Roadside Sighting: 1979 Chevrolet Corvette

The internet is a great place to find cars, but sometimes you might stumble across the best deals while out running errands. Heck, we recently spotted something interesting while out driving around. Peaking out from behind an old fence, we noticed the nose of what turned out to be one of America’s most iconic cars. We decided to take a closer look and boy we are sure glad we did!

We had been keeping an eye out for a Corvette project and there was a “For Sale” sign in the window. The $6,999 asking price seemed high, but we decided to give the owner a call anyway. We’ve looked at a few C3s, but they have all been worn out and rough. Given how clean this one looked, we thought we should give it a spin.

The seller was happy to tell us about the car. He’d bought it a few years back as a date night car. After buying it, he paid a mechanic to do a basic service and rebuild the carb. It was driven occasionally, but with 2 young kids, it just wasn’t getting used enough to justify keeping. It also didn’t help that they had a 1969 Camaro calling for their attention.

The engine felt strong, the exhaust note was fantastic, and the suspension was tight. I can’t speak for Jesse, but I was instantly hooked! Based on his smile though, I could tell he was loving it too. Before heading back, we pulled over and Jesse asked me, “what do you think?”. I couldn’t lie, I was in love! We try to not make rash decisions, especially when it comes to old cars, but sometimes you have to listen to your heart. We knew we couldn’t afford the asking price, but figured it couldn’t hurt to make an offer. So we drove back to the seller’s house. I carefully backed it into their driveway, hoping that we wouldn’t seem to eager…

After shutting it down, the seller came out of their house and asked us what we thought. Jesse usually handles the negotiations while I inspect for any major issues we might have missed, but this time Jesse was looking things over and spotted something interesting. He pulled me to the side and quietly told me to look at the rear suspension, I was a bit confused as it didn’t feel like anything was wrong. I climbed underneath the car and that’s when I spotted the rear sway bar! That’s right, this car had the desirable Gymkhana performance suspension. That was it, we had to have it!

An offer was a made and, surprisingly, accepted! We had to run to the bank to get the money, so while we waited for the bank teller, we were both looking up info and checking parts prices on our phones. Remember, we’ve never owned a Corvette before and it hit us that we don’t really know what things to look out for. So I looked up the most common issues to make sure we were making a wise decision. The body has a few cracks but the chassis looked solid. All the electronics worked and there weren’t any unusual sounds coming from the drivetrain, so we decided it was probably alright.

While it was fitted with base L48 engine, this Corvette was well optioned. We are going to order the dealer invoice to find out what rims and tires were originally on it and to see if there are any other options we are missing. We paid the seller, filled out the paperwork, and shook hands one last time. I grabbed the keys before Jesse could and jumped in the driver’s seat. I couldn’t stop smiling while driving it back to the shop. It’s going to need a good cleaning, a full service, and a few little fixes, but it’s going to be a fun project. We haven’t decided what all we are going to do with it or what events we want to take it to this summer, but if you have any suggestions, we would love to hear them!

On an interesting side note, I discovered this just around the corner of the old barn next to the Corvette. This old GMC truck might look abandoned, but the plates are currently registered and it looks like it’s still being used on a regular basis. We might have to go back and see if we can find out what the story behind it is. Happy hunting!

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  1. MH

    What did you pay for it? We all want to know.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We paid $5,500. Not bad for such a fun driver!

      • ken TILLY

        Jesse. I would MUCH rather have your Corvette for $5500 than this POS for 11 grand more. Where do these people suck these fancy prices from? No, don’t answer that question!

      • Gerry D

        Great price!! Good job.

  2. MFerrell

    Congratulations! As a long-time owner, welcome to the world of C3 Corvette! I know you’ve been interesting for a long time, this looks like a good one. Keep us updated!

  3. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    I always thought I’d end up with the C3 on staff, but you’ve beaten me to it! Congratulations, guys!!!

  4. Pa Tina


  5. Fred W

    Good buy!

