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Cheap Speed: 1976 Chevrolet Corvette

Some people overlook this era of Corvette because they know that the power was down. The mid to late seventies was a bad time for performance cars and the ‘Vette was not immune. The only bright side to all this is that these cars can be picked up significantly cheaper than earlier models. These cars still have the good looks and can be made to go fast without too much effort too. Heck, sometimes you can even find them with the hard work already done. Take this ’76 that’s listed here on eBay for example.

Someone has already taken care of things in the speed department. That Vortec 350 should have significantly more grunt than the stock mill (180hp) and it’s attached to rebuilt Turbo 350 transmission. Nothing fancy or high tech here, but it should be reliable and easy to work on. I’d still recommend making a quick call to the seller to learn more about that engine build and what all has been done to the car. They do mention a new aluminum radiator and a few other replacement parts.

Side pipes and headers are on the list. The seller mentions that they make the car “louder than you can imagine”. That could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. There’s a video posted here of the engine running so you get an idea of how it sounds. Personally, I’d like to have a bypass and a couple of mufflers so I could turn things down a bit when on the highway or pulling out of the garage in the morning. As you can see, there are few tasks that still need finished. The rocker trim pieces would really clean things up down there.

The interior needs put back together too, but the seller mentions that the door panels are with the car. It might have been a good idea to install those before listing the car. Then again, it may keep the bid lower so the DIYer can benefit. Corvette interiors shouldn’t scare you off though since upholstery kits and trim pieces are easily available. The white over tan color scheme is great and the only thing I really wish this car had is a 4-speed. That’s just nitpicking though.

That one piece plastic cover was Chevy’s answer to the five mile per hour bumper requirements. They look fine except for the fact that they fade differently than the body so they normally don’t match. This car looks good enough to be a very respectable driver in the photos though. White does have the benefit of hiding the flaws, but that also makes it hard to see things in photos. Even with the areas that need attention, this looks like a tempting path into Corvette ownership. Are you feeling the temptation?


  1. DR Member

    I grew up with Corvettes in my family. I have owned them and love them. But the poseurs from the mid to late 70s bring shame to the name. Crush them all. Buy a Trans Am from the same era instead.

    • Bill

      It’s these “poseurs” who kept the brand alive in the days of low power. Rather than belittle them, you should applaud them.

      Like 1
      • JW

        I agree Bill, I feel the same way when other Mustang owners bash the Mustang II, if it wasn’t for that small car the Mustang name would not have survived for 50 years straight.

        Like 1
      • John C Cargill

        Those 70″s poseurs, made a lot of sales and kept the brand going. Whine about the 70s cars if you like but the expense and manpower required to meet the safety and emissions requirements and still sell enough cars to make it was not easy.

        Like 1
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        And, these low power “poseurs” still beat the Trans Ams and Camaros in the quarter mile and 0 – 60, plus left the basic C3 styling intact.

    • Pa Tina

      A wide range of opinions on these pages. I wouldn’t pay a dime for any post-1970 Camaro or Firebird made. I made the mistake of buying a new 1975 Trans Am. Not that was a “poseur”.

      • Bill

        Used to be if you couldn’t afford a Corvette, you bought a Firebird or Camaro. If you couldn’t afford those, you bought a Nova. If you couldn’t afford a Nova, you bought a Vega. If you couldn’t afford a Vega, you bought a Chevette.


      Most of the guys buying them back in the day were looking for chick magnets, and the C3 Vette was the car to have.

  2. Dean

    What is the gizmo with the gauge in the engine compartment? AC connections?

    • gbvette62

      Looks like it might be a fuel pressure regulator.

  3. tom

    I bought this 76 about 5 years ago with 90,000 on it. Original motor & trans were already upgraded by the 1st owner and the rear gears were lowered to 3:31. Fast & Loud for very little money.

  4. Chuck Cobb

    BAD is the glass fuel filter hooked to JUST rubber hose banging against the valve cover. Good way to burn down your Fiberglas Flyer.

    • OilyDick

      The whole routing of the fuel lines looks like a fire waiting to happen.

