1978 Chevrolet Corvette Indy Pace Car With 7 Miles!!!

We’ve seen some low-mileage examples of the 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car Replica over the years here at Barn Finds, but this particular example is something a little bit extraordinary. With a genuine 7 miles showing on its odometer, it made me wonder whether this was the lowest-mileage example that we had ever seen. I decided to delve back through the archives, and sure enough, it is…by a whole 1 mile! It is located in Belmont, Ohio, and has now been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Corvette has worked its way to $31,600, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Pace Car is one of those vehicles that seems to polarize opinions amongst our readers. There are some who are really attracted to them, while there are also those who tend to dismiss them. This one is unusual insofar as it never even made its way through the dealer delivery process. The more eagle-eyed readers will notice that this Corvette isn’t fitted with the distinctive front spoiler, as this remains wrapped in its original plastic in the back of the vehicle. Given that fact, I am actually quite surprised that the owner chose to apply the decals, as these were supplied with the vehicle, but left to the owner’s discretion as to whether they were applied. The body and unique paint are as spotless as you would expect from a vehicle with this sort of mileage on it. As well as the paint treatment, the Pace Car also scored itself a T-Top with mirrored inserts, and these looks just as good as the rest of the car does. It isn’t clear where the Corvette has spent its life, but there are no signs of any of the sort of oxidization on the alloy wheels that you might expect if this location had any sort of issues with moisture or humidity. The original intent by Chevrolet was to produce 2,500 examples of the Pace Car, equating to 100 cars per year of Corvette production. They were to be made available on a “first-come, first-served” basis. In the end, it was decided that there should be one car available per dealer, and the end result was that a total of 6,502 cars rolled off the production line. This equated to 13.9% of total Corvette production for the 1978 model year.

Given the fact that the Corvette never made its way through the delivery process, it is no surprise to find that all of the original protective plastic and cardboard remains intact. Below the plastic on the seats is Silver leather, although a combination of Silver leather and cloth was also available. Those seats were a new design and were originally scheduled to be introduced into the Corvette range in 1979. However, with their development accelerated, they found their way into the Pace Car Edition. Under the cardboard is Silver carpet, while the plastic cover remains in place over the leather-wrapped wheel. These were not a cheap car when new, with a sticker price of $13,653. This made them a whopping $4,300 more expensive than a base Corvette. Still, for that money, you not only received a distinctive exterior treatment and unique seats but a few nice appointments inside as well. These included air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a tilt/telescopic wheel, rear window defogger, sports mirrors, and an AM/FM stereo with either an 8-track player or a CB radio. In this case, the Corvette was ordered with the CB option.

The owner supplies no photos of the Corvette’s engine, but I did go and have a look at their dealer website and was able to locate this shot. In this case, the vehicle comes equipped with a 350ci V8 motor, a 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. This is the L48 edition of the 350, generating 185hp. This is a shame because the optional L82 version, with 220hp, will command a premium when it comes to determining the vehicle’s ultimate value. The last Pace Car that we featured with such low mileage had been checked and run on a regular basis to keep the oil flowing, and prevent its gaskets and seals from deteriorating. There is no indication as to whether this car has received the same sort of treatment, so there is a real possibility that it will require some work before it is fit to return to the road once again. Of course, the next owner might choose to leave things exactly as they are in a bid to retain the vehicle’s originality. As a collectible, the Pace Car walked a very interesting line when new. They didn’t cause a huge stir in the marketplace until they featured in a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal. The result of this was that people grabbed them, and as was the case with this one, squirreled them away as a potential long-term investment, or chose to immediately on-sell them at a substantial premium. It was these two strategies that also resulted in quite a lucrative market where less scrupulous operators were creating clones out of regular ’78 Corvettes, and passing them off as the real thing. Knowledgeable buyers were soon able to spot these clones, but it didn’t stop more than a few people getting burned along the way.

