Looking to buy a Corvette between the years of 1984-1989.


Asked by Jun 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM about the 1986 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I am looking for an older Corvette to restore. I know the basics about a car and have some experience with changing the oil, starter and replacing some cosmetics inside the car. I am not sure what to look for when I am buying a Corvette between these years. I have done some research to learn about them, but I haven't yet received an opinion from someone else. I am thinking of purchasing a car from a southern state such as Florida or Arizona because there will be little or no rust. I don't know what to look for when I am buying this type of car or what I should be looking for. Are there certain problems to watch out for with this type of vehicle?
This is a big investment of time, money and energy while hoping to have some fun with it.

13 Answers

Tom Demyan

You want to have good maintenance records ,low mileage ,garaged kept, numbers match, if possible. If there is a reliable Corvette mechanic in town, I would pay him to look the car over and list what he finds wrong. All the research in the world won't be much help if you have never been around these cars and know what to look for. Check out this website! ....http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/tech/buying.html

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Matt Hill

Florida would not be a great state to purchase from just because you are looking for minimal rust as it has a very wet climate and lots of shore line where salt spray wrecks havoc on any metal. One thing I look at when purchasing a car is the engine/ engine bay, if its really clean then you can almost bet that the car is well maintained if its real dirty and grimy then their is a good chance the maintenance was lacking in some way.

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CJ Michaels

i could recommend staying away from any corvette with a crossfire fuel injection system (that may have only been the 84 in ur case)...(just stay away from 84's they had quite a few common issues) im gunna do a list 85: the engine had an issue of shutting off when it got to operating temp, making u buy better replacement parts, the idle air control valve was terrible 86 and up they finally got them running properly, and had any other natural chevy problem

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Determine if the current owner is the original owner and ask the obvious questions. Then ask if any modifications were performed on the engine, and exhaust system. A friend of mine with your level of experience purchased a late 80's model corvette. The main problem was he could keep a starter in working order on the vehicle for any length of time. I finally grabbed a shop manuel and discovered the exhaust system had been modified. Not being bad enough, the heat shield around the starter had been removed and discarded. The result was the exhaust system was frying the starter. After making another heat shield and wrapping the starter with thermal material all was well, although rigged. The main problem with these vehicle is things are cramped enough. Major modifications by good intentioned people without the proper knowledge can cause headaches down the road. Make sure the vehicle has not been significantly modified.

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try not to get somethhing that needs a lot of work , #1 its a corvette & things get expensive real fast with these cars. #2 it's a computer control vehicle which means there more to go wrong. #3 they don't offer much performace wise. If you want to build a musclecar go with something like a chevelle or nova, there's tons of parts availible for these cars & they're much cheaper. On the other hand if it has to be a vette go with a mid 80s- 89 , parts are plentiful but a lil pricey. I would price some wear & tear parts for this car before you buy it , like tires & brakes & compare that to other cars you might be interested in. either way, good luck !

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Al Self

The very first thing you want to ask yourself is, are you comfoftable with only haveing two seats. One common thing many Corvette owners do not think about before buying, is the fact that you will be stuck with that Chick magnet image of only a front seat. When you want to show of your creation you must drive more than one car to shows if you want to take some family along. If you want to take the Grandchildern, or freinds out to show off, you have to get them to follow you. Dont get me wrong, I wouldn't build a 4 door, or a van, but the lack of the back seat can be a missed advantage. Still the Corvette is the best project to build bar none, but look for a convertable as values are mutch better. Dont spend to little as you will end up with a pile of junk, but dont spend to much as you will end up discontent. If you just start with the years you have mention you will have the right value for your money, and the right car for the drive, or cruise. You are starting somthing you might not be able to ever get out of.

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Rob Vukelich

All the answers above have valid points. I bought a new 84. I was apparently lucky as I had no problems for 11 years. My suggestion though would be an 87. First year for the 17" wheels and other cosmetic upgrades. It'll have a bit more modern look with that alone. And other improvements. I also had a 92 which was the newer rounded out version of the C4 and the BIG jump in HP to 300. Good luck

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Thank you to everyone who posted comments to my question. I will take everything that was said under consideration into furthering my process into buying one or not. It is nice to know that there are people who know a thing or two about purchasing a car.

Matt Hill

Heck another thing you might want to consider is getting a c5 as they can be had for not too much more money and have one of the most reliable engines gm has ever built.


I have a 1970 Lt1 for sale numbers matching eith 11,035 miles. Stored ic inclosed trailer since 1999,just got it out everything runs great.not original paint and interior was painted when I got it ,need to go back to original .car has great potentional.only 1287 Lt1 built in 1970 this one is #850 if anyone is interested contact me at 1-906-291-1246 ask for loran


Best buy right now is a 2001 Z06. Never met anyone who likes the C4. They are a real pain getting in and out of. Computer and digital stuff on them are unreliable. Seats are cramped and the leather cracks. They are old news. If you are not a mechanic with access to good tools, forget about restoration. Get a good C5 and customize it to what you like, there are a ton of aftermarket parts that can give it more character and eye appeal. Good luck with whatever you get. Just make sure it is a Corvette.


I have a 1989 Red/Red convertible with 70,216 miles that would be a good car for you. Everything works. Top and headliner were replaced in 2009 the air conditioning has been upgraded and the compressor replaced 2011. Many new parts (I have all the service records for the 17 years that I have been the caretaker). The car is always garaged (the garage floor has a plastic vapor barrier with carpeting over it) there is no rust anywhere on the car. It is currently listed on CarGurus. I am in Camillus, NY (Syracuse area). Contact me for more info 315- 415-7949 (leave message and I promise to get back to you) or e-mail: jcaryl@twcny.rr.com


Hi, I also have a vette for sale. Most comfortable car my brother and I have driven, and he drove a lot of cars. It's a 1984 Red/Red Targa top convertible w/ ~97000 miles. I have it listed on Cars.com Feel free to call me 631-336-1278. Selling it for $3,500

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