Driveway Find: 1986 Corvette Convertible

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We all wonder what the story is when we see cars left parked and neglected. This C4 Corvette has been sitting in the driveway for several years and has a sad story to tell. This was Jack’s dream car. He was going to fix it up. He had a new top installed and had any mechanical issues repaired. He bought the covers to have the seats redone. Before he could, he died of lung cancer. After some time his widow had the seats reupholstered and the car detailed. But she couldn’t bring herself to sell it. She won’t drive it. A few more years have rolled by and now she knows it’s time to sell and that it’s not worth much. Everything works, even all the stuff on the dash, except for the passenger door lock. You can’t unlock the door from the outside.

rear

The paint looks OK even covered with dust. It’s had a respray sometime. There’s a chip by the driver’s side door and it’s peeling at the lower right of the license plate.

seats

The interior looks pretty good, especially for a car with almost 100,000 mile on it. What do you think this could sell for? Could it be worth $3,500? I’m going to try Craigslist I think and also park it at a couple of friends business to get some exposure. I’ve found homes for a couple of orphan cars recently. Wish me luck on this one. The widow Gloria needs a break. There’s someone out there who wants a Corvette, isn’t picky about which generation it is, and can’t drive a stick. If that’s you, please let me know and I will get you in touch with Gloria!

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Comments

  1. Andrew

    If it ran and drove well, I think this car should be worth more than that. $6000-8000 I’d wager.

  2. MM

    If I had a spare $3500 laying around, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  3. David Frank David Member

    It’s an automatic and a C4, so sadly, no, that’s probably all it’s worth. It does run and drive well. I’d deliver it for free if someone out of state bought it, even pay for the gas and airfare home myself if it was on this side of the Mississippi. Trust me, she really needs the money. If I don’t find it a home soon, I may have to buy it and sell it myself. (My wife hates that thought! I still have the van I bought a couple of years ago to resell for friends who needed money)

    • David Ralph

      Hey David please send me an email ASAP so we can chat about this car.

      Thanks

    • KN

      I would take a shot. I’m in NY but can make shipping arrangements. Let me know what the next step would be.

      • David Frank David Member

        Her email address is gloria@gloriaschroeter.com if you would like to email her. I’ll be glad to help with loading the car if you can make arrangements.

    • Tim Skeene

      David
      I’m in Dallas Tx. if your offer to deliver still stands , I would pay $3750.00 , you or Gloria , can / should contact me
      Thx Tim Skeene

    • JOHN N.

      Good Evening David,
      I made her Gloria. an offer of 4000.00 for the car. We will of course pay cash and would like to pick it up this weekend. The pics are good enough to see what we are getting. I know crazy but I bought this way before. The only thing I ask for is a clean pink slip. Have a good evening! JOHN N.

    • Carlos

      Hi David,
      Thanks for posting this Corvette. Where is is the car located?

      Carlos

  4. Steve Member

    We’re is the car located and do you think she’s take a 1995 E320 wagon in mint condition in trade?

  5. Oldfart

    It’s hard to tell in the pictures but is the paint faded on the rear or are you sure it’s just dusty? If you can deliver to Southern Cal you may have a buyer here.

  6. randy

    She needs money. and it’s worth more than 3500.00 easy.
    Go to a corvette forum and look for help.

  7. steve

    I would take it …..where does she live.

    Get in touch with me

    Steve

  8. PaulG

    Someone in her neighborhood has certainly been keeping an eye on this for likely years. Put a 4-Sale sign in the rear window, and wait a couple of days. Ask 4K, they’ll offer 3500, accept $3750.
    Something like that!

    • randy

      I like this idea, but start at 6K instead. All of the POS cars we see on here that are priced way above this should indicate this car is worth more than 3500.00

  9. sunbeamdon

    Hi David:

    I’m a sucker (not!) but am interested – where in CA is the car located?

    Call me if appropriate (206)546-2345

  10. Chas

    If this is close enough to justify the transport costs, I would pick it up for my daughter or her boyfriend, even if it is an automatic. Please provide more details on location. I am a serious cash buyer if it is close enough and doesn’t need too much work. Please put Gloria in touch with me at chasgould@mac.com
    Thank you,
    Chas

    • David Frank David Member

      She needs money. I would love the wagon myself, but the wife says I have too many cars as it is. Her email address is gloria@gloriaschroeter.com if you would like to email her.

