Sales that Teach

Are second-generation Corvettes on the move?

by Greg Ingold
10 March 2022 4 min read
Image
Photo by Photo by Matt Tierney

The second-generation (1963–67) Corvette is a cornerstone of the classic market and is, of course, a bucket-list car for many a collector. Yet as value trends go, it has been relatively boring in recent years. Stingrays mostly sat out the market peak of the last decade and were conspicuously absent among the vehicles that took off via online auctions in 2020 and 2021.

Well, that’s starting to change.

A little over a month has passed since the gavel fell on the final lot during the whirlwind January auctions. While just about everything that sold in Scottsdale and Kissimmee went for big amounts, one of the clear winners were C2 Corvettes. That said, any auction—even the biggest ones on the calendar—can be an isolated event.

All this in mind, going into Amelia week, C2 Corvettes were among the cars we were paying very close attention to. None of them disappointed. In particular, Gooding & Company and RM Sotheby's secured a group of exceptional Corvettes with terrific provenance, which blew by even our highest expectations. So let's take a look at these cars and dissect what these sales mean to the market.

1963 Corvette Z06 (small tank) Split-Window Coupe

Photo by Matt Tierney

RM Sotheby's Lot 158

Sold for: $423,000

Hagerty Price Guide #1 (concours) value: $402,000

Of the two C2 Z06's offered on the island, this one was the "bargain," yet the final price exceeded the Hagerty Price Guide's concours-condition value by $21,000. You might be thinking, "At this price level, what's another $21,000?" and you'd be right save for one caveat: This was not a concours-condition car. Its restoration was performed 10-years ago, and even the best restoration will lose some of its luster over that span. That said, this car showed better than a lot of recent restorations we've seen in the past.

What may have pushed this car over the top was its provenance. It has been judged NCRS Top Flight, MCACN Concours Gold and Bloomington Gold certified. If you want your Corvette taken seriously within Corvette circles—and for nearly a half-million dollars, you probably do—this sort of prestige matters. Last but not least, it crossed the block before a well-attended room, despite appearing toward the end of the sale. One of the benefits of Amelia's relaxed schedule was that each catalogue auction company—RM, Gooding & Co., and Bonhams—was able to have a night entirely to themselves, meaning bidders weren't scurrying out of the tents to make the next auction.

1966 Corvette Coupe 427/390

Gooding & Company

Gooding & Company Lot 72

Sold for: $533,000

Hagerty Price Guide #1 (concours) value: $125,000

On paper, this sale is a head-scratcher. The 427/390 engine was by no means the hottest option for Corvettes in 1966, and under normal circumstances, a collector would wait for a 425-hp car. Yet this one brought more than 400 percent of its concours-condition Hagerty Price Guide value. At a final price of $533,000 this result would become the highest price ever paid at auction for a '66 Corvette.

However this is no ordinary '66 Corvette. Showing just 10,673 miles when it crossed the block, this one-owner car showed just what originality and exceptional history has potential to do for a seller. One of the salient features of the current market—particularly at the higher end—is that buyers will splurge on a car that hasn't changed hands in a while. No less important: this 'Vette looked great. The '63 Z06 that ran before this car (and which we'll get to next) showed less dulling to the finishes, but the '66 had that unmistakable appearance of an unrestored, very-well-cared-for survivor. Collectors tastes are slowly but surely tilting away from better-than-new restorations, and there are vanishingly few Corvettes in such fine condition that haven't been redone. We don't expect this sale to be repeated any time soon, but it is one that will most certainly be talked about for a while.

1963 Corvette Z06 (small tank) Split-Window Coupe

Photo by Matt Tierney

Gooding & Company Lot 71

Sold for: $1,242,500

Hagerty Price Guide #1 (concours) value: $402,000

A '63 Z06 Corvette has typically been a $300,000–$400,000 car with models equipped with the 36-gallon "big tank" option fetching up to the $700,000 range. With that context, Gooding's $700,000–$900,000 estimate on this "small tank" model was eyed with a bit of skepticism by some in the room. Indeed, the estimate was way off—but not in the direction anyone expected. When the hammer fell, it had crossed into seven figures—triple its concours-condition value in the Hagerty Price Guide.

As with the other big Corvette sales at Amelia, this one becomes more understandable when we look into the particulars. With 5,353 miles on the odometer, and in original condition, this Z06 attracted admirers the entire preview the day prior. Upon inspection, it was in better condition than many 5-year-old used cars. And like Gooding's '66 Corvette, this one's beauty was a testament to loving preservation over the decades rather than the talents of a restoration shop. The opportunity to buy any '63 Z06 comes around only so often—Chevrolet built just 199 of them—and most don't look like this.

