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Original 454: 1973 Chevrolet Corvette

Choosing the right project candidate can be challenging, particularly for a vehicle like a C3 Corvette. The biggest issue is that Chevrolet provided buyers with so many options that knowing the best combination can be challenging. However, most enthusiasts will feel safe buying a C3 with a numbers-matching big-block under the hood. That is what awaits the new owner of this ‘Vette, but the seller candidly admits the car requires work to present at its best. This beauty is listed here on Craigslist in Bend, Oregon. The seller has set their price at $16,500, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L. for spotting it.

I admire the seller because they don’t attempt to paint this Corvette as something it isn’t. The Mille Miglia Red paint looks respectable in the supplied shots, but the seller indicates it and the fiberglass require work to present at a high level. I can’t spot any glaring problems suggesting any remedial work might be within the capabilities of a competent new owner in a home workshop. We receive no information on the state of the frame or birdcage, but a couple of encouraging signs bode well. Areas like the engine bay show little sign of corrosion, while it appears the ‘Vette spent most of its life in California. If both are accurate indications, this classic should be structurally sound. The trim and glass look acceptable for a driver-grade build, while the polished alloy wheels add a touch of class.

Chevrolet’s 454ci V8 was living on borrowed time in the Corvette range by 1973. It would survive one more year before being consigned to the history books in 1975. This car is 1-of-4,412 equipped with a big-block. It produced 275hp, and when coupled to the three-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission we find in this classic, it allowed the ‘Vette to cover the ¼-mile in 14.9 seconds. The original owner chose to equip this car with power assistance for the steering and brakes, both of which would be welcome with such a heavy lump of cast iron hanging over the front wheels. Purists will be pleased to learn the car is numbers-matching, and although it runs and drives, it has seen little recent use. Therefore, it requires a thorough inspection and possible mechanical work before being considered genuinely roadworthy.

The seller states the Corvette’s interior needs work, but its condition is acceptable for a driver-grade classic. Some plastic pieces exhibit minor damage, and there is slight wear on the seat edges. The carpet is stained on the driver’s side, and I feel this is probably beyond the point where a deep clean will cure its ills. However, the interior appears to be original and unmolested. It isn’t brimming with optional extras, but the power windows and AM/FM radio are desirable features.

If I had one wish about this 1973 Corvette, it would be that the seller provided better photos. Assessing the car’s overall condition from those supplied is challenging, and potential buyers should probably hope that they are willing to accept an in-person inspection. If that doesn’t unearth major problems, somebody could be on to a winner. Enthusiasts spent years focusing on the chrome-bumper variants, but cars like this, particularly those featuring a big-block, are experiencing growing popularity and value. Would you consider contacting the seller to negotiate an inspection, or will you sit out this dance?


  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    Never understand why sellers take pictures under trees. Might as well paint the car in camo, it shows so poorly.

    Like 7
  2. BA

    Give me a Rat any day! It might not be as fierce as a L-88 or a LS-6 but it’s just a 300.00 camshaft away ! Never understood why people shy away from a car like this or sell it so cheap! Doesn’t people understand what they are looking at? Every yearns for horsepower well guess what ? This here Corvette has if not the greatest big block motor the (454 was the next generation to the 427)to ever be built certainly no less than number 2 ( 426 hemi both rules drag racing & tractor pulls to this day ) and if have watched serious motor sports a Rat with a blower is serious 2000 or more horsepower ! Is this Corvette worth the ask? Lol yes

    Like 10
    • Stan

      Right on BA 🏁

      Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Maybe cause they run hot (especially emissions big blocks with a/c) – & not much airflow to the radiator?

      Like 0
  3. C Force

    That’s a pretty good price for a 454 vette.looks very clean and well kept.with the big tube headers it has probably making around 310hp,and plenty of torque for this car.

