Courtesy of Leake Auction Co.
  • Collector Edition
  • One of 6,759 produced
  • Original window sticker
  • Owner’s manual
  • Matching-numbers 5.7-liter, 200-hp V8
  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Mirrored T-tops
  • Power door locks
  • Power windows
  • Power brakes
  • Air conditioning
  • 49,464 miles
  • Unrestored

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1982 Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition
Years Produced:1982
Number Produced:6,759 (Collector Edition)
Original List Price:$22,538
SCM Valuation:$18,000
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Plate at base of windshield
Engine Number Location:Right front cylinder-head deck
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1978 Corvette Silver Anniversary coupe, 1993 Corvette 40th Anniversary coupe, 2003 Corvette 50th Anniversary coupe
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 625, sold for $11,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Leake auction in Oklahoma City, OK, on February 23, 2019. It was offered without a reserve.

First and last: It’s hard to go too far wrong in collecting if you collect one of each. In this case, the $10k paid for this last-of-the-third-generation-’Vettes will probably look like a pretty sweet deal in a few years.

Hopefully, this establishes ACC’s position that this last-of-the-Sharks went for a song. But did it really?

Consulting the ACC Pocket Price Guide for this model confirms it. The median price for ’82 Collector Editions is currently $18,000 — 80% above what the buyer paid in this case. And the ACC Investment Grade is a solid “B.” Win!

This Corvette was built years after Chevrolet chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and styling boss Bill Mitchell retired from General Motors. Regardless, for the C3’s 1982 swan song, Corvette still had plenty of their personalities baked in.

It’s based on the mechanical architecture of the groundbreaking 1963 Split-Window coupe, and perched atop the steel ladder frame is a body style based on the precepts set by Mitchell and Larry Shinoda’s famous Mako Shark II concept car of 1965. That’s an impressive 20-year run for the chassis technology and an 18-year run for the basic body design. And in a surprise, the Silver Beige paint that buyers might have assumed was special at the time is more than twice as common as white, the next-most-popular color that year.

Of firsts and lasts

There are some interesting historic points about this model year. For instance, the 1982 Corvette was the first full model year to be built in Bowling Green, KY, which continues today as the sole Corvette assembly plant. As well, it’s the first Corvette to use a hinged-glass rear hatch (on the Collector Edition only).

This model also signified a big jump in price, as the Collector Edition’s $22,538 MSRP crossed the $20k mark for the first time for Corvette. This was probably a milestone that no one except Chevrolet cheered.

In more bad news, 1982 was the first model year since 1954 in which Corvette did not offer a manual transmission. But the Cross-Fire Injection was a first that year, contributing to a 10-hp uptick from previous carbureted induction.

In terms of “lasts,” besides denoting the end of the third-generation Sharks, 1982 was the final model year in which Chevrolet offered an 8-track tape player as an option. The best-selling album that year? Asia’s self-titled debut, “Asia.”

Being last of a car breed isn’t all rosy. For Corvette, 1982 was well past the peak for its performance to date, which peaked in 1969 with the Turbo-Jet L71 and L89 engines and the heroic L88 and then fell into a deep trough during the mid-1970s.

In our subject ’82 car, the 350-ci engine produced just 200 hp — the second-lowest top spec since 1955 (only 1981’s 190-hp peak spec was lower). Ouch! And Mitchell’s clean chrome-bumper 1968–72 body form had long since been violated by plastic-bumper fascias, and then, in an effort to modernize the car, by aggressive front and rear fascias, an air dam, fender flares and a spoiler starting in 1980.

Production came up short for the model year, with a total of 25,407 ’82 Corvettes built; the 6,759 Collector Editions represented 27% of the year’s overall production.

Incidentally, this lagged far behind 1981’s production of 40,606 and the robust 51,547 units produced as Corvette finally bridged over to the fourth-generation, Dave McLellan team-engineered car for 1984. The 1983 model year was skipped entirely due to production delays of the ’84, resulting in extended production for the fourth-generation car.

Bad investment then, great buy now

This Collector Edition retailed for $22,538 in 1982, and then traded for $11,000 at the Leake auction in Oklahoma 37 years later.

Superficially, that’s a loss of $12,538, or 56%, over 37 years. And if that’s not damning enough, consider that inflation since ’82 resets the car’s original $22,538 price at $59,037 today, making the loss seem even steeper.

But that doesn’t compare to this shocker: If the same $22,538 spent on this ’Vette in 1982 had been invested in Apple stock instead, that move would be worth $11.7 million today. Hmmm… $10k vs. $11.7 million with the same investment. So much for investing in a Collector Edition!

Where from here?

As they say, one man’s loss is another’s gain. And so, here we are in 2019 and someone bought a super-nice, low-mileage, final-year Shark for a song. What to do with it?

Personally, I wouldn’t do anything but service it, replace the tires, and preserve and enjoy it sparingly. With careful use, the ownership might wind up becoming free when the buyer decides to turn it loose another time in a luckier forum.

However, cheap old cars — even Corvettes — are simply a blank canvas to others, especially those who dig the 1980s style but lament 1980s performance.

Dropping in twice the power would be easy with a GM LS3 crate motor, which, civilized with modern EFI and a GM T56 Super Magnum 6-speed, would really haul the mail.

Appropriate suspension, brake, wheel and tire upgrades would help this old dear manage its newfound guile without detracting from originality… as long as everything’s done on a bolt-on basis.

Just as it sits, though, this low-mileage Collector Edition Corvette was a sweet deal at the price paid. Left stock, it’s a no-brainer to retain its purchase price at the very least. And modified, it’s a rip-roaring good time to be had on a budget. Either path is a winner.

(Introductory description courtesy of Leake Auction Co.)

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