116 Miles: 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car

It’s not every day the opportunity presents itself to buy a brand-new 40-year-old car, but that’s just what this Corvette here on eBay, located in Fremont, Indiana, seems to offer.  Having never been titled and with a scant 116 miles on the odometer, this is probably as close as one can come to buying a new 1978 car in 2018.  At the Buy It Now price of $42,000, it’s actually less expensive, adjusted for inflation, than it would have been 40 years ago, but is it worth it?

1978 was the 25th anniversary of the Corvette, and it was chosen to pace the Indy 500 that year.  Although only 300 pace car replicas were originally planned, strong sales prompted GM to produce over 6500 of them ultimately.  The 1978 Corvette featured a redesigned fastback-style rear window and several interior upgrades, including revised door panels and gauges.  The pace car package included a two-tone black and silver paint scheme, pace car stickers that came packaged in the car, white-letter tires and front and rear spoilers.

The seller doesn’t go into much detail as to how or why this car was preserved for so many years, but the photos all support the claims that this car has only racked-up 116 miles in its lifetime.  The exterior, interior and engine bay all look like I’d expect this car to look on the showroom floor.  In 1978, buyers expected that these pace car replicas would be collectible, so perhaps the buyer stowed this one away thinking it would make a good investment?  And if the condition of this car isn’t enough to excite you, perhaps the factory-installed CB radio will.  While I haven’t exhaustively shopped for this, I’m guessing that isn’t an option one can find on any new-car lot today.

When it was new, this L82-equipped Corvette would have been capable of low to mid 15-second 1/4 mile runs, which was pretty respectable given the state of the auto industry then as manufacturers struggled to meet emissions and economy standards.  Today, though, you’d be a full second behind a turbo 4-cylinder Accord.  If I were going to buy this car, not only would I want to confirm its condition, but I’d want to look into the paperwork needed to complete the transfer of ownership.  My local MVA gives me a hard time if I forget to cross a ‘t’ on any paperwork, so I’m sure the included Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin, with the original buyer’s details covered in white-out, wouldn’t get me through the front door.  This car certainly appears to be a time capsule, but is it worth the asking price?  Should it be driven or preserved?

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Comments

  1. Ike Onick

    Dear BF- Please copy and paste all of the comments from the last ultra-low mileage Pace Car. Thanks.

    33
    • Will Fox

      I know, right? There must be a dozen of these `78s people squirreled away back then. These, and the two tone grey 25th anniv. models of the same year.

      3
      • Suttree

        I prefer the silver 25th anniversary paint job over this. That’s just me though.

        4
  2. Dean

    It’s amazing how many bought these to hold onto, hoping to increase 10-fold or more in value. I met a fellow some years ago had one with 35 on the odometer..no one was interested then and I think he said his highest offer was 30K. The odd thing is the dealership in Nebraska, Lambrecht, that auctioned off all of those Chevrolet’s a few years ago had this same pace car that sold for big money…go figure

    6
  3. M. Miller

    I wouldn’t expect to find the transmission dipstick missing on such a low mileage car. Maybe it’s actually 100116 miles. ;-)

    14
    • dbt

      Good Catch!

      3
    • Frank Sumatra

      I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over the dipstick. It’s a Bloomington Benchmark car. I don’t know what it is worth, but it sure as heck does not have 100,116 miles on it.

      6
      • JC

        Do you realize how insanely easy it is to turn back the odometer on these cars?… 4 screws holds the gauge cluster cover… takes about 5 minutes to access the odometer. Altering the Certificate of Origin with white out was also a BIG mistake.

        8
      • Frank Sumatra

        I’ll repeat for the BF Detective Squad: If the owner pulled the wool over the Bloomington eyes, he should get $1,000,000 for this car.

        4
      • JC

        Yes, well where is the proof of that? Seems that documentation is not being displayed… and look closely at the L82 badge in the pic… looks kind of worn. I’m not saying its not a nice car but there are valid points to question for a 42k asking price. I predict it will not sell.

