Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

• This ISCA award-winning 1972 Corvette coupe has been fully customized in every possible respect

• Every piece able to be chromed (except engine block and frame) has been gold- or chrome-plated

• This stand-out coupe was the result of thousands of hours of work

• Documentation from the original owner

• The seller traced this car back to its original owner, who completed all of the customization work and showed this car across the Midwest

• This custom won first place in every show it entered and claimed top honors at the ISCA show in Chicago

• The original owner compiled a complete record of the car’s success, including receipts of the work completed, magazines the cars was featured in, photos of the car during the build process, and photos of the car at the ISCA show in Chicago

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1972 Chevrolet Corvette Custom
Years Produced:1972
Number Produced:20,496 (coupes)
Original List Price:$5,533
SCM Valuation:$18,500–$39,500 (stock small-block coupe)
Tune Up Cost:$300
Distributor Caps:$15
Chassis Number Location:VIN plate under lower left windshield corner
Engine Number Location:On block in front of right cylinder head
Club Info:Goodguys
Alternatives:Any period-built (1970–80) Corvette custom in good condition
Investment Grade:C

This Corvette custom, Lot F291, sold for $20,520, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s sale in Harrisburg, PA, on July 24–27, 2014.

Holy hoodscoops! Pinstripes and sidepipes and gold-plated fuel bowls?! Right on! I know it doesn’t get much more out of date or out of favor than our “Corvette Summer”-era coupe here, but I dig it, man. If you often wonder what becomes of high-dollar customs once their cutting-edge styling begins to dull, then there’s a lot we can learn from this $20k ’72 Stingray.

It’s all about the look

I typically prefer flames to floral engraving, but the longer I study this Corvette, the more convinced I am that I should grow a moustache. I imagine driving such a lavish beast is much like escorting a glamorous debutante in an evening gown — you have to dress for the occasion and you have to own the moment. Silk shirts and exposed chest hair aren’t my best looks, but I don’t think T-shirts and flip-flops are an option here.

I think we can safely assume several decades have passed since this car was initially customized, and the simple fact that the paint and flares have survived is a pretty clear indicator of the quality of the work. Even if this coupe has covered more miles inside a shag-carpet-lined tow-rig than under its own power, decades of polishing and trailering can take a heavy toll. This car has been loved, and its state of preservation proves it.

Snapshot of the show scene

Unfortunately, the state in which this car has been preserved is one that has not, at least up to this point, been looked upon with the same rose-colored glasses that were so popular during the time of its creation. The mid- to late-’70s is generally recognized as an era totally devoid of performance and a time in which gaudiness overwhelmed tasteful restraint. Although you’d be hard-pressed to describe this car as subtle, it certainly has a sharpness and character that still stand up quite well if you give it a chance.

Fender flares and gold-plating may be easy to ridicule now, but they were once as in vogue as custom chassis and mini-tubs are today. Both sets of modifications are equally permanent in the sense that some serious effort would be required to reverse them, and both dramatically affect the character of the car. Luckily for us, the current customization trends favor performance and drivability over ornamentation and flamboyance, but who can predict how much more time the current movement has before it too begins to fade into obsolescence? How well will all the extensive mods required to accommodate a mail-order frame hold up over the next 40 years? If we use our Corvette here as a reference, we can safely assume that many such cars will age gracefully, but many more will not.

What do you value?

You can argue that customization of any kind ultimately ruins the long-term value of any car, both in terms of a car’s dollar worth and its historical worth. The Bloomington Gold organization formed precisely to support the notion that Corvette originality should be valued, with the customization of cars like our Dancing Queen serving as ripples that energized the wave. As a result, the Bloomington Gold standard has proven to be an enormous influence on the monetary valuation of preserved and restored Corvettes. But for hot-rodders like me, scrutinizing hose clamps and evaluating overspray is a total snoozefest.

When I see bone-stock, low-mileage muscle at a show, the nerd-alert alarm goes off inside my head and I keep on moving. Of course those cars are valuable and interesting and worth preserving, but that responsibility is better left to someone other than me. I enjoy cars that tell stories of adventure, of tragedy, and of redemption. As with some of my favorite people, I don’t even mind if they’re a little rough around the edges.

Unfortunately, character and adventure rarely return a profit. The preservation crowd has proven that the safest way to utilize an automobile as an investment is to keep it completely stock and wait. It may be boring, but it’s true. To be fair, I found an ACC record that indicates our Corvette was previously sold in 2005 at a Kruse auction in Chicago, IL, for $45,360 (ACC# 37629). In a time when comparable stock or lightly modified ’Vettes are on the rise, this car’s current valuation has fallen by more than 50%. Yikes. This is where the preservation crowd says, “Told ya so.”

However, there is a variable at play here — a terribly unpredictable and irrational variable that goes by the name of Nostalgia. The slow and steady approach may have won the day, but history has shown that doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. The desire to recapture an experience or relive a moment can be a ludicrously expensive pursuit, but that hardly slows the crazy train once it leaves the station. Gassers, for example, were part of a short-lived phenomenon, were scary to drive, and were an exercise in engineering regression. Yet, here we are, throwing money at them all over again. Disco-era ’Vettes obviously haven’t hit their stride yet on the way to a comeback, and who’s to say they ever will? Regardless, I’ll call this particular one well bought, and our buyer can just go on with his bad self.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

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