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Corvette Buying & Selling: Gauging Originality

by Keith Cornett on December 23, 2008

1964 Corvette Dash Cluster

I was browsing the C1-C2 section on the Corvette Forum today when I came across an interesting post about an original 1964 Corvette Coupe for sale on eBay. Classic Corvettes are full of visual clues that alone or combined with others can help us identify the model year. They can be obvious like the five side fender vents on the 1967 model or a split rear window on the 1963 coupe. They can be less obvious like the differences in emblems and grills on the 1965 and 1966 Corvettes. Climb inside one of the Sting Ray models and visual clues abound as well. In the case of the eBay ad, a red flag goes up when a crucial part’s originality is questioned.

The 1964 Corvette Coupe that was listed for sale had the following description:

1964 Corvette Coupe
VIN # 40837S104407
Miles- 37,431 Original
327/300 HP with matching numbers

This Corvette is part of a family collection and has been in our family since the mid 1970s. This Corvette is completely original (never restored) and has been garage kept with less than 1,000 miles of drive time since our ownership. It is in excellent condition and runs beautifully. The car comes with 4-speed manual transmission and a 327/300 HP engine. The exterior is Ermine White. I believe the car was repainted before our ownership in the late 60s or early 70s. The paint is in very good condition, with only minor chips and flaws. All the chrome is in good condition with only minor pitting. The underside is very rust-free, and in excellent non restored shape. The interior is red leather with red carpeting. The floor board pieces of carpeting need replacing. All gauges are in working order, with the exception of the tachometer, which needs to be reconditioned. The clock and radio both work sporadically, and both need reconditioning. Both headlamp motors work very well. Other than that, this Corvette is in very solid, original condition and provides an excellent investment opportunity.

1964 Corvette Coupe 1964 Corvette Coupe 1964 Corvette Coupe

The member on Corvette Forum who posted the ebay link, “Pilot5970″ pointed out that this original 37,431 mile 1964 Corvette has a speedometer that didn’t show up in Corvettes until 1965. The differences between the 1963-64 speedometer and tachometers and those of the 1965-67 are subtle, but once you see the difference, it will be very obvious when you notice an incorrect pairing like on this 1964 Coupe.

The 1963-64 speedometer and tachometer have a recessed center with tapered rings around the needle. The 1965-67′s are flat faced with two screws holding in the assembly. The “pins” that hold the needles are silver on the early midyear gauges but the later gauges have a recessed indentation that is black with silver trim. See the photos for a comparison:

1963-64 Corvette Dash Cluster 1965-67 Corvette Dash Cluster
1963-64 Corvette Gauge 1965-67 Corvette Gauge

There are a variety of explanations on how a 1965 (or later) speedometer and tachometer could have made it into this 1964 Coupe. We first looked at the VIN which shows the sequence number to be 4407 of 22,229. Our thinking was that perhaps the new speedo and tach made it into production earlier than 1965, but this Corvette was assembled in November 1963, the third month into production, so I ruled out new equipment making an early appearance. Another legitimate reason could be a warranty replacement. Finally, while the seller does state they owned the Corvette since the mid-seventies, there is no mention of how many previous owners this car has had. These cars weren’t exactly collected for monetary value back in the mid-seventies and it could be that a previous owner swapped out the original pair for those from 1965-67. The point is we’ll probably will never know.

So what lessons are learned from the sale of this 1964 Corvette Coupe? Our first lesson is always first for a reason. Knowledge is power. The more you can know about a particular generation and specifically a particular year of Corvette can save you from making a thousand dollar mistake. Secondly, have the Corvette looked over by an expert. Hire an NCRS judge. If there are no NCRS types in your neck of the woods, find an owner of the same year. How did “Pilot5970″ know about the incorrect speedometer? He owns a 1964 Corvette. Third, documentation and owner history could go along way in clearing the air in this type of situation. Don’t consider buying an “investment” quality Corvette without them. Finally, weigh the consequences of buying a Corvette like this with its questionable mileage. One day you may be selling it and may have to explain the replacement to a more knowledgeable buyer than you were.

FYI, this Corvette was sold on Monday, December 21st for $33,600. The auction had 9 bidders and 22 individual increases in price.


Source:
eBay via CorvetteForum.com

Related:
Corvette Documentation: The Three Truths from Proteam’s Terry Michaelis
When a Matching Numbers Corvette is Anything But…
6 Ways to Make the Most of your Classic Corvette Purchase

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