We’ll be brutally honest. Owning a C3 (third-gen) Corvette is not for the faint of heart.
Throw in a big block engine under hood and wrenching on them becomes even more complicated, to say the least.
Everything is hard to access and it takes twice as long to accomplish simple tasks. Preventative maintenance brings on a whole new meaning. Be prepared for bloody knuckles, as words will fly along with a few choice, ah, tools.
Big block Vettes need constant attention, and it takes an extra special person to keep them in tip-top shape.
For better or for worse, those looking to get a big block Corvette, heed these warnings.
10 Reasons not to buy a big block Corvette
- Expensive. All that exclusivity comes at a price. Doesn't matter, parts or service. Basically, the price goes up any time the word “Vette” is uttered.
- Vacuum System. A notorious problem associated with C3s, winking headlights are just part of the symptoms. It’s not easy to trace leaks (in cabin or engine bay) and the whole car seemingly has to come apart to work on it. Honestly, this was state of the art for GM back in the late ‘60s?
- Exhaust clearance. Unless your C3 has side-pipe exhaust installed, then you know what we’re talking about. Exhaust pipes snake through holes in the frame crossmember and are held by a support that’s bolted to the rear of the transmission. Out back, the pipes have to curve under the differential, only inches from the ground.
- Transmission removal. Brutal. Absolutely the hardest tranny R & R ever encountered. At least cars equipped with TH400 automatics have a removal crossmember to somewhat assist. Either way, access to the bellhousing bolts (especially the ones at 10- and 2-positions) are the least of the problem. The starter and full exhaust system must be completely removed just to get started.
- Brakes. Special rotors riveted to the hubs that must have zero run-out. Add to that the need for stainless steel sleeves in the calipers to help correct factory air bleeding issues. It’s all technical jargon to someone who’s done countless brake jobs on Chevelles and Camaros, but it's more specialty parts not found in any other GM car of the era.
- Heater core replacement. The saying goes that GM built these fiberglass beauties around the heater core. It’s true. Big block combined with Air Conditioning makes for a month-long ordeal. The dash, seats, console - everything has to come apart.
- IRS (Independent Rear Suspension). Cool feature that gives a nimble ride… when everything is brand-spanking new. Not to get too technical (already approaching that), but everything associated with the rear gets complicated in a hurry. Strut rods, half-shafts and lower control arms, along with disk brakes. And to get a 4-wheel alignment (again, more expensive), everything has to be in spec.
- Power Steering Pump and hoses. What a pain. You have to get under the car, then how do you adjust the tension on the belt? At least the alternator belt can be leveraged into place from above. Speaking of the alternator, it is linked to the PS, as the pump’s dual-groove pulley runs the recharging system. Even checking and/or filling the fluid is an adventure, the reservoir being nearly hidden.
- Missing seats. 2-seaters are sporty and full of sex appeal, but a Corvette’s space is limited, literally. Those used to cruising around with the family in tow (think mid-size Chevelle or even pony car Camaro) will have a hard time accommodating all requests for rides. You can only pick one passenger, so it’s either the wife or the kid. You decide who gets mad.
- Mileage. Want to drive a ton? Then you’ll have to pay to play. It’s hard not to love that torque and sound of freedom from the tailpipes. But when it comes to big blocks, any 396-427-454 will come with a MPG penalty versus a small block car. Think of big blocks as the ‘60s era gas-guzzler tax.
If all the above doesn't scare you away, then by all means, get your dream big block Corvette!