Data Dive

Which color Corvettes bring the most money at auction?

by John Wiley
2 July 2021 3 min read
Image
Photo by Richard Pardon

There’s a Corvette out there for everyone. Many enthusiasts have their favorite model year, which incorporates the style, engine, and level of performance they like best. However, some combinations of those parts are more popular than others, and that affects the value.

Some of these value differences are clear and unsurprising. You probably don’t need the Hagerty Price Guide to tell you that Corvettes with L88 spec 427s are more valuable than L48 spec 350s with 165 hp, or that automatic transmission-equipped cars are typically worth less than those with manual transmissions (by about 10 percent). But what about something even more subjective—color? Are some more popular than others, and does that make some colors more valuable?

To find out, we looked at data from all Corvettes sold at auction in the past ten years, and selected those for which we knew both color and specification—about 1700 transactions. It would make no sense, for reasons we cited above, to lob a Rally Red 1967 Coupe together with a 427 cid / 435 hp L71 to a Dark Red ’77 that has a 350 and a slushbox. So, using identifiers unique to each model year, body style, sub-model (e.g., Z06), and engine spec, we compared the final price at auction to the relevant price guide values that were current at the time of the sale. If the car was rated condition 1, we would compare the price to the condition 1 value. If it was a condition 3 car, we used the condition 3 value. (If there’s no condition rating, because the average condition rating is 2.5, we use an average of the condition 2 and 3 values.)

Our conclusion is that, just as we found with Porsche 911s, color matters. In some cases, it matters a whole lot. The median premium for each major color group reveals white as the most valuable, followed by yellow, purple, and red. At the other extreme are earth tones like copper, green, bronze, and brown.

You may be thinking, "Sure, but what's your sample size on, say, beige Corvettes?" We thought the same. So, we next weighted the price differences by number of transactions. That shifts the order to the following:

Now the most popular colors are red, white, and blue, which we didn't plan for this pre-Independence Day post, but which nonetheless makes quite a bit of sense for America's sports car. Purple falls to mid-pack, but yellow only falls two places. To get to dollar amounts we multiplied the weighted percentage differences by the median sale price of all the transactions ($49,500). That means that red, the most common color, is worth $843 more than the other colors. The next most valuable is white with a $636 premium. Given that the Corvette was first only available in white (Polo), that's understandable. Blue is the third most valuable with a premium of $411—although this group runs from Pennant Blue to Turquoise to Jetstream Blue. Less valuable colors are copper, orange, bronze, and brown. However, green is the least valuable color with a discount of $170.

Of course, there are many shades of green. Some colors like Mosport Green typically sell for more, while Fathom Green and Goodwood Green sell for less. The latter two are more common, and that turns green into a discounted color. At the other extreme, red doesn’t have any versions that are at a discount. The rare Ruby Red and Riverside Red have no premium, while more popular Torch Red often sells for better than similar cars in other colors.

What about all the other Corvette shades? Although we don’t have transactions for every tint Chevy has offered over nearly 70 years, we do have values for almost 75. Where does your favorite Corvette color land?

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Comments

  • Scott McPherson says:

    Pretty much the original colors for Corvette…….

  • Ken Albers says:

    I would like to see this also broken down by generation as some colors were only available for a year or two while others (red) were available through all generations.

  • Ken Sousa says:

    I had a LeMans Blue ’69 C3 L36 coupe (M21 transmission) and I presently have a Victory Red ’09 C6 1LT coupe (6 speed automatic transmission). As you are probably aware, LeMans Blue was offered in the C3 as a bright metallic blue and was available in the C6 as a much darker blue shade. When I had my ’69 repainted I was sure to remind the painter of that fact. You list “Red” as a color but you fail to mention that there were many different shades of red offered by Chevrolet on the Corvette over the years. In ’09 there was Victory Red like mine, which was a non-metallic color, and a heavy metallic darker ruby red. I personally consider those to be two different colors.

  • Steven B says:

    Perhaps this is too esoteric but I would be interested in the color combinations. My favorite corvette combo (and the one I own) is white with a torch red interior. White with a beige interior, on the other hand, is boring. Is white more valuable/ desirable with a red interior or black? How about monotones versus contrasting colors? There are so many red/red and black/black vettes out there. I also wonder how the type of car affects color choice. I would never buy a Black/black Vette, but. I have a Caddy coupe in that combination, and like it.
    I am not sure whether this study belongs in Hagerty magazine or Psychology Today, but it’s interesting all the same.

    • John Wiley says:

      Yes, some combinations of exterior and interior colors are striking while others are dull. Perhaps this can be in the next round, but we don’t often have notes on the color of the interior.

  • Mike E V says:

    I think things would be different had the paint products of the past held up as well as today’s coatings. Today’s paint have a better shine and deeper hues. A silver car from the 60’s through the early 90’s typically did nt hold up well but solid colors did. We changed our 89 Vette from Torch Red with red leather interior to 2010 Z06 Silver with black stripes and we get many more comments on it than when it was the original red. I did the disassembly, prep and the reassembly on the car which I would have done even repainting it Torch red. The 13 pieces were painted separately, including the hinge of the glass hatch. It was the most intensive repaint/color change I had ever attempted but was well worth it. It would be interesting to see a breakdown on the 84 through 86 two-tone paint schemes which were offered.

  • John D says:

    You did not mention Millennium Yellow. What about it. You list Nassau Blue very low while Marina
    blue is listed high. They are almost the same color on 1965 to 1967 Vettes.

    • John Wiley says:

      We have no sales of Corvettes with Millennium Yellow listed as the color. The difference between Marina Blue and Nassau Blue in dollar terms is very small. About $110.

  • Robert Gloyd says:

    You also left out Jet Stream Blue although Supersonic Blue looks close. I specifically searched out for my 11 JSB Grand Sport as JSB on the C-6 Corvette looks spectacular, not to mention it also matched the Laser Blue on my 2009 MINI Cooper S

    • John Wiley says:

      There weren’t enough sales of Jet Stream Blue cars to provide a reliable market insight. A similar situation for many of the other colors not shown in the last chart.

  • neil says:

    REALLY…NO sales of Corvettes with Millennium Yellow listed as the color when 16470 examples of it were produced from 2000-2005…kind of hard to believe any of the stats you lay out in your article.

    • John Wiley says:

      We’re relying on accurately written descriptions of cars consigned to auction, and many people might describe Millennium Yellow as just yellow.

  • eighthtry says:

    Speaking of contrasting colors, my 2018 Z07 is dark grey and not torch red interior, but lipstick red. I did not set out to find this combo. I had somehting more in mind like a blue with white interior and polished aluminum wheels. My dark gray is blacked out as well. Tons of compliments. It does look sinister. Now if I can just keep the damn wheels round. Such is life.

  • Dan Trombly says:

    Hey! How about my favorite color Fawn Beige with a Fawn Beige interior. A color that was available in 1961 and 1962? Everybody who sees the color thinks it’s striking and very unusual.

  • Gary Scott says:

    “Where does your favorite Corvette color land?”

    Curiously, my favorite Corvette color didn’t “land” in your chart, although virtually everyone who compliments me (and there are a lot of them) on my 1973 Corvette convertible also says, “I just LOVE the color.” That color is Elkhart Green.

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