Upgraded 454/4-Speed: 1973 Chevrolet Corvette

While performance figures began taking a hit from 1973, potential Corvette buyers could still order their cars with good horsepower. While they were no longer the same firebreathers as they’d been a few years earlier, they tended to satisfy most owners. This 1973 Corvette is one such car, but it has received some significant upgrades to its original big-block V8. It runs and drives, offering its next owner the opportunity to enjoy the classic motor experience while undertaking any restoration work as time and circumstances allow. Located in Redford, Virginia, you will find the Corvette listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has already soared past the reserve and currently sits at $10,000.

The seller has listed this Corvette on behalf of his father. It appears that this gentleman is no longer able to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, so he has taken the tough decision to part with his beloved Corvette. The car wears its original Code 980 Orange paint, although it looks tired. The car would benefit from a repaint, but it appears that the buyer will be working with a pretty sound base. The fiberglass shows no evidence of accident damage, cracks, or spiderwebbing. The seller doesn’t mention any problems with rust in the frame or birdcage, and the lack of surface corrosion across other aspects of the car could be considered a positive sign. The cover for the front bumper is missing, but these are easy to source and relatively affordable. The rear bumpers are excellent, as is the remaining trim. The owner recently replaced the Rally wheels, and these, along with their centers and trim rings, are in as-new condition. The tinted glass looks flawless, making this an encouraging package for potential buyers to consider.

When we lift the hood, things become serious with this Corvette. Its original owner ordered it with the desirable combination of the LS4 version of the 454ci big-block V8 and a four-speed manual transmission. With 275hp on tap, that made the Corvette capable of covering the ¼ mile in 14.7 seconds. Its predecessors could better those figures, but this was as good as it got in a 1973 Corvette. The current owner has spent a considerable amount of cash on this classic’s drivetrain, and some of the upgrades should allow it to match those earlier ‘Vettes. The V8 now wears Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, along with an aluminum high-performance intake. With gases getting in and out of the engine more efficiently, that should unleash considerably more power. He has also added a Cool aluminum radiator, an aluminum water pump, a high output fuel pump, and a new ignition system. The seller indicates that this classic Corvette runs and drives well, but it seems that it has had little recent use. He believes that the new owner should treat it to a thorough inspection and a fuel system clean before considering it 100% roadworthy.

If this Corvette has a low point, that dubious distinction falls to its interior. It remains serviceable in its current form, but the overall impression is that it looks very tired. The carpet has suffered the fading that is so typical in these classics, with the console appearing cracked and worn. The seat upholstery has some flaws and defects, while the same is true of the faux woodgrain trim on the console and doors. The dash and pad look like they would respond positively to a careful clean, but the shopping list for this classic will be a long and expensive one. It could prove more cost-effective to play the waiting game and see if good secondhand items appear online on sites like eBay or Craigslist. Otherwise, returning this interior to a factory-fresh state will consume around $2,000. Personally, I’d be patient to see what would appear online before I spent that sort of money.

As a project car, this 1973 Corvette is an interesting proposition. Big-block C3 ‘Vettes will always attract plenty of attention in the market, although the chrome bumper examples remain the most desirable. While this car doesn’t feature a chrome front bumper, its engine upgrades should place its performance on par with its predecessors. If it is structurally sound, it appears that it could represent a straightforward restoration project. It will require some work and some cash input, and that is where potential buyers will need to assess the situation. Does it have enough plus points to justify pouring time, effort, and money into returning it to its former glory? I’ll be interested to know whether any of you find it attractive enough to possibly submit a bid.


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  1. Steve Clinton

    As much as I hated those ‘endura’ bumpers, this one would look better with one.

    Like 6
  2. Steve Clinton

    1973 was the last of the good-looking rear-end Corvettes, IMHO. The ’74 was HORRIBLE, with the seam down the middle.

    Like 14
  3. gbvette62

    I’ve never liked the mixed look of the rubber front bumper, chrome rears, of the 73 Corvette, but this must have been a nice car when new. Besides the 454 4 speed combo, I can see power brakes, AC, power windows, Custom Interior (leather seats, plush carpet, wood grain trim), and the three groove pump pulley indicates it has power steering too, meaning it’s pretty much loaded. Needing paint and interior, the $10K it’s at now is probably about what it’s worth.

