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Astro Inspired Custom? 1973 Chevrolet Corvette

The C3 Corvette is one of the most instantly recognizable cars in the world! Can I prove my obtuse statement? Nah, but you must admit, it’s a well-known template. Designed by Larry Shinoda, under the direction of Bill Mitchell, some would say that it’s pretty hard to improve on its original, right out of the box 1968 persona. Government regulations caused alterations over the years but Chevrolet’s designers did what they had to in order to preserve the iconic look while complying with the mandated changes. So, does anyone think that they could do better? Sure, many tried and today we have an example of some homebrew applied to a 1973 Corvette convertible. This example is located in Miami, Florida and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $3,050, with 32 bids tendered so far.

Right out of the gate the seller claims, “73 corvettes are rare one year only cars and convertibles are very rare“. They’re not. There were about 30K Corvettes assembled in St. Louis, Missouri in ’73 and almost 5K of that total were convertibles. Yes, it’s a one-year body style due to the aforementioned regulations, specifically a five MPH bumper up front, covered with a soft plastic nose, while the chrome bumpers, in use since ’68, were still hanging around out back. That would change in ’74 as the five MPH Federal bumper standard moved rearward and the ‘Vette would don a soft tailpiece to cover a studier bumper.

So what’s the custom deal with this subject car? Two items, one are the flared wheel openings, a very common enhancement applied to C3’s in the ’70s, and the other is the first-gen Pontiac Firebird taillight treatment. The fender flares appear to have been well executed. The flare, very minor (I think?) on the front openings, considerably more major on the rears, are well radiused and not showing signs of chipping, cracking or separating. The problem with wide rear flares and normal-sized tires, as is the case with this Corvette, is that it ends up looking goofy; sort of like bell-bottomed flood walkers. The red finish looks like it was slathered on – that’s some really thick paint! There are some ill-fitting body panels and one of the headlight doors appears to be giving us a wink. The fiberglass work around the Firebird taillights is lumpy and poorly applied – and it begs the question, why? It’s hard to improve on the Corvette’s signature round taillights. The body-colored Cragar wheels are a matter of preference; the body color treatment seems to work better on some wheel designs than it does on others.

The engine appears, and the VIN confirms, that power is provided by a standard 190 net HP 350 CI, V8. While it is listed as a numbers-matching powertrain, mums the word regarding its running status. The motor shows as complete though the ignition shielding is missing and the air cleaner is an inexpensive, aftermarket part. I’m not sure about the HEI distributor, my recollection is that 1975 was its introductory year. Whatever the case, it is an improvement over breaker points. A Turbo-Hydramatic, three-speed automatic transmission puts the go to the rear wheels.

While the convertible body style is always welcome, it appears that the top was down maybe a bit too much as the interior of this Chevy looks like it has seen a lot of mother nature. The seat covers are vinyl replacements and the console, carpet, and door cards are crudy. The auxiliary gauge instrument panel is rough and the Delco radio has probably moved to a new address. I particularly like the two sheet metal screws used to secure the steering wheel center horn cap. There is no sign of a folding convertible top but it may still be ensconced behind the seats.

The seller states, “What you see is what you get“. OK, so be it. This Corvette is a pretty minor custom, I suppose the new owner could try to straighten it out and make it more presentable. This Corvette doesn’t look like the appropriate example to spend the time, effort, and $$$ to convert it back to its original appearance – better subjects are available. While C3 Corvette customs were all the rage in the ’70s, I don’t recall ever encountering a design that I preferred over the original as Chevrolet intended, how about you?


  1. Avatar photo Frank D

    How to devalue an investment. Did you paint the frame red too? The only thing this vehicles has going for it. Its a convertible. Rust and red great combo!

    Like 10
  2. Avatar photo DeeBee

    Looks like someone on a weekend bender thought of every bad customizing idea and threw them at this hapless car!

    Like 5
  3. Avatar photo Francois Kwiatek

    Nice love to bet

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Stan Marks

    Money pit….
    That being said, if you’ve got the $$$$$ & the time, this might not be a bad start.
    It would have been nice to see the undercarriage. Fiberglass bodies don’t rust.
    It’s hard to say, what it will take to get this running, again.

    It breaks my heart, to see any Vette abused, like this poor baby. As Rodney used to say, “No respect”.
    That rear end needs to go. Give it back to Pontiac. It’s ugly.

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Tort Member

    Again, someone takes a nicely styled Corvette in stock form and destroys it. Unlike some others seen a Barn Finds this one it not past the point of being saved.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo moosie

    A/C compressor still has a belt on it , that’s a good sign, the painted Cragars don’t do a thing for this car, or any other for that matter.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Bob

    O.K., why the devil did they take a can of red spray paint to the intake manifold, at the same time squirting a bit on the thermostat housing along with other pieces and parts. Also did the owner indicate if the engine runs at all?

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo C5 Corvette

    I’m seeing RED. Why? What a waste! Bad enough painting the car red, and adding useless wheel flares, but why spoil a set of SS wheels too! NO!
    The only good thing is the seats appear to be in good condition.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    The obviously questionable modifications including the two sheet metal screws used to secure the steering wheel center horn cap are flashing red lights to me.

    There’s no telling what else has been done to this one that you cannot readily see.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Crosby Bill

    This was by far the worst year for the corvette 1973.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo BeCarSmart Member

      Agreed, until 1974 came around!

      “Hey, how much more horsepower can we choke out of these vette’s!!?

      years later in the 80’s and 90’s….hey let’s make these things REALLY terrible to get in and out of !!!!

      73 WAS the beginning of the end until more recent years. Several decades after 73 ….not much to brag about in my opinion.

      Like 0

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