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2009 Market Analysis

Annual Review of Corvette Prices in 2009

BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments

The 2009 "Corvette" calendar year was quite unusual; it was one like we have never encountered in the 30 years of publishing this Market Letter. The turmoil in the US economy had far-reaching implications that impacted both the Corvette resale market and new Corvette production.

As we look back at past annual reports, there have been many years when our 'Top Ten' Appreciation Chart showed double digit growth.

Last year there was a signal that all was not well when we reported only one Corvette model in the double digit appreciation column, and that at only 10%. That one model was the previously neglected 1976 T-Top. The other models showing appreciation in 2008 ranged from seven to nine percent growth. As expected, dominating the appreciation chart were the mid-years with six positions on the chart that identified twelve Corvettes.

Even with that early warning, this year's 2009 Appreciation Chart results were unexpected. For the first time in 30 years of Corvette price tracking, there were NO Corvettes in the appreciation column.

The best we found were five Corvettes that registered a NO CHANGE when their 2009 average resale prices were compared to those of a year ago. The other four registered a -2% in average price, thus the "2009 Top Ten Appreciation Chart" only shows nine Corvette models. There were several others that reflected a -3%, but they have not been added to the chart.

Top Appreciation Models - 2009
Year Make % Change Average Price
1958 Roadster NC $54,500
1982 Collectors Edt NC $16,500
1986 Roadster NC $11,000
1995 ZR1 NC $34,500
1998 Pace Car NC $23,500
1961 Roadster -2% $44,000
1963 Coupe -2% $53,500
1978 Pace Car -2% $20,300
1996 CE Roadster -2% $19,500

The 1958 Roadster seems to be perennially included in the Appreciation Chart over the years. We are sure its unique louvered hood, dual chrome trunk stripes and first year dual headlamps help make this a high demand resale Corvette.

Note the appearance of Special Edition Corvettes that include the last of the C4 ZR1's, the 1995 model. For the first time, we have a C5 making the list, the 1998 Pace Car as well as the 1996 Collector Edition Roadster, another C4 model

These special editions are unique to their respective model years, some reflecting limited production numbers as well as registering low mileage on individual units. This is also the first year where all of the first five Corvette generations appear on the chart, C1-C5!

The 1986 Roadster made a rare appearance on the Appreciation Chart, primarily due to the sale prices of those painted Yellow, the actual 1986 Pace Car. However, you may recall that all 1986 Roadster were designated as Pace Cars with a console plaque. In addition, all of the 1986 Roadsters included Pace Car decals for dealer or customer installation.

The 1961 Roadster was listed as the entry level of the first generation Corvettes at $44,000. It also had a full array of optional motors to 'run up' the high prices on these models.

The 1963 Coupe, a repeat from last year's chart, continued with buyer popularity due to its unique rear split-window styling. It is also designated as one of the true Collector Corvettes commanding top dollar compared to the other Coupes in the mid-year class. When we look at one year, two year and five year appreciation, this model exceeds the other Coupes by a large margin.

Top Depreciation Models - 2009
Year Make % Change Average Price
1953 Roadster -40% $175,000
2006 Z06 -20% $44,000
2007 Z06 -19% $48,000
2003 50th Anv Roadster -18% $25,500
2004 Roadster -18% $25,000
2003 50th Anv Coupe -17% $22,500
2008 427 Edt Z06 -17% $63,000
2003 Roadster -15% $23,500
2003 Z06 -15% $23,000
2006 Coupe -15% $29,000

The Depreciation Chart shows, on a comparative basis, that not much has changed from the last year where the percentage change showed a range of -16% to -20%. Most of these were C5 and C6 Corvettes. This should not be a surprise to anyone as the late models always reflect long and slow negative depreciation for at least 10 years.

The BIG surprise on this year's Depreciation Chart was the 1953 Roadster. During the last several years we noted an unusual run-up in pricing for this rare collectable model. However, in today's market, most buyers are not looking for a Corvette that will be displayed in their collection with no special features other than vintage age and a low production number. At a glance, there is not much difference between a 1953 and a 1954 Roadster model. With the average price of a 1954 Roadster at $56,900, it is difficult to justify the difference in resale price at $118,000!

The Depreciation Chart shows six of the ten Corvettes as being a Special Edition or high performance Corvette, quite a difference from the Special Editions on the Appreciation Chart. At this time it is too early to identify the C5 and C6 Corvettes as 'collectable', however this may change in future years.

The original base prices of these models were priced at premium rates, but are only selling at modest prices over the standard models. In addition, the new models diminish the premium paid for the Corvettes identified on this chart. For example, the 2003 50th Anniversary Roadster had a base price of $55,370 compared to a 2010 Grand Sport Roadster with enhanced HP and handling that sells for $59,530.

