Following an absence of more than a decade, Chevrolet reintroduced the convertible roof option for the 1986 Corvette. This may require some explanation for younger readers, as in the mid-1970s the American car industry thought all convertible cars had one foot in the grave. With the introduction of the 5 mph bumper—and other innovations—federal crash safety standards dealt major blows to car styling, comfort and convenience. Many then believed that convertible cars without any sort of roll-over protection were doomed.

This was not to be, however, and the mid-1980s saw a renaissance of convertible cars all over the world. From Chrysler K-Cars to Saab Turbos to Corvettes and Ferraris, the ragtop was back.

For Corvette, the convertible roof would persist until the end of the C4 run and into that of the C5, which is the generation of our subject car. Unlike the prior generation, the C5 was available with a completely fixed roof (which was the only choice on the new Z06), as well as the popular removable ‘Targa’ top and a cloth convertible.

Amenities were plentiful, with all the power options, leather seats and a choice between a 6-speed manual gearbox and an electronic overdrive automatic transmission.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2000 Corvette Convertible
Years Produced:1997-2004
Number Produced:248,715 in all body configurations
Original List Price:$45,320 for a 2000 convertible with similar options
SCM Valuation:$15,000 – $22,00
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:N/A (coil-pack ignition)
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side dashboard at base of windshield
Engine Number Location:Pad forward of cylinder head on right side
Club Info:Corvette Club of America P.O. Box 9879 Bowling Green, KY 42102
Alternatives:1997-2005 Jaguar XK8 convertible, 1997-2004 Ford Mustang GT convertible, 2001-4 Maserati 3200 GT convertible
Investment Grade:D+

This car, Lot F61, sold for $15,900 at the Mecum Des Moines auction on July 16, 2010.

At first glance and gut reaction, the 2000 Corvette convertible seen at Mecum’s Des Moines auction this past summer would seem to be a no-brainer at the price where it was hammered away to a new home.

There will always be those who favor the triple-black car, be it a long, black Cadillac or a Corvette. The prospect of owning a perennial roasting oven is tempered—not just with air conditioning, but also with the sheer cool factor of black. Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison knew what they were doing.

The subject car’s paint appears to be largely without major flaws or repairs, but the worn tires show that a few dollars will be spent down the road. The chrome Z06 alloy wheels give this particular example a nice stance.

The cloth top, while somewhat weathered, had no major flaws and was perfectly serviceable. Inside, one immediately notices the optional, dual-memory sport seats, which exhibit normal wear, as do the carpet and steering wheel. Overall, the condition of the car raises no serious red flags.

At closer inspection, all of these minor age-and-use flaws would seem to be outweighed by the Active Handling package, an in-dash CD player with a 12-disc changer in the trunk and dual-zone heating and air conditioning as further niceties ordered above and beyond the stock car when it was new.

An under-the-hood inspection reveals a GM service campaign sticker, which means at least some dealer work. There were no apparent leaks or broken items—everything is there. My own preference is for a 6-speed manual in such a car, but there are also those with a bad left knee or with other reasons to prefer an automatic, which this car had. I can’t and won’t fault it for this equipment.

Why so cheap?

This was a $45,000-plus car when it was new, and it doesn’t show major wear, accident damage or poor repairs. And this car has a top that goes down. So, why did this handsome car sell for just $15k in 2010?

Could it be the glut of C5 Corvettes churning through the used car marketplace, especially given the deep discounts and zero-percent financing offered towards the purchase of a new C6? And recall, these are just used cars produced in large numbers, 13,479 in 2000 alone. Also, this car was now ten years old, and not likely to get you high fives in the gas station or a valet-chosen parking place in front of your favorite restaurant.

But let’s say that I’m being a bit hard on the used Corvette market. There is another factor.

There is something that most folks who attend non-used-car-dealer, non-traditional auctions, such as this Mecum collector car auction, come to expect. We all expect to see a consignor-supplied description on the car’s windshield card. That element was completely absent here.

There are two reasons why this description is important:

First, potential bidders get information—hopefully credible—about the car.

The second reason is less obvious, especially at a fast-paced collector car auction. This missing information leaves the auction announcer—the person who introduces the car as it goes on the block—with very little to say about the car. The auction announcer is in the same knowledge-starved position as the potential buyers who inspected the car during the preview. As a consignor and a buyer at numerous collector automobile and motorcycle auctions, I can tell you that less is not more in this environment.

Supply and demand rule

Could this car have done much better at a traditional wholesale used-car auction? Perhaps—but probably not enough to make much of a difference.

As with anything else, the laws of supply and demand set some of the parameters for desirability and collectibility. Many of these C5 Corvettes are now in the traditional used car market, so supply is outweighing demand. This is not a formula for rising values.

This is a good car for the retail buyer. If pressed, I’d have to say that perhaps this car was even slightly well sold. This was also the opinion of B. Mitchell Carlson, CM’s senior auction analyst, who also covered this sale—and drives a value-priced C5. But remember, when you go to sell your Corvette at auction, provide a good written description to entice bidders. That gives the auctioneer, who is trying to get you all the money, something to work with.

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