Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
John asks: I am the proud owner of a 1978 Corvette Indy pace car which I drove into the ground. The main problem the last time I drove it was that everything in the undercarriage was worn out. So I parked it and that was 20 years ago. Now everything needs to be replace or repaired including the interior; everything. The paint you name it. Is it worth doing?
My reply: Only you know the answer to this question, but I can help you answer it.
How much do you care about this car?
I have immense emotional attachment to my ’76 Trans-Am; it is worth far more to me than what it is worth according to “the book” – i.e., classic car value guides. Even if I were offered twice its nominal value I would not sell it because there is no replacing that particular car, in which I spent most of my youth and had many good times. Another ’76 – even if the same in terms of options, color, etc. – would not have the same emotional value to me.
If you care similarly about your Corvette, the cost of restoring it becomes secondary. The question isn’t whether the cost is worth it – it may not be, in coldly calculated dollars and cents. You may be able to buy a similar car for significantly less than it will cost you to bring your car back to life.
But no matter how little – or a lot – you do spend, it will never be the same car.
The next question is: Can you afford to bring your car back to life? Answering this requires figuring out what it will cost – by getting some estimates – and then deciding whether you can manage it. The car may be in better – or worse – condition than you imagine. Finding out is the first step. Assuming you think you’d like to save it.
I’d find a reputable Corvette shop in your area – or even not in your area – and get them to evaluate the car’s main systems (drivetrain/suspension/brakes, etc.) as well as the integrity of the frame and body.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to commit to a concours restoration to have an enjoyable-to-drive car. A ’78 Corvette’s 350 is not a complicated engine and even if you have to replace it rather than rebuild it, a brand-new GM crate engine more powerful than the one your car came with from the factory can be purchased from JEGS or equivalent for about $2,000 (see here). A brand-new TH350 automatic costs about $1,000; if your car has the four speed, and it’s not ruined, it should be rebuildable for about the same or less.
Your car’s suspension isn’t exotic, either – and should be rebuildable to as-new for not-insane money.
The main potential money pit with Corvettes is the body and frame and trim/interior pieces – which can cost a lot.
But you won’t know how much until you do an inventory, which is the first step. This is a neat car and I think/hope worth saving!
PS: Here is some info regarding the history and current fair market value of your pace car Corvette from Hargerty, which is one of the most-known/solid classic car insurance companies.
According to Hagerty, a standard Corvette – not a pace car – in concours condition is worth about $27k; I would expect your pace car to be worth around $30-$35k and possibly more if it is an L82 four-speed car.
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet (pictured below) in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.