Barn Bound Since ’79: 1968 Chevrolet Corvette

Plucked from a barn where it resided since 1979 is this ’68 Chevrolet Corvette. It seems odd that barn jail was this ‘Vette’s fate once it attained the ripe young age of only eleven years. Whatever the case, the story is intriguing enough to take a close look at this first year, early production C-3 Corvette. It is located in Warren, New Jersey and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $5,961, twenty bids tendered so far.

I remember seeing a ’68 Corvette for the first time when I was just a teenager. There was an old-school style, in town, Chevrolet dealership near where I grew up and it could harbor about four cars in its modest showroom. The example that I observed on the showroom floor was a red convertible in top-down mode. As exciting and futuristic as the C2 seemed in the early ’60s, the C3 was just as attention-getting in ’68. I knew a little about mechanics, in the most generic sense, and I remember the salesman saying that a three-speed manual transmission was standard but not many were sold, so equipped (according to corvsport.com, only 326 copies out of 28K total ’68 Corvettes produced came equipped with the standard three-speed gearbox).

The seller states that this Corvette has a “CE” replacement engine which is usually referred to as “Counter Exchange” meaning a warranty replacement. Digging deeper, research shows that it really stood for “Chevrolet Engine” as the other GM divisions had their own versions i.e. L for Oldsmobile, K for Cadillac, B for Buick, and P for Pontiac. A 327 CI V8 was the standard motor for the ’68 ‘Vette and it was in its last year of Corvette residency. The existing engine in this Chevy has a casting number referenced that, in fact, as the seller states, is a 350 CI motor of unknown provenance.  This motor is not seized but it does not run, or at least the seller has not attempted to start it. Of note, the engine has a Holley carburetor but the electric choke mechanism does not look like the factory version that was used on some Chevrolet engines. There are headers and aftermarket valve covers installed but the intake manifold, with its breather tube, looks like an original Chevrolet item. A four-speed manual transmission is in place.

The exterior is a bit rough. There are some cracks in the fiberglass but there is a substantial one in the driver’s door. Some of the trim is missing, though the rocker panel moldings are available, and the wheel well flares have been cut. The hood is incorrect for this year, it is a long version from the mid-’70s, so the windshield wiper scuffle is missing. The seller states that he has a model year correct big-block hood that he will part with for $600. Other notable claims are a solid birdcage and a frame with surface rust. The convertible top frame is in place but it is coverless – no reference to an available, removable hardtop. The VIN’s sequence number, as pointed out by the seller, is low at 901 so this would have been an early model year production car. That fact is neither a value enhancer nor a detractor in this case.

Inside continues the same aura as the exterior It’s more dirty than anything though the seat upholstery is supposedly unmarred. Both the carpet and the radio, along with two of the three rear storage compartment doors are missing. The seller also wants to retain the speed-minder installed speedometer unless he gets more than $6,300 for the car. Barring that happening, he has a ’69 standard unit that he’ll swap in.

There’s a lot going on here and a lot of unknowns. If I wanted a C3 Corvette and was knowledgeable about the mechanics, it could be tempting. It’s the unknown and mish-mash aspect of this Chevy that has me concerned. What do you think, worth taking a chance on this first year C3?

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Comments

  1. Mike

    Since this a no reserve auction, the complaints will change from “he’s asking too much” to “they paid too much”.

    Like 7
    • doug

      And of course it needs restomoded.

      Like 3
    • Steve R

      Everyone knows these cars should still sell for $500, just like they did in the mid-70’s, when the average Joe could afford one.

      Steve R

      Like 5
      • Chris M.

        Lol touche’ Steve! Thanks for the laugh

        Like 1
      • robert semrad

        It’s up to $7,500 now….. they sell now for between $59,000 – 78,000 on any clear day….new. The seats in this example are worth an easy $600.

      • Steve Clinton

        Up to $7600. with 2 hours + left.

  2. Tom c

    I’m not giving 500 for this roach.

    Like 1
    • Phlathead Phil

      I’m thinking your reference to this as “Roach” is not a reproach, but “Spot-on!”

      Reference is CORRECT!

