With my avenues becoming fewer, I concentrated on the Internet, and particularly on a '71 Stingray in a no-reserve eBay auction with a starting bid of $5,000. As a manual-transmission coupe with a non-matching 350 engine, this car looked to be an ideal candidate. As a bonus, the owner claimed that the body and frame were in good shape, the engine and transmission had been rebuilt, the brakes were new, and the suspension had recently been refurbished with new bushings and strut rods. Contrarily, the paint was dull and sporting numerous imperfections, and the front end had been changed to an aftermarket unit at some point. Also, the windshield was cracked, the interior showed some wear, and the contrast of the bright-red seats against a black interior added to the general poor aesthetics of the vehicle. Still, at $5,000 for a running, driving '71 Stingray, the deal was too good to pass up. Before bidding, however, I checked Mike Antonick's Corvette Black Book to learn a little more about this car.
This low-mileage, later-model...
This low-mileage, later-model C3 was also at the auction, but was a no-sale at $3,200. The economy really has Corvette prices all over the place, as a couple of years ago this car would easily have brought twice that, or more.
Whether considering a $5,000 Corvette or a $500,000 exotic collector car, it pays to do your research before purchasing. Consulting the Corvette Black Book, I discovered the car I was considering was a somewhat typically optioned Stingray with power brakes, steering, and windows; air conditioning; a tilt/telescoping steering column; and a manual transmission. Not a special-package car, it likely came with the base 350 engine, though that powerplant had long since been replaced. Another interesting feature I discovered was that the '71 model was the lightest of the early C3s, with a curb weight of just 3,202 pounds, making it a great candidate for a modified build. With these things in mind, I waited until the auction was nearing its end, and purchased the car for just under $5,600 after a short bidding war with another interested party. After paying my deposit, I contacted the seller and made plans to drive my truck and trailer the 12 hours from central Florida to Chesterfield, Virginia, and retrieve my new purchase.
My last C3 option at the classic...
My last C3 option at the classic car auction was this '81 model, but it was really in too-nice condition to become a project car. As a newer model with an automatic transmission, this car really wasn't what I was looking for, so I again refrained from bidding.
Upon arriving in Chesterfield, I was happy to find the Corvette to be as described in the eBay advertisement. The seller was genuinely sorry to see the car go as I loaded it in my enclosed car trailer. He even included a couple of boxes of extra parts he had accumulated for the project. Excited about my purchase-and feeling a bit like I stole the car-I quickly loaded the Corvette and headed back to Florida to evaluate the latest VETTE project vehicle. Though the return trip wasn't without incident (the injector pump on my truck decided to quit just north of Daytona), I made the necessary repairs and continued home. Once there, I unloaded the car, and after a couple of safety-related repairs took it for a ride around the block. I was pleasantly surprised at its condition, and with the way it ran and drove. This should be a fun project, and we're looking forward to providing some great C3 technical articles as we build and upgrade the vehicle. Be sure to follow our project in future issues, and for more pictures of our latest project visit www.vetteweb.com.
What's In A Name?
Whether intended or not, most magazine project cars generally end up being named. Sometimes this is done purposely, to distinguish the automobile from other project vehicles, and sometimes the name is just a way for us to keep track of which car we're talking about here at the office. Regardless, naming a project can be difficult, as often no single name can truly capture the essence of the car.