Our recent article on C3 (1968–1982) Chevy Corvettes got us looking at them on eBay this week. The later “rubber bumper” cars, which lost the elegance of earlier chrome bumpers and the grunt of pre-emissions horsepower ratings, have been the whipping boy of Corvette fans for many years. This also means that post-emissions C3 Corvettes offer ostentatious styling, decent performance, and fun at prices that still make them affordable for budding collectors. For prices that could barely buy an MGB or an engine rebuild on a Porsche, you can drive an American icon with V-8 rumble, standard leather seats, and removable top panels. Parts availability on these is another strong suit, with replacement bits an easy catalog order or online search away. While they are looked down upon by some aficionados now, the mid 1970s were the best-selling years in Corvette history. Over 49,000 Corvettes were sold in 1977.
That year was also the last for the upright rear window styling that had been the hallmark of the Corvette since 1968. The flying buttress rear looks cool but severely limits cargo capacity. Even with the forthcoming aerodynamic bubble-back window in 1978, the Corvette wouldn’t get an opening rear hatch until the Collector’s Edition of 1982. The only access to the limited storage involved folding the seats and entering through the interior. That’s a reason many were equipped with the optional luggage rack seen on this week’s example. The 1977 also saw a redesign of that rack to allow it to carry the standard T-top panels.
The 1977 Corvette interior did offer some other improvements over the 1976 model. The most noticeable was the removal of the Bicentennial ’Vette’s plastic steering wheel. Shared with the Vega, it’s a sad representation of the bean-counter attitude at GM during this period. Fortunately, it only lasted for one year. The new 1977 steering wheel, with its timeless three-spoke design and fat leather rim, was a vast improvement that came with any 1977 Corvette equipped with the tilt and telescoping wheel option… nearly all of them. The center console was also redesigned with different bezels on the secondary instruments, a deeper slot for the stereo that allowed it to hold standard GM/Delco stereo options, and a slightly longer shifter stalk on the manual which heretofore had a reputation for slamming one’s fingers into the parking brake handle during spirited shifts.
This week’s eBay find has the less powerful of the two engine options offered that year. Both 350-cubic-inch V-8s, the standard L48 had 180 hp and the L82 (with higher compression) offered 210 hp. Frankly, neither will elicit much awe in 2018, so we say the L48 with four-speed manual (versus the three-speed auto commonly seen on these) is still a good way to go if you want a fun driver. This example was also an early-production 1977, accounting for two rare features: One was the traditional Corvette orange engine paint, which switched to blue at some point early in production this year, and the other was the rare yellow paint, which also switched to a newer bright yellow after only 71 were made in this color.
The interior is mostly correct, though not immaculate, and has seats which should be replaced with the included originals as soon as possible. There have been 28 bids on this auction as of this writing, but the reserve has still not been met with more than five days to go.