Original Family Owned: 1980 Chevrolet Corvette

I suppose we could debate about what constitutes a real C3 Corvette. I used to think once the steel bumpers went away (1972), they were done, having moved into the realm of some half-baked GM plot to convince themselves that they were right, we as consumers should agree with their position and yes, understand that there is a need to conform to ever-changing and strengthening Federal requirements. There was time when I wouldn’t give a 1980 Corvette like this example a second look. Well, I’ve given this coupe, which is located in Montclair, New Jersey and listed here on craigslist for $13,500 a lot of looks and I like what I see. Thanks to Ikey Heyman for the tip.

By 1980, Chevrolet and every other auto manufacturer who did business in the U.S. had their hands full with smog regulations, fuel economy standards, crashworthiness, rollover standards, California’s CARB regulations (which required a 5.0 liter engine with 180 net HP as the only available Vette engine in ’80) and a basically 1980 punk economy. Considering all of this, I think Chevrolet did pretty well with their marquee sports car.

Under the hood of this Vette is the tried and true 350 CI small block engine, known as L48, and good for 190 net HP. The owner claims that it “runs, drives and stops very well”. Best of all, this Corvette has a four-speed manual transmission which by 1980 was becoming scarcer and scarcer. By 1982, there would no longer be a manual gearbox option though that was remedied with the C4 ‘84 model.

Looking at the interior, we find garnet red leather which looks great with the contrasting white exterior. The door panels and carpet are just as they should be. This Vette only has 61,000 miles so I would expect minimal wear.

Moving to the exterior, panel gaps and fiberglass all looks tidy based on the included images which number only five of the exterior; and three are of the back of the car. The finish is very strong and has a nice shine to it. I’m generally not a fan of white but this Corvette wears it well. There is no mention of the underside, specifically the frame. It’s a life-long New Jersey car and appears to have been meticulously maintained but a look-see underneath never hurts. The seller mentions that this car is still with its original family and that, to me, is an added benefit.

When I first saw this Corvette, I was immediately reminded of a former co-worker who had one just like it, the only difference was that his had the typical automatic transmission but it was the same otherwise. It was a complicated story but his significant other tossed him out on his ear and he had to live in the Vette for a few days; I seem to recall that he traded it for something larger. I like C3’s but I’m still more drawn to the ’68-’72 models, that said this one is very nice and I think would be a very enjoyable car to own and drive – I wish there were a few more, better-centered images, however. How about you, are you a stickler for the earlier steel bumper appearance and overall performance or would you be happy with this ’80?


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  1. Arthell64 Member

    If you want a c3 this is the condition and price to buy one. The 1980 was the last corvette without an ecm. Looks nice for the money

    Like 11
  2. Jeremy

    Yup, if for no other reason than its a 4 speed. I wouldn’t hesitate to liven up the engine either. Cam, aluminum heads,headers,free flowing exhaust, bigger carb n intake. All can be done without pulling the engine, and would nearly double factory hp

    Like 18
    • Frank Sumatra

      And ruin the car

      Like 4
  3. Coventrycat

    Vettes are just for cruising and posing, so the whole “performance” thing doesn’t really matter on that drive to Wal-Mart. I like it, and I’d drive it there, too.

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      That statement was true for Corvettes of that era, but isn’t accurate anymore. Many owners may fit your description, but the cars haven’t for a couple of decades.

      Steve R

      Like 8
      • Frank Sumatra

        You bet! A 770 HP ZR-1 is a definite ‘cruiser” and anyone who can handle one of those also qualifies as a “poser” I saw at least five ZR-1s at Wal-Mart this weekend.Great post! Insightful AND thought provoking, unlike some many other clueless Corvette posts.

    • gbvette62

      The 1980 Corvette wasn’t the performance car it was in 1970, but what other car still was? There weren’t many cars in 1980, that were quicker or handled better than the Corvette.

      The 80 Corvette was quicker than the Z28, Trans Am, 280Z, and Mustang Cobra, while the Porsche 924 Turbo was maybe 2-3 tenths quicker. Actually, the 80’s base 350 was as quick or quicker than the base 327’s and 350’s, offered in most Corvettes throughout the 60’s and 70’s. It was only all the optional engines, that made earlier Corvettes so much faster.

      The 80-82 Corvettes were also probably the best handling Corvettes built up till then. With the optional Gymkhana Suspension, and 60 series Eagle GT’s, plus improved aerodynamics, and the use of some lighter components, the 80-82’s are quite competent handlers. I know, I have a 44K mile 81, that I bought new.

      This looks like a nice car, and if it looks as good in person, it could be a good deal for someone.

      Like 9
  4. the one

    Dang! Nice car!

    Like 5
  5. Frank Sumatra

    Great looking driver at a good price and a nice color combination. Should sell quickly.

    Like 2
  6. Bear

    I have an almost IDENTICAL Vette stored up at my property in MI.
    Same white exterior, same burgundy leather interior, same very low miles, but mine is an automatic trans.
    They are nice cars for the $$, & you can find many examples in the mid-west & northeast that have never seen winter roads.
    Great “entry level” Corvette! :-) <3       

    Like 5
  7. JoeNYWF64

    Jeremy, all that can be done, unless you live in California, or import the car to certain across the seas countries, i believe.
    Jim, would you also prefer chrome bumpers on the 4 rotor corvette, ’70-3 firebird(front) & ’68-69 gto(front)?
    The elastomeric bumpers on the ’70 & ’71 cuda, etc. are VERY desireable options!!
    Any1 know why older vettes have both rear quarters joined together as 1 big piece? Seems to me built like that, it would be a lot more expensive to replace just 1 damaged quarter panel, for ex.

  8. John Oliveri

    Good looking car, I kinda had the almost exact one, once, it was a white and red 80 Vette, automatic, which is y almost, and kinda meant that a family member had the car, bought it new, and acquired a whopping 4000 miles in 3 years of ownership, so in 83, when I was 22 and about to buy, a 83 Riviera I was offered the car for a cheaper price, than the Buick was gonna be, and I owned a work car, so the Buick was going in my garage, weekend cruiser, so I tried the Vette, but because I am a car nut, no rain, no snow of course, 2 spots at a club, no beach, no watching a movie w/o checking on it a hundred times, I gave it back, and bought the Buick

    Like 2
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I don’t know. I think this will be a hard sell at this price. Even taking into account original owner and manual. 61K is still kind of high for that price, and it’s not an L-82.

    It might be the right fit for someone, but it will probably sit for awhile at that price.

    • Ike Onick

      Most prices are negotiable.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        That’s my point. If they want that price, it will sit.

  10. Stevieg Member

    Nice car. Good colors, hand-shaker transmission, low miles.
    Considering where it is, I bet it still smells of Aquanet lol. Probably had a guy named Vinnie driving it, lots of gold chains & big hair lol.
    Whatever, I still like it & would drive it with pride…& I really don’t like Corvettes lol.

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