At the time, the Wall Street Journal was correct in their claims about the potential desirability of the Corvette Pace Car as a collectible Through late 1978, it wasn’t unusual for these cars that originally sold for $13,600 to resell for sums of $30,000 or more. The resellers at that period in time were the ones that history now shows made the wisest decision because, in relative terms, values have dropped since those heady days. It is possible to buy a clean and tidy example today that is fitted with the L48 version of the 350 for around $18,000. Of course, lower mileage vehicles are always going to sell for higher prices, but it is here where the line becomes quite blurred. With a car like this one, what do you actually do with it? Returning it to active duty is going to potentially devalue it with every mile that it accumulates. However, I have located a vehicle that had the same mileage as this one, and it sold for $70,000. A look at the dealer website shows that they are asking $49,900. Regardless of whether it is through eBay or their own website, history tends to show that they will eventually sell this one, and it will potentially be for a price somewhere around the price that they are asking on their website. If you are a buyer that is seriously interested in this car, then I would suggest that bidding might be your best strategy, because there is a possibility that you might save yourself some cash that way when compared to the dealer’s asking price.

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Comments

  1. Frank Sumatra

    L-48, automatic. Whoopee! Save your money for an L-82, 4-speed with the FE-7 suspension and drive it. Corvettes are supposed to be driven.

    Like 16
    • theGasHole

      It’s not relevant how this car is equipped because it’s never going to be driven. It’s purely someone’s investment. Might as well look at it as a stock or CD and not as an automobile.

      Like 1
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Let the speculators have this one, it’s better to put your money into something IMO that you can drive rather than park in the Livingroom and look at.

    Like 11
  3. Marko

    How exactly does a brand new car get delivered and sold through a dealership, without going through a PDI ?

    Idea was to make sure the manufacturer sent the car in good working order. When I worked at a Ford – Mercury dealer in the early 1980’s, we started doing PDI’s within hours of being rolled off the transporter. The favourite of the mechanics, was the new 1982 Mustang GT. Paid an extra 2.5 hours to attach the front fascia, which was shipped in the hatchback. Couldn’t roll them on or off the transporter with them factory attached, without damaging them.

    Like 6
    • Jeff Smart

      Skipping PDI is common with Corvette. Especially with the 25th year Anniversary and the Pace Cars.

      Like 4
    • Frank Sumatra

      Way back in the day, I seem to remember cars like this being touted as still with an “MSO” (Manufacturers Statement of Origin) Not sure if those even exist any more but that seemed to be a way of selling/buying a car like this without actually registering it. I could also be full of hot air and I’m sure a correction will be forthcoming soon!

      Like 1
    • Poppy

      This looks like one of Bob McDorman’s cars. He was a big Chevy dealer in Ohio who specialized in Corvettes. He had two of these parked in his office in his personal museum when he passed. I think the other one was a 4 speed. As a dealer he could take delivery and do whatever he pleased regarding PDI.

      Like 4
  4. Troy Urich Member

    The Lambrecth Chevrolet auction sold one with 4 miles on it for $80K. It was was still in it’s plastic and the Indy decals were still in the box.

    https://autoweek.com/article/classic-cars/autoweek-asks-would-you-drive-corvette-4-miles-clock-or-preserve-it

    Like 3
    • Jeff Smart

      $13,653 invested in the S and P 500 in 1978 would be worth approx $2,506,210.58 today. JS

      Like 17
      • Jeff

        Someone decided to purchase a DUD however I prefer your choice of investments.

        Like 5
      • Goldie

        The S&P returned an annualized 11.885% from Dec 31, 1977 through January 23, 2020, assuming dividends reinvested into the index. A $13,653 investment would be worth about $1,528,861 today.

        Like 4
    • Jim Volgarino

      Yup…covered that auction for Super Chevy magazine and was floored somebody would pay 80 grand for a Pace Car, 4 miles on the odo or not. But a lot of iron was sold for crazy money at that auction. At least it had not been relegated to sitting outdoors all those years.

