Corvettes are among the most well-documented collector cars on the planet, so there's no excuse for not knowing exactly what you're buying
Long considered a modern classic, the Sting Ray's aggressive lines and sleek profile were perfectly suited to its role as GM's image leader. In the late 1960s, the big block Corvette was the king of the road. Although expensive, with a sticker price of over $5,000 as equipped here, the Corvette was still the car one purchased to go fast, especially when optioned with one of the thundering 427-cid engines.
This particular L71 Car has benefited from a full, professional restoration by Carosserie Lecoq in Paris, France. The seller reports that this Corvette was restored to its correct 427 specifications, and includes a four-speed manual transmission, wood steering wheel, tinted glass, aluminum wheels, AM/FM radio and side-mounted exhaust.
It has been reported that a replacement block was used during the restoration. The paintwork is the correct and original Corvette color of Goodwood Green, and is highlighted with a black stinger and interior.
The 1967 model remains as perhaps the most collectible Corvette of its period. Their performance was unmatched, especially when coupled with the 435-hp option featured here.
This 1967 Corvette L71 sold for $56,101, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Meadow Brook auction, August 2, 2003.
Many enthusiasts consider the 1967 model to be the quintessential Corvette, and its svelte and distinctive styling makes it instantly recognizable. Over the years, it has become one of the most desirable Corvettes ever built.
This was the fifth and final year of the Sting Ray body style, and by this time a number of production improvements had made it the best-built Corvette of the era. The design was so popular that Chevy suffered a backlash when the C3 model, with its overwrought appearance, was introduced in 1968, making the ’67s even more highly desired.
The L71 package was installed on 3,754 Corvettes in 1967. It included a 427-cid engine making 435 hp, a heavy-duty, four-speed M22 manual transmission, and a similarly robust suspension upgrade. This package meant you couldn’t order A/C or an automatic transmission on your ‘Vette, but any other optional equipment was fair game. L71 cars are considered the best of the best-fast and powerful sports cars worthy of the track, yet still streetable.
Unfortunately, the popularity of the L71 package has brought out the dark side of the enthusiast world: 1967 Corvettes of all kinds are regularly modified and sold as L71 originals. And while there’s nothing wrong with buying a ’67 ‘Vette with a big-block transplant, you shouldn’t pay real L71 money for it.
Tips for spotting a fakey-doo L71:
1. All big-block Corvettes have a raised hood scoop with “427” on each side of the scoop. A very small number of small-block 1967 Corvettes came from the factory with the raised hood-without numbers-because production problems made standard hoods unavailable for several days. But no big block was ever shipped with the standard hood.
2. All 427s have a copper radiator with oversize core, while the small-block radiator is aluminum.
3. The tachometer on the L71 and L88 engine packages redlines at 6,500 rpm. On other engine packages it’s 6,000 rpm.
If you’re shopping for an L71 Corvette as an investment, make sure the numbers match. Not only should you request complete documentation from the seller, but have the car thoroughly inspected by a true marque expert. Corvettes are among the most well-documented collector cars on the planet, so there’s no excuse for not knowing exactly what you’re buying.
In addition to the standard inspections you should do, there are a few areas specific to the Sting Ray:
1. Frame. Check the frame carefully for damage or corrosion. Pulling and reinstalling the body to replace the frame will cost about $10,000.
2. Brakes. The 1967 Corvette is prone to leaky brakes, as were many GM cars of the period. Accumulation of moisture in the brake fluid can cause corrosion and leaks in the steel and cast-iron hard parts. The leaks generally appear on the caliper brake seals first, but the entire brake system should be carefully inspected. Replacement parts run from $600 to $1,000. A complete annual flushing of the braking system will go a long way towards preventing this problem.
3. Headlights. Electrical and mechanical problems can strike the distinctive flip-up headlights. When testing, both should open and close smoothly and to the same angle. Headlight repairs can run as high as $500 per side.
4. Aftermarket equipment. A Hurst shifter is a common “option” found on Sting Rays, but no 1967 Corvette came with one as original equipment. Flared fenders, modified grills, custom taillights, and other exterior changes personalize a car and can improve its performance, but they hurt collector value. Sadly, many ‘Vettes have been modified by those with more enthusiasm than skill; stock is best.
Prices for authentic L71 Corvettes can range from $30,000 for a rough car needing extensive work to $100,000 or more for a fully restored, numbers-correct car. The car pictured here looks to be a fun driver. However, a question that cannot be answered without a first-hand examination is just how accurate this restoration was. Carosserie Lecoq has a reputation for doing good work, but perhaps not to the standards of American Corvette fanatics. After all, having a Corvette restored in France is sort of like having a Citroën restored by an American performance shop.
Even though this is an original L71 Corvette, the replacement engine hurts its value. Yes, it’s worth more than a small-block car cloned into a big block, but we should consider this Corvette fully priced at $56,101.-Mike Yager