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Buying & Selling

November 2006 Corvette Sales

by Keith Cornett on December 2, 2006

GM’s November 2006 Sales Report has been released. Corvette Sales for November 2006 have shown a -12.2% decline from November 2005. Last month, GM sold 2,773 new Corvettes vs. 3,157 for the same month in 2005. This is the second month in a row we have seen a decline, though last month’s dip was only -3.4%. Calendar year to date sales are still strong with 33,437 Corvettes sold January-November 2006 vs 29,218 sold in 2005. That is still on pace for a 14.4% increase over last year. There were 25 selling days for both the November 2006 and 2005 sales period. Source: GM
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October 2006 Corvette Sales

by Keith Cornett on November 6, 2006

GM’s October 2006 Sales Report has been released and Corvette sales dipped 3.7% in Year to Year monthly sales. 2,761 Corvettes were delivered in October 2006 vs 2,981 in October 2005. Calendar Year-to-Date sales are still stong but have also declined slighlty over last month with a 17.7% gain of 30,664 Corvettes delivered in 2006 vs 26,061 in 2005. Last month a total of 3,056 Corvettes were sold vs the 2,761 Corvettes moved in October 2006. There were 25 selling days for the October 2006 period vs 26 selling days in October 2005. Source: GM
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DecodeThis: Your Online Corvette VIN Decoder

by Keith Cornett on October 30, 2006

1972 CorvetteOne of the many questions I constantly get (and love!) is how to decode a Corvette’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN can contain some interesting information including Body Style, Engine Size and if the Corvette may be one of a select number of special edition Corvettes. Early Corvette VIN’s contained mostly just the body style numbers. Beginning in 1972, the engine option was coded into the VIN, and in 1978, the first special edition Corvette, the Pace Car Replica had its own digit in the VIN. An interesting website called Decodethis.com has put together a search engine for VIN’s that will decode your VIN if it appears in their database. Currently VIN’s for 1953-1974 Corvettes are available, with more coming soon. The site is also accessible from mobile phones and PDA’s, so if say you are at a show or auction, just tap the VIN into their search and voila! Instant results! The site also decodes Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds, Chryslers and more. When making any classic car purchase, knowledge is power. In today’s muscle car climate where imitators are cloning Corvettes faster than you can say Dolly, the VIN is where to start the documentation process. Source: Decodethis.com via Autoblog.com
Photo: CorvetteImages.com
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Five Factors That Drive Corvette Values – Options