  5. ruxvette

    Sounds like the “slip in mufflers” have slipped out! :-0
    The gas line and plug wires look like waaay to close to the headers, miscl wires loose around the engine, looks like it was painted in that garage, interior is sad…other than that she’s cherry!

  6. gbvette62

    The 74-82 Corvettes get a bad rap. Sure, most modern ricer’s will run away and hide from them now, but in the late 70’s, there wasn’t much that could run with then. They would out handle and out brake “performance” and sports cars, that cost a lot more, and could keep up with them, if not beat them.

    It didn’t take much, to wake them up either. A good carb and distributor tune, and a set of headers and/or dual exhaust, made a big difference in the way these cars ran.

    The biggest thing effecting the performance of the 70’s Corvettes, was the added weight these cars carried, and the rear gear ratios. The rubber bumper cars weighed more because of the Federally mandated emission and safety equipment, and generally had taller (lower numerically) rear gear ratios.

    Obviously the other difference was the lack of optional, higher performance engines, but a base 350 in a 69, with a 3:08 rear, wasn’t much faster than a base 350 in a 76, with the same gears. And the 76 was quieter, more comfortable, and handled better!

  7. Pa Tina

    After an accident, I had a solid fiberglass bumper cover installed. It really looked a lot better then the flabby Endura cover.

  8. Scott

    Bought a 75 Vette rebuilt the weak 350 with mushroom pistons and raided the compression ratio (still numbers matching) rebuilt and put a shift kit in the original TH 400 transmission and rebuilt the rear end. Put a new dual exhaust o it and it had give or take 300 HP to the wheels. Bought it for 6600 12 dollars less then when new invested about 5,000 into it drove it every day for 9 years. Would eat mustangs and Camaros consistently.

  9. CaCarDude

    The only Corvette I owned back in the day was a ’76 Stingray, it was fun at the time but as has been stated a very underpowered car in stock fashion. Mine was Black on Black auto and had the rear chrome rack. When it came time to sell I found a guy with a like new lo mile ’86 Berlinetta who just had to have the Vette so we did a even up swap, we both walked away happy. I am now more partial to the 2nd gen Corvette, with dreams of a ’67 Roadster…one day…

  10. tom

    … I never met the original owner who put high compression pistons, a high lift cam, headers, a shift kit, 3:31 rear gears, and glass packs in this ’76 Vette. When I bought it, it had 90,000 on it and ran like a bat out of Hell. Still does. You can disrespect Vettes of this era all day long. Call me when you’re ready to race.
    And get your ass kicked.

    Like 1
    • CanuckCarGuy

      @tom, fantastic colour on your Vette… represents the era well.

      Like 1
    • Steve R

      What’s your best ET and trap speed?

      Steve R

  11. ACZ

    Car has possibilities. First thing….those headers got to go. If you’ve ever had these, they sound cool for the first two weeks. After that, you want to take a cutting torch to them. They’re only good if you’re deaf or have a radio delete car. It’s got A/C with half the parts missing but that’s still a plus. Price is still a little too high. A good $4K car.

  12. erikj

    it is a no brainer. Buy a nice bodied vette 74-80, replace the 350 with a pumped up 350 and you are back in the game.Its that simple.
    a 76 4 spd to start with and I will handle a proper built-up 350, car

  13. craig

    My boss in the 70’s had the identical car. I have to say I always hated the rear bumper too, not only did it not hold color, the sun would do a number on it, and it never lined up well with the adjacent panels, as is the case with the pic shown. I always thought they shrank over time.

  14. rschoenke

    I will regret selling my ’79 for ever, I custom painted it, rebuilt the suspension, interior, custom sound system, and I unbolted the smog intake and exhaust and put them away for safe keeping because it was a numbers matching car. I then bolted on an edelbrock setup , proper dual exhaust, and a more aggressive cam. What a difference it made.

  15. John

    I have a 77 , 383 ,4:11’s . I spent 12k including the price of the car and it runs mid 12’s on BFGoodrich t/a’ s . Nothing fancy just old school tech and old school knowledge . Oh , I love my Hooker Headers ,with side pipes .

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