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Flood Victim: 1961 Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette sales were in a holding pattern in 1961, unable to crack the 11,000 mark (but close). The most noticeable changes were to the rear styling which included four taillights as the Corvette’s signature going forward. This otherwise nice 1961 Corvette was somehow caught in a flood or received water damage in some way resulting in a salvage title. There’s no indication just how bad the damage is and it’s most noticeable in the interior. From a salvage yard in York Haven, Pennsylvania, this Corvette will be available here on Copart where the estimated value as-is is $45,550.

The second generation of the Corvette was still two years away when the seller’s Corvette was assembled. It was one of 10,939 convertibles (with an optional hardtop) to be produced that year. New features included an aluminum radiator and a rerouting of the dual exhaust. The only engine offered was still the 283 cubic inch V8 in several iterations as it would be replaced by the new 327 in 1962. Passengers found more legroom in the ‘Vette in ’61 as the transmission tunnel was thinner than before.

If the seller’s Corvette could talk, it probably has a sad story to tell. It appears to have been well-loved before water entered the vehicle in places not disclosed.  It may have been previously restored though the odometer reads just north of 72,000 miles. Did the water get into the engine (we don’t know if the car runs or not)? Was it fresh water or salt water because – if the latter – the frame may become suspect down the road? And what about the wiring and electrical components? In short, what will it take to get the car back in shape and the “salvage” designation off the title? Is this a project you would undertake based on what we know?


  1. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    You’d have to hope the high price means fresh water. If it was salt water that already would show up in lots of places unless it was watered down right after it got wet. Things like the alternator/generator get real funky on the inside after salt water.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Gary D. Oliver

      Is there salt water in Pennsylvania.?

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Larry D*

        Two of the biggest ports in the country are in Pennsylvania.

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo JohnfromSC

      Hi Bob, The price on the Copart ad isn’t asking price, but rather an estimated “market price”. This car will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at future option (not yet scheduled). As it gets closer to auctiin date, seller also has option to list a ” buy it now” price in addition to auction process. In some cases there may also be a reserve.

      Copart is the ultimate “Buyer Beware” site. A seller can claim the car runs like a swiss watch and if you buy it and it smokes like a Chinese coal fired power plant you have no recourse. That’s why personal inspection is imperative with a car like this.

      That said, I scored pretty big a couple of years back buying a vintage pickup listed as no op. I could see from the pics that it had been frame off restored years earlier and figured it had simply sat thereafter. I rolled the dice and boight it on a very reasonable buy-it-now price. Turns out I was correct. Rebuilt fuel system, brakes, put in new points and condenser. Runs like a jewel. Later on I determined engine rebuild only had 300 miles on it.

      I took an educated gamble because I could see a lot about the truck ahead of time. And based on the price I paid, my downside wasn’t terrible. With this vette a bidder needs to see it in person or hire a vette expert to look at it.

      Like 12
      • Avatar photo bobhess Member

        Hi John. How are you doing up there? Good information on the Coparts.

        Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Joseph F Monahan

    Wish it was selling for a much lower price since it will require a lot of skill and money just to make this great classic road worthy. Makes me wonder how many other Corvettes and Classic cars are sold by insurance auctions once they are sold as salvage when in a flood.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Daniel Sandler

      If your state just requires a bill of sale and registration because o f it’s age you could take that and title it in another state they would probably issue a clean title. Detailed and repaired if the car had been restored it could bring 70 to 100,000 easily. It’s just dishonest and I would never do it

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Cam W.

    With some new parts, skill, and alot of time, this car is quite fixable. The “Salvage” title is not legally fixable. Branded titles decrease value and desirability among most collectors.
    If the car goes cheap enough, it could make a good long-term driver for someone not concerned with “investment” value.

    Like 15
    • Avatar photo Rw

      Next step after running you get a rebuilt title to get it registered

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo wes johnson Member

    Have bought cars from Copart Auctions. They are a clearing house for insurance companies. Usually you can read their listing on their website and figure out where came from. They move them around if not getting what they want. But most of all, GO AND INSPECT YOURSELF!! First one I bought I did on online auction, no sound. Went to pick up, converters cut out, tranny slipped (low on fluid), and a bunch of leaks. Rented uhaul trailer to get home. Can get some good deals, just go look first and be there for auction.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo Joseph F Monahan

      Wes, Thank You. Joe

      Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Mike J

    Seems priced a tad bit high for what you’re gonna have to do to make this right again. Hard pass for me.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Faroutfreak

      It could have been moved to Pennsylvania after the flood, the owner may have wanted to restore it but the Insurance settlement enough to buy one in top shape. Only way to know would be contacting the owner ( if this one will disclose that info) as the ” Salvage ” title tells this car was probably bought from car Insurance company Auction !

      Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Al

    Nuts. This will ALWAYS have a branded title no matter what, fresh or salt, makes no difference. I dont care if its frame off/rotisserie. Too big a risk to not brand it as some yahoo gets it, powerwashes it & of course then sells it off to an unknowing person. Unlike any other American car, this wont be parted out but either restored or resto-modded. So that said, this will be branded. I have friends that buy the Harleys on Copart online auctions, then ship them to Europe & Australia mainly because they do not recognise salvage, reconditioned or branded titles, so they get top dollar for them. Not here though!

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Bama

    A lot of states will allow it to be retitled as rebuilt after a complete inspection. Which is basically what it will be after restoration, completely restored to like new condition.
    My state doesn’t recognize titles on anything over 35 rolling years old anyway, I could buy it and resell it here without the title. As long as it remained here, nobody would ever know. Dishonest? You be the judge of that, I’d say it’s taking advantage of current law.
    I feel it’s too high, anyway. They have the after restored pricing in effect on a small block car that is nothing extraordinary.

    Like 5
  8. Avatar photo DrR

    Fresh or salt, doesn’t matter. The frame is not water-tight, so the moisture is inside “lurking&working”. Rust never sleeps.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Jim

      Frame is not closed in like a C2. Front cross member only

      Like 2
  9. Avatar photo douglas hunt

    such a shame, and I agree, if the buy in price wasn’t so high it would make a great car to blow apart in the garage and then use it as intended, a fun drivers car

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo John

    From the Copart photos, it appears the engine was under water. The air filter housing is in the trunk, there is standing water in the trunk. Regardless, someone will buy it, probably put it on a good chassis, and sell it to some sucker.

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo geezerglide 85

    OK first of all, this is an auction, the est. retail is just that an est. not the price. 2nd ad says N.J. salvage cert. so it could be salt water flooded. The car might still be owned by an insurance co. and Copart is doing the selling. Also check to see if you need a license to bid on this. Some auctions require you to be a dealer or salvage yard operator.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Campbell Chrisman iii

      Somehow tittles are getting cleaned.People go to certain states and presto cleared.Saw almost new pickup on TV and owner had no idea was flooded.Found out half of the access. didn’t work.Buyer beware.

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Terry

    Looks just like my 63 Nova SS convertible after Hurricane Ian almost 2 years ago. My Nova left the state of Florida right after the insurance company picked it up. Unless you have lived in a salt water environment you have no idea how corrosive salt water is to steel components. This is not a risk worth taking.

    Like 4
  13. Avatar photo John waters

    I was a car dealer for 18 years. Nightmares, all flooded cars !

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Bruce Harris

    To take a chance on that car being salvageable, it’s worth about half that estimated price. And even at that, you need a complete interior and who knows about the drivetrain? The only saving grace is that it’s not a metal body but there’s still a lot of steel in that car that can rust. For the right guy it might be worth buying at the right price.

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo TRUTH

    Even best case scenario is going to still require going over every single square inch and wires, complete drive train tear down and rebuild because it clearly was submerged at least a foot higher than the exhaust. There’s no way water didn’t find it’s way into the exhaust manifold. Upholstery might be saved but it’s going to need carpet replacement and attention paid to any floor and seat damage. The doors probably have water in them. Not good. Most lower electrical will need replaced.

    IDK how they can have an estimate that high.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo John L

      That’s what the insurance company paid the owner.

      Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Justin

    Agree Truth…too much everything unless it sells for much less. This one will be a long and expensive project.

    Like 2
  17. Avatar photo Douglas A. Bethune

    I am sure interested . Just tell me when the bidding starts . Love these 61 and 62s . Complete tear down , no problem for the right price , even if it is USD .

    Like 0
  18. Avatar photo Sam Kalmuk

    Can one Register at your DMV, a Flood Car ?

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo Rustomodrob

    $10k that’s it. Anymore…you’re better off buying a clear title already done drivable vehicle without all the headaches….and divorce it will cost you to dive into this.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo douglas hunt

      yep, but then if it was 10k EVERYONE would be trying to buy it …….

      Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Stuart Lynch

    Just because this was in water damage I am sure it didn’t sit in water very long even in saltwater it takes quite a long exposure for it to do serious damage to frame etc so chances r good it is not the death of this particular car I have a 2020 ford transit 250 van in New jersey water damage title its been fine I did have a new tranny installed but this had nothing to do with water damage its the junk tranny in ford’s these days 10 speed junk

    Like 0

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