I took Bradley and his friends to a local MAG auction in Salem, OR, a few weeks ago. For reasons I will never understand, all three 16-year-old young men were smitten by the C3 Chevrolet Corvettes on offer.

I have never paid attention to these “Mako Shark” derived cars. They were smog-strangled and had flamboyant period styling that was a complete departure from the iconic C2 Sting Rays. But that was then. Time has started to treat the C3 kindly, and to my eye they are aging well. They have become a symbol of the ’70s.

Bradley, having discovered Bring a Trailer, took a deep dive into C3s. Soon my inbox was filled with messages from him about ones offered for sale.

After doing some research, we discovered that the 1982 Collector Edition was the only year with an opening hatchback. This allows me to put my mobility device into the car.

While picking up our 250C from restoration guru Chip Starr, I mentioned that Bradley was interested in a Collector Edition C3. He responded, “I just happen to have one here I got yesterday. It’s for sale.”

Of course. As Martin Swig once said, “You don’t find cars; they find you.”

HIs Shark had completely original surfaces in and out, showed 95k miles, and came with full documentation. The Crossfire Injection was intact and unmodified. The car needed tires, an A/C recharge and a few other minor things.

Chip is taking care of them. I hope to be into the car under $17k. Hope does spring eternal.

We bought the car the same day Bradley passed his driving test.

You might ask if I am being a responsible parent by getting a teenager a Corvette as his first car.

I have several answers. First, this is a 200-horsepower car — not 272 like our V12 Jaguar or 493 with our Mercedes SL55 AMG. Second, this is an event car, to be driven on special occasions, not a daily driver.

Finally, Bradley will always be able to look back on the day he passed his driving test and then he bought a Corvette with his dad. That’s the stuff that memories are made of.



  1. Well done. I completely agree that buying this nice example of a distinctive symbol of the ‘malaise’ era was a good choice, especially for your young man. Those Vettes are not over-powered, nor are they without adequate safety features like seat and shoulder belts, reinforced doors, collapsible steering columns, pretty good brakes, steering and decent handling, and they are unlikely to flip over like the very popular SUVs and trucks driven by many young drivers these days. Additionally, they are fairly reliable, most parts are readily available and they can be serviced almost anywhere in North America… plus, they look cool.

    It’s no Alfa, but it’s probably a better choice than many other cars as a ‘first ride’.

  2. I agree well done indeed. I came home from the hospital on my Mom’s lap in a 64 vert, but grew up with a 69 427 car like my idols serving with the Apollo Space Program. My first car was not a Corvette, but the first new Corvette that my family ever brought was put in my name and purchased when I grad high school. However, I did not get the keys until I got my degree and job (only 6k was on the clock as it was driven for special occasions). It might not be worth as much as my current 69 (427 fact side pipe car), but it is priceless and still the only new Corvette my family has owned and the last car I will every sell. I have had my 69 for years and it is a handfull, but I did buy a 79 L82 4sp car a few years ago and really enjoyed it, the car was so friendly to drive and still gave you that unmistaken feeling of driving something special when you look down that hood at the road ahead. Like Todd and Buzz the world is endless when you are experiencing it in a Vette. Once again well done….

  3. B.Mitchell Carlson

    Being a Ford and truck guy, when Keith sent me the first image after buying the Collector’s Edition, my first reaction was “HEY, that’s a early 1970’s Ford Courier in the background! Oh, yeah, I guess there’s a Corvette, too.”
    There’s also the argument to be made of “Be careful of what you ask for – you may get it”. Good, bad, indifferent, or ugly, you always remember your first car.

  4. I had the 1982 C3 and absolutely loved it; car was perfect in colors and mechanical. Due to the low miles it had someone offered me good money for it and so after 3 years of enjoying it I sold it, into good hands. These are totally undervalued in my mind and an absolut American Classic. Cheers and hope he really enjoys it.

  5. The huge smile on Bradley’s face says it all! BTW only an über cool dad gets his son a Corvette for his first car.

  6. You are a great father!! It is all about the memories – and you are creating them.

  7. Great choice! Reliable, American, can be serviced anywhere, analog enough, yet not too old. Can be upgraded with Koni shocks, sway bars and headers. Bradley will be able to detail it, and enjoy the car.

  8. Great choice Keith. (Or actually Bradley, who at least deserves co-dependency credit!) I always thought that particular series was the most handsome, almost subdued in comparison with other Corvette ‘specials’ of the era, which most often weren’t.

    The rear hatch – a major win and at least as unique as a split window from a design perspective – turbine wheels, and interesting ‘Foose fade’ graphics treatment really set the car apart.

    You can always ‘de malaise’ the car with a removal of said suffocation pillows and add whatever you want, most of which is available at non tuition busting prices from a dozen Corvette outlets. Three hundred hp is easy, inexpensive, and will let that chassis have a little entertainment.

    Well done on the purchase. Great car, great memories, what a wonderful combo!

  9. Hans Kleinknecht

    You get a nomination for “Dad of the year” award for this Keith! You and Bradley will now be exceptions to the old joke about Corvette owners: “Whats the difference between a cactus and a corvette?” Enjoy the ride!

  10. I applaud your choice and Bradley’s introduction into the world of collectable vehicles. Fettling the Vette will not be nearly as expensive as you have grown accustomed to and there is a better than even chance that it will actually provide an economic return on sale. There is also a very good chance that Bradley will own it for the rest of his life, garage space and future spouse willing.
    The effort that you have put into his driver’s education has increased the chances that he will treat the car well and that it will remain undinged. Great Job Dad! Have a terrific Fathers Day.

  11. You promised him a Bugeye. And he has to make do with this thing?

  12. These are beautiful cars, and the ’82 Collector Edition is the best of the bunch. Not only that, but since they are the last interation of the C3, all possible bugs have been worked out – GM usually gets things right by the final year. Your son will be incredibly happy with that classic Corvette. Congratulations!!! Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  13. Wow – really?? The Cross Fire fuel injection system was probably in the top 3 worst systems GM ever created. It ruined the last of the C-3s, the beginning of the C4s and the 82-84 Camaros as well. As a GM dealer tech, I had the bad luck to work on too many of these poor-running nightmares. I like C3s (I had 2) but I would NEVER recommend buying anything with Cross Fire injection. Hopefully, you won’t have too many issues with an otherwise nice looking car. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.