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Buying a Salvage Chevrolet Corvette at Auction

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 12/06/2019

What is a salvage Chevrolet Corvette? Where can you find them, and can they be repaired and re-titled? We take a look at these questions and more.

The Corvette

The Chevrolet Corvette has stood the test of time, especially in a highly competitive auto industry. Its eighth generation was unveiled in early 2019. The history of the production of this car is one of humble beginnings, where only 183 vehicles of the 300 produced were sold. However, improvements in performance slowly increased demand.

The Chevrolet Corvette’s production has been ongoing since 1953. Some of the improvements include changes to the engine power and the introduction of technology. This sports car, which was once a country club cruiser, is now a performance icon and one of the classics of American car design.

The sales of the Chevrolet Corvette in the US have remained high, except in the years after the recession where sales dropped by more than 50%. For example, between 2005 and 2007, 129,663 units were sold, but between 2009 and 2012, only 54,781. The sales improved again in 2014, and the growth in sales has been consistent to date.

Price and Devaluation

The price of the Corvette is quite attractive when you consider its engine power. Compared to other cars with a similar performance, and it’s easy to drive features, the Corvette is of great value when bought new.

When you buy a used Corvette after 5 years on the road, the vehicle retains about 50% of its value. When sold as salvage, the price could be much lower. Some models of the Corvette, especially those produced between 1953 and 1972, have a higher value potential. This essentially means you are likely to pay a higher price than you would expect.

When buying a salvage Chevrolet Corvette, you need to find out the reasons behind the salvage title. A Chevrolet Corvette is a relatively small car that can be severely damaged in a crash, especially if a larger car was involved. Find out where the damage is located, the possible impact of the collision on the engine, the availability of parts, and potential costs of repair.

Tips to Buying a Chevrolet Corvette at a Salvage Auction

Reason Behind the Salvage Title

This is critical for all salvage titled vehicles. For most insurance companies, it is the cost of repairs leads to a car being regarded as a total loss, not necessarily the extent of the damage. This means that a Corvette with a salvage title may not be severely damaged, just that the insurance company was not willing to cover the cost of repairing it and preferred to pay off the owner instead.

Before buying a salvage Chevrolet Corvette, you need to consider the possible cost of repairs, in relation to the damage. Remember, the damage on the vehicle may seem minimal, and the price of the Corvette just right, but the cost of repairs could be massive. You need to have a budget that includes the cost of restoring the Corvette.

The Damage Implications

When searching for a salvage Chevrolet Corvette, what can the damage tell you? It is always best to look at the implications of the damage on any vehicle, especially a sports car. For example, if the damage is on the hood, what are the chances the engine is affected? Superficial damage may be just that, but sometimes it could signal more serious damage, depending on the position. If floods damaged the vehicle, considering the Corvette is low lying, it is possible water caused mechanical or electrical damage.

Can You Get Insurance?

A salvage title Corvette, like any salvage vehicle, may not be easy to insure. What are your state’s laws concerning auto insurance? Some states require comprehensive coverage for all cars on the road, while others only require liability insurance. Most insurers don’t cover salvage vehicles, while others only provide a liability policy. Before buying a salvage Chevrolet Corvette, find out if you can get insurance. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a vehicle you cannot drive.

Check the Vehicle’s History

The history of the vehicle will tell so much more than pictures do, especially if you are buying from an online auction. Request the VIN when you see a car you are interested in buying. You can use sites like Carfax to find out the vehicle’s history. The vehicle’s history will give you insight on the repairs, especially major ones, done on the car, its maintenance history, and previous owners.

It is crucial to check how long each owner had the car, because a vehicle that is sold off too quickly may be problematic. The history of the car is important because most states require receipts as proof of repairs and the purchase of parts.

The Generation and Features of the Corvette

The engine performance of the Corvette has improved with every generation. Before buying a Corvette, you need to decide on the features you expect. Some of the features may not be as efficient as they once were. The features can also serve as a benchmark for the car’s potential as you carry out repairs.

What is Your Budget?

