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Bumps and Bruises: 1973 Corvette

1973 Corvette Project

We recently featured a Chevrolet Corvair that underwent an amazing transformation. When it was discovered it was in a sad state, but after the seller put some hard work and attention into it, they got it looking incredible again. Well the 1973 Corvette you see above shares a similar story. When John S found it several months ago, it was in the dilapidated condition you see above, but after some hard work he now has his Vette back on the road and looking good! Read his full story in his own words below.

John's Corvette

The car was originally listed on the Portland, Oregon Craigslist back in June. Not much of a description, terrible pictures and it was stored out in the boondocks between Portland and Seaside. I was the first and only person to go see the car. It was listed for sale by the son of the owner and he thought his dad purchased the car new in 1973.

Corvette being refreshed

I had been looking for and early C3 Corvette with a 4 speed for quite some time. Driven many miles to look at many cars but most were butchered beyond repair or missing about every original part. At first glance this car was pretty rough, it had been driven hard until 1991 then stored in an unheated pole barn for 23 years. The car did not run and was clearly un-driveable, but I was able to turn over the motor with a wrench. It appeared to be an unmolested very well optioned original car, missing only a few small parts so I took a chance.

Corvette Interior Gutted Out

Once home, I found it had clearly been inhabited by mice, but no major damage. The carpeting was roach and it smelled pretty bad but after further investigation I found all of the original owner and dealer documentation in a plastic bag under a huge mouse nest in the rear storage compartment. All of the documentation verified that I had indeed bought it from the original owner. It was purchased new on January 31st, 1973 with seven miles on the odometer from Ed Randall Chevrolet in Portland. I believe even the license plate and dealer frame that were on the car are the originals.

1973 Corvette Cleaned up

After a two month mechanical restoration, the car is back on the road and getting some much deserved fresh air. I have attached a link to my Photobucket page on the car. There are many pictures documenting it’s progress and originality. I continue to mechanically restore the car as it needs, but I grown to have a great appreciation of the car’s history along with all of it’s bumps and bruises, I call it a true “Survivor”. I don’t think I will ever give it a complete cosmetic restoration, but never say never.

Corvette Interior Cleaned up

I want to thank John for sending his Corvette in! It appears he has put a lot of hard work into it and I love the way it turned out. So often you see these cars in either unloved condition or pristinely restored, so it’s nice to see one that still has a few of its bumps and bruises, but is clearly loved! Be sure to check out his Photobucket to see more photos. Hopefully his enthusiasm for getting his car back on the road will rub off on some of the rest of us!


  1. Avatar photo MH

    I love the car. What did you pay for it if I can ask. Just wondering because I’ve seen a few in my area and want to know if the prices are unrealistic. Thanks for the help.

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  2. Avatar photo MH

    I also like the car your neighbor has.

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  3. Avatar photo jordan

    What a great story and an even better approach to what level to bring the car back to.Dumping a ton of money into a car is always fun but getting it to be mechanically sound and presentable cosmetically has a huge spot in the classic car hobby.A wise approach.

    what happened when you called that phone number……..

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  4. Avatar photo leiniedude Member

    Great job John! L82 and 4 speed, sounds like you will be having fun, enjoy.

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  5. Avatar photo Tirefriar

    Great story and very inspirational. Befitting to read this right after I purchased “Cobra in the Barn” a few minutes ago…

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  6. Avatar photo RickyM

    Great job John! Looks fantastic. I think you are going to be having a great deal of fun soon.

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  7. Avatar photo Vince Habel

    I like the 73 with the rear bumper and smooth nose. Great find.

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  8. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    This is great story of how someone did the legwork and found exactly what he wanted—an original car that was worth spending time and effort on to bring back to the condition it was in when it was laid up almost 25 years ago.

    For me the most important things are that the car wasn’t molested by the original owner, and that John did the careful work to clean it up and save everything that could be saved. I really like stories like this because it shows appreciation and respect for the work that the designers and assembly workers on the line put into the car so many years ago. Well done, John.

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  9. Avatar photo John S

    Hey guys, thanks for you comments and I’m glad you enjoyed the car along with it’s story. I paid $5200 for the car and stuck another $5k into it so far.

    Working on a few more mechanical items this winter and looking forward to putting on some miles next year. I was able to take the car to a few small shows last fall and I got a lot of good feedback on it’s condition. Pristine show cars are great but a few bumps and bruises make for some great conversation.

    Sorry, haven’t given the scratched in phone number a call yet, but I didn’t try to buff it out either. Looking forward to a return to Portland next year to visit the original owner if possible. He’s in his 70’s and I hope he can fill me in on more of the cars history, I’ll keep you posted.

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    • Avatar photo Nova

      Love the “survivor” approach…Very well done!

      Definitely the wisest choice for long term investment/enjoyment balance and ROI.


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      • Avatar photo Tirefriar

        Agree with Nova, the “survivor” approach is the becoming the new “barnfind”. I recently saw several trucks at the local auto show that looked very weathered but inside of the engine compartment sported completely sorted mechanicals and a new paint.

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  10. Avatar photo Tim Deal

    Great job, I know how must it takes to restore a corvette ,been doing it for yrs

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  11. Avatar photo jim s

    glad to see it being used as a driver. great job getting it back on the road. what is the story on the mgbgt or cgt? thanks for sharing.

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  12. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    It does my heart good to read stories like this. Cleaning it up and running it like it was made to do is the best way to have it. I do admit that sometimes they are so far gone that the only choice is to restore. Personally I prefer the bumps and bruises because they’re badges that were gathered along its journey. My own car is testament to that.

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  13. Avatar photo John S

    It’s my neighbor’s 69 MGB GT. Great guy and a great car. Never been restored, just regularily maintained. He drives it on nice days and is an old Corvette guy. We enjoy anything automotive and have a lot in common.

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  14. Avatar photo Chris A.

    Wow! Nicely done, and thanks for sharing your story with us. As a survivor car with patina showing, you’d be welcome at any Corvette show. Hope to see you on the road some day.

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