      Like 2
  5. Jeff Smart

    In the collector corvette world, 7 miles is about average for 1978 Pace Car. A few years back I saw a high mileage L48 pace car (I believe it had 9 miles). The owner had it parked in their garage covered in plastic No telling how many of these cars are stored up. I remember back in the late 80’s some jackleg bought an ultra-low mileage one from Butch Calmes Corvette in Louisiana and drove it home. It’s probably at Pull a Part now

    Like 4
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      The survival rate on these Pace Car ‘Vettes is probably 100%. It seems like every one bought ended up stored for decades with very few miles put on them. 6,502 isn’t a big number but it’s enough when most of them are still around. Personally, $80K for a low-performing car is stupid money. For that kind of money, there are a lot of musclecars that I’d rather have. $80,000 can buy you almost any big block musclecar. And a very nice one at that.

      Like 5
  6. Jeff

    A SLUG OF A DUD as far as performance goes, however it looks very very nice.

    Like 9
    • Patrick Farmer

      So does the robot from Lost in Space.

      Like 4
  7. Tracy

    And still not worth anything! These cars had a whopping 150hp. I regularly beat up on these with my 240z

    Like 4
    • Ike Onick

      My 2007 Ford Edge with Duratec3.5L 265 HP seriously kicked a Pace Car’s A$$ once!

      Like 2
      • RTS

        Even if that did happen, you were still driving a 2007 Ford Edge and not a Corvette!

        Like 17
      • Ike Onick

        RTS- Sorry buddy. The Edge was the winter car. The Corvette was , and still is, waiting for spring.

        Like 2
    • theGasHole

      Hmmmm. I’m not really a fan of these but they are bringing a lot of money for being “not worth anything”.

      Like 1
  8. Cool Willie

    $13,653 invested in the S and P 500 in 1978 would be worth approx $2,506,210.58 today. JS

    Like 2
  9. Skorzeny

    I joke with my dad that I would rather drive a Peugeot 504 diesel with a manual than any (including the new mid engine) Corvette with an automatic. If this was a manual I would love it, but alas… Like Jeff said, it looks very nice…

  10. DRV

    Never buy something with unproven collectibility, especially if it’s claimed to be collectable when new.

    Like 5
  11. r s

    A shame to have a Corvette that costs so much yet can probably be beaten to 60mph by a Camry V6.

    Like 5
    • Dex

      So you have a ’78 Camry for a fair comparison. Good to know.

      Like 7
    • DN

      There were 9 of these at a Mecum Kissimmee this month…. yawn…

      Like 4
  12. Classic Steel

    Just curious on new old car?🤔

    So original oil in car that was started to warm?
    Did they jack the rear wheels to place in reverse to unlock brakes and move trans around to keep miles off?

    Did the gas get drained and ran off bottle to avoid corrosion ?

    Sitting hurts a car in so many ways…
    Belts
    Hoses
    Tires
    Battery
    Oil
    Trans Fluid
    Antifreeze
    Master Cylinder
    Air Conditioning system
    Fuel lines
    Brake lines
    Seals and gaskets

    Like 15
    • Patrick Farmer

      BRAVO! Just exactly what I wanted to post with one extra item. Did they pull the valve covers and release all the rocker arms to let the valve springs relax. I agree that the gas tank is trash along with the gas lines and the carburetor. It would be better to buy one that had been driven for one mile every four months since new and have about 75 to 100 miles today than some 7 mile car.

      Like 1
  13. George Mattar

    Worst investment ever. Wall Street Journal drove up the prices of the first “instant collectible” what a joke. 6,000 of these have 10 miles or less. Only reason the Lambrecht car sold for stupid money was the hype of the other cars. L48 autonatic? Ugh. I will keep my 73 L82 4 speed which I drive every chance I get.

    Like 7
  14. SMDA

    In 1978, you could have bought a new much nicer performing Vette at a much lower price to drive. All you had to do was not pay too much, not have to store it, not have to insure and maintain it….just drive. How hard was that? So short sighted even though they all thought they were thinking long sighted.

    Like 4
  15. Frank Sumatra

    It actually looks much better without the front spoiler.