by Keith Cornett on October 25, 2006

This is the third of our five-part series where we take an in depth look at the factors that drive Corvette values. Last week, we looked at the Quantity and Condition Factors. Today, our attention turns to Options. The options list on a model year can change the value of a Corvette considerably. As we discuss the Options Factor and how it relates to Corvette values, we must understand that this factor is very much affected by the Quantity factor. Everybody loves having options and some have more than others. But in the world of Classic Corvettes, he who has the rare options, wins. Why? Back then, a Corvette with more options cost more to build. Buying a Corvette in the 1960’s wasn’t like buying a Corvette today. Today, you can order a package that has a preselected amount of performance or convenience options. Many buyers couldn’t afford a loaded Corvette, and Chevrolet wasn’t building loaded Corvettes unless they were ordered that way. Some options were very expensive for the time and could significantly raise the price. For example, in 1967, the air conditioning option (RPO C60) cost an additional $412.90. Throw in a big block engine (RPO L71), heavy duty brakes(RPO J56), close-ratio transmission (RPO M20 or M21), a radio (RPO U69) and side-exhaust (RPO N14) and the price just went from a base of $4,388 to $6,000 – an increase of over 35%. Perhaps the main option that determines the value of a Corvette is the Engine option. Starting in 1957, Corvettes were optioned with a number of engines that are generally categorized as small blocks, big blocks and fuel injected. Currently, a 1967 with a 427 ci 435 hp engine can bring well over $100,000 while a small block 327 ci 300 hp model might be priced in the $40-$50,000 range. 1974 was the last year of the big block and in 1975, the number of options dropped to just two. Starting in 1984 with the introduction of the C4 generation, Corvettes came with just one engine. In 1996, the final year of the C4, a one year limited option was a choice between the LT1 (350 ci 300hp) and the LT4 (350 ci 330hp). It could be ordered in any of the 1996 Corvettes, so long as they had the 6-Speed manual transmission. Other important options are transmissions (auto or manual) and comforts such as Air Conditioning, Power Steering, Tilt/Tele Steering Wheel Columns and appearance options like Wheels or Side Exhaust. Because Corvettes were base priced without any real options, a buyer might have added just a couple which resulted in low penetration of many of the options we take for granted today. Going back to 1967 model year, Air Conditioning was ordered on just 16.5% of Corvettes built. Just 25% had Power Steering and only 10.5% opted for the Tilt Tele Steering Column. Sometimes a Corvette may have some extra value because of an option not included. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Corvettes were sold with an option that removed an option. Confused? Many cars destined for the race track didn’t need radios or heaters so options called the Radio Delete or Heater Delete were selected and the car was built without the radio or heater and the buyer received a credit. Exterior and Interior colors are also classified as an option and a Corvette with a rare color combination can add value to its price. Since 1954, Chevrolet has offered a variety of factory available exterior and interior colors. Because there are records that tell us how many Corvettes were manufactured with a given paint scheme, we can determine the rarity of the color. Having a popular color can also boost value. Red has always been a popular color for Corvettes, so much so that the phrase appears in song (Little Red Corvette) and as a title of book documenting the building of the C5 Corvette (All Corvettes Are Red). Some options are desired due to the inherent design of the model year as opposed to what was put on car. Consider the 1963 Corvette Coupe with its “Split Window” design. When built, Corvette’s Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov hated the design and argued about the limited visibility the split plane caused. As a result, the 1964 Coupe’s rear window was changed to just one single glass panel. Today, the 1963 Split Window is sought after for that option. Another type of Option is the Special Edition Corvettes. For the most part these are Corvettes that have an added package of options bundled together. The first special editions to be offered appeared in 1963 in the form of the Z06 which contained a 360 hp fuel injected engine, heavy duty brakes and the famous 36 gallon fuel tank. Perhaps the most famous and heavily collected special edition was the 1978 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Replica. Chevrolet marked the occasion by building just over 6,500 Pace Cars, one for each Chevy dealer plus some extras. Public demand for these special corvettes was huge and many were purchased and then immediately placed in storage. It is not uncommon to see a 1978 Pace Car Corvette for sale with mileage in just the hundreds or low thousands. Chevrolet also marked milestones as special editions, again the first being the 25th Anniversary model produced in 1978. While all Corvettes were considered 25th Anniversary models, Chevrolet put together a special package of options, colors and special emblems. Anniversary models also include the 1988 Corvette (35th Anniversary) that was White, the 40th Anniversary Model which was a dark red called Ruby Red, and the 50th Anniversary Corvette in 2003 that was also Red (Anniversary Red). Other Special Editions included a package to commemorate the end of the three separate generations. In 1982 and 1996, Chevrolet produced a “Collector’s Edition”, again essentially a standard Corvette except for special paint and badges, and in 2004, a Commemorative Edition that was LeMans Blue and contained the first Carbon Fiber hood available on a production Corvette. A great source of learning about options that came on each Corvette Model is The Corvette Black Book by Michael Antonick. In the Black Book as it is commonly referred to, Michael breaks out the each of the available options with its RPO (Regular Production Option) code, the original option price and the quantity produced.

Big Block Motor Knock-off Wheel Option 1978 Indy Pace Car Replica
Stay tuned for our next installment in our Five Factors series: Originality The Five Factors that Drive Corvette Values:
Part One: Quantity
Part Two: Condition
Part Three: Options

About the Five Factors Series

by Keith Cornett on October 19, 2006

I was pulled out of town unexpectedly earlier this week on a family emergency. I had originally planned to post this series over five consecutive days. However, they are a tad wordy so I have decided to break them up a bit. I am planning to post the Options and Originality Factors next week and then should be able to conclude the series with a look at Market Forces the following week. Thanks – Keith

