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Should I buy a C3 corvette

Old 01-12-2019, 10:53 PM
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Hi Vincent. Answer these questions:

Do you have a good job
Have you paid off any or all or your student loans
You're not planning on getting married, having kids in the few years
Do you have a garage
Is your Honda dependable enough for a daily driver
Do you have disposable income you're not going to miss
You understand that this will not be a money making proposition
Do you have enough free time to put into this kind of project
Do you deal with frustration well

If you answered yes to all these questions, go for it!
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:08 PM
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This may have been insinuated before, but remember it is a 40 year old car (ok 39). How may cars that old are still being used as daily drivers? Not too many I think. . Maybe if I was younger I would feel differently. Motor, transmission and steering are pretty straightforward, but if anything goes bad in the rear end or IRS it can get expensive and is a pain to work on. That said I think '79s are pretty solid cars.

Last edited by Bigredwing; 01-12-2019 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:49 PM
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First off, regarding the Honda: I made the decision to get rid of it before I ever started considering a corvette. At this point in my life, if I'm going to buy a vehicle, I'm definitely going to pick something fun. So I started looking at anything with a manual transmission, RWD, and a V8 (in the less than $10,000 range). When I noticed one or two C3's appear in my search results I decided to ask around and see if that's a feasible option. If getting a corvette means that I need to keep the Honda, then I'm back to square one.

Originally Posted by shaark92 View Post
Hey Vincent ... while it seems you're looking for a driver and not a keepsake that you take to a drive-in ... TXDOT is spraying the roads with "brine" ... aka KCl (potassium chloride) corrosive. You may have seen their operations lately. If the temperature gets below 40 anywhere in the State, and there's moisture anywhere in the State (and they include the water on the coast) ... the spray trucks are deployed.

"Victoria" stays in the garage during all that mess. We ride in the cold, but not the cold and wet because of the corrosion problem.

And BTW ... what shuts down Texas is ... ICE ... not snow. No one drives on ICE, all skate. I'm unaware of very many 60 car pileups in Texas for any reason, let alone frozen precip ... so perhaps the "we know how to drive in the snow" yankees aren't quite as knowledgeable as they smugly present themselves to be.

... 50 years on the planet ... all but about 4 of my Air Force years ... right cheer in the Lone Star State.

Yes, grab the bull by the horns, bud. I always wanted a Vette, but it wasn't "in the cards" until "Victoria" found us (billed as the wife's car) last fall. You'll have at least 20 years on me!

Welcome to the Board!
Thanks for the heads up. I haven't seen the trucks, so I didn't realize they were spraying around here.

I've lived my whole life so far in Texas and it would take a literal act of God to move me anywhere else.

Originally Posted by lowbuck72 View Post
Hi Vincent. Answer these questions:

Do you have a good job
Have you paid off any or all or your student loans
You're not planning on getting married, having kids in the few years
Do you have a garage
Is your Honda dependable enough for a daily driver
Do you have disposable income you're not going to miss
You understand that this will not be a money making proposition
Do you have enough free time to put into this kind of project
Do you deal with frustration well

If you answered yes to all these questions, go for it!
Yes, I have a good job.
No, I'm not planning to get married or have kids in the next couple of years.
Yes, I have a garage.
I'm not keeping the Honda, but my motorcycles are plenty dependable.
Yes, within reason, I have disposable income.
I have no intention of making money on this situation. I'm looking for a car, not an investment.
Yea, I have free time.
I deal with frustration reasonably well.

I'd love to own a Vette but, for the moment, it's only gonna work out if I can drive it about 30 miles (round trip) every day with only a motorcycle as backup.

Thanks again for all the input so far. I'm not sure whether or not I'm any closer to making a decision, but I do feel moderately better informed than I was before.
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Old 01-13-2019, 12:14 AM
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I love my Vette, but there is no way in hell I'd want to depend on my 50 year old car as my daily driver.

