Cheap 1979 Chevrolet Corvette Project

This 1979 Corvette is a sad sight sitting out in the weather on a set of blocks. It has come a long way since its glory days, but it is one of the cheapest C3 Corvettes that we’ve seen here at Barn Finds for quite a while. However, we have to ask whether that makes it a cheap project car, or is it destined to be stripped for parts. The Corvette is located in North Gwinnett, Georgia, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking a mere $2,000 for this American classic.

Time has not been this Corvette’s best friend because it has certainly seen better days. It isn’t clear how long it has been sitting exposed to the elements, but it has taken a heavy toll on the Silver paint. However, the fiberglass looks to be in surprisingly good condition, with no signs of any stress cracks or issues. The big worry here is the question of rust. There would have to be some questions hanging over the state of the frame and the birdcage if it has been sitting in its current location for an extended period. This could be exacerbated because the hood isn’t closed properly, and one of the headlight covers is missing. This could allow water to freely find its way onto the radiator support and the front frame rails. These are areas that would require careful inspection. On the plus side, the car does appear to be virtually complete, and all of the tinted glass is in good order. The car will come fitted with a set of Rally wheels, although the buyer can choose to pay an additional $800 for a set of aluminum wheels.

This Corvette would have been nearly as good as it got in 1979. It came equipped with the L82 version of the venerable 350ci V8. This motor would have pumped out 225hp, which found its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission. The 4-speed Corvette would have provided better performance than this car, but a ¼-mile ET of 15.9 seconds didn’t lag that far behind. The Corvette is not a numbers-matching car, and this is for an excellent reason. The engine and transmission have both been removed, and only the transmission is included in the sale. The seller does offer a rebuildable 350 for an additional $300, which some potential buyers might seriously consider. We don’t have any information about the interior, so it isn’t clear whether it is complete or what sort of condition the trim is in. I have downloaded and enlarged all of the supplied photos, and it appears that the seats are no longer present. That suggests that the interior would potentially need a lot of work before the car could be deemed to be roadworthy once again.

I think that all of us are born with two distinct personalities. We all have an optimistic side, but we also tend to be realists. My optimistic side wants to see this 1979 Corvette returned to its former glory because it would have been an attractive car when it was new. The realist in me sees a vehicle that has been exposed to the elements for an extended period, which won’t have done it any favors. I suspect that this Corvette’s ultimate fate will rest as a parts car, but I would love nothing better than to be wrong on that score. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    Cheap is relative. Driver quality late-70’s Corvettes aren’t expensive. At this point all this Corvette is is an overpriced parts car. It’s likely only a beginner that hasn’t done their research would be enticed by the relatively low entry point.

    Steve R

    Like 18
  2. bud lee

    Why do people put cars on blocks ? This has always baffled me .

    Like 12
    • AMCFAN

      It would take multiple lift devices to take the wheels off.

      Like 5
      • piston poney

        better than being on the ground with no wheels

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      It used to be commonplace to put cars up on blocks to relieve pressure on the suspension and prevent flat spots on the tires during long storage. Also, as mentioned, this gets everything up off the ground to work on the car, sans wheels. Way back, say in the brass era, automobile owners were told to keep their cars elevated and lubed because no sane person would drive an open car with narrow wheels in winter weather.

      Like 1
  3. ACZ

    About $1500 overpriced.

    Like 17
  4. Michael D. Rogers

    That’s a kit car to become a road racer since everything that’s ratty doesn’t matter.

    Like 3
  5. Ike Onick

    SAT Exam question; If a 1979 Corvette leaves it’s blocks at 9:35 in the morning at a cost of $2000, how long will it take the new owner to spend $10,000 on a failed restoration project and re-list it Craigslist?

    Like 16
    • Gremlin X

      536 hours, or about 22.3 days.

      Like 13
      • Ike Onick

        A+ with bonus points for showing all your work.

        Like 5
  6. Darrun

    To those that think this is an overpriced parts car…You haven’t bought very many used C3 parts. Although it may not be the ideal project for a NCRS restoration, some young guy with ambition could certainly make a neat driver, and get into a Corvette cheap. These cars are hard to find without rusty frames, or birdcages. this may just be the solid platform someone without a “Big Ego”, and small budget just may want to start with.

