Buying Late-Model Corvettes - C5 C6 Buyers' Guide

Everything You Need To Know To Buy Your Next C5/C6

Tom Benford Nov 2, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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DeSmedt puts a lot of emphasis on the possibility of selling the Corvette again after you purchase it because, as he puts it, "Everybody wants a Corvette but nobody needs a Corvette. It's like a boat. There doesn't seem to be any in-between with it comes to these cars. Either you'll own a Corvette for the rest of your life or you'll buy one, keep it for the summer, sell it and never buy another one. It's that kind of beast-either you'll like it or you won't-there's no in-between. So, for that reason, you want to make sure that you don't overpay when you make the purchase so that you can recoup your money (or at least most of it), if you decide to sell it at the end of the summer.

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Features That Affect Price
Transmissions-it seems that almost everybody wants a stick shift in a Corvette, and DeSmedt's experience bears this out. "When it comes to Corvettes, the general consensus is that it should be red, yellow, or black, and stick with leather. Well, with the C5s and C6s you don't have to worry about the leather - they all come with it. There's no doubt that a stick shift brings more money because it's more desirable." I asked him about C6s with the paddle-shift trans, and he said that a traditional six-speed stick is still much more desirable than the paddle-shift trans. "Face it, if you're going to buy a Corvette and you want to enjoy driving it-I mean really enjoy driving it-then you've got to get one with a stick shift. No two ways about it." He stated that in the past when he sold 'front-line' Corvettes, the ratio was about six stick-shift cars to every one automatic transmission car. (Editor's Note: While I have driven and enjoyed Project C5X as a six-speed for over two years now, I have just bought another 2000 Corvette with an automatic and I have to say I am enjoying it immensely not having to shift the car every day in traffic. My wife is also getting to drive the car since it is an automatic and that is a big plus as well. So in my case, that position doesn't hold true.)

Color choice is a preference, to be sure. However, there are colors that are more desirable than others when it comes to Corvettes. DeSmedt confides that white is the absolute worst color when it comes to selling a Corvette, while red, black and yellow are the top color preferences. Other 'non-mainstream' colors-pewter, green, blue-may or may not have a great effect on the selling price. Ron elaborated by saying, "Any of the reds are fine; the darker blues sell better than the lighter blues; the darker green does better than the lighter green. So, the inference here is that most people prefer the darker colors over the lighter ones. The exception seems to be yellow-Millennium Yellow, to be specific. This color commands a sizeable premium over other colors-for some reason, it's extremely popular. Yellow Corvettes always bring more money both at the wholesale level and at the retail level." According to Ron, certain colors appeal to different age groups. Pewter, for example, seems to be a preference among conservative, middle-aged purchasers. Silver, on the other hand, appeals to younger buyers.

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Body style - Convertibles are always more popular than coupes and, consequently, command more money-usually three to five thousand dollars more than the equivalent coupe, according to DeSmedt. "The fixed-roof coupe - or 'Billy-Bob' as it was called - before it became the Z06 - you couldn't give these cars away - they're notoriously difficult to sell. But it's still a great car, and you can get them very cheaply. So if you want to get a C5 at a bargain-basement price, consider buying a fixed-roof coupe.

Conversely, Z06s sell without any problem at all, especially the 2002-2004 Z06s. However, the 2001 Z06 was only 375 hp, which makes it less desirable in some buyers' perceptions. The next year the horsepower was increased to 405hp. Now, while there's only a 30hp difference, this can account for several thousands of dollars more in the selling price because of the increased desirability of the higher horsepower rating. In reality, however, very few people, if any, would ever even notice the difference in power under normal use. But if you really want to get a lot of bang for your buck, the 2001 Z06 is a great buy because of the devaluation stigma it carries due to the lower horsepower rating. Cosmetically and equipment-wise, the 2001 is identical to the later models, with the exception of those thirty horses and the fender badges, which you can swap out easily enough if you want to."

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The vast majority of C5s and C6s are coupes, which makes them plentiful. Supply and demand always has an effect on the market, so when there are plenty of something-like Corvette coupes-to choose from, that helps to make it a buyers' market.


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