        1
      • cyclemikey

        Read the ad carefully. He claims (without verification) that it was “Bloomington Benchmark judged”. He does NOT claim that it was actually certified in any of the categories.

        If it had been, one would think that the proof of that would be prominently displayed in the Ebay ad.

        I agree that sometimes the Barn Find crowd gets a bit carried away with the cynicism about sellers’ claims. But something seems off here. I’d be happy to be shown to be wrong.

        2
      • Alan Northcott

        JC Where are you seeing whiteout?

        1
      • JC

        Allan Northcott… look at the 2nd page (back) of the certificate of origin… the “correction” fluid has been utilized in several places, it was assigned to someone at some point in time and for whatever reason, has been redacted. If you take that to your local MV office, be prepared to do a lengthy time consuming investigation on its origins to prove it is indeed “free and clear”.

        1
    • Jeff

      Good eye! But hey there’s the plastic covered seats!

  4. Billy 007

    Back in the day, these were wonderful cars compared to most others at the time. There would have been a lot of joy driving this, far better then have it take up space for four decades and eventually see you could have done better in a simple money market with your spare change and using the car for how it was intended. Buttttt, I firmly believe that the people that do such foolishness, already have enough money that the cost here means nothing to them, I am sure the owner had plenty of other entertainment options…..so don’t feel too sorry for him.

    5
  5. Tim S. Member

    Possibly the only instance that a Corvette can be just as boring as any beige Camry, Civic or Altima. Simply because, of the 6500+ made, I’d bet 5000 are in similar condition.

    14
    • JohnD

      Truer words were never spoken. NO ONE drove these. They all thought they were solid gold, and they aren’t even that rare . . .

      5
  6. Joe Haska

    I was involved with getting one of these for a friend when they were new. It was crazy and as you said for some reason (marketing) the buyers were convinced they were going to appreciate in value and many sold for over sticker. Of course we all know , how that turned out, Is this car worth the money, if someone buys it is to them.

    2
  7. JC

    If the seller thought altering the paperwork was a good idea, he is sadly mistaken. No MV office will accept that as is. It will be a pain to title.

    3
  8. George mattar

    The Wall Street Journal did a big article work these POS cars were new. It was the first car that speculators thought they would be worth 10s of thousands of dollars. Problem is, as mentioned by several others here, is Chevy made 6,502 of them, one for each dealer. I have seen ones with fewer than 10 miles sell for only $35,000. For a car that cost $13,753.21 before options that is a bad investment. the L82 engine alonecadded $525.

    • King Al

      When you said these were the first cars the speculators thought would appreciate, you must have bern speaking of Vettes. As i recall, the first American cars to be prized by speculators were the “last” Cadillac convertibles in ’76; especially the final 200 commemorative units. From that point on, speculating began with Vettes and Trans Am special editions.

  9. Richard Ferdig

    Drive it lightly as a Sunday car show it off car shows and then garage it…beautiful car seen one when I was 13 have always wanted one. Awesome paint job!

    3
  10. Robert Sabatini

    I was enjoying a nice, cool Fall morning in Texas one day and was badger ed by a Vette exactly like this one. I had heard prior to engaging with the Vette that the L82’s were the baddest new cars you could purchase. So, I accepted the challenge from the Vette driver and me and my “lowly” ’79 Trans Am took him on. The race result made me feel so much better about my Pontiac Trans Am, which I ordered from the factory. It was black/black, no A/C, no power windows, no added insulation and I ordered it without even a radio. It did have 4-wheel disc brakes, 4-speed Borg-Warner Super T10 and of course, the venerable T/A 6.6 Pontiac 400…

    13
  11. grant

    “It’s not every day the opportunity presents itself to buy a brand-new 40-year-old car…”
    Well, except with these.

    8
  12. Charles Allen

    I think I can believe it . I knew of one that sat a garage at least twenty years and never moved, after that I don’t know. The guy that owned it had the local GM dealership. I rode the three miles to his house in it. Swore he would never sell it!

  13. Classic Steel

    Hey I got an idea ..
    What if the original money was invested in say stocks like Walmart, Microsoft, apple or bonds ….

