I took a call today from Robert in Wisconsin who had some questions about early 1970′s Corvettes. His question was should he sell his 1972 Corvette Coupe with a 454 ci engine and an automatic transmission for a 1971 Corvette Convertible with a 350 ci engine and a 4-speed.
Like many classic Corvette owners, he was torn between the big block power of the 1972 and the convertible/4-speed combo in the 1971. He wanted a convertible, loved the idea of a 4-speed, but thought he’d miss the power of the big block 454 engine. But in his reasoning, it always came back to what was the more valuable car, so Robert’s major concern was holding the right Corvette from an investment standpoint.
Let’s look at the 1972 Corvette by the numbers. Robert had a T-Top Coupe with an automatic and the 454 ci 270 hp engine. 20,496 Corvette T-Top Coupes were produced in 1972, which accounted for 75% of Corvette production. The LS5 454 was chosen by 3,913 buyers, and had an option penetration of 14%. The horsepower ratings were lowered in 1972 from gross to net, which makes the horsepower output a more realistic “real-world” rating. A/C was an option chosen by 63% of buyers and the automatic transmission was chosen by 54% of buyers.
Our Corvette Price Guide places an average 1972 T-Top Coupe at $18,900. We add $6,000 for the 454 and $3,000 for the factory air conditioning, so our average 1972 is now valued at $27,900.
A labor strike shortened production of the 1971 Corvette. Only 21,801 Corvettes were produced, with 33% being Convertibles. 67% of all Corvettes featured the base engine, a 350 ci 270 hp power plant, and the base 4-speed was installed in 42% of 1972 Corvettes.
Our average price on a 1971 Corvette Convertible is $23,500
I confirmed these values with Bob Kroupa, who writes for several of the Corvette magazines and publishes his own monthly newsletter, the Vette-N-Vestment’s Corvette Market Letter
and he agreed that the 1972 Corvette Coupe with the 454 and AC would be valued higher than the 1971 roadster with a standard 350 ci and a 4-speed.
I initially thought the 1971 Convertible with a 4-Speed coupled to a 350/270 would be worth more than a 1972 automatic Coupe with a 454/270 and AC. But only 14% of ’72 Vettes have the big block option and combined with the C60 Air option, there was no chance in overcoming that hand. So what trumps an automatic big block Corvette Coupe? For Robert, it just may be that feeling of driving down a Wisconsin road with the top down and the summer air blowing around you while shifting through the gears of the 4-speed.
Corvette Black Book
Corvette Price Guide
Appreciating Corvettes: Top 12 Price Gainers of 2006