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Needs Finishing: 1961 Chevrolet Corvette

Tackling someone’s unfinished project can be daunting, but it will often seem less of a chore if the car is as desirable as this 1961 Corvette. It needs a new owner to add the finishing touches, but the seller includes most of the parts required to return this beauty to its rightful place on our roads. Once complete, the new owner will slip behind the wheel of one of the most highly coveted cars to roll off an American production line. The ‘Vette is listed here on eBay in Manahawkin, New Jersey. Bidding has raced to $33,700, although that figure is below the reserve. For those wishing to bypass the auction process, the seller offers a BIN option of $47,500.

With a new model waiting in the wings, Chevrolet pursued evolution rather than revolution with the 1961 Corvette. Changes were relatively minor cosmetically, with mechanical changes also kept to a minimum. It was the last year the company would offer two-tone paint until 1978, although this car features a single paint shade of Ermine White. It is unclear whether this is the car’s original color, but its condition is acceptable if the new owner seeks a driver-quality build. A couple of small chips in the paint could easily be repaired, while the same is true of the single tiny fiberglass flaw. Otherwise, this classic’s panels and paint have no apparent needs. Considering its current state, I find the rock-solid and rust-free frame unsurprising. Most of the glass is present, although I didn’t spy a windshield in the included photos. The trim sparkles nicely, and a new soft-top is included.

One of the mysteries of this Corvette is its drivetrain. The car features a 283ci V8 and a four-speed manual transmission. However, with the seller stating the 283 decodes as being from 1958 to 1961, it is unclear whether it is original to this car. Its specifications are unknown, but the winning bidder should have at least 230hp on tap once the ‘Vette returns to active service. It doesn’t currently run, although the motor turns freely. The new owner will face bolting on the peripherals and adding a new wiring harness. However, with a new exhaust, fuel tank, fuel lines, and brake lines already installed, some of the more expensive and time-consuming tasks are already completed.

This Corvette’s interior is a work in progress, and it won’t take much effort to whip it into shape. The seats wear new foam and covers, while new carpet graces the floors. The seller includes new door trims in the deal, although it is unclear whether there is a correct wheel. If the winning bidder seeks an authentic look, a reproduction wheel and hub will lighten their wallet by over $500. However, whipping the inside of the Corvette into shape should cost more time than money if that proves to be the only required part.

As the 1960s and 1970s progressed, enthusiasts fell out of love with the C1 Corvette. There was no single reason for this, although subsequent models offered superior performance if buyers ticked the right boxes on their Order Forms. Times change and these classics are highly prized in the classic market. This one has only attracted eleven bids, although this is probably at least partly explained by its price bracket. It is hard to class it as an affordable restoration, although the listing suggests there will be little for the winning bidder to spend beyond the initial purchase price. Are those thoughts enough to tempt you to drop a bid on this classic?


  1. Henderson D

    Definitely needs a luggage rack.

    Like 8
  2. mikeh

    Nice, period correct ’61 from the “Buzz and Todd” era. That seems one of the rarest years as survivors go. If you’re jonesin’ for a solid ’60-61, you really can’t go wrong here at around 40 K.

    Like 3
  3. Frank Sumatra

    This is akin to the “last mile” in logistics or being in the “red zone” in an NFL game. If it seems so easy to complete the job, why isn’t it finished? My guess is the final 20% of the project is going to take 80% of the time and money that goes into this project.

    Like 10
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    These are so nice when they aren’t in pieces.

    Like 7
  5. ruxvette

    “Changes were relatively minor cosmetically…” well, if you consider a completely restyled rearend ‘minor’.

    Like 3
    • Frank Sumatra

      Yup. GM was evolving to what would become the 1963 SWC.

      Like 4
  6. Lathebiosas

    Job 1. Lose that hideous steering wheel.

    Like 4
  7. Bryan McDonald

    Buying a car at this stage of the restoration process can either save you a lot of money or cost you more than you bargained for. I would tread lightly buying one sight unseen. A new paint job sitting in a garage for years can easily pick up many bumps and bruises that may need another repaint. $$$ Also several years ago a guy contacted me to put a ’57 Chevy together that he had “restored” at a shop where the owner had passed away after doing a complete frame off, where floor sections, rocker panels, tail pain, trunk floor and one quarter panel along with part of the other quarter panel were replaced. The son who had taken over the shop did not want to put the car back together. I found out why when I started to assemble the car. All the a-for mentioned panels had been replaced with the body off the frame and not checking alignment as they went, so when I started putting things back together nothing lined up. I had to cut one quarter and both rockers lose to realign them and then repaint the body. $$$$

    Like 2

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