      Like 2
    • robert semrad

      Well…..if you would have, you could have made $7,000 from your $500……duuuh

  3. gbvette62

    It’s possible the engine’s a 327. The “010” block was most commonly used for 69-79 350’s, but they were also used for some 68 327’s. While “CE” engines were sold “over the counter”, they were mainly used as warranty replacements. When installed under warranty, CE engines would be the same specification as the OEM engine. I’ve seen 010 blocks used as CE engines for 350’s, 327’s and 302’s. If replaced under warranty, the engine would be a 327.

    The intake appears to be an aftermarket aluminum high rise. 68 327’s came with a low rise cast iron intake, and a Rochester Q-Jet, not a Holley.

    68’s contain a lot of one year only parts, often making them more expensive to restore than a 69 in similar condition. Early production 68’s can be even worse. A lot of novices have been caught out by just how expensive and challenging a 68 can be to restore. As a wrong motor 68, missing parts and needing a lot of work, I wouldn’t want to be in it for any more than the current $7K bid.

    Like 3
  4. Autoworker

    The first 11 years of this car’s life were rough ones.

    Like 3
  5. Frank Sumatra

    “The exterior is a bit rough.”

    Indeed.

    Like 4
  6. dogwater

    We have restored a lot rougher corvettes if the frame is good it will be a nice car for someone, yes the 68 had some bugs but that’s know big deal.

    Like 3
  7. Tony

    Call it what you want, I do not see a Roach! I see an opportunity to get a project car to work on. I purchased a 68 corvette in about this condition for $5,000.00 a couple of years ago, I did the brakes, gas lines, carpet bought a L88 427 and put in it. Stripped the paint and repainted it. Now I have a nice 1968 corvette that I cruise in and it looks good. The numbers don’t match, and I am not going to win anything at a show, but then again I did not spend $120,000 restoring it. The project for this winter is to put in Air Conditioning, Darn hot driving it in the summer even with the top down.

    Like 8
    • Steve Clinton

      I had a 1968 roadster back in the day and a buddy and I would cruise the freeways in winter with the top down and the heater on. Mind you, this was in Southern California so we are talking ‘cold’, not ‘freezing’.

      Like 2
  8. Chuck Foster

    I finally got my chrome bumper C3, 1970 convertible, so no taking a chance. Firdt year had some bugs, and one year only parts good luck with a numbers resto, but a restomod would be cool. I think prices are going down, some due to ChinaCovid, people out of work selling their toys.

    Haters gonna hate, Armchair experts everywhere in Momma’s basement. They need a group for whiners, poor losers that can’t afford even an old project car.

    Like 1
  9. gaspumpchas

    Birdcage and frame are solid surface rust only? I’d want to look at every square inch of thar frame. Better looker over good. Good luck and stay safe.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 2
  10. ACZ

    Package this together with that 79 up on blocks and you have two boat anchors.

    Like 1
  11. Jeff

    The C3’s changed somewhat every year,body,powertrain,interior. The ’68 first year C3 was troublesome. The big block was desirable but heavy in the front caused handling concerns. The ’69 was more sought after for performance. Body style changed for the ’70’s, modifications were easy to handle,lots of parts. I’v owned three,one currently and a great project car,astro venting,window shelves,vacuum assistance items,great suspension. Fiberglass/paint can be a challenge but find one with t-tops,great cars!

    • gbvette62

      Unlike Chevelles, Camaros etc, big block Corvettes are not nose heavy. The Corvette engine is set back low in the frame, behind the front crossmember, giving even the big block close to a perfect 50/50 weight balance. Without power steering, the steering is heavy at low speed, but big block Corvettes handle pretty darn good.

      Like 1
      • Jeff

        The OEM front suspension in the ’68 with the 427 was a handful. Firming it helped,but your right you relied on the power steering.

  12. Dave Mathers

    I sold those new and everybody hated the pushbutton door handles. They changed it in 69 to a much better system.

    Like 2
  13. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Nov 22, 2020 , 7:54PM
    Winning bid:
    US $7,600.00
    [ 31 bids ]

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      And, as predicted above, I will say it: “Someone paid too much”.

  14. Jeff

    I and many more agree! Money pit but it’s a ’68 vette. I had over 66k into mine after several years,sold at auction for 38k with all receipts. Good luck.

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