Iím trying to get advice regarding my 1978 Corvette Pace car. Itís a
great car, but some things are starting to go wrong with it and other
things are starting to bother me. I may consider a restoration, but
can not decide what to do with it. I would like to keep the car as
original as possible, so any restoration (if not done correctly) could
My basic question, leave the car as-is or invest in a restoration and
make it perfect?
About the car: 4,369 original and documented miles. Everything on
the car is absolutely original, including the tires which are in soft
and excellent condition. Itís a L82 automatic, decals installed from
the original New Mexico dealer, CB radio option. Paint is original as
well. Interior is very good, but not perfect. At a glance, the car
shows extremely well. I exercise the car once a month in the summer.
Things I donít like:
(1) The car has stress marks around the bonding strips on the front
fenders. Paint is a bit cracked there as a result. Some of these
cars are better than others in terms of this particular problem. I
would rate my car average.
(2) Frame is good, but the underside is getting bumpy (rusty). The
previous owner, and old guy who had the car for 10 years, thought he
was helping the car by spraying the mufflers with gloss black paint.
There is some evidence of residual overspray from that process, but
itís not too bad. This was the dumbest thing the guy did. I have a
car lift in my garage and this car is stored on the lift. So I see
the underside all the time and the spray painted mufflers and overall
underside condition is wearing on my nerves.
(3) Brake lines will need to be replaced. A brake fluid leak is
starting near the driverís side rear wheel. I believe this is normal.
(4) I found evidence of some body work on the driverís side rear
quarter panel. Itís not obvious and was not documented or disclosed
when I bought the car. I do not believe the car has ever had any
(5) Like many Corvettes this age, A/C and clock to not work either.
If itís not in the list above, assume very good to excellent
condition. Outside of the spongy brakes, the car drives tight and
straight and is a great survivor.
This is my first post here, so any comments are welcome and
appreciated. What would you guys do?
Posted at author's request, using fully moderated
Please excuse the top posting IF it bugs you....
To me I would let it stand on its own as a survivor...
Mainly because it drives as well as it does and doing a Restoration
can get both involved and EXPENSIVE... and there is no way that I
knolw of that you could recover the costs..\
fix the clock, fix the AC and replace the
calibers and brake lines etc...
As far as the painted mufflers etc... I would not let that bother me
in the least ..
Just my opinion...
64 72 & 98 Convertibles
76 & 79 Coupes
The 79 (also a L 82) has the pace car spoilers from the factory..BTW
Brakes are going to go south if you do not use them... believe me ALL
of my C3's get their brakes pumped a few times every month even while
in storage...just cheaper and easier then playing with them every
spring... Surprised your power steering control valve has not gone
south the seals in tem dry out over the winter..have to drive mine a
few weeks every spring to stop the leaking...
Here is what I'd do.
1. Fix the brake problem. By that, I mean "FIX", not replace. The reason
will be obvious later. Why do the lines need replacing? Have they rusted
through? What do you mean leaking? Leaking is not "normal" although having
calipers leak is common.
Much of the brake problems go away IF YOU DRIVE THE CAR!!! Driving it 3
times a year and then sitting for 9 months is not helping.
Get another set of wheels and tires. I would not drive it anywhere but on
and off a trailer and into the show field on 30 year old tires.
If the hose or line is leaking, try tightening the fitting to seal. If the
caliper is leaking, get a seal kit and install it.
2. check on fixing the AC. However, I would restrict what was done. For
example, I would only use R12 and if the system is leaking, I'd be sure any
seals that are replaced are either not visible or original. Otherwise, I
would strict it to only being charged at this time. If they can't charge it,
well, they can't and I wouldn't do anymore until later.
3. Join NCRS.
4. Prepare to go to an NCRS chapter or regional meet for judging as a Bow
Tie car. This is for cars that are original survivors. DO NOT begin making
the car nice, that is not what Bow Tie judging is about it is about seeing
an original car, not a restored car. Other than fixing a leaking caliper or
brake line, do not change anything. Wash it only. Do not sand, touch up,
paint, wire brush, etc. This only destroys originality.
5. Plan on going to Bloomington Gold next June for Survivor judging. From
how you describe the car, I'd trailer it or ship it, depending on your
ability to do such. I wouldn't drive it. This has limited openings, so I
would make contact now and get the information you need to be in the
6. AFTER you have picked up the BG Survivor award and NCRS Bow Tie judging,
then I would go through what is wrong with the car.
7. I'd be sure the brakes were up to par. I'd install new brake hoses as
close to original as I could get. I'd start with new seals, and pistons if
needed first. If that was not possible, then I would have YOUR calipers
resleeved with stainless steel sleeves. Most places will sleeve yours and
return them, rather than just exchange.
8. I'd clean the frame and preserve it. Paint the outside of it with an
original shade and spray the inside with an oil mist to stop any rust.
I would have the AC fixed but still only use R12. More expensive, but it
works better in these cars. I would still restrict them to keeping the
system as original looking as possible. If they can't, find someone else.
Drive the thing on a regular basis. Sitting 9 months will just let it fall
apart. Once a month at least, start it in the driveway, let it warm up a
bit, then drive it around the neighborhood and at least on stretch of road
up to 50 mph or so. Be out there at least 30 minutes. Avoid the rain and
snow if you are paranoid about it, but if not, then bring it home and clean
it on the lift to get the underside clean also.