    Like 12
    • ACZ

      I disagree for a number of reasons. First, there is nothing on one of these that is cheap to fix. A novice can get in over his head in a heartbeat. Secondly, a car that has been left to rot outside, like this one, has all kinds of hidden pitfalls. Thirdly, these cars require a certain amount of expertise and a fair amount of special tools to repair safely and correctly. How does a novice deal with a rusted through frame? Or, a compromised birdcage? Four wheel, four piston, disc brakes? Rear axle bearings?
      It’s nice to think of someone using this to learn on, but not only can that be a very expensive lesson, but a recipe for disaster. Better to start with something simpler like a RWD X car or something similar.

      Like 8
    • Steve Clinton

      It appears you are contradicting yourself.
      ‘To those that think this is an overpriced parts car…You haven’t bought very many used C3 parts.’
      ‘Some young guy with ambition could certainly make a neat driver, and get into a Corvette cheap.’

      • ACZ

        You’re dreaming.

      • Steve Clinton

        ‘You’re dreaming.’
        ACZ, please explain yourself.

      • ACZ

        Sorry, I misread that.

  7. AMCFAN

    The young guy could simply add a little more cash and he could buy one running. How would one know if this is a solid car or not. You wouldn’t by the pics provided. The sum of parts of an old car are always worth more dependine what it is.

    This car would need all the common wear items every other Corvette project needs plus an engine and all the accessories. How about those 4 wheel disc brakes? Front and rear wheel bearings, Cooling system and those headlight motors?

    I owned a C3 many years ago. The cheapest two things to work on were the engine and transmission. Add the name Corvette to anything and it costs 40% more. Would I ever want back in? No way. It wasn’t really a good car. After 74 GM jumped the shark with the Corvette and pumped them out. They were no longer a mans car. They were mostly all low horsepower automatics. GM was only in it for the money at that point and like the Gen II Camaro and Firebird simply kept the C3 in production and money flowing until the production numbers fell and they had to make a change.

    I can only imagine things have not gotten any better with the restoration market The number of Corvette only boutique specialty shops are much fewer today. It doesn’t make sense doing a full resto on one as one would be upside down at godspeed.

    Like 5
    • Frank Sumatra

      The “man’s car” comment is gratuitous. I owned two post-1974 C3’s, 1976 and 1979. Both were L-82, 4-speeds with FE-7 suspensions, no AC and crank windows on both. I never gave much thought to it as I didn’t worry too much about the “manliness” factor. I enjoyed driving them and that is all that mattered to me. And FYI, the front wheel bearings are the same as any cars.

      Like 6
      • AMCFAN

        No intent to insult ones masculinity. The statement was more of a marketing standpoint. A 1969 427 4 spd manual steering was a mans car. 1974 was the last year for a 454 @ only 270 HP. After that GM would build as many as they could make.

        On a personal note my aunt still very striking in her early 50’s bought a new 1977. She lived in a suburb of DC and her friends had them. So more than any point in history women were buying Vettes. It was good business for GM. Still a ton of them around.

        Front wheel bearings would be cheap and easy yes. The rear is a different story.

        Like 5
  8. RJ

    This would be fun to built into a cheap post apocalyptic Mad Max Fury Road type machine. The paint is already halfway there. Throw some mismatched wheels on it. Bigs on back. Littles on front. Ditch the hood. Big engine. Flame throwing exhaust. Really no way to screw up if going the post apocalyptic route. I think it would be fun to ‘ruin’ a Vette that way.

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      I’ve seen that done. Check out Full Octane Garage page in the past few weeks. They’re on Facebook.

  9. courtneydmsutherland

    Gift it to a high school shop let them play with it. Get the 2 grand tax write-off. Let the kids learn as they practise on this one.

    Like 10
    • ACZ

      Corvette Summer?

      Like 1
  10. Margrtio Flores

    How can I get more info, I would like to buy this car

    • moosie moosie Member

      Margrtio Flores, If you click on the craiglist ad theres a place for you to clickmfor more information, Good Luck !

      Like 3
  11. Bill

    Sometimes free is just a down payment.

    Like 7
    • Phlathead Phil

      I agree. I’ll add “Free” is sometimes a one way ticket to Bankruptcy.