    One thing of concern though is the intake/carb set up. The pictures don’t show an air cleaner, and the hood’s not shown fully closed in any of the pictures. A high rise intake will not fit under the stock hood, and I’m guessing that’s why the hood’s not down and there’s no air cleaner. The divot in the paint in the middle of the hood, has me thinking the seller learned this the hard way? Anyone buying this car is going to be replacing the hood or the intake.

    Like 10
    • Ed Casala

      That is not the right hood on that car. It should have the big block or LT1 style hood with a lump in the middle of it. The hood also goes back over the wiper door, and is the long style replacement hood. No, that hood will not close on that carb/manifold set up. I wonder if the owner has the build sheet or if it is still on top of the gas tank. But, for 11K, its a good priced deal for what it is.

      Like 1
      • bull

        Correct hood is on the car NOW!

        LT1/Big block hood ended in 1972 model year with the end of the mechanical wiper flap.

        No wiper flap on 1973 model. Full length hood covers the wiper area.

        Like 7
      • Ed Casala

        Bull, thanks for that, I was thinking the big block hood went to 75. Oh well, learn something new everyday. Thanks!

        Like 3
    • moosie moosie

      It does look like it was a fully optioned ’73 at one time but I didn’t see an a/c compressor, just the hoses & fittings for the evaporator at the firewall, I cant see any pulleys but I suppose power steering would have been ordered along with the rest of the convenience options. It’d be a good car for an experienced do it your selfer providing the price doesn’t sky rocket. If the guys Dad needs an automatic I don’t see why they just don’t swap one in , 400 Turbos were pretty stout transmissions and it would have been what this car woulda had from new if it was so ordered ? Yep that hole in the hood is a pretty common thing when you swap manifolds & carburetors & are forgetful.

      Like 2
    • Hoob

      I agree on the engine comments. Wire looms are cheap! Looks like a bird’s nest!!!

  4. Steve P

    Would it take much work to install a 72 front bumper?

  5. dogwater

    Yes to install a chrome bumper world take a lot of body work

    Like 1
    • Steve P

      Thx dogwater

  6. George Mattar

    Nice write up Adam. I have a73 coupe. New vinyl seat covers and foam set me back about $1,100. This car has the deluxe interior, means the seat covers are $700 for both seats. Repo door panels are $480 each. This car needs other interior parts. 73s are unique, that’s why I bought one. The comment here to put a front chrome bumper on is just stupid. The work involved is beyond a waste of time. And no optional hood available in 73, as noted by a comment here. The 73 hood is far better looking than the 68 to 72 flat hood. 73s have no pain in the ass vacuum wiper door system that never worked on my 71. 73s are far superior riding cars than 68 to 72, due to better body to frame mounts and first Corvette with radial tires. Current prices for 454 convertibles are in the mid 30s for a good car; not this one pictured here. This car is worth about $15,000 all day long as 454s are rare especially with a stick. GM built 4,412 454s in 73. I paid $10,000 for mine 6 years ago. I drive it all I can. The wife loves it too. Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 2
  7. Steve Courchesne

    If the first photo you seen in an ad shows the rear bumper it is most likely a 73 to grab everyones attention. Just not the same without the chrome on the front.!

    • Steve P

      I agree Steve, chrome front and rear bumper very cool

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Currently at 11K and WAY overpriced, IMO. That money should buy one that at least looks decent.

    You are looking at at least 15 – 20K in paint and interior in order to have something you will be proud to be seen in. That does not include bumper repair and anything else that is needed.

  9. Vern

    She looks rough!! But the price does reflect the condition. I always loved the early 3rd gens but only as far as 1972.

  10. Winesmith

    The carpet has suffered the fading that is so typical in these classics, with the console appearing cracked and worn. The seat upholstery has some flaws and defects, while the same is true of the faux woodgrain trim on the console and doors. The dash and pad look like they would respond positively to a careful clean, but the shopping list for this classic

    There are no “Classic” Chevrolets…….

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