Five Factors That Drive Corvette Values – Condition

by Keith Cornett on October 17, 2006

This is the second of our five-part series where we take an in depth look at the factors that drive Corvette values. Yesterday, we looked at the Quantity Factor. Today, our attention turns to Condition. Like any used car, pricing and valuations are based on the Corvette’s present condition at the time of the sale. Many like to use the 1 to 5 scale with 1 or C1 (Condition 1) being excellent, show quality and 5 or C5 (Condition 5) being a project car that is usually not running or unassembled in some fashion. Pricing between these points on the scale can vary wildly so it is important to know what your chosen Corvette model can be purchased for at any point on the condition scale. Most of the price guides will give you an idea as to what the price should be along each point of the scale or at the very least, a High, Low and Average figure. Corvettes that have been restored are generally classified as excellent, show condition. They are usually a 1 or 2 on the Condition Scale. There are usually two types of restorations. Frame-off or Body-off restorations refer to the car being completely torn down with all components and body panels removed from the frame, and then reassembled. A Body-On restoration refers to a Corvette that may have had as complete a restoration as possible without removing the body panels from the frame. Some Corvettes may have been restored several years prior and are sometimes referred to as an older restoration. These Corvettes may be a 2 or even a 3 on the Condition Scale. Then there are the Corvettes have been so well taken care of, that restoration may not be needed. At the Bloomington Gold Corvette Show, a separate class called Survivor was created for these unrestored, original Corvettes. While a Survivor Corvette may not be as polished as a restored Corvette, make no mistake that the condition of a Survivor Corvette’s value based on condition may just as well make it as valuable as that of one that has recently went through a frame-off restoration. Lastly, there is the Project Corvette. Oh yes, the project car, with all its potential and a seductively low price that can lure you in and trap you. Unless you are experienced in the mechanical and body issues that a project Corvette will have, as well as having the budget, you are best advised to leave these examples to the professionals. Many times you’ll be looking at Corvettes for sale and come across an ad for a “freshly restored” model, but the price seems to be thousands more than Corvettes in similar condition. This pricing anomaly could be the result of someone who got into a project and ended up spending way more than Corvette is worth. On Wednesday, our attention turns to Options. The Five Factors that Drive Corvette Values:
Part One: Quantity
Part Two: Condition
Part Three: Options

Five Factors That Drive Corvette Values – Quantity

by Keith Cornett on October 16, 2006

This is the first of our five-part series where we take an in depth look at the factors that drive Corvette values. So what drives the values of Corvettes? Much like any other automobile, Corvette values are based on a number of factors including quantity produced, condition of the car, options, originality and market forces. To arrive at an approximation of price or value, these five factors are combined and those with the best combinations rise to the top of the pricing matrix. All of this is common sense really. Take a low production car in top condition, that contains desirable options, is a documented original and then add demand and you get a highly valued Corvette. The first factor that drives Corvette values is Quantity. Corvettes were never really produced in mass like other vehicles. Sure it seems there’s a lot of Corvettes on the road, but only 1.4 million Corvettes have been made since 1953. Looking at the Total Corvette Production Chart, you can see how production rises and falls throughout the years. Chevrolet broke the 10,000 units per year mark in 1960, the 8th year of production for Corvettes, and by 1963 had moved past 20,000 units per year. In the late Seventies and early Eighties, Chevrolet was averaging 40,000 Corvettes yearly. Production then fell during the early Nineties to the 20,000 level but rose again to average in the mid 30,000’s for the C5 and C6 generations. Many Corvettes were produced in such limited number that price is high due to the limited quantity available. In 1953, the first year of the Corvette, 300 were produced, but because availability is so low, we don’t see these Corvettes for sale all that often. Vette-N-Vestments tracked the sale of just two 1953 Corvettes in all of 2005, with sales of said year averaging over $100,000. In 1979, nearly 50,000 Corvettes were produced and because such a large quantity exists, decent cars can be found for $6,000 and up. The Quantity Factor is also impacted by the production of various body styles. Looking at our previous example of the 1979 Corvette, only one model was offered that year, the T-Top Coupe. In 1963, Chevrolet offered buyers a choice between a coupe and a convertible, and production between the two models was split nearly 50-50. But because the 1963 Coupe model was the first and only year with the famous “Split-Window” design, and because only 10,594 were built, the 63 Coupe is worth more due to its limited availability. However, just because one year’s production total is lower doesn’t always make it more valuable than same models in similar years. In 1997, the first of the C5 Corvette, only 9,752 Corvettes were produced. Examples of these Corvettes can be found in the $15,000-$20,000 range and even though they are the first year of the C5 generation and produced in limited quantity, they still lead the C5 category in depreciation.