  11. Ian

    David,in reading the comments,it looks like you have a few good people lined up to help Gloria out,nice job,
    Ian

  12. Heath

    I am interested also. I live in north Georgia. Where is the car located?

  13. Mike

    David,

    Interested in So Cal. Where is car?

    Mike

  14. DirtyHarry

    I own one of these and drive the wheels off it. In So Cal, this should be at least a $5k car, if it runs ok. As I recall, my 87 was the fastest production car made that year. It still has impressive performance and can be repaired out of any Auto Zone. I drove it to Yosemite up the Tioga Pass and averaged 29.5 mpg. What’s not to like?

  15. Blindmarc

    An 88 with 60k sold at mecum Chicago went for 6 k. Where an 84 went for 2750. Depends on who what’s it more.

  16. grant

    I would think any driver Vette would be worth 3500 all day long.

  17. Dennis

    The trash can says Sacramento

  18. Jim

    I’m in Ca. and I might be interested. Where can I see it? Please send me an email.

    • Jim

      Please send and email with the location.

  19. yanmarley

    So David, did you make a deal and sell this or is it still for sale? We’re all breathlessly awaiting the news.

  20. Peter R

    This seems cheap at 3500 – I’m in Toronto so I’ll leave it for people in the area but $5k seems more like it. since she needs the money, I hope someone steps up to the plate and pays a little more
    @Steve – I’m looking for an E320 wagon email me the details proston@sympatico.ca

  21. Matt C

    Yes, I e-mailed Gloria but have not heard back.

    • dre

      give it more than an hour mate…

  22. gunningbar

    Im really impressed the way people here have stepped up to help out Gloria.

  23. Doug Towsley

    Its always sad when you hear stories like this and I hope it all works out, I DID NOT see location of the car, city and state is close enough, so that always helps. In some situations its better to NOT advertise a distress sale as it just attracts the sharks. However it does sound like some good interest.
    That all being said,,, These vintage Corvettes offer really affordable performance platforms,, they respond well to mods and as a base for a project offer really respectable handling, brakes and potentials for performance. BUT ,,,, These things tend to sell cheap and can be hard to sell. I see them locally on CL for low prices, often needing work or attention. They make really good donors as platforms for projects. Buy a vintage shell such as 1960s or early 70s vettes that are too far gone to restore like some cars profiled here and find a Vette of this vintage with cosmetic issues and marry the 2. You have period cool looks and modern suspension and performance. Same with rat rods,, or some period hot rods. Many LOOK cool, but drive and handle worse than an old school bus. This era corvette offers affordable performance. That being said speaking in a general sense, I hope this particular car finds a good home and honors the spirit of its former owner.

  24. Charles Gould

    I really appreciate the lead and would love to help Gloria out, but I will leave it for someone closer as I am on the opposite coast in Massachusetts.

  25. dj

    I have to agree with everyone else. It’s worth more than that. She should ask around 6-7k and then go from there. People will try to scam her saying it’s winter and a convertible is not worth anything now.

  26. jeff6599

    Don’t any of you folks understand that this car is just another place to store your money? This isn’t just a car, it is indeed a true investment, easily doubling in value in 10 years or less. Just look at the value of past Corvettes. Many, many, many of the C1s sold for mere hundreds back then. If you have a savings account, an IRA, a 401k, this is equal to that only better because it is TOTALLY under your control. Don’t even register it unless you need to/want to. Is your mutual fund account insured? Of course not so don’t insure this. It is not a car, it is an investment. When you bought your last new car, did you tell your spouse that it was time to invest in a new whatever? Buying new transportation is NEVER an investment, not if you drive it. Pay attention to this Corvette; It’s a real deal investment. Don’t buy it and give it to a kid. It’ll become a worthless toy.

    • Peter

      jeff6599,

      I agree, generally, with much of what you said, but if you don’t insure it, you can’t drive it.

      As museums figured out some years ago, if you don’t drive them regularly, the many complex systems in an automobile (ESPECIALLY modern automobiles) quit working properly, and your investment possibilities quickly (in 6 months or less, with ethanol gas–but “Pure Gas” will give you more time) start to deteriorate.

      That said, State Farm offers “suspended coverage” where you call first, report the mileage, drive, then call again, report mileage, and park, and it’s apparently only about $450./year, where I am, for a $6,500. vehicle (full coverage, with $300K liability). There’s no limit to how often you drive–a friend of mine has it. And no, I have no association with them, other than I plan to put it on my old Jeep.