    No I’d rather put it in the garage and pay insurance instead and pray mice don’t eat the interior or wires and maybe get three or eight grand profit after eBay robs one on fees 😫

    Happy bidding! See ya next one that comes for sell again then repeat

    6
    • JC

      I don’t sell on Ebay anymore. Their fees are outrageous… do most of my dealings locally or on Craigslist. You have to weed out a few morons on CL but for the most part, people are pretty straight and you can set your ad up to not be deluged with scams by using the email contact rather than putting your phone number out there.

      8
      • theGasHole

        JC truer words could not have been written. I do not know exactly what happened to Ebay…..I used to sell cars on there quite often for pretty close what I expected to get for them. Now? Forget it. I get to spend $90+ on a listing and if I’m lucky the car will get bid up to about half of the reserve price.
        With CL you do deal with a few screwballs here and there, but I’ve found that if I put in the ad “no trades, cash in person only” it weeds out most of the nut jobs, and I generally get within $500-$1000 of my asking price. I’ll include my phone number, but only in the text of the ad, and spelled out phonetically.

        1
  14. bobk

    You know, the poor sucker that my “soon to be ex-wife” ran off with in 1982 drove one of these.

    I really should find him and thank him for that service to both my sanity and my finances.

    BTW, I still like ‘Vettes. But wouldn’t pay a penny extra for it being a Pace Car replica.

    5
  15. Luke Fitzgerald

    Actually, if this was someone’s absolute dream car – it would be an irresistible bargain – imagine if it was your dream car – mint with low mileage – and it was yours for that money – different strokes……..

    1
    • JC

      Meh, I saw one advertised locally, one owner with 19k miles with the Decals installed and impeccably clean for 25k… it was on ebay but it never reached reserve which was probably the listed 25k on Craigslist.

  16. ccrvtt

    This along with the next year’s 10th Anniversary Trans Am suffered from that unfounded optimism that they would be worth Big Bucks someday. While I’ve always liked the Pontiac better, I don’t think either one of them were particularly great drivers without a lot of aftermarket tweaking.

    There are plenty of earlier C3s that are more desirable (’69 Tri-power, ’71 LT-1) and a lot of way more interesting cars at this price point.

    2
  17. Lawyer George

    I never liked the color combo on these and I have seen a number of them even in this small town being driven as the sole auto. I have heard that sellers have a tough time getting much money for these and for a while owners would given bad time over being sucker punched by GM. GM is good at that with trucks. The 454 was a hot number that was supposed to be a good investment and buyers were paying $5000 over Maroni and even a few up and over $10. I never see one at any show and rarely any on the road. The FortyNiner was greatly hyped and could have been a hot seller had GM not made it look so rounded. I had a ’47 which always got a lot of Hi signs and had GM taken the bulges of the sides, front & rear and remain more true to the ’47-54 template, they would not had have had to eat crow again. ‘FortyNiners are readily available south of Kelley wholesale.

    I am totally unimpressed with the scaled down $60,000.00 Cadillac which used to be called Broughams or Fleetwood Broughman. I have a hard time looking at one without thinking Cimmaron. Auugh!

  18. Mike

    This car is 4 years older than me so I don’t know how the car climate was at that time but I’ve never understood why so many people bought these “redesigned” Vetts and put them away. Too bad people didn’t put away this number of C2’s.

    1
  19. cyclemikey

    Just two observations.

    One, that altered MSO will be your own personal ticket to DMV Hell.

    Two, running 116 miles onto a new car does not generally skew the first two zeroes in the odometer that way.

    That is all.

    4
  20. irocrobb

    I remember people paying way over sticker for them and just chuckled to myself at the time. I also remember here in Canada guys paying 90 grand for the early ZR1 corvettes. Now a perfect one is around 30 thousand. Not such a great investment.

