When Chevrolet unleashes a legacy car’s newest generation, it’s just a matter of time before that new car’s previous generation hits the used-car market due to owners yearning to upgrade to the latest and greatest—keeping up with the Joneses, if you will. For example, now that the sixth-gen Camaro SSs, 1LEs, and ZL1s have been roaming the streets for a couple years, fifth-gen Camaros of the same nomenclature can now be had for a “song” compared to the money they were commanding prior to the release of the sixth-gen Camaro. Case in point—a quick Internet search revealed 2010-’11 Camaro SSs can be had for around $19K. If you think about it, that’s a fairly cheap way to get into a late-model muscle car without emptying your wallet.
If a new C7 Corvette grabs your attention, you are looking at about $55K for a Stingray, $70K for a Grand Sport, and if you want get into a loaded Z06, prepare to dish out more than $100K. With these incredible new, turnkey hot rods available to those who can afford such badassery, many lifelong Corvette owners are looking to dump their C5s and C6s for a bargain so they can put a decent down payment on the latest 2017 or 2018 model. So, if you have about $26K to burn, you can get behind the wheel of a 2004 Z06 with around 22K on the odometer. For those who are a little more ambitious, a decent C6 will set you back about $40K. You may be able find a better deal, but that’s just what was found by doing a 5-minute Internet search.
Now this is cool and all, but what I’ve noticed at many of the autocross events recently is that C5 and C6 Corvettes are running rampant, which makes it hard to tell who’s who out there. Sure, there are some Vettes out there with some aftermarket wings, spoilers, and hoods, but overall they lack diversity. And I get it. With just a few suspension upgrades and engine mods you can be fairly competitive in one of these cars right out of the gate.
But, one of the main reasons I fell in love with hot rods and muscle cars is how each build carries a personality of its own. Whether in good taste or bad, our hobby was built on diversity.
No doubt, the vintage muscle car arena is flooded with first-gen Camaros, but with a distinct difference in colors and a good mix of aftermarket parts, each car has more personality than most any late-model Corvette out there. Yes, you’ll spend more money restoring a vintage Camaro, Chevelle, Chevy II, or Tri-Five, only to throw even more “Benjamins” its way to arm it with a performance chassis, suspension bits, and a set of custom wheels, but that’s what makes these cars so damn cool.
Now, it’s great to take home a trophy for having the quickest autocross time of the weekend in a late-model Corvette, but just being able to compete in a car that’s about 50 years older, 300-400 pounds heavier, and has witnessed every ounce of blood and sweat poured into the build is way cooler than winning in a car that carries little history and no personality.
Photos: Nick Licata