      To the OP: I’m confused–is it an automatic or a standard?

      And for an opinion on valuation, I recommend “Gloria” post it on http://www.corvetteforum.com/. They have eight (8!) forums JUST on C-4’s, and the expertise (on the C-3 forum, where I go to drool) is just unbelievable–if you’re not familiar with the Corvette crowd, they epitomize the “brainy” meaning of “anal-retentive,” and the knowledge-base there is nothing short of encyclopedic. (There are, of course, some egos to contend with, but that comes with expertise in many fields, IME). I assume the C-4 forums are similarly-knowledgeable to the C-3 forums.

      BTW, there is a “For Sale” sub-forum in the C-4 forums.

      If one wants to help Gloria (as the OP clearly does), that this the SINGLE, BIGGEST STEP one could take, in my opinion. And it’s free.

      FWIW, I see many driveable C-4’s in the neighborhood of $3,500. and up, but being a convertible makes me think (absent any problems) that yes, this car should bring more than that.

      Having said that, I saw a BEAUTIFUL, late-model C-4 (1996?), loaded, manual trans, SQUEAKY-clean, reasonable mileage (can’t remember–70K?), languish, for WEEKS, at $9,500. It was billed as a “no issue” car and looked the part. But NOT a ragtop.

      Also, you could take a look at https://www.hagerty.com/valuationtools/HVT/VehicleSearch and http://www.kbb.com. However, IME, if Hagerty’s doesn’t have many examples (and there’s no way I’ve figured out how to tell, then the values can be skewed either way).

      I just ran it through Hagerty’s (but there was no tranny option) and it came up at $8,900.+ (!). See for yourself: https://www.hagerty.com/valuationtools/HVT/VehicleSearch/Report?vbe=105812

      But again, I get the feeling they don’t have too many examples at Hagerty’s, to tell how accurate that is. I don’t have time to figure this out, but “View Value Details” lists more info on how they got there, and says subtract 8% for the slushbox. (Possibly, one could figure out how many cars that $8,900.+ average was based on.

      IF SO, PLEASE TELL ME HOW, so then we’ll both know–deal? Thanks!

      There’s also a value trend graft, but my Adobe isn’t allow it to load.

      Best of Luck to Gloria,

      Peter

      Thanks for listing.

  27. Rob

    So, is it sold or still available. I’m in Indiana ,but, would love a trip to California.

  28. Chas

    @jeff6599
    Respectfully, I disagree with your premise. Certain cars are investments and a Corvette of this year is not likely to be one of them, although it will likely go up in value slightly, as all things do over time just because of inflation.
    I do agree that it is probably a better place to store your money than a mutual fund or bank account, and even if you lose some money, at least you can say that you had some fun driving it. You really can’t say that about your mutual fund or savings account.
    However, you have to include the other costs in assessing the investment value, including sales tax, registration fees, and storage unless you intend to leave it out in the elements, which will cancel any investment appreciation very quickly.
    I also disagree that anyone should simply buy it and not even register it.
    There are far too many “investors” and “speculators” in the old car hobby already, and anyone who is not driving their old cars, is really missing three quarters of the pleasure of collecting these old relics. Aside from priceless examples like Mercedes 300SLs or Ferraris, there is really no reason not to drive all of these old cars, and frankly I feel that even the 300SL’s and Ferraris should be driven. Just be sure to have them adequately insured and drive them reasonably sensibly. Hell, there is a great video of a Mercedes Special edition 300SL crashing into a Lister Jaguar on a track. Stupid mistake (on the part of the Jaguar driver) which ruined two multi-million dollar cars, but at least both owners were enjoying the cars before the mishap, and both cars will probably be repaired with the insurance proceeds.
    I also disagree about not buying this car for your kids. As far as giving an old car to my daughters, both of them have grown up around old collector cars and have great respect for them and care for them properly.
    Monique (age 19) has an MGA roadster and an MGB roadster, and Tiana (age 17) has a Triumph Spitfire and a Mini Moke. All four cars were cheap tattered examples which have taught both girls a great deal about cars, mechanical things, caring for things, life and yes, investments as well. And they will eventually sell them for a profit to buy something more interesting.
    Both of my daughters learned how to drive on the left hand drive, manual transmission, Mini Moke when they were 8 and 9 years old!
    If you don’t share this hobby, and the old cars, with your kids, then please do not be surprised when they have no interest in it later when you were hoping to leave the cars to them.
    Also, if we all don’t make the effort to share this hobby with our kids, there will be nobody left to care for the cars when we are all gone. Kids today would much rather play video games and unless you instill the passion, they will only have virtual experiences in their lives.
    Also, it is not enough to take them to a car show. Frankly, it is incredibly boring to be dragged around some hot asphalt parking lot and being scolded not to touch the show cars.
    You need to put them in the driver’s seat and allow them to make mistakes and burn out clutches and break or even crash the cars, just like we did when we first learned to drive. And you need to simply teach them, and allow them to fail and learn like we did. Simply pick something cheap and easy to fix, and let them have at it, with proper direction of course, and you will see a wonderful passion develop, and a wonderful “father-daughter” or “father-son” dynamic. I also advocate the same for spouses and you will see an amazing new dynamic to your marriage as well. My wife drives and works on all of the cars and rides motorcycles with myself and my daughters as well.
    However, you have to be able to bite your tongue and not criticize their driving skills, and let them make a lot of mistakes, or you will ruin their interest before it even starts to develop.
    Just try to remember how badly you drove when you were first learning to drive a standard transmission car with a clutch, and let them experience the same learning curve even if it kills you!
    Kids love these old cars if you just give them a chance to grow passionate about them, and they will care for them at least as well as we do if they are taught to properly respect and maintain them.
    All of my daughters’ friends and boyfriends have also gotten into the hobby because I have shared this with them, and I am currently scoping out cheap British sports cars for several of their friends to buy.
    Chas