Total Corvette Production Statistics 1963 Corvette Split-Window Coupe 1979 Corvette T-Top Coupe
That leads us to the next factor we’ll cover on Tuesday: Condition. The Five Factors that Drive Corvette Values:
Part One: Quantity
Part Two: Condition
Part Three: Options

Coming Monday: Five Factors That Drive Corvette Prices

by Keith Cornett on October 13, 2006

On Monday, October 16th, we will be kicking off a five-part series entitled “The Five Factors That Drive Corvette Prices”. This in depth look at Corvette pricing and valuations will run through Friday, October 20th. Here is a preview:

What drives the values of Corvettes? Much like any other automobile, Corvette values are based on a number of factors including quantity produced, condition of the car, options, originality and market forces.
See you on Monday!
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September 2006 Corvette Sales

by Keith Cornett on October 5, 2006

GM’s September 2006 Sales Report has been released and Corvette sales still remain strong. Calendar Year-to-Date sales are up 20.9% with 27,903 Corvettes delivered in 2006 vs 23,080 in 2005. Year to Year monthly sales are up 23.9% with 3,056 Corvettes sold in September 2006 vs 2,372 Corvettes in September 2005. There were 26 selling days for the September 2006 period vs 25 selling days in September 2005. Source: GM
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The Last Corvette to be Sold at Barrett-Jackson

by Keith Cornett on September 25, 2006

The Last Corvette This announcement is really no big news since the Last Corvette’s restoration was completed in January of this year. As anyone that knows anything about this car knows that the final stop is Scottsdale, Arizona. But for those that don’t know what the Last Corvette is, let me do a quick recap. The Last Corvette is a 1967 Corvette Coupe with a 427-390 hp engine and a 4-Speed transmission. The VIN, #22940 was the last Corvette produced of the 1967 model year production run and therefore the last of the 1963-1967 “Midyear” Corvettes produced at the St. Louis Corvette Assembly Plant on July 12, 1967. The Corvette has been on Pro Team’s radar since the mid 90′s, but it wasn’t until 2005 that a deal was reached to purchase the unrestored car for 10x’s the VIN: $229,240.00 Is the last of the 1967 Corvettes that big of a deal? Some say yes. Terry Michaelis of Pro Team Corvettes, who owns the Last Corvette is fond of saying “Sure they made Corvettes after 1967, but who cares” when promoting this Corvette. And according to Craig Jackson, President of the Barrett-Jackson Auction, “Being the absolute final car of a world-famous model makes this one of the most collectible cars in the world.” Well okay. I’ve never subscribed much to the theory that the end of a model run is worth more because it was the last. I can understand being first, but not last. Comparing apples to apples, is a 67 Coupe with a 427/390 worth more than a 1967 L88 or L89? And something else is bothering me about this Corvette. The whole process seems to me to be a slick marketing event put together by some very smart people for only one reason…to make money. A lot of money. I guess if you are putting $229,420 into a Corvette that needs a frame-off restoration, you need a plan to make that money back. I don’t hold that against Pro Team or anyone else associated with this Corvette. It will sure be interesting to see what this Corvette can do when compared to some real highly collectible Corvettes that should be available this year at Scottsdale. In defense of the Last Corvette’s publicity-hungry run-up to the auction at Barrett-Jackson, Pro Team has teamed up with two charities. The Ronald McDonald House and the Chip Miller Charitable Foundation will both benefit from the sale of the Last Corvette from matched donations, and in the case of the Ronald McDonald House, a Name the Final Bid contest. And finally, not to appear totally negative about the marketing machine that is the Last Corvette, there is one element to this unprecedented sales campaign that I am really interested in. Premiering on December 7, 2006 is a six part documentary which chronicles the Corvette’s history and restoration. That series will air on SPEED and is titled American Muscle Car: The Last Stingray. This is will be a real joy to watch as the production quality should be extremely high and the companies that donated time and service are the tops of the Corvette industry including Naber’s Motors in Texas where the frame-off restoration was completed. More information about the Last Corvette can be found at TheLastCorvette.com
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