Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

1981 Corvette: Cheap Cruiser

1981 Corvette

Of all the generations and years of Corvette, the last few years of C3 is the least loved. Emissions had strangled horsepower and by ’80 the styling wasn’t quite as attractive, yet I find myself wanting one! For the 1980 restyle, GM tried to make the car lighter and more aerodynamic to improve performance. While it helped a little, this isn’t why I’d buy one. I’d buy one simply because they are still cheap! You can often pick one of these up for less than $5k, making them a cheap way into V8 powered grand touring ownership. This ’81 was recently pulled from storage and while it needs work, the seller claims the engine and transmission work well. If the chassis is solid you could throw new seats in it, clean it, pull the t-tops off and start enjoying it right away! You can find this one here on eBay in Pompano Beach, Florida with bidding at $3,700 with no reserve! So would you drive a C3 or do you prefer your Vettes to be a bit older?


  1. cory

    Cheap is nice, but my reason for wanting one is that I was born in 75 in a gm town. These are what all the cool people drove. So for me these are the best looking years

    Like 0
  2. Heath

    I disagree with you on this one Josh. The yr that most (educated) vette owners stay away from is the 1984 model. First yr of the new body style, the electronics were junk, and the crossfire injection was horrible – it was replaced in 85 for the Tuned Port Injection. I’ve owned 8 vettes, including a 70, 76, 81, 87, and newer. I love the c3’s, underpowered yes, but so was everything during the 70’s. They are great light cars that can be easily upgraded with a performance small or big block. My 76 had a 454 in it (not factory) and it was a very fun and fast car.

    Like 0
  3. DENIS

    Not great cars but at that money, I’d own it if it was closer to home…lotsa fun-little dough

    Like 0
  4. jim s

    this might make a nice driver but i would look for one with a manual transmission. i too think corvettes from this timeframe are worth a good look. get them before the prices start to climb. great find.

    Like 0
  5. grant

    I like these Vettes. The bodys at least. Look at those big sensual hips. Pure 70’s sex on wheels.

    Like 0
  6. Tom Member

    Sorry, I have had a number of Corvettes and I don’t see much (in the 70’s 80’s or 90’s) of anything beyond 1971 being worth the restoration this car will need. Even at free, the cost to restore would be well beyond its value. Yes fun and cheap to a degree but you can find this year, and similar years, in exponentially better condition for cheap money….much cheaper than the buy on this one and all of what it will take to make it nice. Shame on the person who did not take care of the paint, interior, under hood….face it…everything on this car. Rode hard and put away wet is an understatement on this car. Good luck to whoever buys this money pit. This was a nice car once and now every inch of it needs attention. If the paint and interior look this bad, everything else is that bad too. Strip and repaint the right way, new interior you are 20K plus and we have not seen the underside, mechanicals or electronics of the vehicle. Biggest mistake of any Corvette buyer is just because you can’t see the rust doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of it !!

    Like 0
  7. Karl

    It sold for $3700. I don’t want to argue with more knowledgeable Corvette enthusiasts, but it seems to be a pretty small sum to get in the game. Look at the nutcase prices we see on other enthusiast cars, and it looks downright cheap. Especially since these cars are based on relatively simple and reliable GM mechanicals that the average Joe can work on.
    On the other hand, any Corvette that spent its life in coastal Florida soaking up salt air should be put on a rack for a comprehensive examination of its steel frame. As the Consumer Guide used car buying guide stated years ago, “Corvette frames can and do rust”.

    Like 0
  8. Dave

    Looking at this car it looks like it was water damaged, look at the state of the interior, mold all over the door panels, seats wrecked and the rest of the interior is a mess, the engine bay is not much better, all the rust, look at the corrosion on the aluminum parts (alt,etc). I’d be very hesitant to purchase this car until I knew exactly where it came from, looks like the bottom of a lake, maybe New Orleans !!!!

    Like 0
  9. rbtempe

    I have no idea why someone would pay that price for that piece of junk. I have been looking for a C3’s and believe me Craigslist if full of them, many in the 5k range in in excellent condition. That thing sat at the bottom of a Florida swamp.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.