Does a Corvette’s paint color affect what it’s worth?

Richard Pardon

There’s a Corvette out there for everyone. Many enthusiasts have their favorite model year, which incorporates the style, engine, and level of performance they like best. However, some combinations of those parts are more popular than others, and that affects the value.

Some of these value differences are clear and unsurprising. You probably don’t need Hagerty Valuation Tools to tell you that Corvettes with L88-spec 427s are more valuable than L48 spec 350s with 165 hp, or that automatic transmission-equipped cars are typically worth less than those with manual transmissions (by about 10 percent). But what about something even more subjective—color? Are some more popular than others, and does that make some colors more valuable?

classic corvettes overhead
Richard Pardon

To find out, we looked at data from all Corvettes sold at auction in the past ten years, and selected those for which we knew both color and specification—about 1700 transactions. It would make no sense, for reasons we cited above, to lump a Rally Red 1967 Coupe together with a 427-cu-in/435-hp L71 to a Dark Red ’77 that has a 350 and a slushbox. So, using identifiers unique to each model year, body style, sub-model (e.g., Z06), and engine spec, we compared the final price at auction to the relevant values that were current, according to our data, at the time of the sale. If the car was rated condition #1 (Concours), we would compare the price to the condition #1 value. If it was a condition #3 car (Good), we used the condition #3 value. (If there’s no condition rating, because the average condition rating is 2.5, we use an average of the condition #2 and #3 values.)

Our conclusion is that, just as we found with Porsche 911s, color matters. In some cases, it matters a whole lot. The median premium for each major color group reveals white as the most valuable, followed by yellow, purple, and red. At the other extreme are earth tones like copper, green, bronze, and brown.

This is the part where you say, "Sure, but what's your sample size on, I dunno, beige Corvettes?" We had the same thought. So, we next weighted the price differences by number of transactions. That shifts the order to the following:

Now the most popular colors are red, white, and blue, which we promise we didn't plan for this pre-Independence Day post, but which nonetheless makes quite a bit of sense for America's sports car. Purple falls to mid-pack, but yellow only falls two places. To get to dollar amounts we multiplied the weighted percentage differences by the median sale price of all the transactions ($49,500). That means that red, the most common color, is worth $843 more than the other colors. The next most valuable is white with a $636 premium. Given that the Corvette was first only available in white (Polo), that's understandable. Blue is the third most valuable with a premium of $411—although this group runs from Pennant Blue to Turquoise to Jetstream Blue. Less valuable colors are copper, orange, bronze, and brown. However, green is the least valuable color with a discount of $170.

classic corvette interior
Richard Pardon

Of course, there are many shades of green. Some colors like Mosport Green typically sell for more, while Fathom Green and Goodwood Green sell for less. The latter two are more common, and that turns green into a discounted color. At the other extreme, red doesn’t have any versions that are positioned at a discount. The rare Ruby Red and Riverside Red have no premium, while more popular Torch Red often sells for better than similar cars in other colors.

What about all the other Corvette shades? Although we don’t have transactions for every tint Chevy has offered over nearly 70 years, we do have values for almost 75. Where does your favorite Corvette color land?

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    I have a 1962 corvette Fawn beige. Every time I take it to car shows people say “I love that color, at least it isn’t red white or black.” So I beg to disagree with you.

    I have a yellow C7. Am a firm believer that if you want to be seen in a car . . . you gotta have the brightest color.

    I bought a 54 Corvette in 1963. I never took any pictures of it but if I can remember it seemed like it was a dark brown exterior color. Would this have been an original color? I can’t imagine anyone painting it that color. Would you know of one in that color ( if that was an original color?) that you could email me a picture of? I would like to get it put on a teeshirt. Thank you.

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