2010 Market Analysis

Annual Review of Corvette Prices in 2010

BY: Bob Kroupa of Vette-N-Vestments

The 2010 'Corvette' calendar year was quite interesting when one considers the state of the US economy, especially as it relates to the auto industry. We are sure 2010 will be termed the year of the turnaround with GM coming out of bankruptcy and selling their stock once again; Chrysler preparing for a stock offering and show casing their compact Fiat model; Ford charging ahead without any bail-out funding; the Koreans setting record sales results with the Hyundai and Kia vehicles; and, Toyota resolving their recall issues.

Forecasts for 2011 indicate a major sales surge. At this early date, we see the manufacturers showing the consumer their stylish, fuel efficient products that will be introduced as production models and concept vehicles. These will be major attractions at the Detroit, Chicago and New York Auto Shows with lots of coverage from the media.

Shifting gears to our favorite subject, and hopefully yours as well, the Corvette. Is the Corvette resale market still showing the majority of models with depreciation numbers as we noted for the 2009 calendar year?

There is good news! Similar to the trends in new car sales across the auto industry, the resale sales results have turned the corner and are showing positive numbers for virtually all of the C1 solid axle Corvettes (1953-1962), the C2 Mid-years (1963-1967) and the C3 models (1968-1982).

The C4 models (1984-1996) showed a definite 'bottoming out' with a mixture of appreciation and depreciation results. The C5 models (1997-2004) also showed the same trend.

The C6 models (2005-2010) continue to reflect depreciation numbers, however most are in the single digit range. Finally!

Top Appreciation Models - 2010
Year Make % Change Average Price
1990 ZR-1 8% $27,700
1957 Roadster 7% $66,700
1972 T-Top 7% $21,300
1972 Roadster 7% $25,000
1996 CE Coupe 7% $16,100
1953 Roadster 6% $185,300
1988 35th Coupe 6% $16,400
1996 CE Roadster 6% $20,700

You may recall our analysis at this time last year when our appreciation chart showed ‘No Change’ for the majority of Corvettes in the Top Nine. This year appreciation numbers are back on track and show a range of +6 to +8% for the Top Eight Corvettes identified. There is the absence of any Mid-year models on the appreciation chart, however this is not a real concern as you will read later in this analysis.

The 1953 Corvette is on a ‘roller- coaster’ ride starting with its 40% depreciation as shown on last year’s chart. This year the 1953 model showed a +6% appreciation. Few of these models surfaced for sale in 2010. This makes sense since it has been reported that only 73 of the original 300 vehicles produced are still in existence. The auctions taking place this month will have four 1953 models crossing the auction black. We will soon know if our reported $185,300 (average price in 2010) shows any movement in 2011.

The 1957 model year continues to be a popular one with its clean styling lines and an array of performance motors. In 2010 these models showed an appreciation of +7% and sold at an average price of $66,700.

The 1972 models, both the T-Top and the Roadster, show appreciation at +7% with the average sales price at $21,300 and $25,000, respectively. In our estimation, both of these models have additional price appreciation room since they are the last of the chrome bumper cars and the LT1 optional motor.

The remainder of Corvettes shown on the 2010 Appreciation Chart are all special editions with the leader being the 1990 ZR1 at +8% with an average resale price of $27,700. We continue to see numerous 1990 ZR1s cross the auction block with both single and double digit original mileage. They continue to be desirable models for those looking to own one of Chevrolet’s top performance Corvettes of the 1990’s. Still many are tucked away with a production run of 3,049. One buys a lot of Corvette performance, styling and comfort for under $30,000. We recall at the introduction of the 1990 ZR1 model they were selling everywhere for $70-80,000!

The 1988 Anniversary Coupe in its all-White theme continues to make a powerful appearance statement. This model appreciated +6% with the average resale price of $16,400.

The last C4s with their Collector Edition Sebring Silver paint (first introduced in 1963 for an up-charge of $80.70) close out the C4 production with the Coupe selling for $16,100 and the Roadster selling for $20,700 with both on the Appreciation Chart at +7% and +6%, respectively.

Top Depreciation Models - 2010
Year Make % Change Average Price
1996 GS Roadster -16% $37,800
1978 Pace Car -13% $17,500
1996 Roadster -13% $14,500
1993 Roadster -10% $13,100
1994 Roadster -10% $13,500
1995 Roadster -10% $13,900
2008 Roadster -10% $38,000
2009 ZR1 -10% $99,500

Now to the Depreciation Chart: we are finally seeing a reduction in the negative percentages that were common place during the last few years. The 2008 Depreciation Chart showed a range of -16% to -20%. During the 2009 model year it was -15% to -20%, of course excluding the -40% for the 1953 model year.

