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How to Research Whether a Corvette is Rare or Just Another Brick in the Wall

Corvette Rarities

John Gilbert Feb 2, 2016
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If you’re one of the fortunate Corvette buyers that can hemorrhage money at an auction and really don’t care if the car you bought is as rare as claimed or just another brick in the wall, this article on how-to verify whether a particular Corvette is rare or not isn’t for you.

Of course rarity is always a relative matter. If the comparison is to be how many million white plastic coffee makers were made in China compared to the 40,274 base model Corvettes produced in 1978, all of the 1978 Corvettes produced could be identified as rare. An even lower number would be the 6,502 1978 Corvette Indianapolis pace cars produced.

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Around the offices of Vette, it’s called the Corvette owner’s bible. Our copy of the Corvette Black Book came from Corvette Central, and if you’re a dyed in the wool Corvette fanatic it’s a must have for your Corvette research library. The Corvette Black Book is a wealth of information and not a day goes by where we haven’t used it as a reference.

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To give an example of how to utilize the Corvette Black Book, let’s take lot number 50, a 1978 Corvette that sold at last week’s Barrett-Jackson’s 2016 Scottsdale auction for $18,150.

The description accompanying the ’78 Corvette reads:

Lot #50.1 - This has an L82 350hp engine, automatic transmission with 14,860 documented original miles. Mileage not indicated on the title. It features rare oyster cloth and leather bucket seats. This is a true survivor Corvette with the original tires still on the car, factory Window Sticker, original vehicle purchase agreement, original owner's manual and original warranty card from Willie-Clemons Chevrolet in Boone, IA. Put in service August 25, 1978.

Step one to verify rarity: turn to the page titled “1978 Corvette,” and look for production numbers. The total production for 1978 is 46,776. Look at the RPO code B2Z for Silver Anniversary paint and there were 15,283 cars in that color. For interior color quantities there were 2,226 in Oyster cloth, and 8,999 in Oyster leather. The rarest option for 1978 was RPO NA6 high altitude emission equipment with 260 cars having it. Look in Denver, Colorado or Calgary, Alberta to possibly find one equipped this way. For RPO L82, the only high-performance engine option offered, there were 12,739 cars manufactured with it. And don’t forget extreme low original mileage can add to a car’s rarity. At 14,860 documented original miles, Lot number 50 was indeed rare.

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