The Chevrolet Corvette is in high demand. This demand drives up the price, even in the case of salvage vehicles. It is critical for you to look at your budget, and the maximum you can spend on the vehicle, including repair costs. Older generation Corvettes may be well maintained, but they need more maintenance than newer vehicles, so the purchase price is not all you need to worry about. When it comes to the newer models, the purchase price may be the most significant expenditure for a while.

What are the Salvage Chevrolet Corvettes to Buy at Auction?

Vintage Corvette (1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation)

Are you interested in a classic Chevrolet Corvette? Auctions are great places to find these vehicles. Although the 1953 model was the first production for the early generation Corvettes, the 1958-1960 models were a significant improvement over the first production years. Some of the changes include a redesign of the front end with dual-headlights, a horsepower increase for the 1960 model to 315hp from 290hp in the 1958 model. The famous quad tail-light design was first introduced in the 1962 model, and the engine power increased to the highest at the time, 360hp, with the introduction of the 5.4-liter V-8 engine.

The 1963 model, RPO Z06, had a race-ready package, ideal for the racing community. This model had a dual master cylinder, larger shock absorbers, a more prominent front anti-roll bar, and power drum brakes. Its V-8 engine produces 360horsepower. However, Corvette drivers complained about the power drum brakes, so the 1965 model came fitted with standard four-wheel disc brakes. The drum brakes remained available as an option. Buyers also had an alternative of the 6.5 liter engine that cranked out 425 gross horsepower.

It is important to note that the engine power of the Corvette started falling after the 1973 model because manufacturers had to meet the set federal safety standards. The car’s weight was increased by about 35 pounds, and horsepower dropped to 190 for the standard Corvette and 275hp for the most powerful engine. The 1982 model was the last in generation 3 (C3).

1991/1992 Model

The body of the 1991 Chevrolet Corvette was revised slightly. Changes were made to the front, rear, and sides to make the car more modern. The engine, dubbed LT1, was also introduced. It was a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 300hp. This was 50 hp more than what was produced in the engine in the previous models. Traction control was also introduced as a standard feature for this model.

1997 Model

This was the first production year of the fifth-generation Corvette. This 1997 Chevy Corvette C5 did not just involve a change in the exterior, but it was a complete make-over. It was fitted with a new LS1 engine that displaces 5.7-liters, with 345 horsepower. You can get this car with either a 4-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. Unlike the previous models, the transmission of this model is at the rear end.

2001 Z06

The 2001 Z06 Chevrolet Corvette had an improved power-weight ratio. This allowed it to get to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. This was half a second quicker than the models in the fifth generation. The Z06 has a whopping 405hp.

2005 Model

The 2005 Corvette was quite an improvement when compared to its predecessors. The six-speed automatic transmission replaced the 4-speed unit. The 6.0-liter V8 engine saw its displacement increased to 6.2 litres, which allowed it to crank out more than 400hp. This model was quite popular because it was almost as powerful as the Porsche 911, but nearly $22,000 cheaper.

2009 ZR1

The 2009 ZR1 Chevy returned after a decade, but this time it had greater power, with the 6.2-liter V8 engine cranking out a massive 638 hp, at a maximum speed of 205 mph. This car’s performance was compared to that of the Ferrari F430 Scuderia.

2014 Model

The 2014 Corvette Stingray was the first model of the 7th generation Corvette and had the most considerable change in any Corvette. It came fitted with a new LT1 V8 engine that displaces 6.2-liters, with an output of 455 hp. Buyers had an option of a 6-speed automatic or 7-speed manual transmission.

How do you Repair a Chevrolet Corvette Salvage Car?

Every vehicle has its own story, but you must look out for Corvettes that have been driven hard. Most Corvette owners garage their cars during winter, and if the engine is not run and maintenance carried out during these periods, then you should be worried about the damage on the vehicle.

When looking at the history of the vehicle, consider its origin and the maintenance records during this period. If the maintenance records show the Corvette was well taken care of, the mileage and age of the car shouldn’t matter too much.