Heading up the 2010 Depreciation Chart was the 1996 Grand Sport Roadster at -16% with an average resale price of $37,800 (on the 2008 Chart this model showed -20% and an average resale price of $52,000. The original base price of the 1996 GSR was $47,940 with a very limited production of 190 units. Based on the limited production numbers, we were surprised to see this model at the top of the list. The last sale we recorded was $43,000 at the McDorman auction; it had 2,900 miles. We don’t expect to see this model on the depreciation chart for 2011.

Has demand caught up with supply for the 1978 Pace Car, and/or has the 1978 Pace Car become so ‘dated’ that it’s popularity has waned? This model held the number two spot on the Depreciation Chart showing a -13% factor with the average resale price at $17,500. Possible the Corvette enthusiast is finding other choices in Special Editions that offer lower production numbers, higher HP and special paint features.

For example, a 2003 50th Anniversary Coupe (4,085 units built) loaded with options sells today for $23,500 and pumps out 350HP! It also showed a +4% appreciation factor.

The 1978 Pace Car had 6,502 units built and differed from the standard 1978 model with special paint and an upgraded interior. However, for those nostalgic for this special edition, we continue to see the 1978 Pace Car offered at auctions with one and two digit original mileage. There is certainly something to be said for being sentimental!

The C4 Roadster (1993-1996) continues to be ‘soft’ from a price perspective without much of a change in body style and performance. In addition, the Roadster shows more wear than the Coupe with its Convertible Top. Prices between models show little change, thus the depreciation continues as these models age.

The 2009 ZR1 made its first appearance on our Charts. We are seeing the ZR1 joining the late model Corvette depreciation prices based on the original list price plus premium add-on pricing normally associated with a new limited edition high performance Corvette. Supply and demand dictated the original sale prices of these Corvettes that are now available at or below the original list prices.

The 2008 Roadster showed a -10% depreciation with the average resale price at $38,000. It made an appearance this year possible due to high production numbers, 7,549 units in 2008 compared to only 3,343 in 2009.

BOTTOM LINE: Corvette resale prices, for both new and old models, are on the right track. We look forward to seeing this trend continue over the next year.


Following are highlights from our 2010 Corvette Price Guide:

1953-1962: During 2010 we registered an increase in the number of solid axle Corvettes crossing the auction block. As we register Corvettes for the January auctions, we see this trend continuing. The 2011 Price Guide shows all of the 1953-1962 models with positive appreciation results. We previously mentioned the leaders, but at the bottom of the scale was the 1961 model with an average resale price of $44,500, reflecting a 1% appreciation factor.

1963-1967: The good news was none of these models appeared on the Depreciation Chart. Although they did not appear on the Appreciation Chart either is not a negative since all of the mid-years showed positive results. At the top of the list was the 1967 Roadster that sold for an average resale price of $58,500 showing a +4% appreciation. At the low end of the mid-years were several with an appreciation factor of 1% including the 1964 Coupe with an average resale price of $34,200.

1968-1982: The majority of Corvettes crossing the auction block in 2010 were C3 Corvettes. Sales were excellent, partially due to many selling below the $15,000 mark. On average, the Roadsters in the series sold for $4,800 more that the T-Tops. This series was another winner during 2010 with only 6 of the 42 models showing negative results. The high price for the C3s went to the 1970 Roadster with an average resale price of $28,600 with ‘no change’ in average price. At the low end it was the 1979 T-Top with an average resale price that reflected a +4% appreciation in average price.

1984-1996: An interesting fact for the C4 series is that marginal prices changes are noted when one looks at the 1984 introduction model compared to the 1995 model Coupe. The 1984 is priced at $8,100 showing a 1% appreciation factor and the 1995 Coupe at $11,800 for a - 2% depreciation factor. The same goes for the 1986 Roadster with an average resale price for a +2% appreciation compared with the 1995 Roadster with a $13,900 average resale price showing a -10% depreciation. We are starting to see the earlier C4 models with ‘no change’ or minimal appreciation while the later models in the series continue to show modest depreciation.

1997-2004: Much as with the C4 series, the C5’s are starting to show positive results with virtually all priced at under $25,000. This series represents 24 models with 15 of them showing ‘no change’ or a plus factor in average price in 2010. Among the appreciation leaders are the 1998 and 1999 Roadsters with a +5% appreciation factor.

2005-2009: As expected, all of the C6 Corvettes continue to show depreciation factors, but not at the double digits most registered during 2009. For 2010, the depreciation factor ranged from -3% to -8% excluding the two already shown on the Depreciation Chart. Coupe prices start at $25,400 with the 2005 model and conclude with the 2010 model’s average resale price at $45,000. The 2005 Roadsters are priced at $28,700 and the 2010 Roadsters have an average resale price of $50,700.

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