New Corvette enthusiasts are often at a loss to decide what year and precise model they should buy. You should always let your personal tastes be the final judge, because you will be spending a lot of money on the car and it should reflect your preferences. But here are five suggestions to consider if you want to drive your Corvette on the road frequently. All of these are relatively affordable now, and might have some upside investment potential for the future. (Estimated values courtesy of Corvette Market magazine.)
1. 1975-1982 C3 Coupe ($9,000 - $20,000)
The second half of the 1970s is not a fondly remembered time. Engine power was low at the time, just 165-230 horsepower, and interior design was dreadful. But these Corvettes can be retrofitted with more powerful engines and updated interiors, and they are the last affordable classic ‘Vettes. Think about Mark Hamill and the movie Corvette Summer and you get the idea.
2. 1984-1988 C4 Coupe ($5,500 - $10,000)
The early C4 Corvettes were all coupes, and they have the least investment potential of any Corvette ever made. But if you want a ‘Vette for the autocross course and the open road, these sleek models feature 230 to 250 horsepower and a more modern suspension than the classics. Plus you can leave a C4 parked outside without worrying about losing it.
3. 1990-1995 C4 ZR1 ($20,000 - $40,000)
The option code ZR1 will always make a Corvette lover’s hair stand on end. These coupes, produced towards the end of the C4 line, ranged from 375 to 405 horsepower, and should still be in good condition. Cars with any potential to become classics sell for the lowest prices when they’re 10-20 years old, so these are at their most affordable right now.
4. 1964-1965 C2 327/250 Coupe ($33,000 - $60,000)
The most beautiful Corvettes in history are the ones from 1963-1967. A basic 250 horsepower coupe is the most affordable Corvette from that era – although “affordable” is a relative term in this case. You’ll spend the price of a nice new car to own one of these pleasant Corvettes, but it’s still a lot less than the price of a 1967 427 with 430 horsepower. Yet your investment will be secure – these cars will not drop in value.
5. 1958-61 C1 283/230 Convertible ($40,000 - $80,000)
If you want the ultimate classic Corvette, your last chance to pick one up for less than the price of an average house is fading. The basic Corvette convertibles from the late 1950s and early 1960s offer you all the beauty and body styling, and really, at this point, who cares how fast they are? If you plan to race your C1, then chances are good that price is already no object for you. For a street machine, 230 horsepower is more than enough to enjoy this fantastic piece of automotive history.