    Like 2
  4. Bcweir

    I wish people would stop talking about “matching numbers.” Manufacturers haven’t done matching numbers on cars since the 1970s. Cars get their engines replaced all the time. Sometimes due to manufacturing problems with engine (it can and does happen – looking at you C8 Z06), owner may have damaged engine, car may have been wrecked or flooded. Any number of reasons to replace an engine. So please stop pretending that this matching numbers myth has anything meaningful to contribute to the vehicle as a running and driving automobile. Which is more important to you: a “matching numbers” paperweight with a ruined engine, or an otherwise factory original car with a non matching numbers but otherwise correct engine that a buyer can actually drive and enjoy? GLWA

    Like 4
    • KP

      I totally get what you’re saying, but just because we think that way, not everyone else does. If it drives the way it’s supposed to (regarding power and torque) I’m totally fine. But honestly, I can’t pass judgement against those people who find it to be a big deal, especially if they’re collectors. In their minds, the whole “This isn’t all ORIGINAL” is something they can’t get past. So from that perspective, I can understand why they care. I think there’s just two different camps. There’s actually a plus and a negative to all this. The collector’s are the ones that make these “matching numbers” vehicles ridiculously expensive…BUT… really steer away from vehicles that aren’t, which in turn make them affordable for the people (like me) who don’t care.

      Like 1
    • 70GMCc20

      Yea, those Mecum and barrett Jackson auctions don’t get $1 more for numbers matching all original vehicles . They are just a bunch of rich people over spending on piles of steel. I mean, what do they know. Lol., #’s matching on a 50 year old car might imply the car not being abused, making a nostalgic person want the feel of their 1st car or a point in time. Coaxing them to pay more to recapture a feeling, not just invest in randomly assembled parts .

      Like 0
      • ACZ

        There is time to inspect something you are interested in before the car gets to the block. If you find something you really want, you can find out most all you need to know.

        Like 1
    • Michael Clayton

      I bought a “matching numbers” 1975 Stingray. First thing I did was sell the original small block and put in a 496 big block. Matching numbers horrible small block, or 670 horsepower big block?

      Like 3
      • chuck

        That’s the way to do it!

        Like 1
  5. ACZ

    If you haven’t driven one of the low compression 454s, don’t knock them. The RPM didn’t spin as high as some of it’s predecessors, but there was no shortage of brute low end torque. The cylinder heads used on these were the best flowing oval port open chamber variety, and use of lead free pump gas is what they accel at (pun intended).

    Like 5
  6. Acton Thomas

    Great looking car, good color combination. I’ve always been a fan of the ’73 body style, numbers matching 454 is always a plus. The car appears to have A/C, even though the compressor has been removed. I would like to see more photos, especially of the under carriage. Looks like a really good deal!

    Like 1
  7. Nice BB vette

    If a car has matching numbers they should toot their horn stating it’s numbers match.
    It adds $$$ to the value and indicates a car likely taken care of thru the years.
    It also implies not a drag car or drove like a rental car or a care stolen.

    If one doesn’t care in matching numbers build a clone and save your money.

    This is a sweet car!

    Like 2
  8. steve

    The 2 big screws on top of the console are not “stock”. Something must be loose.

    Like 0
  9. John M.Stecz

    The rims on this car are from 1978 or 1979 can always be replaced with the never get old great looking Chevy rally rims with rings and centers

    Like 0
    • steve

      Actually those wheels were an option in 1973, and were available through 1982.

      Like 1
      • chuck

        I might be mistaken, but I believe the wheels were intended for 73 model year, but not available until 76 or so for some reason.

        Like 0
      • ACZ

        There were some released in very late 73. There was a production problem with the first ones. They were available at SOP 1974 MY.

        Like 0
    • George Mattar

      John, those chrome plated YJ8 wheels are from 1980 through 1982. I have a set of the 76 to 79 wheels on my 73 coupe. Supposedly, four Corvettes left St. Louis with these wheels. They were discontinued due to leaking. Did not return until 76 model.

      Like 0
  10. George Mattar

    John, those chrome plated YJ8 wheels are from 1980 through 1982. I have a set of the 76 to 79 wheels on my 73 coupe. Supposedly, four Corvettes left St. Louis with these wheels. They were discontinued due to leaking. Did not return until 76 model.

    Like 0
  11. Karl

    I wonder if that optional factory alarm still works?

    Like 0
    • John Guthrie

      How do you shut that off or set? I bought my 1970 convertible off a guy no fob didnt say anything battery started to drain parked in garage round 2 a.m. started goin off I had to cut wires to horn woke half the neighborhood!!

      Like 0
      • Karl

        Turnuse the oval key to turn the switch in the middle off the rear end. ’68 – ’73 only.

        Like 1

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