Since the Corvette is low-lying, you need to find out if the base has been bumped a lot. If it has, are any vital components affected? If possible, get a mechanic who understands Corvettes. Check the compression, brakes, emissions, air conditioning, and other functions.

Find out how well the gears shift, especially the manual transmission. If the Corvette was packed for some time, you might need to check the starter to see how easily the vehicle starts, and if it runs smoothly. You should consider the possibility of replacing the battery.

After some time, sports cars need wheel alignment and balancing. If the car veers to one side when you loosen your grip on the wheel, or if it drags to one side when you brake, you need to check the wheel alignment. The brake pads may also need replacing.

Can You Insure a Salvage Title Chevrolet Corvette?

Getting insurance for any vehicle with a salvage title is difficult. It is even harder to get coverage for a classic with a salvage title. This is because it is difficult to place a realistic value to a vehicle that has the potential of taking an upward trend, unlike most cars which lose value as they age. If the value is placed too high, then the premium rates will be high, yet if the value is set too low, you won’t be adequately covered in case of an accident.

Larger insurance companies have been around for longer, and they may be more willing to take a chance and insure a Corvette with a salvage title. It is, however, important to get a company that has a history of reliability. If your car is a classic Corvette, it may be best to look for an alternative to commercial insurance companies because of the limited coverage they offer. Specialized insurance companies may offer you more policy options.

It is also important that you keep all the receipts of the repairs you make. Insurers want to know that your car is not a huge liability and that the repairs were adequate.

motor insurance document

Are Salvage Auctions Good for Cheap Salvage Corvette Parts?

Repairing a Corvette can be quite costly. If you’d like to save money on the parts you need for the repair, the best place to buy them is at a salvage auction. Sellers of Corvette parts understand the value of these cars, and this is reflected in the price of the parts. Most of these sellers get these parts from salvage auctions then sell them at a profit.

Some of the salvage Corvette are not repairable, so they are sold for the parts. The price of these vehicles are quite low. This is why it is profitable for dealers, who break it up and sell the parts. Buying from a salvage auction will save you from paying the markup.

Should You Buy a Crashed Corvette?

The decision to buy a crashed Corvette is highly dependent on the impact of the crash, and where it is located. If the collision is at the front, how extensive is it? Is it possible that the engine is damaged? How much would it cost to repair the damage? You need to answer these questions before buying a wrecked Corvette for sale. Repairing a Corvette can be costly, especially if the damage is massive. If you cannot afford the repairs, it is best not to buy the vehicle.

It is important to consider the generation as well. The power-weight ratio of the earlier generations was insufficient. It is only after the 2001 model that weight was considered during production. A heavier vehicle can withstand a strong impact. The newer models can withstand a crash better than the older ones.

How to Find Repairable Corvettes for Sale?

By now you’re probably asking where you can buy a Chevrolet Corvette with a salvage title? When looking for salvage Corvettes for sale, it is best to start looking at the auctions near you. You may not find a specialized Corvette salvage auction, but since these cars are in great demand, you are unlikely to find them in public auctions. You may also find repo Corvettes for sale in these auctions. However, keep in mind that you usually cannot access dealer-only auctions if you don’t have a dealer license. However, you can use a dealer, like Auto Auction Mall, to be your proxy.

You can also check the list of salvage vehicles up for sale from insurance companies. Most insurers send these vehicles to auctions, but some organize their own auctions. If you are lucky, you’ll find a salvage Corvette for sale in their list of cars.

Corvette auctions prices will be much lower than the prices practiced at your local dealership. You will be able to buy your Corvette cheap, especially if it is a salvage. But you may also be able to find rebuilt Corvettes for sale, that is, Corvettes that previously had a salvage title, but were then rebuilt. If you want to save money while buying one of these classic American cars, but without doing being in charge of doing the repairs, looking for restored Corvettes for sale might be the best option for you.

How To Get Started Buying a Salvage Corvette

Take a look at some of our current auctions here:

Chevrolet Corvette Auctions

Use the menu on the left to create an advanced search by filtering condition, model and location.

Example Corvette Salvage Auctions

[auctions query=”corvette”]