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Cheap Barn Find: 1981 Corvette

1981 Corvette

While the least few years of the 3rd generation Corvette weren’t as good as the previous years, they were decent cars to drive and actually have some performance potential waiting to be unlocked. This ’81 has been in storage for the past 10 years. The seller claims it was still running until 3 years ago and that it was parked because it was needing a restoration. The frame is solid and while the paint isn’t looking amazing, the outside looks pretty good. I think the interior might have been the reason it got parked, as it’s in pretty rough shape. For $2k, I think this looks like a great buy! I wouldn’t want to spend much more than that for it, but perhaps it has the desirable Gymkhana Suspension? Take a closer look at it here on eBay in Miami, Florida! So do you think this Corvette would be worth taking on?


  1. Vegas Vic

    2k for a corvette?
    Buy it!
    Still be sure on condition, engine issues, frame, sAfety
    Throw in a hot rod motor!

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  2. grant

    This is another one that any buyer should ask some hard questions about. I like C3’s, but the seller contradicts himself in his listing. He states that the car has been parked for 10 years, but was “running and driving fine until 3 years ago” when it was parked for restoration. Which is it? Theres a big difference between 3 and 10. Also it might be splitting hairs but the fact that he calls it a “barn find” when he himself parked it (and thus cannot “find” it) makes me think he’s probably a flipper with no clue on the history of the car, or he’s just using a cool car word that he’s heard before.

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    • Jim

      I had one of these that spent most of its time parked.
      Decent power stock, but no neck snapper. With a ratty interior it better have a solid birdcage and frame to make it worth the effort for more than 2500

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Yep! Too many people forget what lies buried and encased in the ‘clean’ fiberglass they see.

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  3. Jim

    It’s a Corvette! Underpowered and not a unique vette but still a Corvette! Affordable for someone on a budget, parts are available and most importantly the car looks complete, except for the seat covers you’ve got a complete car. Lots of possibilities here.

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  4. Dan Skopp

    I currently own a White 1981 “Shark”. This car seems to have been ridden hard and put away wet!!. It may be a nice 1st corvette for somebody but be prepared to spend some cash on it!!

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  5. Tom Member

    Read a little deeper folks….. first of all, the money to make this car right will make an investment 4 times OR MORE times its value. by the time you deal with the body and paint, complete interior, complete drive train and all the hidden stuff that WILL come up, you will spend 50K on a resto that you won’t be able to sell for 15K.

    Second, if I count correctly, there are at least 6 other Corvettes in the background of these photos. couple mid 70’s red and silver, a red C1, late model black coupe AND a black convertible. something under a cover. maybe a late model silver one way in the background.

    If this car is such a good deal, why is this corvette enthusiast getting rid of it? Anyone who could turn a corvette into this condition did not take care of ANY part of the car. Complete resto and I mean this car needs EVERYTHING. Don’t walk, run, run away. This car will NEVER be worth what you put into it. shame on the person who is responsible for neglecting this decent car and turning it into a pile of SH–. Good job.

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  6. Jim

    Two things, first most of us have limits on how much space we have to store cars, he may have bought another and something had to go. God knows I’d have a fleet of I had the space! Also there are two groups of car guys, flippers who only worry about the dollars and how much profit which seems to be your point of view(?) and guys like me who search for just the right car to restore/race/cruise/whatever and we’ll never get back the money or time we invest but that’s meaningless, we do it for the love of it. I’ll never sell my cars, I’m restoring a 69 Torino GT fastback 428cj, my 72 Monte Carlo big block bracket car is another I’ll have forever. If I want to make money I’ll invest in real estate. Money isn’t what drives most car guys I’m trying to say, although lack of it stalls a lot of projects. I see the vette as a solid low price project for someone, entry level or experienced, I don’t look at cars from a financial return perspective. Just my way.

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    • Tom Member

      don’t get me wrong Jim, I am with you, however, your 69 Torino and Monte are 2 cars worth spending the money on. In my opinion, from a guy who has had many Corvettes, anything after 73 and for the past 3 or 4 decades is not worth putting big resto money into. again, my opinion and I am in it for the love of the vehicles too. I own an automotive company dedicated to improving vehicles. I had a garage full of amazing muscle cars that I was keeping forever, until the recession came and it was sell the cars and save my company or go out of business. Things like recessions, losing employment or getting sick sell car collections really quickly and anything you really overspend on will be a LOSS. very simple. I met a guy recently who bought a car from a man who had a great collection of vets and he got sick, cant drive anymore and EVERYTHING is going.

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  7. LAMike240

    What’s with the rear ride height? Looks like the body is sitting way too high over the rear wheels.

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    • Jim

      You’re right, it looks odd, it’s possible it was jacked up under the differential and the independent suspension allowed the wheels to hang down and it hasn’t rolled to let it settle. My old dodge 4×4(1971), when I backed up into a parking spot the front wheels would point in different directions, as soon as I rolled forward they were fine.

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  8. Michael Rogers Member

    I ALWAYS want to look at ANYTHING I’m obtaining, if it has enough potential for it’s price and I like it I don’t care why it’s being offed!

    $50k!! NOTE– it isn’t a TESTA ROSA, parts are economically available from your local scrapper or EBay!
    Chevvy engines can be found for $500 etc.

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  9. Linda

    It’s a Corvette….. of course it’s worth saving!! My first one was an 81. It was a great car and I enjoyed it. If I had some extra cash laying around and the ability to restore it, I would take it on.

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  10. AMCFAN

    The last time I chimed in on a Corvette I was deemed the Corvette hater! Lots of good advice here and no one is taking a beating for it. For the price everyone is in amazement. Several years ago I bought a 1974 for $750. Keep in mind that you certainly get what you pay for and IF it is too good to be true it really is. Being a former owner in my youth. Lets not be confused here. The motor and trans if anything is the only thing that is cheap. Nothing else.

    My concern (there is a ton) and I’ll focus on the seller as having other Vettes. I am in agreement that if it was so good why would he be dumping it? I can understand on having too much and the need to sell. In my experience it means the seller has used the victim for sale as a parts car and swapped parts around on another car that he is keeping. May or not be the case and I am not implying.

    It looks to have had some issue with the nose. The headlights do not look flush with the body. Hope they still work. This is something someone actually needs to put their hands on. The bird cage is certainly a concern as well. Rear bearing serviced? Has the calipers been upgraded to S/S? I would pass.

    Like 0

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