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Old 01-14-2019, 09:07 PM
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Default Fellow Texan

I daily drove my 78 for about 3 months 20 miles round trip to work while I repaired my F150 due to timing chain guide failure. Keep in mind I do ALL of my vehicle maintenance/repairs. Unless you are able to do this, you may run into issues. My car was was flat-out reliable due to what I've done, but even then, I knew in the back of my mind it would one day not start or give me some sort of issue. Even then, it developed an occasional idle stumble, but never turned off (summer came around so I had to re-adjust carb for 100+F). So unless you are 100% certain the previous owner changed every bit I'm about to mention, you better factor parts (and labor if you can't do it yourself) into the hidden costs of that $10k ownership.
Engine: I rebuilt my carb, changed the filter, tested the fuel gauge, checked the entire fuel line for leaks, cracked hoses, etc. Change all spark plugs, plug wires, inspect distributor, make sure weights, springs, vacuum advance works correctly and that it's timed correctly. You will need to check ALL rubber vacuum hoses for leaks, especially the ones going to headlights. It sucks to flip on your lights at night and get a major vacuum leak that causes idle issues and an annoying hiss. (I'm in the middle of electric headlight conversion btw). Serpentine...I have v-belts. This car left my father needing frequently get home on shoe-laces as subs. I installed a 95 Suburban serpentine system. Never had belt issues again, and got a modern alternator in the process. (Check charging system as well).
Brakes: They will fail eventually. I took mine apart, replaced lip seals with o-rings, changed my rubber lines with braided hoses, flushed the system, filled with DOT5, and bled correctly. New master cylinder is a good idea. I also did hydro boost, but it's not needed. I haven't lost a drop of brake fluid since as of 2013 when I did this.
Cooling: Make sure your gauge is accurate. I would on occasion drive in the heat with no a/c because I thought the beast was overheating. Faulty gauge. Get a good infrared temp gun to confirm. Problem solved. Make sure all of the foam is around the radiator as well. Do not go below 180F thermostat. Get a new water pump and make sure all of your hose clamps are placed correctly on new hoses. They can and will pop-off (I say this from experience while ordering at whataburger)
Steering: can fail, mostly because they are not replaced very often. Usually the car has an original one or one that was replaced in the 90's. You will either constantly be refilling it with fluid or give up and buy the manual steering linkage adaptor. I for one got the borgeson steering box because it's not an issue I wanted to constantly be revisiting (like the brakes).
Suspension: It's very likely the bushings and shocks are shot. You will feel sloppy steering, creaking over bumps, and poor alignment. If anything, at least make sure your idler arm, tie rod ends, and rear strut rod bushings are okay, then get an alignment. I went full poly on mine (didn't wanna have to go back).
Lighting: Your brake lights suck. Modern drivers are used to bright lights and a center mound stop light. I replaced my inner reverse lights with additional brake lights (so all four are lit not) and shoved a red harbor freight LED strip between the rear glass and trim (got that from another member here). You damn sure don't want to get rear-ended in this car.
There are just a few of the things I've done, or at least what I deem the most essential into making the car what I consider decent enough to drive around without more than 5% worry. You should always worry. You should also have a backup vehicle readily available if you are not the kind of person who can quickly find the issue and get your car running again from the side of the road. (That is just a product of experience and a thorough understanding of these cars. Even then, some issues can't be fixed at roadside)
I'm sure there's more to list that others will bring up. I'm just trying to give you an idea of what is going to be needed to keep this car on the road reliably. My father gave me this car, I consider him a good mechanic, and I've still sunk around 5k in parts. And thats because I'm cheap. PLUS, I did all of the work myself. Labor would have been more than the car is worth. So, take a good look at what you are getting into. It can be done, but 10k will NOT be the end of the story guaranteed. Even a show quality 78-79 at 20k will have issues. So to recap, I am not discouraging you, but simply saying you better have a safety net (i.e. spare means of reliable transportation, lots of extra money, and a job that will not fire you for being late if the occasion arises). So if you have all of that available, understand that more will be needed from you (because these cars need an owner who understands them or is willing to learn about them, much like equipment lol) then I'd say you'll be okay. You won't regret driving the sexiest car ever conceived and you'll love that 4speed. I have the 3speed auto, so at 80mph I'm running over 3k rpm lol
Good luck with whatever you decide!
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Old 01-15-2019, 04:27 PM
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That is a VERY realistic expectation list.... I would have gotten a different C3 if I had known better what to look for and what to expect before I bought mine. I don't regret buying mine for a second, I just would have made better, more informed decisions earlier in the process.

Absolutely don't let that dissuade you.

You do have to love it though. I don't thin'k I would still have mine if it wasn't an obsession ;-)
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