      As my car buddy sez: “Ain’t no daylight in that donut deal!”

      Like 1
  12. Arthur

    Adam Clarke wrote: “I suspect that this Corvette’s ultimate fate will rest as a parts car, but I would love nothing better than to be wrong on that score. What do you think?”

    Speaking for myself, I think this Corvette should probably be bought by a hot rod builder like Detroit Speed or Roadster Shop. They would have the resources, including in-house fabrication capabilities, to deal with this car’s many issues. All they would really need to start with is a new birdcage and frame if the current ones can’t be repaired.

    Like 1
  13. Bill Voss Member

    The cost of transport could blow the budgit.

    Like 2
  14. Comet

    Price out replacement interior parts, then RUN!

    Like 6
  15. Charles Hatcher

    If you were given this thing for free you would find out that free can be very expensive. I agree that one would do better to buy a c-3 driver for $5000-$6000 depending on condition than to put the money into this thing to bring it up to driver quality.

    Like 2
  16. John Oliveri

    If rust is not an issue on the frame or birdcage, it’s really worth a shot, if you want to build a really nice car, cause your not buying a nice paint job from 20 feet away, nor a shredded leather interior, nor that dog 225 hp motor that would need a rebuild and work to produce some pony’s, you can pick your color, new interior and a crate motor, try a nice 427 then you got a gorgeous car that actually has some power, cause if I bought a 15,000 one I’d only change the motor anyway

  17. Stephen Coe

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 he is dreaming

  18. John

    No title. No Motor. No interior pictures. No fuel tank. No.

    Like 8
  19. John

    How to spend $40,000 to make a $2000 car into a $10,000 car.

    His best bet it to advertise it to the government. They do this stuff all the time.

    Like 10
  20. TMK

    Anyone who parks a corvette outside like this an let the elements take over, needs to be strung up.

    Like 5
  21. Al

    If I was 14 again, I’d buy it for $1500. And spend my summers sanding down, comb the papers & CL for cheap parts. By the time I’m 16 hopefully have it prepped for paint & have a nice ride for HS. My best friend done the exact same thing. Took his paper route money at 14 in ’74, bought for $400, a ’68 Camaro SS, the which we know now, rare, L-89 eng w/alum heads 396/375 M-22 4sp conv. Blue w/ white top, blue int. He done exactly that, spent summer sanding down & repainted at 16. It orig had that white band around the nose with that side spear stripe along the side & door, now sports the dual factory looking stripes on hood & decklid. Wish I could share a pic, as he still has it looking cherry in his dads garage in Stratford, CT although, a pilot now for AA in San Diego the last almost 30 yrs, flies back twice a year to take off the trickle charger & drive it around a week. Some kid today can get that same joy with this one.

    Like 5
    • ACZ

      With this car, it would take you ‘till you were 30.

      Like 3
    • moosie moosie Member

      Al, This is how the hobby keeps on living. A lot of the commentators do not seem to grasp this concept , only commenting on worth, value, selling/buying. Thank you.

      Like 3
  22. Russ Ashley

    This car is not too far from me. I pass that way occasionally so if it’s visible from the road I would have noticed it. I love Corvettes but the C3 is my least favorite, and any Corvette that is not a convertible is my second least favorite. I agree with most all of the negative comments said up to this point but the fact that it would not come with a title is the biggest negative to me. Georgia started titling cars with the 1963 models and I won’t purchase a vehicle without a title. I don’t know if Pull-A-Part would take it without one.

    Like 2
  23. George Mattar

    TMK is right on. String up this hillbilly. These cars were built like crap in a factory that was 65 years old when this car was new. My friend bought a 70 coupe that car outside 40 years. Birdcage total junk. Water leaked in under the t tops. Swiss cheese. He’s got 40 large in a coupe that may be worth 25K when done. For anyone who has never had a Corvette trailing arm apart, it’s not easy. You need special ttools to set up the bearings. If the car is air conditioned they are a total pain in the ass to work on. Run from this POS. GM.built 53,000 plus 79 Corvettes. Look for a better one.

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      Hillbilly?? Apparently you have no idea of what area you are speaking.

      Like 1
  24. Swolf Member

    Just think what it looked like the day it was first sold…sometimes I just can’t believe people.

    Like 2

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