  29. jeff6599

    Chas, You sound like we’re twins but I am the older evil one. I also have two daughters, both of whom were driving alone in the car at age 10. Oldest one has a ’72 Fiat 124 spyder and a ’74 124 coupe, AND two harleys. Baby has a ’94 Corvette screaming yellow convertible 6 speed. I agree with all you’ve said. My personal philosophy is if it is priced at the low end of the market and has a future, buy it. See you on the black ribbon.
    Jeff

  30. Chas

    @jeff6599
    I am offended. I am old AND evil, so you can’t take all of that credit!

  31. jeff6599

    Okay Chas.
    How about 50-50?

  32. Chas

    Fair enough.

  33. Doug Towsley

    There are several programs that allow you to search nationwide on Craigslist using different search functions. Also, just do an ADVANCED search on FeeBay and select “Completed auctions”
    Using these tools you can easily learn what vehicles and parts are actually being advertised for, as well as selling. If using the CL tool and the ads are quickly deleted thats a good sign it was on the low end of scale for price. If you see ads on CL and FeeBay over and over, again, another clue. This one theres issues with the item, the seller (Never overlook that issue) or most likely the price.
    For vehicles like Corvettes, no shortage of comparables. What you are looking for is the average, not the exceptions. KBB, NADA and some of the value guides tend to be way WAY off in my opinion. Not very useful in the real world.
    For some vintage vehicles, people will go onto high end auctions such as Barrett Jackson, Mecum and others and see some astronomical prices and conclude “hey my rust bucket is worth JUST as much!!”

  34. Doug Towsley

    Just for grins, some samples in my area on CL, all are 1980s C4 vettes and range from no issues to projects but a fair cross section of the market. Easily could do an bigger search but you get the idea. $4500 is a pretty fair price in my opinion for a car that does/will need minor service issues as well as has been sitting. With a little work might go higher but theres a LOT of others out there as well so competition is stiff. Few people buy these as commuter cars so not an active market for them. Plus insurance tends to be high on these.

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5308541336.html $4950
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ctd/5309872926.html $10,000 dealer
    http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5308512988.html $1900 needs work
    http://portland.craigslist.org/nco/cto/5303975249.html $5000
    http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5286135428.html 2 cars $5500 each convertible and Targa top projects
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ctd/5297086654.html Convertible $5500
    http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/cto/5295584604.html $5750 1 owner very low miles
    http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/ctd/5288342231.html $7800 and 47,000 miles
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5284663103.html $3500 few small issues
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5284165867.html $2800 repainted
    http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/5276206812.html $1900
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/ctd/5272470318.html $3995 convertible/ Dealer.