Even Harrah's took every car out and drove them on a regular basis.
A restoration will destroy all originality. It is the originality that is
the value. The Survivor and Bow Tie awards attest to the originality.
I'm a "never have owned one, but sure want to..." vette person. My favorites
are the '63, '64, '73, '78 and '79. I really like the late 70s due to the
larger, "Mako Shark" influence in the design.
What I've been reading in here, off and on, are the problems associated with
this machine and it appears to me, these may be a deterence to owning one.
I've never even driven one, but find the necessary care kind of intriguing
in many respects.
I'm wanting to do the whole nine yards and make the shows, rallies and get
to know others with similar vettes to compare and discuss. So...here's the
group's loaded question:
Which year is THE best year Vette to own. (I hate the looks of the 80s
years.......too lean, bland and just unattractive to me.) The "hatchback"
look of the late 70s looks very stylish to me!
I'd appreciate a guesstimation of price if you would. I'm in Oregon.
I'm looking forward to reading your opinions.
If you're looking for the 78-82 style, look later in the model years. They
started coming out of the poor performing era with a little more power. I
have a 78 and love it though. Of course, until I get some restoration
going, it's pathetic lawn art for the near future and my 96 catches the
daily driver role. If you're looking for a daily driver, look late C-4 or
later, the power/fuel economy puts the C-3's down hard. Most importantly,
learn all you can about what to look for when looking at a Vette. There was
a checklist floating around the NG for a while. There are places that you
may never think to look until it's too late and can cost a large fortune to
repair later. Also do a lot of price shopping. As long as it's not a
serious collector item, you can get some great cars for good prices.
buying in on a mid year C-2 will be between $20-40K
73 will be an easy $20K min
79-82 can start as low as $2500 and go to $20k
An average 79-82 will be $8-10k and will be a really nice driver for that
As far as performance HP any car that old should be freshened up to any
extent you want from a new crate motor to a decent rebuild.
Parts for any vette are readily available from numerous companies.
Performance parts and upgrades for suspension, brakes, wheels and tires are
also easily available.
You can get into the vette lifestyle easily and spend whatever you want on
your car, its a fun hobby and great feeling just to drive and enjoy.
The investment in your hobby yields fun and relaxation as its dividend.
The BEST year to own is almost invariably the newest one. During the '70s,
people didn't follow that due to performance issues. Today, some still take
issue with that because of their personal taste on looks, options, goals,
and so on. As such, to many, the 1967 435 hp is the best, and they pay
dearly for that.
Problems have always been a feature built into Corvettes. Part of it is the
complicated design and part of it by the drivers. This isn't a car grandma
drives to church on Sunday and to school to teach during the week. This is
a car that drivers have often put the foot to the floor more than once.
However, most problems are not major or insurmountable.
Problems also show up because these cars are old and old cars develop
problems. Would you expect a 30 year old 150,000 mile car to run perfectly
across the country?
Unless the car is very low miles, or has been completely restored, it is
bound to have some problems. Typical are wheel bearings, overheating,
options and accessories quit working, and so on. Clocks typically quit.
Most were designed for 2 or 3 years of life and 25 or more with no
maintenance is a bit to expect.
However, with a bit of care and maintenance, there is no reason to expect
that most of these could not fulfill most of your driving needs. After all,
they did when new just like other cars.
Buying the cheapest available of any given year or model will be a sure
indicator of one needing lots of work. Buying the most expensive is not a
good idea either, as the price often reflects things like desire rather than
And you need to study about them as in the years that have passed since they
were built, many have been modified, restored, rebuilt, raced, abused,
rebuilt again, and so on. As such, it is often hard to know exactly what you
are buying and whether it is worth the asking price or not.
It is often a good idea to get someone who knows them well to assist you.
On the years you have picked, here are some ideas.
Buy whichever in good shape ready to drive. Be sure to have someone along
who can help you determine what is stock and what is not. There are pros
and cons to being all stock and to having modifications, but often these
modifications can be custom work that causes whoever comes along to repair
it later more effort. However, a really sharp mechanic should recognize the
changes and adapt quickly.
Value on the '63 and '64 come from originality. However, originality is
often simply being stock, as original parts may have worn out years ago and
been replaces with less-worn old parts or NOS parts.
The '78 and '79 are less susceptible to value changes from originality.
'63 has more one-year only items than '64. However, '63 has a higher value
'78 and '79 are the more modern cars. As such, you will find more creature
'73 is a good year that gets more creature comforts but still retains the
original Shark design. Back in that era, '68 to '72 were often having the
chrome bumper removed and the front molded in like they had done with the
'63 to '67 a few years earlier, so the '73 is really a factory "custom"
Get off the couch, go look at several, talk to the owners, and don't buy for
the first three months. This way you won't be seduced by the first good
looking Corvette you see. Get someone impartial and unexcitable to go with
you to be sure to keep you level.
'Which year is THE best year Vette to own. '
REPLY: 'Best' can refer to a variety of things ; and alot of it is
subjective too. Your question should be rephrased as such to be more
definitive : Which years were best/good for each generation ? It
appears you have more of an interest in the C3 Generation since you like
the shark look . My 'personal ones' to stay away from are as follows
(and for various reasons ) : 1968 , 1976-1980 . Email me if you want
a checklist of 75 things to look for when buying a C3. Dave.
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