Classic Classified: 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427 L89
From: Hemmings Motor News, March 1989
Price then: $60,000 ($121,000 adjusted for inflation)
Price now: $75,900–$192,000
Approximate dollar difference: $45,100 (assuming No. 4 condition)
Annual rate of return: -1.6%
Corvette: 1968 L-89 roadster, ps, pb, AM/FM stereo, pw, needs total restoration, original, real engine, have Protect-o-plate, would like to trade for ZR-1 LT-5 car or $60,000.
With the L89, GM topped the 427-cu-in Chevrolet V-8 with factory aluminum heads and tri-power. Corvettes equipped with this engine are highly collectible, since only 624 buyers opted for the $806 engine option. Genuine, documented L89 Chevys rarely come up for sale, and when they do, they easily command six-figure prices. One offered in 1989 for $60,000 seems like a golden opportunity, right? Maybe not.
If this car was recently restored for that price, the return on investment would have been modest, and as a restoration project, the new buyer would have been upside down pretty quickly. Once the costs were tallied, a high-level restoration would have easily eaten up what little money there was to be made on this car.
Dropping $60,000 or trading your new 1989 ZR-1 Corvette for this car would have been a rotten deal indeed. The lesson here is that not all rare cars wind up being good investments. Timing and price are very important factors in determining whether money is made or lost. Do your homework, trust your gut, and if it feels like a bad move, then it probably is.