customer who was once looking for a 1970 to 1972 LT1 engine car. He had heard that the LT1′s are more of a performance engine and liked the idea of having a Corvette that would appreciate faster if it had that optional engine. What he didn’t know was that the 1970 LT1 engine was very different than the 1972 LT1. In 1970, the LT1 350 ci engine produced 370 horsepower. In 1972, Chevrolet had lowered the compression and changed their formula for rating horsepower so the LT1 350 that year was reduced to 255 hp. In many respects, these two engines are similar, yet very different. Learning these subtle differences can assure you that you are buying the Corvette you want and not making a mistake that could end up costing you money later on. A great resource that every Corvette buyer needs is the Corvette Black Book by Michael Antonick. The Black Book breaks out each model year with options available, colors and a Fact Sheet which gives the major bullets of changes and enhancements over the previous model year. Here are some other resources for learning about the model year you have selected: Corvette Shows
Go to a Corvette show and talk to owners. Corvette owners love to talk about their cars and usually are very forthcoming about what they like and don’t like about their model year. They can also fill you in on any hidden problems or service issues that may have affected their model over the years. Most of the major shows also have auctions or a “Corvette Corral” where sellers display their Corvettes. It’s a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience of looking over models you are interested in. To find out where a Corvette show is in your area, keep reading. Go Online
Websites like the CorvetteForum.com and DigitalCorvettes.com are made up of thousands of Corvette Enthusiasts. These sites contain message boards and membership to join is quick and free. After registering, go to the generation “thread” (conversation) you are interested in to post questions you may have about your selected model year. Depending on your questions, you can generally have feedback within hours of your post. You can also learn a great deal just by lurking in the forum, reading all the different questions or comments from other owners. These forum sites are a great way to learn more about the Corvette lifestyle, restoring and modifying your selected year as well as finding out when a Corvette show may be in your area. NCRS
The National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) is an organization that is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Corvettes made from 1953-1989. NCRS hosts a number of local and regional events around the country. Classic Corvette owners bring their Corvettes to these shows to be judged for the organization’s Top Flight Award, given to Corvettes that appear as they did when they rolled off the assembly line and dealer showroom floors. Seeing these Corvettes up close as well as having the ability to talk to current owners is a great way to learn more about specific Corvette models. The NCRS also has for sale on their website a number of restoration, technical and judging manuals which will help you in identifying the components of classic Corvettes. Corvette Magazines
Most of the major Corvette magazines have a service for ordering back issues, Using their index of issues, you will be able to find features and technical articles on the model year of your choice. After immersing yourself in Corvette Hobby, you’ll find yourself being able to spot the differences in the Corvettes you see on the road. Once you learned more about the model year(s) you would be interested in owning, then you can really start your search for your dream Corvette.
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