  35. David Frank David Member

    The Corvette was picked up last night. A barnfinds reader purchased it for $4000. If you check eBay sold cars, you’ll see that was a pretty fair price. Cars listed on Craigslist sell somewhere under the asking, of course

  36. randy

    I am happy for her, and happy for the new owner too. Now if the new owner flips it for a profit, he should share some of it with the widow. That’s just how I roll.

  37. jeff6599

    How long does he have to hold it before selling it to qualify? A month? drive it for a year? 3 years. How short a time does it have to be held before being criticized for selling it? aka flipping. Not fair guys. No one criticizes a fisherman for catch and release so another guy can enjoy that fish. To some, fishing for a car, finding it, pursuing it, buying it using all your negotiating skills, selling it after transporting it home, doing some investing (repairing) – that whole process can be quite enjoyable, especially to a retired guy. And then someone comes out and says “Flipping” as though this process is totally wrong? Well pardon me. What about the car guy who is handicapped and can’t drive but loves cars? This is all he can do to participate. Be careful before being flippant about some perfectly honorable activity.

    • randy

      I guess it is in the “mindset”. The motivation, if you will. Define flippant and show me where I was flippant. I merely suggested that if the buyer bought for the sole purpose of flipping it for a profit, why not share it with the reason he could turn the profit in the first place. My experiences have been that when someone gets defensive about a given subject, there are feelings of guilt lurking below the surface. The guilt may be imagined or the defensive person may be guilty. All truth will be known at some point in time. There is way more to life than money and profit. What goes around comes around. Just imagine how you’d want your mom, sister or daughter treated. Keep it fun, and help others.

  38. sunbeamdon

    David – I enjoyed talking to you on the 9th; my wife put her foot down about no more cars, even though I would have let her drive it (she wont get into my Kirkham). The price sure was compelling; the potential road trip down I5 to Oregon would have been fun!

    With your support and enthusiasm the Vette was well bought; you representation for the widow is exemplary

  39. jeff6599

    Randy, my partner carguy, it’s not you! It is many of the responses on this site where we do our thing; we buy it to store, to use it, to have a project, or just to have something to do. Sooner or later it is sold at the now improved market value (or likely somewhat less because of good haggling) and from out of the crowd comes cries of flipper and we all know it is a negative term whimsically applied because we think someone might have come out on this one. If my wife bought a 50 cent crudded SS pot at rummage and cleaned it up and polished it in my shop, then sold it for $5 at her rummage next month would her friend call her a flipper? Not on your life. So why are any of us, so many of us stricken with the need to be critical of a customer of a very willing seller. Y’ see where I am, Randy? We are so friendly to one another at shows, meets, on the roadside. But if we even suspect someone is not going to fit our definition of appropriate use of a car purchase and go to the effort of improving the purchase or finding a better market for it, that is the person that deserves some criticism. All the best, guys. Keep smiling as there is a lot more Iron out there.

  40. Chas

    My opinion is that so long as you don’t exploit the seller at the time of purchase, you are free to do whatever you wish with the car after that, and the amount of profit is irrelevent to your ethics or the opinion of others, PROVIDING THAT YOU DID HAVE NOT DECEIVED THE SELLER OR TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF HER LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, AND PROVIDING THAT YOU HAVE TREATED HER FAIRLY AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE.
    If a buyer wishes to share the profit derived from his effort, knowledge, work or expertise, that is an admirable and wonderful thing to do for the seller, but he is under no obligation to do so, and his reluctance or refuusal to do so does not reflect on whether he is ehtical or fair in any way whatsoever, particularly in this instance where she was unable to complete this sale herself, eithe rbecause of emotional issues or lack of knowledge of the vehicle or the market. If a buyer steps up to the plate, pays her price, treats her fairly, and takes the risk of the unknown condition of the car, he is not obligated to increase the sale price after the fact unless both parties were unaware of something, like gold bullion left on the trunk.
    Likewise, if the buyer drags the car home, and later learns that the engine is seized, the seller is under no obligation to refund any of the purchase price so long as the seller was not aware of the seized engine, although it would be admirable and wonderful to do so.

  41. jeff6599

    Well put, especially looking at the sale from the other viewpoint!

  42. Matt C

    I got a nice e-mail from Gloria yesterday informing me the car was sold to a local buyer. She said she used a “broker,” which is why I hadn’t heard back from her after I e-mailed her on the 9th. Sounds like a great lady, glad it worked out for her.

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