The fantastic condition of the Corvettes on hand at Amelia—particularly the Gooding cars—make them less-than-perfect indicators of where the Stingray market is headed. Your typical driver-condition '64-or-later Stingray with a small-block remains a five-figure car (and, for the sake of collectors on a budget everywhere, we hope they stay that way). Yet the fact that top-tier collectors were willing to splurge does hint that Corvettes, like everything else, are moving on up. It also confirms that exceptional cars will always bring exceptional money.

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Comments

  • Tony Taylor says:

    Hagerty,
    You’re keeping your eyes on the C2, while the early C3s are rising, is got to be one bandwagon insights in auto history. And they look better, many say and now agree. Ashame

    • Adam says:

      @Tony Taylor

      Regarding the C3, that is a matter of opinion (and that goes for any model). I have always disliked the look of C3’s plus performance is (thumbs down emoji) in my personal opinion.

      The reality is that appreciation is supply and demand, every car right now is appreciating because of the economic environment we are in, so to say car make/model xyz is appreciating is more of a negligible comment unless you provide statistics from a reputable source of percentage pre-pandemic to now.

      Plus don’t bash someone’s likes in car because your favorite wasn’t mentioned, that’s just childish…

    • Greg_I says:

      Hey Tony, as the author of this piece, I can offer some insight as to why the C3 was not mentioned. It all comes down to the fact that none were offered during Amelia week, which is the focus of the article. A C3 L88 was on BaT and I was prepared to talk about it, but it went unsold. Trust me when I say that just because the C3 was not the subject of conversation here doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention. In fact the Hagerty Price Guide team and I are paying very close attention. Talking about a no sale C3 online just doesn’t carry the same weight as confirmed sales of cars I was able to observe their conditions in person.

  • Tony Taylor says:

    Take a survey with young kids boys and people who are not car people who doesn’t know what supposed to be cool and they will tell you the truth about what gen Corvette looks the best🇺🇸👍

    • Luke says:

      Tony- C3’s are nasty looking. There’s a reason that you, children and others who use crayons as their main writing utensil likes them more than the C2’s. I’m assuming you love C4’s (probably burgundy ones with a tan convertible top), Pace Car version Vette’s, the Mustang II and the Chevette as well. If all you can afford is a ’78 Vette, that doesn’t make them better than the mid-years.

      • John Oliveri says:

        Like, I’m a Pontiac guy, I have a 73 Grand Prix 455 SJ, I also have a new Mercedes in my garage, my taste leads to more comfort than legend, I’d prefer a big block 69 thru 71 Vetted if I were in the market, cause I’m not spending house money on any car, and they were better cars, more streetable and easier to drive

      • Jim Rosenthal says:

        Luke, from which university did you get your J.D. degree? As in Doctor of Jerkology.

      • Kurt Myers says:

        Luke, your crayon reference was awesome! I will use it as often as possible. Thanks.

        I have several Corvettes and all are great before 74 or so. I do want the ugliest one ever- the purple and yellow 1998 Pace Car disaster. I use my Corvettes for fun and advertising my business and it will get some attention. Do you have one?

        Thanks again..

  • Stephen Perkins says:

    I love the ’63 & ’64 Corvettes but I wouldn’t pay that amount of money for Winged Pegasus.

  • Bill Long says:

    In 1982 these we $ 10,000.00 cars.
    I had a choice or 3.
    2 coupes and 1 convertible.
    My choice a 1982 Searay Boat. Do.we ever get smarter ??
    Still have a copy of Vette View Magazine.

  • Darrin says:

    Luke… one word comes to mind after reading your post. DOUCHEBAG.

    Tony… I agree with you 100%.

  • Adam says:

    @Greg Ingold (Writer of this article),

    In Hagerty’s estimation will the C7 Grandsport appreciate vastly in value if the trend continues (we currently don’t have a C8 Grandsport) which makes it rarity increase as time goes on since it very well could be the last generation of the Grandsport to the knowledge of everyone except GM?

  • Tommy Fox says:

    I own a very nice 1970 C3, And Love the C2’s,To each his own.

  • Alex says:

    IMO….all corvettes are nice, some just nicer than others. Because of their long history, there’s plenty to choose from from the hobbiest’s at various price points so the high roller collectors can purchase C2’s and the rest can purchase affordable C3’s and later models….

  • JAMES T HOOD says:

    Great cars are great cars– but when you publish (like all the others) and auction houses get happy over cars priced so much they are never enjoyed– take a photo– frame it– put it on the wall– I would rather see cars sell for prices everyone can aspire too– these knot head announcers always talk of the “collector car hobby”– who are they talking to??

  • Paul Marentette says:

    “Stingrays” are C3s. So any time anyone’s article references midyears as anything other than Sting Rays, you know something’s off from the start. This is an appreciated (ahem) commentary only on a few Sting Rays sold recently at the hyper-inflated auction events, where the same can be said for most cars of all types that sell there.