  6. Rock On

    Congratulations on your purchase boys! You got a pretty good deal there. I used to own a black on black 1977 Corvette, I cannot believe that they are now cheaper to buy than a similar year Camaro or Trans Am.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      I can’t believe they are cheaper either!

  7. joeinthousandoaks

    Well bought

  8. Scott Tait

    Very nice keep us up to date 👍

  9. 86 Vette Convertible

    Congrats, looks like a good car at a fair price.

    Superchevy has a C3 project Scarlet they’ve been working on for some time you might be interested in what they’ve done.

  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    You cats are going to have so much fun! My 72 is white also. great looking cars. So many ways to go on this girl. Enjoy and have fun on the ride!!!!

  11. Charles Flowers

    Congrats! Have fun.

  12. Steve

    You now own the one year of Corvette with the highest production numbers 53,807 and lowest horsepower 190hp L48. The article says you were doing research while at the bank, yet I can’t understand how you missed this information. Not the most desirable C3, the early C3’s with chrome bumpers, manual trans and higher HP are the ones people are after.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      We knew that it was the highest production and lowest horsepower. The horsepower deficit can be easily improved and we wanted the car to drive, not as an investment. Let the automotive press continue to trash on them. It just keeps prices low!

  13. Chuck

    Good luck with your purchase. I hope you enjoy yours more than I enjoyed the one I ordered new in ’79. To date, it was the worst car I’ve ever owned in terms of build quality and reliability. It didn’t even make it home from the dealer the day I picked it up. It was so bad, I swore of Chevys forever and it was 26 years before I even considered another domestic vehicle.

    • 86 Vette Convertible

      Every manufacturer has one, but for me it was a Dodge Power Wagon, bought new. I got 7 blocks before it had to be towed back to the dealership. 9 of the first 12 car payment days it was in the shop. Over 180 days of the first year it was in the shop and that was before there were lemon laws on the books. I became real good friends with the tow truck driver. Only thing not fixed, changed or repaired in that first year was the differentials, that was the 2d and 3d year. It was 38 years before I looked at another Dodge, a Caravan. Thankfully that was a different animal than the Power Wagon was.

      • Rspcharger Rspcharger Member

        My uncle bought a new Vette in 2008, about 50 miles into his ownership he was on the side of the road with a ceized engine. The factory forgot 1 critical process….filling the engine with oil. Whoops!

      • Paul

        For me it was an 88 T bird that the front brake hose caught on fire driving home! And the power mirrors didn’t work when the Dealer was giving me the new car orientation. Dash went blank within the warranty period and Transmission when under warranty…..traded on a 89 F150.

        Great looking car though…just nothing worked

  14. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    Good job
    Now you have to buy a Corvette hat….
    And a Corvette T shirt…..
    And a Corvette key fob…..
    And a Corvette jacket…..
    And a Corvette clock…..
    Join Valley Corvettes….
    join NCRS…..
    See what you got into???
    Have fun.

  15. Gus

    Nice buy. Drop a couple $1000 more and put in a 4 speed automatic, cam, intake and carb with true dual exhast. Of course not right now, drive thru the summer and have fun.

  16. charlie

    Drive it, drive it, drive it. The lack of super power does not matter, you are probably not going to be racing it, it has enough for anything legal plus 8 mph or whatever your state police allow. The bugs are probably worked out by now!

  17. TinCanSailor

    Nice ‘vette… I have come to appreciate those years as well. I know they have a low-HP engine, but that is a relatively easy fix!

    Who owns the truck in the background? That is probably my next project vehicle. My grandfather had a series of older trucks in the 60s and 70s – usually 10-15 year old C10s, Apaches, and such. At the time, being a young kid, I was embarrassed to be driven around (usually in the bed) in them. If only I’d have appreciated the curves and lines (and huge engine bays) of those trucks – back then, they were just ‘old’. Ugh

  18. Marc

    For your checklist, C3 series rear spring should be looked at… these have a tendency to sag. New spring, new shocks better ride.

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