While there were a number of things that distinguished the early third generation Corvette, neck-snapping power was not at the top of the list. Chevrolet and the domestic auto industry in general were contending with the change to unleaded fuel and emissions requirements.
Bill Mitchell’s Mako Shark styling wasn’t as universally accepted once it finally appeared on the road despite being fresh and aggressive, compared to previous Corvettes. Early C3 Corvettes have always represented a haven of opportunity for those that must have a Corvette, despite a limited budget. Even today, careful shoppers can easily park a well cared for example of America’s sports car in their driveway without breaking the five figure price tag barrier.
However, Jonathan Welsh over at the Wall Street Journal thinks all that may be changing. Obvious notables such as L-88’s and the 1978 Pace Car don’t really count, as they have always demanded a premium, but Welsh contends this segment of the market is greening. He cites a nice L82 equipped example as hitting the $20k mark, but he really appears to be just working off impressions and not rigorous analysis.
A search of Cars.com for 1968 to 1972 Corvettes brought back just a pair under the $10k level, and a bevy of examples under the $20k mark, including a modified 1971 coupe, 350 automatic car reported to have just 15,000 miles, and an asking price of $12,000.
Repeating the search at Autotrader Classics found just three four-figure priced examples, along with a couple dozen more under the $20k limit. Among these was a nice looking 1968 automatic convertible with 28,000 miles, going for less than $12k.
Clearly, there are still a number of early C3 cars available for pretty decent prices. Whether or not that is changing is hard to tell without more concrete data, but there is very little in this world that is getting cheaper these days. That really wasn’t a pretty tough call on Welsh’s part, you know.
For those interested in a trip back in time, the main photo above is from a 1968 Corvette brochure. It appears to have been taken at Virginia International Raceway, long before the second tower was built. Those familiar with the course should recognize the Oak Tree turn leading into the back stretch.