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Please Review: Ten Rules For Buying Your First C3 Corvette

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Old 07-15-2008, 11:36 AM   #21
jds68stang
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My oldest brother learned most of those lessons the hard way when he bought his old 78. My GF warned him that they break down all the time and we both laughed at that comment (her ex husband had one).
I told her their GM cars, my GM truck has been running forever and never needs work (didn't know about the mechanical corvette curse back then)

Long story short, his worst breakdown was when his brakes failed at a red light and he sailed thru this intersection and luckily no one hit him, he wound up jumping a medium and stopped in the grass area, 20' further was a concrete floodwall

By time he sold that car 2 years later he had a 2" thick folder of repair reciepts. Now he wants another one, and he doesn't even know how to change the oil
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:15 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy Mike View Post


It's all in here.

Great book and EVERYONE looking to buy a vette should buy this book.
This list is very good for the basic things to look for.
Good job.
Some additional thoughts:
Another easy way to see if there's rust at the base of the windshield is to put a white towel on the floor next to the kick panels and open & firmly close the doors several times. Look at the towel and see if there's any rust flakes on it. If so walk away.
As for the frame you can lightly tap it with a hammer and listen for the solid metalic sound or the dull thud. As another said, just stick your finger up in the keyholes.
A musty smelling interior right away tells you it's been wet in there. Often overlooked are the plenum drain tubes from the astro vent grills behind the rear window. These are often dried out and cracked and water will gush into the interior.
Glenn
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:14 AM   #23
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one thing i liked to do, was jack the car up, and open and close the door. it should be solid, and fit tight. that will also tell if the frame is solid.
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:17 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettebuyer5869 View Post

-I wouldn't say ALWAYS replace the suspension. That's like saying you or your mechanic isn't smart enough to figure out if the springs are new. MOST times they need a suspension. Most often you assume you will need suspension work... but if the last few C2s and C3s I sold had the new owners replacing the suspension just because they ALWAYS do, they would have wasted thousands of dollars. I know this list is for the very newest of beginners, but this is too basic.
I wouldn't say "always" to replacing anything.

That's an easy way to take a very original car and turn it into a parts store special.
I'm always (somewhat) surprised when I see a Corvette on eBabe that someone is trying to flip. They buy it from the original (or second) owner with original paint, interior, etc and proceed to replace all the bushings (with polyurethane, natch), shocks, exhaust, etc, etc and then resell it. I keep thinking, "Dude, it was worth more before you messed with it..."
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:05 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettebuyer5869 View Post
A couple more things:

-I wouldn't say ALWAYS replace the suspension. That's like saying you or your mechanic isn't smart enough to figure out if the springs are new. MOST times they need a suspension. Most often you assume you will need suspension work... but if the last few C2s and C3s I sold had the new owners replacing the suspension just because they ALWAYS do, they would have wasted thousands of dollars. I know this list is for the very newest of beginners, but this is too basic.

-I taught the "How to Buy Corvettes" class at Bloomington Gold for years and years. At the end, I always said, regardless of your expertise level in buying cars, whether it was your first or your 50th, ALWAYS bring someone with you.

The rookie desperately needs a mechanically-inclined or more importantly, a Corvette-experienced eye to tell them what they are looking at. The pro still needs to have a "second set of eyes" to pick up on stuff the buyer just might miss. Corvettes buyers are emotional animals, and quite often that split window gleaming in the sun just right or that perfect favorite color paint refects just right.... enough for you to miss the spliced section in the frame rail. Trust me... I've been buying Corvettes since the 70's and I always try to have another set of eyes with me whether its a proven Corvette friend or just a trusted ally like my wife who is smart enough to remind me, "don't get too excited just 'cause it's black."

A very good point! i would think even a third pair of eyes would help as well
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Old 11-04-2008, 12:50 AM   #26
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Might add (and this applies to all collectible cars), buy the best car you can afford. That bargain that "just needs a little bit of stuff" can and WILL , for many people, eat them alive.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:10 PM   #27
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Great info! i learned alot on my first buy, i was very lucky b/c i won the car on ebay then drove 18hours to get it. drove it around the block and put it on the trailer and drove straight back. she a beauty but learned very soon that the trailing arms were bad. so that was my first job. luckily i met really cool guy who's a vette guru and has helped me out tremendously and is letting me do hands on so i can learn too. so far we've done the suspension, new calipers all around and hopefully soon a crate motor b/c i want more HP!!
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:18 PM   #28
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Have a peek under the windshield trim.

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Old 11-16-2008, 10:25 PM   #29
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I might add, you need to either have a great wife or no wife because most women don't understand how a guy can love a car he has to (and loves to) work on all the time.
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Old 04-25-2009, 08:29 PM   #30
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Updated with new pics and suggestions!!!
Anymore comments?
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Old 04-26-2009, 11:10 PM   #31
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1) you could add that if it is impossible to see the car in person, then you can have a forum member check out the car for you.

2) I hate to say it, but you need to take anything the seller says with a grain of salt. There are many horror stories on this forum of people who believed every word the seller said and ended up with a very expensive paperweight.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:51 PM   #32
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I've got a couple things to add:

1. Make sure everything works like door locks, windshield wipers, lights, radio, gauges, emergency brake, etc. Just because the parts are there doesn't mean they work.

