Live Auctions

Plastic Project: Slumbering 1976 Corvette

Dangerously close to me in Williamston, North Carolina, this sleepy looking 1976 Corvette checks a lot of boxes for me. As the C3 fan on staff, despite not having owned one yet (note yet), I feel very compelled by the price/value ratio of these plastic expressions of what an American sports car used to be. This one is for sale here on eBay at no reserve, and  bidding has stayed below $2,200 so far, which is almost low enough to make it a topic of conversation at the dinner table. Probably a short conversation, though, as there are too many cars at home — darnit.

Although you might think that a Corvette can’t rust due to the fiberglass body, you’d be wrong, and a close inspection of the “birdcage” is in order for any C3. The seller seemingly being the honest type — the mileage is listed as 113,000, not 13,000 — I’m hopeful that they would take some more pictures for you if you are interested. Of course, an in-person inspection is always the way to go if possible. Note the different shades of red on the body; possible signs of repaired accident damage? Best of all, there’s no luggage rack (snicker)!

The hood seems to be ill-fitting as well, and what’s that chunk of paint doing missing? Again, questions, but consider the price as well.

The seller tells us that they started with the interior in an aborted restoration attempt, but don’t have the time to complete it. I hope they labeled everything well (doubtful) or it’s going to take a while to make sure everything is there and connected correctly. Thankfully parts are plentiful and relatively affordable in case something has gone missing. The automatic would not be my first choice, but the vast majority of C3s were sold with one. At least it’s a TH350, a good strong transmission.

While the stock 350 V8 isn’t anything special in today’s terms, in 1976 it had either 180 or 210 horsepower, depending on which version. But this isn’t the car to put back to stock, is it? I can easily see either rebuilding and tweaking this engine or replacing it with any of the later small blocks that fit nicely. The air conditioning is a plus, and we are told the car was driving fine apart from rear suspension bushing issues (that seems odd to me) when the car was taken off the road. So why would you start with the interior instead of those bushings? And if the car was stored inside, why are there pine needles in the gutters in this shot? So many questions! Mine to you is what do you think this C3 is worth?


  1. Adam T45 Staff

    Jamie, take it from someone who bought a racing car without his wife’s permission: “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission!”

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Adam, while I appreciate the sentiment, remember that Cristina is a car enthusiast too — so we have to both agree on automotive purchases. Believe me, it’s a small price to pay to have a spouse involved in your hobby with you!

      • Adam T45 Staff

        Hey both Jamie and Mike, sometimes you have to seize the day because circumstances are different, or can change in the blink of an eye. My wife wasn’t happy, but after 2 days of absolute silence, she came around to the fact that I had wanted to race for 45 years, but that I’d always put everyone and everything before racing. They say that timing is everything. Six months after buying the car I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of blood cancer, and thus ended my racing career. Am I disappointed? I’d be lying if I said no. However, I got to live my dream and do something that other people only dream about, so I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve fought on now for 4 years and will never give up.

        Sometimes seizing the moment can be the best thing that any of us can do.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Not sure what you were racing and it does not make any differance Adam T45. Very happy you hit it! I always enjoy your comments. I like your never give up attitude. I dont really know you but I love ya Brother. Hang loose and not sure if it makes any differance but I put you in the prayer book. Take care, best of luck, Mike.

      • Adam T45 Staff

        Hey leiniedude, I raced dirt track speedway in a wingless sprintcar. I had an absolute blast doing it. After I was diagnosed I was going to wait for a year to see how treatment went, but my wife gave me a lecture about how something had always gotten in the way of my racing, and to get out there and do it. I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude, because before the end of the first season I discovered that my body could no longer take the punishment, so I acted like an adult and called it a day. My one regret is that when I stepped out of the car for the last time, I hadn’t made the decision to retire. I’d loved to have had one more drive just knowing that it was my last drive so that I could just appreciate the experience more.

        I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and your kind words. My battle has now been going on for four years. I amaze people by how positive I remain, even when sitting in the chair going through treatment. I do have some bad days, but I see the support and kindness that people express to me and it brightens me back up. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to fight for. Doctors aren’t able to tell me a lot because of the rarity of my illness. In Australia there are less than 250 of us with this form of cancer. Regardless of how long I have, rest assured I will fight all the way. We get one shot on the big blue marble, and I intend to enjoy and appreciate it for as long as is humanly possible.

    • Big Mike

      Adam I hate to disagree with you, I have bought cars without my Wife approval in the past, one a 63 Chevy SS, to this day is a sore spot to her, she has said the only reason she is mad about is that she wanted me to buy a 65 T-Bird that she wanted. Funniest thing about the SS is she drives it more than I do.

  2. Ben

    Something smell fishy with this. Really looks like someone parked it out under the ol pine tree for a few years. But assuming you could get it under 5 grand, and the bird cage has not rusted out to nothing, I could see this as a nice restomod. Maybe even LS it, with a 6 speed.