  16. Brad Gray

    it was amazing what a set of Erson Springs and Retainers and A Set of Cyclone Anti Reversonary Headers done to our L82 Pace Car. pull 6800 Rpm in Low and would pull 6300 in Drive. Had 3.55 gears pretty fun car. my Dad went down the Line with it, one of the Percs of Working at Corvette. Nine coats of Black, Seven coats of Silver.

    Like 2
  17. Brian Scott

    Exact same car just sold at Kissimmee auction for $42k (+ 10% buyer’s commission). There’s an arse for every seat.

    Like 2
  18. Bob McK Member

    Someone will buy this car. There are people that are very happy just owning the trophy and not driving it. Not me…. I want to drive mine. But isn’t it nice that some of these get preserved?

    Like 3
  19. Bob Brunson

    my 78 Pace Car is on this same site, 92,000 miles and still turns head, they were made to be driven

    Like 7
    • Mike

      Make all those sub 10 mile pace car owners jealous by driving by and giving a quick toot on the horn. Better yet, charge them a hefty sum to take your car out for a spin.

      Like 2
  20. David Ulrey

    It is a beautiful car, no question about that. I love C3 Corvettes, especially this particular type without the chrome bumpers (don’t get upset guys it’s just a personal preference) but there have been so many of the Pace Car and Anniversary edition ones pop up that I’m actually tired of them. Give me a run of the mill one in those year ranges with 70 or 80k miles that has been enjoyed but we’ll taken care of and loved any day of the week.

    Like 2
  21. John Member

    Yup, mid-life crisis car’s, all the 50’s to 65’s need a special car. Here in South Florida, could be a little Beamer CV, a Masarati, a Bently CV, A buddy W/mid life
    crisis bought a 80 something Vet, 1st day stuff it, lost control and went in a ditch
    buying the whole front end. After mostly sat in the garage, him keeping it dusted
    ’till he died then his widow gave it away to get rid of it.

  22. Sandra shanahan

    Great example of why to shouldn’t buy a car for an investment, especially a new one…the original owner got clobbered especially considering storage and insurance…Not to mention what what Jeff Smart said about investing in S&P 500 funds instead.

    Like 1
  23. z28th1s

    There was a gentleman in Stuarts Draft, VA that had one of these displayed inside of his Amoco gas station/convenience store.

    He hosted a cruise-in there every spring. He would roll it out of the store for the cruise-in and back into the store after.

    It had 0.5 miles on it when I saw it. That was in 1994. Don’t know if he still has it of not.

    Like 2
  24. Virgil haataja

    I have a 78 base model L-48 that is white with brown interior. I love the car.

    Like 1
  25. Ranco Racing

    Same story as others on here. I ordered a Silver Anniversary but was so disappointed with the performance I cancelled the sale. The dealer said he had plenty of people waiting and refunded my full deposit. My friend, who worked for a dealer, ordered one as well, drove it home and parked it in his garage. Never drove it again.As has been said, $13,700 invested in stock market in 1978 would be worth way more money that these will ever be.

  26. Michael

    I wanted to buy one of these Pacecars back them but couldn’t afford it. Years later I bought a1978 Dodge Lil Red with a very rare factory 383 in it. Bought it off a used car lot for $4500 cash. Did some research and found out there were only 500 of them made with the left overs of that engine at the time. Ran one of these pacecars except it was the L82 without the decales. Wasn’t even a race for the Lil Red. The stackes on that truck just roared. This car is nice looking though.

    • RTS

      Pretty sure all the 1978-’79 Dodge Li’l Red Express Trucks were 360 powered.

      Like 2
  27. Will

    Well it made it to $35,655.53, but the reserve wasn’t met. Watch for it to pop back up. Or maybe the seller was just testing the waters. I’m with some of the others. I’d rather have one with enough miles to know it has been regularly exercised, because I would like to drive it to shows and cruise-ins, on occasion. This one needs to just remain as a museum piece.

    Like 1
  28. TimM

    Really clean but so undesirable of a power train in my opinion!!

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