    In the real world where real 63-67 Corvette owners begrudgingly (I know of none who were happy to) let their cars go, prices are up, but only about par with other collector cars at this time. I’d advise anyone seriously looking to drop $60-$150K on a finished midyear to join the forums and facebook groups where they can make their intentions (and budget) known. Most owners who would consider selling prefer to see their cherished ride go directly to appreciated hands, just as much as buyers should want direct connection to the history of the vehicle. 55 to 60 year old cars are bound to have a storied past and IMHO connecting with that is every bit as important as the car. Prices after all are set not only by what people are prepared to pay but also what owners are willing to let them go at.

    • Greg_I says:

      @Paul Martentette thank you for the clarification on “Stingray” versus “Sting Ray.” That said, I disagree that anything is amiss in what was written because of it.

      That said, the two Gooding & Company cars WERE hyper inflated even considering everything about them and I feel that was pointed out.

  • Lou Salvalaggio says:

    typical privileged pretty boy vet chatter, nothing has changed since the 60’s, part of the reason why I drive a Cobra

  • Joe Kohler says:

    I parked my money in C1,C2.
    At sixteen I paid $800 for a used 1959 corvette. I bought a new 1963 corvette $3500. A new 1971 big block $4800.
    As years passed, my hobby, buy sell unique corvettes. Today paid $70,000 for 1965 C2 coupe. I tell my kids with inflation they’ll be paying a quarter of a million $$ when they are my age.
    That’s my 2 cents.

  • Bad Man says:

    As a C2 owner who is about to have my show quality convertible auctioned at Mecum Glendale on Thursday, I have to admit that any time to see the word “provenance” mentioned at a car show or auction I assume the speaker is a cheese eating surrender monkey and not a real car guy.
    I also have a low opinion of big block Corvette collectors who almost never drive their cars – but rather have them hiding in their garage 98% of the time. Many overheat in warm weather and can’t be driven for any real distance. I see this every summer here in Phoenix and at Hot August Nights in Reno.

  • Skip says:

    63 fuelies ROCK

  • gvance13 says:

    Hard to follow the replies here, some of you are bickering about what?
    I’ve never seen a corvette I didn’t want to own, but I have seen a few I couldn’t justify the price that was being asked for them.
    I’ve own four, still own two in which one is a C3 body style, a 1973 model that I’ve started a total rebuild on.
    My first corvette was a 1960 model, but I’m partial to the C2 body style, my dream car is the 1967 with side pipes.
    We all have a preference in our choice of cars, but we are all gear heads at heart one way or another, so we need to enjoy our hobby and come together, whether your still dreaming of your first corvette or maybe lucky enough to be buying a million dollar collector corvette. We are the reason there still is a corvette.
    Back in the early 70’s when one corvette owner passed another we would make the sign of the “V” with our fingers in our windshield, what happened to that comradely, you all need to stop your bickering and come together and learn to appreciate each other and all corvettes.

    • wade m russell says:

      @gvance13- Great comments, and I agree! Also- don`t stop hunting for that`67 you mentioned! I own a `67 coupe with 427&3×2`s and Fact. A/C with side pipes! You are certainly ON to something in that search !! :^))

  • Zach Galbraith says:

    @Luke
    I’ll be honest, your post made me laugh, but really, pretty DB move. I bet you were the quarterback in high school that wrecked his uncles Corvette on prom night and still reminisces about how it was the greatest night of your life. You’re probably middle aged and got a loan from your mother to buy a new Dodge Charger so you can cruise for chicks at the bowling alley and tell them it’s a Hellcat. Bottom line is, to each their own. Whatever makes you happy is what you should buy

  • Robert Grottkau says:

    I don’t know if I’d call a bunch of old farts pretty Lou, which is the majority of the Vette demographic. But then again, you are partial to the old British bubble look. You should have a t-shirt that says “Privileged pretty boys don’t drive Cobras” for that young, arrogant, hypocritical look.

  • Francis Ford says:

    These Corvettes were made to be “DRIVEN” it’s what’s on tho Odometer that has the meaning , some call it “fun to drive….

  • Russ says:

    If it were not for Bill Mitchell caving to the pressure from the Feds and reviewers perhaps ALL C2’s would have had the split rear window. That said those of us who are fortunate enough to own a ‘63 split can now be thankful the design wasn’t changed when Larry Shinoda penned the Sting Ray’s stunning lines back in 1958. Arguably the most iconic design in the brands history it is rewarding to see prices finally leaping as collectors and enthusiasts realize there has never been and probably never be another split rear window car produced in America, Get ready for a lot more seven figure prices !!

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