  3. Mike

    Keep a close watch regarding the time toward the closing bid…that’s when things get a bit dicey, what now appears a bargain could reach proportions the wallet may squeal about. Talking about squealing we’ve all heard that’s it’s cheaper to keep her…speak with her first, I didn’t and felt the sting. Good luck!

  4. Steve R

    Decent mid-70’s Corvette’s, including some 4spds, seem to sell on eBay in the $7,500-$8,500 range so why take the chance on this car.

    Steve R

  5. Classic Steel

    This model with low hp and non convert always goes cheap.

    One must remember when you go to get your estimate on paint to have someone possibly catch you upon fainting.

    Seriously you need to really shop in paint as inevitably when they hear vette they say well it’s fiberglass and “ because we can” the estimate is 8- 10 grand ,

    I shopped on my past two and prepped by sanding and taking chrome off it to reduce pricing . It’s funny as my last two were converts and these are very small paint areas to cover even though they sprays special coating on the fiberglass in prep!

    Enjoy and yes build the engine up to get some power in this puppy 👀

    • Big Mike

      All the years my Dad owned his Body shop, he would not paint a Corvette, he always said that it was the hardest to paint, because they showed the littlest errors, and you could not just buff it out, they would require a re-sand and repaint hardest then any other make of car.

      • Classic Steel

        I agree prepping is everything and can say I am very intense on prepping and removing everything to ease painter.
        I have painted in past but with new PPG , chemicals it not worth the health dangers. The new bake booths make it great too!

        I okay with an little more on
        paint but heard it all in past !
        I remember on one I had prior to find my paint guy! My favorite was “let me strip it down and inspect with 10k to start and then evaluate.
        This was on a 22 thousand mile car with slight fading and no cracks on any bumper
        🤑. I quickly left to next estimate which was in line and got me many trophies on my roadster .
        I told the other guy I was not look’ing to buy another car just paint the one in front of us🤓

      • Tim Deal

        I have been painting corvettes for years they are know different then a steel body just use polyester primer.

  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    The hood is kitty-wompus likely because it’s unbolted and just set on the car. The fender paint damage could be from slipping while taking the hood on and off.
    Having the dash out would give a better view of that area in the car but you’d need to know how to put it back together.
    I’ve been through bushings replacements on mine and the camber rod bushings on mine were shot when I bought it. It’s not a quick job but it is doable if you take your time.
    Tires, paint, probably crate engine or rebuild on it and maybe the transmission, the cost will add up quickly on this one.
    I see this as a car for someone that wants one rather than flipping. I think you’d be lucky to come out even on a flip with all the work that needs to be done on it. This is assuming the birdcage and frame aren’t rusted out. If that happens then all bets are off.

    My 2 cents.

  7. whmracer99

    If you factor in a crate motor, paint, and a bunch of misc. parts including the rear end rebuilt you could easily have $15K in this when finished. You’d be much better off chasing a running/driving car so you know what you’re starting with and you could have something to enjoy while you’re doing your upgrades or spend the money and time on something that will appreciate quicker. The only way this makes any sense is if all the interior parts are there, your drivetrain is intact and usable and you stay away from the high dollar paint jobs. Trust me, I get it when your heart calls but let this one roll to voice mail.

    • Classic Steel

      One really doesn’t want to crate motor it to keep numbers matching on off chance you want to sell sometime .

      Play with bore and forged pistons as well as dual exhaust on large pipes to boost performance .
      A shift kit if your wanting to launch with stall convert .

      One can even swap manifold and carbs and put originals on shelf to keep.

      My thoughts on boosting perf and maintaining value too.


    red flags all over this one. buy one done already

  9. Whippeteer

    Stored indoors after sitting under pine trees for 35…

  10. Superdessucke

    $2,,375. Imagine if this was a 1970 Chevelle SS454 or even a 396. What would that number be? This illustrates how far and how fast the U.S. auto industry fell in a very short period of time.

    • Classic Steel

      The old oil embargo choked muscle but like the mustang ghias (ugh) it kept them producing at least for better years 👍

  11. TD

    “Started the interior restoration…” with what, a sledge hammer?

    • Adam T45 Staff

      You mean that you can’t do that???

  12. ACZ

    This year was unique in that it was the only year Corvette to come with a Vega steering wheel. That pretty much says it all.

  13. Ron

    Now that the Vette has become a car for the elites, $$$$$, if you want one, better grab one of the 70s and do a few up dates on it.
    They won’t have a computer.

  14. Jose Delgadillo

    First off, prayers to Mike T45. Good to hear you are still in the fight. For lots of guys like me well into our Sixties, when we think Corvette, we think C3. These later models have not been highly valued and can be a good buy. But I will agree with everyone that says to buy a decent runner, especially if it’s your first Vette. There’s a lot to learn and I think your time is better spent on something you can drive and enjoy and improve as you see fit over time. I’m not one of those fussy guys that has to have a perfect old car to take to shows. Worn upholstery, faded paint, but reliable mechanicals are more my speed. Find the right car and take the plunge! Even these and early C4’s will get more expensive.

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