66k Mile Barn Find: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette

If angels could speak, this 1971 C3 Corvette Stingray Coupe would tell us a story of 43 long years spent in the out-of-doors.  In Oklahoma.  In the winter, summer, during tornadoes.  And only 66,000 sweet miles of memories before she was thrown to the elements in 1977.  She can be found here on Craigslist a short distance south of Wichita, just north of Stillwater, OK in Ponca City.  Ikey Heyman brings us this Corvette barn (rather, just outside the barn) find and we say thanks, Ikey.

We’re a little short on photographic content from this seller but this gives you the overall condition of the entire car.  Worn and tired, unsure whether anything works, but if you ask, it probably needs to be replaced.  The interior is neglected, rugs are ruined, seats thrashed, no telling what the general bucolic aroma may be.  The engine does not turn. But still–just 66,000 original miles since she left the St. Louis plant is head shaking.  As seen in the picture below, the Coupe configuration features removable roof panels and a removable rear window.

Apologies, but this is as close an engine shot as exists on Cragislist. It does seem as though an air conditioning compressor is just this side of the air cleaner.  Fully 53 percent of the 21,801 Corvette cars ordered that year were equipped with airconditioning. There is a plate confirming that the engine in this car is the standard 350 cu in 270 hp engine coupled to the M21 4-speed transmission and likely the standard 3.70:1 rear end gears.  Chevrolet downgraded the ZQ3 350’s compression ratio to 8.5:1 in 1971; this was the time, you may remember, of the unleaded gas changeover by manufacturers.  No more than two years after this Corvette rolled off the line, the first energy embargo and a resulting shortage would challenge the entire muscle car mindset. Think “Pinto” and “Vega.” The seller of this car on Craigslist is asking a “soft” $12,000 for this car as-is–we are reading between the lines of the posting where he states: “. . .will consider all serious offers.”  What exactly would “serious” mean in this case?

Exterior paint is showing some wear.  OK, aside from the frozen engine, could the real work to restore this C3 be largely cosmetic?  Or would this only be a great car again as a full body-off restoration (to get all the mouse and ant nests out from the crevices)?  Suffice it to say resto of any type will empty your fat wallet and rev up a few good credit card balances before this one gets back on the road.  One more two-sided question to ask before money flies off: would this car be worthy of a complete restoration to factory marking precision? Or would this car be more fun, actually cheaper, easier, and quicker to complete if you were to go mildly wild restomod? Thank you for reading, and please speak your mind below.

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Comments

  1. Robert Samu

    For me the money would all be spent in parts. I can do all of the mechanicals and have someone that would bodywork and paint for nothing. I think the problems lie with the car itself. A 8.5 compression and 270 horsepower not the most ideal candidate. The only way to make it financially sound would be a decent restomod.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      Swapping cylinder heads from the current 76cc combustion chamber to ones with 64cc is an inexpensive fix.

      Steve R

      Like 6
  2. Frank Armstrong

    When pretty nice early C3s are available in the low $20’s, this seems like a dead set loser financially. Unless you have about three donor cars and can do mechanical, paint and fiberglass work yourself, it’s going to be a very expensive restoration. Plus, years outdoors are not kind to the birdcage.

    Like 7
  3. gbvette62

    Someone’s added a big block hood to it, otherwise it looks to be a fairly original and unmolested car. Besides the AC compressor, I see a power brake booster, so it also has power brakes and likely power steering. With all the body seems showing, it appears to have a no hit body. These are all pluses.

    Now the minuses. From the discoloration along the edges of the windshield, at the a-pillar, I suspect the a-pillars, and possibly the whole windshield frame, are gone. If so, that’s easily a $2000+ repair, and beyond the abilities of most backyard mechanics. It’d be nice to see the frame. With only 6 years on the road, the frame might not be too bad, on the other hand, if it sat 43 years on flat tires in the mud, the frame could be toast. Finally, there are better cars out there for $12K, I’m thinking $7-$8K is probably more realistic.

    Like 6
  4. Jim B

    It’s a 4-5 grand car; there’s a lot better cars out there for a little more cash. This is a parts car; take it to a swap meet. I own a survivor ’72, 47,000 miles & paid $20,000. Do some shopping around, never settle for junk.

    Like 5
  5. Billy

    I just got a 78 silver anniversary L82 painted and have $12,000 into the job. I started with a nice clean straight good running Vette and now I figure it should go for the high teens. This car needs a body off restoration rather than a paint job. When finished it’s value would be in the low 20k range. I wonder about the frame and birdcage after the car has been kept outside for all these years.

    Like 2
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      All good comments and well stated, good business sense as well. Thanks, guys.

      MJT

      Like 3
      • Steve R

        But having business sense, commonly know as good judgement and/or discipline, is ruining the hobby.

        Steve R

        Like 2
  6. Too late

    Im going to start a web site and call it, LEFT IN FIELD to die.. Seriously how do people that own cars like these could care less about them and leave them out in fields ?

    Like 2
  7. George Mattar

    One of my best friends who is a retired Chevrolet mechanic who repaired these cars for 45 years bought a 70 350 hp coupe that sat outside 40 years in New Jersey. The orig owner heard an engine noise in 1975. He started taking it apart and died. My friend paid $6,000 for it. Engine seized. Orig paint and interior. Factory 4.11 Car. But my oh my that windshield frame was rotted to death. Luckily I found him a mint replacement at Contemporary Corvette. I guarantee you this Oklahoma car has a rotted bird cage and a boring 270 hp car, pass. Too many nice cars for sale. This car needs $20,000 in parts alone to make it drivable. Idiots watch too much Barrett Jackson and think they own a Bloomington Gold car.

    Like 3
  8. Lou Pacelli

    The prices these people are asking for these cars is insane. That’s a 4K car all day. Even if u did all the work yourself and the birdcage was perfect. 10k drive train and front end bushings ect. 3 -5 k Interior. 3-5 k paint and body. Plus the price of the car 35k for and car u would b lucky to get 18 for

    Like 3
  9. Terry

    I am finishing a ’69. And when I see these cars, All I can think of is the nightmare of sawing off rear stuck trailing arm bolts to get the arms out. And the expense of sending them out for restore + rear end too. man o man. Be a while before I do that again. In my op’ that’s the most neglected part on these cars. or just one of my peeves.

  10. A.J.

    All good comments! This is no where near a $12G car. Mine had Chicago rust in the frame and birdcage. Interior was worse than this one but body was perfect. It was a one owner car I paid 4 grand for. Drove it a couple years like that and parted it out on Ebay back when it was possible to make a little money on there. Made a couple thousand, not counting the engine. Favorite part was having a guy contact me to ask the two letter code on the rear window. I answered “QS”. He said put a buy it now price on it. I put $200. He paid within ten minutes and drove up that weekend from St. Louis to pick it up. It was dated about four weeks before his build date. Real restorers are a bit daft.

  11. Billy

    I know a guy that has over 50 K into a 69 Camaro restoration and when it’s done the car will be worth 25K to 35K. I estimate he has at least another 15k to go before it’s finished. this means 65 thousand put into a 30 thousand dollar car. It’s real easy to get way over your head with these cars. My suggestion is to buy one that someone else restored.

    Like 1
  12. Stephen Coe

    Wow 12k for a car that needs 25k of work and is worth 15k stupid

    Like 1

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