2. If the previous owner claims a lot of work has been done but can't show reciepts or give details of the work, it probably hasn't been done.

3. Bring a knowledgable friend who is more likely to talk you out of rather than into a marginal car. They can get excited over a nice shiny paintjob, too.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:33 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellow94coupe View Post
I've got a couple things to add:

1. Make sure everything works like door locks, windshield wipers, lights, radio, gauges, emergency brake, etc. Just because the parts are there doesn't mean they work.
paintjob, too.
Definitely find out if something's broken, before you go playing with it (test drive). 5 years ago when my family got my 80, we took it for a test drive, tested everything not realizing that the power locks lock but don't unlock. To make a long story short, I got stuck inside and almost had to climb out through the t-tops.
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Old 09-13-2010, 06:21 PM   #34
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In my limited experience in shopping for a used C3, I have found that many of the owners/sellers are not always accurate as to the condition of their vehicle/history. Quite a few times pictures and descriptions on the phone were quite different when viewing the actual vehicle in person.

One car I viewed was a 1981 "time capsule" (owner's description) that needed a visor replaced to be in "showroom condition". Bad case of birdcage rust - hidden pretty well among other problems.

Documentation appears missing most of the time. Realized finding and purchasing a used older Corvette in decent shape not as easy as I anticipated when I began the journey.
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:33 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vettebuyer5869 View Post
A couple more things:

-I wouldn't say ALWAYS replace the suspension. That's like saying you or your mechanic isn't smart enough to figure out if the springs are new. MOST times they need a suspension. Most often you assume you will need suspension work... but if the last few C2s and C3s I sold had the new owners replacing the suspension just because they ALWAYS do, they would have wasted thousands of dollars. I know this list is for the very newest of beginners, but this is too basic.

-I taught the "How to Buy Corvettes" class at Bloomington Gold for years and years. At the end, I always said, regardless of your expertise level in buying cars, whether it was your first or your 50th, ALWAYS bring someone with you.

The rookie desperately needs a mechanically-inclined or more importantly, a Corvette-experienced eye to tell them what they are looking at. The pro still needs to have a "second set of eyes" to pick up on stuff the buyer just might miss. Corvettes buyers are emotional animals, and quite often that split window gleaming in the sun just right or that perfect favorite color paint refects just right.... enough for you to miss the spliced section in the frame rail. Trust me... I've been buying Corvettes since the 70's and I always try to have another set of eyes with me whether its a proven Corvette friend or just a trusted ally like my wife who is smart enough to remind me, "don't get too excited just 'cause it's black."
It also helps if that other person is dispassionate about the sale, the worst thing a buyer can do is get excited about buying a corvette - or any other car for that matter - and gloss over problems they actually find. Get that other person there to talk reason to you.
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:44 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fauxrs View Post
It also helps if that other person is dispassionate about the sale, the worst thing a buyer can do is get excited about buying a corvette - or any other car for that matter - and gloss over problems they actually find. Get that other person there to talk reason to you.
Thats why I always bring my dad with me when I look at cars... He unexcites me really fast lol
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:16 PM   #37
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This is a great tool and place to start for a beginer like myself. One thing I'd like to add, for tapping on the frame of the car a quarter works well. I'm an aircraft mechanic and we use them all the time for the same purpose, finding corrosion by listening to the difference in the sound the quarter makes as it taps along a solid structure to a corroded one.
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Old 08-18-2011, 07:17 PM   #38
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Addition:
Buy a car that is what you want. i.e.
-Buy a show car if you want a show car.
-Buy a car someone drives every day if you want something to drive.
-Buy a project if you want something to work on.

If you want to own a show car and you buy a project, you will probably fail to meet your goal, and even if you do, it would have been cheaper to buy it already restored. If you want something to drive and you buy someone's beautiful garage queen, you will end up hating it for breaking down every time you take it out.

God bless, Sensei
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:46 PM   #39
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This is a GREAT list. And much more succinct than a while book! I also think you've gotten some great input.

The only thing I'd add is to determine how much you want to spend before you start to look, and to research the makes you are interested in to find out what you can reasonably expect to find in your price range. Don't settle for less than that - and when you find one that fits the bill, ****** it up!
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:07 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wood1980 View Post
In my limited experience in shopping for a used C3, I have found that many of the owners/sellers are not always accurate as to the condition of their vehicle/history. Quite a few times pictures and descriptions on the phone were quite different when viewing the actual vehicle in person.

One car I viewed was a 1981 "time capsule" (owner's description) that needed a visor replaced to be in "showroom condition". Bad case of birdcage rust - hidden pretty well among other problems.

Documentation appears missing most of the time. Realized finding and purchasing a used older Corvette in decent shape not as easy as I anticipated when I began the journey.
Couldn't agree more. After looking at at least a dozen cars, pictures ALWAYS make the car look better than it really is. A nice large picture will never show the details like paiont bubbles, scratches, etc. unless it is a close up and pointed out by the seller. NEVER go by pics alone unless they are detailed close ups.
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