In Today's economic climate, there does not seem to be a willingness on the part of Corvette buyers to pay the premium that was added to the late model high performance Corvettes when new on the market.

One example of this phenomenon can be seen with the 2006 Z06 with its original base price of $65,800 and the standard Coupe at $44,600. Today the Z06 sells for an average price of $44,000 and the Coupe at $29,000.


Following are highlights from our 2010 Corvette Price Guide:

1953-1962: The solid axle Corvettes were few in number at auctions and that is reflected in the sales column during the 2009 calendar this year. Other that the previously mentioned 1953 Roadster and the 1958 Roadster at 'no change', the depreciation range was -2% to -10% in average price. Excluding the 1953 model, the average price for the series was $54,000, with the 1959-1962 models showing average prices under the $50,000 threshold with the 1954-1958 models exceeding the $50,000 mark.

1963-1967: The auction action continued to excite buyers with numerous mid-years crossing the auction block. The depreciation numbers in average price ranged from -2% to -8%. The price leader in average price continued to be the 1967 Roadster at $56,300. The entry level priced mid- year Corvette continued to be the 1964 Coupe at $33,900. The average price for the mid-year models was $44,760. Only three exceeded the $50,000 mark – the 1963 Coupe, 1967 Coupe and the 1967 Roadster – as usual!

1968-1982: The majority of sales in the 2009 auctions went to the third generation Corvettes. The entry level price at $8,900 went to the 1978 T-Top. Representing the average high price for this series was the 1970 Roadster at $28,600 with a depreciation factor of -3%. None of the models in this series were on the plus side of the appreciation ledger with only one, the 1982 Collector Edition, at 'no change' in average price at $16,500. The depreciation percentages ranged from -3% to -12%.

1984-1996: The fourth generation models are interesting from a price perspective. We noted little change in average prices between model years. As an example, the price spread between the 1984 Coupe started at $8,000 and ended at $10,300 for the 1990 Coupe. The price difference on many of these models was only a few hundred dollars between model years. The entry level was the 1984 Coupe and the high average price for this series was $45,000 for the 1996 Grand Sport Roadster.

1997-2004: This generation, the fifth, continues with resale prices in double digit depreciation. Many of these sales are termed excellent buys and are below the $20,000 mark. As we say frequently, these prices buy a considerable amount of styling, performance, handling and comfort options. The entry level price at $13,000 goes to the first year model – the 1997 Coupe that showed a -13% depreciation factor. The high price at $26,000 is represented by the 2004 Z06 at a -12% depreciation. The 1997 model through the 2002 models showed a depreciation range of -10% to -14% with the majority of the 2003-2004 models showing -14% to -18%. It appears that the earlier models in this series are slowing down from a depreciation perspective. One wonders how low this great Corvette can go from a price perspective.

2005-2009: Depreciation ranges from - 7% to -20% for this series is expected. The higher levels of depreciation represent the Z06 models. The entry level remains the first year of the series, the 2005 Coupe at $27,500 that showed a -13% depreciation factor. At the other end of the spectrum is the 2009 ZR1 at an average price of $110,000 with depreciation at -12%.

We continue to monitory other Price Guides as a sanity check and continue to be confused! We are at numerous Corvette auctions positioned in the front row in an effort not to miss any of the auction action. We know who is bidding, what the final bid is and whether or not the Vette is sold at the final bid. Prior to and during the auction, each Corvette is inspected and pertinent data on each is recorded. In addition, we attend dealer-only auctions to monitor the wholesale prices of Corvettes.

BOTTOM LINE: We feel our price data is accurate. A few examples of prices from other Price Guides that are suspect are as follows. All were shown as in good condition with the base motor, except for the 1995 ZR1 that had no optional motor:

• 1957 Roadster at $37,000
• 1961 Roadster at $34,775.
• 1963 Coupe at $36,500.
• 1967 Roadster at $39,000.
• 1970 Roadster at $18,500.
• 1978 Pace Car at $13,600.
• 1995 ZR1 at $27,500.
• 1996 Grand Sport Roadster at $29,000.

We are the lookout for the location of these 'low' priced Corvettes and will pass on to our subscribers their locations when found!

All of our data in this report is available in our 2010 VETTE-N-VESTMENT CORVETTE PRICE GUIDE. The Price Guide remains priced at $20 retail, but we continue to offer a 25% discount to VetteFinders subscribers. Your price is $15.

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134 Corvette Models and Special Editions.
High / Low / Average 2009 Sales Prices.
1, 2 & 5 Year Appreciation/Depreciation Figures.
Pricing for Optional Equipment including Motors
AC, Tops and Wheels.

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