Driven to Distraction
I have been an automobile enthusiast my whole life since the time I turned seventeen and could legally drive. Truth be told when I did turn seventeen I had already been driving a few years but without the necessary license!
In addition to Corvettes I have owned muscle cars, hot rods, European and Japanese sports cars.
I got married late in life and up till then I devoted a good portion of my income to support my addiction. My new wife severely curtailed my spending.
She just could not understand why I would spend $ 400 for the correct headlight cover on an old Corvette when I already had one, albeit the wrong year, that was perfectly good!
Needless to say I thought she was totally unreasonable, but for the sake of remaining married I reeled my spending in.
Oh and another thing, unlike what you see on TV today, you never make money when you restore these cars! I considered myself lucky if I got back 25% of the money I had invested in any given car.
Car people are like people who own race horses and boats. You do it because of some insane desire to punish yourself!
My favorite cars by far are the Corvettes I have owned. Simply put they give you the most bang for the buck. Although in the past they were not quite up to the handling standards of some of the fancy European sports cars, they were much less expensive and you could drive them every day. If you own a 1972 Ferrari Daytona you need a factory mechanic to keep it running!
Today’s Corvettes are the equal to any high end sports car, but at a fraction of the price. A new Ferrari California will set you back $206,000; (this is their lowest price model). A Porsche Turbo will set you back $188,000.
They all have 500 HP to 650 HP . The difference is a new Z06 will set you back around $80,000! When you take a Porsche or a Ferrari in for service you to have to take out a second mortgage on your house! A new Vette has a full warrantee and can be serviced by any Chevy dealer.
Here are some of the Corvettes I have owned:
1963 Split Window Coupe. The only year they made the split window. I paid $1,800 for this car two years out of high school. It was Sebring Silver and had sort of metal flake paint from the factory. The interior was dark blue. The motor was a 327/340hp with a single four barrel carb couple to a T10– four speed transmission.
I regret selling it to this day. I can close my eyes and go back to running the country roads at night in rural New Jersey. I would punch the throttle and the sound of that 4 barrel carb opening up was pure magic.
If you want to buy one of these beauties be prepared to spend $50,000 for a “driver”, (this would be one that you would immediately start dumping money into).
1957 Convertible– this was a very basic white colored car that I used to drag race with. We raced this car at the Island Drags and Englishtown tracks in New Jersey. Chevy had not yet mastered the art of forming glass so if you looked down the side of the car it was very wavy.
The car had a number of engines but the most competitive one was a small block 283 cubic inch bored .30 over which brought it to about 301 cubic inches. We were right on the national record with this car. If I recall our times for the quarter mile was in the low 11’s . The car would rev to 7,800 rpm. By today’s standards those figures are no big deal; back in 1967 we were really fast.
1966 Coupe– this was a L72 single carb 427/425 hp car. Maroon with a black leather interior. It had all the options, factory side pipes, knock off wheels, racing suspension etc. I actually traded a condo that I had about $ 6,000 in equity for the car.
The car was rated at 425 hp but everyone knew to placate the feds the real number was way over 500 hp. It had a very modified engine and pumped out over 700 hp.
It was loud and not much fun to drive unless you mashed the throttle. It also was not much of a road course car, but oh boy when you pushed on the gas pedal, it would snap your head back!
I know this guy was thinking he would blow me away. It was really no contest, by the time I shifted into third gear his headlights were just pinpricks.
I decided to sell it because I had two Vette’s at the time. I think I had it listed for $10,000. Some guy put $8,000 on the fender and went away with the car. This car in driver condition will set you back about $70,000, if it is very good condition and original be prepared to spend well over $ 100,000
1968 Convertible– this car I fell in love with. The color was bright red with a white convertible top. It was a 327/350 hp. The engine compartment had caught fire but it didn’t look that bad. I decided to plunge ahead and I bought the car. I found out later that the car needed to be completely rewired. That was just the beginning.
The most important thing I ignored was that the 68 Vette’s were bad cars! It was a changeover year and Chevy dropped the ball. Nothing fit right,
I put on side pipes, stainless steel calipers and brake lines, new steering box, racing suspension, new radiator, rebuilt the engine, new paint. The list goes on and on. I could have gone in the market and got the same car for half the price. You can buy these all day long today for less than $35,000.
2002 Z06–This was the first year of the reintroduction of the Z06. It was a 405 hp motor with all the options. At that time it was very fast. (The current model Z06 is over 600 hp!)
There was such demand that I had to buy it from a dealer in Ohio and have it trucked out. The car was superior in every way, but for some reason I didn’t drive it! Thinking back I believe it is because it was the first (and only) new Vette I purchased and I was afraid I would ding it!
After 5 years I sold it because I got tired of it sitting under a cover in my garage. It had 5,000 miles on it! I think it sold for $22,000
1966 Convertible– this car was black with a white convertible top and a removable hardtop. It was bone stock with a 327/350 engine and 4 speed trans. I purchased from an attorney who used it as his daily driver and it showed. Lots of paint chips and cracks. (early Corvettes flexed and you would get cracks in the paint.) For once I had a dose and sanity and just drove the snot out of it without worrying about how it looked. I did a minimum amount of maintenance but mainly just enjoyed the hell out of it for two years.
1959 Convertible– this car was red with a white top and white coves and a red interior. It had a 283/245 hp engine with 2-4 barrel carbs. This was the year they switched from single headlights to quad head lights. It had a four speed trans. A fun car as long as you didn’t go around too many corners. This car was one step below the “fuelie” motor. You can expect to spend over $100,000 for one in very good condition. They are not great drivers but are fun to look at. I sold this car for about $5,000
1964 Convertible– this is a car I bought on a whim and after a week I wish I hadn’t. (I think I got a great deal on it). It was the most basic model you could get. The motor was a 327/300 hp. This motor had a hydraulic lifter cam and did not take well to over revering, (I found out the hard way when I put a piston through the side of the block)
Worst of all it was a pea soup green! I could not wait to get rid of it. I sold it to a friend who was in love with the color, go figure.
1962 “Fuelie’–This was another benchmark car for Corvette. The last year for that body style. It was brilliant maroon with a black interior It had the 327/360hp motor with fuel injection. When you say fuel injection to a Corvette guy he inevitably gets a nervous twitch. The carbureted 327/340 motors actually worked better, the fuel in injection was a bit too finicky. If you can find a unmolested fuel injected 62 Corvette it is worth allot more than a carbureted car.
It also, along with almost all the early Corvette small blocks it had the famous solid lifter “Duntov” cam. Zora Arkus-Duntov was a Corvette guru and engine genius who developed the engines in all the early model Vettes. The motor would rev forever. It would pull all the way to 6,500 rpm, (and beyond), without a hitch. The small block Chevy widely accepted as being one of the best designs ever. I can’t remember what I sold this car for. You can get a carbureted one today that is near restored for about $75,000.
When you start modifying Corvettes it reduces the value considerably. Also, I would stay away from the 396/427 big block Vettes. There is a good chance that they have had the crap beaten out of them.
It would be a fun car to own. You can purchase one for about $50,000. This would be a reliable “driver” that you can use every day and have a blast!
Gary is a businessman and entrepreneur with a wide variety of outside interest and hobby’s, including, bicycle racing, classic car collecting, go kart racing, competing in giant scale RC planes, etc. You can read more about Gary and more of his articles over at www.garysviews.com