    3
    • PRA4SNW Member

      That’s a good thing for me.
      I want to own a ZR-1, someday…

      • Frank Sumatra

        Take a look at one of the most overlooked C4’s when you are shopping for a ZR-1; a 1996 with the LT-4 engine, six-speed, and optional suspension. 330 HP. Two things that have kept me from having a ZR-1 are the LT-5 engine, although basically bullet-proof, if something does go wrong, where do you go for repairs?, and you had best be in it for the long-haul as you have a very select audience when re-sale time comes up.

  21. Rick

    PC’s never had the cloth and leather seats. They were always the silver leather. So.. something in this ad doesn’t “add” up…

    4
    • Frank Sumatra

      Silver cloth seats, Regular production Option 15C, were available on the 1978 Pace Car.

      • Rick

        Ah, ok, I learned something new! Didn’t know that was an option – all the PC’s I’ve seen had leather.

        1
  22. Johnny Joseph

    Making a big deal out of the L82 is like being overjoyed about a new Challenger with a V6. Unfortunately for the Vette owner that V6 Challenger would eat his lunch, being that even IT has about 100 more horses than this ’78 does. So overrated. At least the one’s who bought the C4 ZR1’s got a vehicle that moved. They were almost double the price of the standard Vette in the early 90’s, (1990 Corvette nicely optioned, around $35,000. ZR1 was about $70,000) but you got a 6 speed (NO automatics) & 375 hp. But the same thing applies to these: people bought em and parked them and you can buy a low miles beauty for $27-$35K. At least with those cars you can get some performance. This thing, fuggetaboutit.

    3
    • PRA4SNW Member

      Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

  23. Roger Gorski

    Investment? When will people realize the a car is a DEPRECIATING ASSET. Some will depreciate slower than others, BUT, they ALL DEPRECIATE. Please don’t reply with stories you’ve seen on Velocity about rare cars APPRECIATING in values. You aren’t looking at those cars and if you found one, you couldn’t afford to buy it, anyway!

    2
  24. EJ Dougherty

    Had the choice between th ‘78 Pace car and a ‘72 Vette. The ‘72 had 3 options: 455, automatic, and radio. I chose the Pace car. What a dog. Had it three years, put 2,000 miles on it, sold it for $3,000 more than I paid. Would have been happy to lose a few dollars just to get rid of it.

  25. Louden

    Can you imagine those hoses on the power steering and cylinder nightmare after 40 years sitting on this car? I had a 79. Best day was watching new owner leave.

  26. Jeff

    You’ve got that right!

  27. Harry Hodson

    A classmate worked at our local Chevy dealer in ’78 and they were two- toning and decaling their own copies and selling them as Factory cars. He was also tasked with resetting odometers in the Used car dept. Both easily done, back in the day.

    2
  28. Forrest Roberts Lambert II

    As for the paperwork problems. move to Alabama. Any vehicle before 1993 only has to have a bill of sale. It’s a 25year old rule.

  29. Joe

    A car of its time…here’s Car & Driver’s take on the ’78, back in the day: https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/1978-chevrolet-corvette-road-test
    Does it compare to modern Corvette’s? Of course not. Would you drive it like a modern Corvette? I hope not…I sure wouldn’t. But, is it stunning to look at and reasonably competent for boulevard cruising?…I think so.
    Just look at auction prices and you’ll see increasing interest in this car. There’s usually one, sometimes a couple in most major auctions. If you follow prices, you will already know that several (actually driven, but very nice cars) have sold for mid-$20-$30K. Just check Leake, Mecum and BJ.
    I traded one of my cars that I’d lost interest in to a buddy for one of these (with 26K miles). My thought was to put it on EBay or Bring a Trailer right away. But, contrary to my expectations, I actually like it and enjoy driving it. When I want to go fast, I choose one of my other cars, but when I want to cruise in a car with cold AC and every creature comfort, and share a car that lots of people like to see, I often drive this one. I’m in it for a lot less than the car in question, but I don’t think the price is too far ahead of the market…I guess we’ll see. I would rather have one like mine that has been driven lightly over the years and well maintained. I have to wonder why a new car has a drip pan under it…mine doesn’t leak anything on my garage floor…

    3
  30. 79malibu

    The trans dipstick is missing!!!!! LOL

    1

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