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1970 CHEVROLET Corvette Stingray 350 Convertible

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1970 CHEVROLET Corvette Stingray 350 Convertible

Background

In 1967, adopting the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to car development, Chevrolet took the engine options, chassis and running gear from the second generation C2 Corvette Sting Ray to underpin the new C3. But the body and the interior were completely reworked adopting the pronounced, muscular wheel arches and high rear quarters from the Mako Shark II concept car.

Like the earlier version, the C3 was available as a convertible - like the one you see for sale here - or as a coupe. The convertible came with a folding soft top but a hard top was also offered as an option. Unusually the coupe could also be opened up, with the rear window being removable as well as the roof panels, leaving a T-bar between the windscreen and rear frame.

Buyers could choose pretty much any engine as long as it was a V8! To start with there were two “small block” 327cu-in (5.4-litre) engines of either 300 or 350bhp or four “big block” 427cu-in (7.0-litre) V8s ranging from 390 to 435bhp which necessitated a domed bonnet.

In 1969, in a move that you imagine cost GM’s marketing division thousands of dollars in agency fees, a finger-space was dropped and a letter uncapitalised to give it a new name, the Stingray! The suffix name continued until the 1976 model year, after which it was quietly retired.

Perhaps more inspired, from a marketing point of view, was for GM to also lease three special edition Corvette Stingrays to the Apollo 12 astronauts for $1 a year. These “Astrovettes” had a special gold and black colour scheme, specified by Lunar Module pilot Alan Bean.

Both the small and big block engines were increased in capacity from around 1970 to 350cu-in (5.7-litre) and 454cu-in (7.4-litre) respectively with 370bhp and 460bhp maximum power outputs. Production of the C3 Corvette continued until 1982, by which time well over half a million cars had been built.

The Vehicle

Built at GM’s St Louis Missouri factory in May 1970, this Corvette Stingray Convertible has a 350cu-in (5.7-litre) engine. During that year this small block V8 was offered in two power ratings; 300bhp - which this one is - and 350bhp for the higher performance motor. The car came as standard with a wide-ratio 4-speed manual gearbox.

Very little is known about its 48 years in the USA, other than it was listed for sale at a Mecum auction at Kissimmee, Florida in January 2013.

The Stingray was imported to the UK in mid 2018 by a successful chef and restaurateur from near Minehead in Somerset. He worked on the car throughout the rest of the year as time allowed, ordering numerous parts from the USA and UK-based Corvette specialists before finally getting it through a UK MOT in November. Following receipt of a validating letter from the Classic Corvette Club, he was then able to have the car re-registered in the UK in January 2019.

He’d bought the car partly for business purposes, to help promote his restaurant, but eventually determined that it really wasn’t in keeping with the fine dining, French cuisine that he served, and so he put it up for sale - the Corvette that is, not the restaurant!

Meanwhile, a self-drive classic car hire owner in Northumberland was looking for something to replace a Citroen 2CV which wasn’t attracting many bookings. A little while later, the two men met on the M1 and struck a deal to exchange the vehicles.

Having done brilliantly with a convertible Mustang, the new owner thought that the white Corvette would also serve his business well - much of which is for weddings - but he likened it to Newcastle United’s Brazilian striker Joelinton. Expensive, exotic and very capable, but just hasn’t been doing the business!

Although clearly something of a loss to muscle-car fans and would-be bride-grooms across Tyneside, the rest of the country now has a chance to gain, as this matching numbers Corvette Stingray Convertible in a gorgeous original colour combination comes back onto the market.

On the Outside

Finished in its factory-specification “Classic White”, the bodywork and paint is very strong having been repainted, we believe, 8-9 years ago. A bit like our own “Old English White” this American white has a very slight creaminess to it and just looks fabulous on a car with a bit of chrome around it. The fact that the highly visible interior is a luscious red just adds to the appeal - but more of that “On the Inside”.

A light coloured car usually shows up the flaws and blemishes easily but there’s only a couple of things worth addressing. There is a small patch on the upper bonnet on the right hand side where paint has obviously flaked off and has been touched in or oversprayed. The colour match is good but it needs a little filler or another layer or two of paint to build it back up to level. There’s also a small chip on the door but otherwise there’s just the usual level of age lines and minor undulations you might expect.

As we already mentioned, this Corvette C3 is early enough to still sport a few touches of chrome around the car. From the front bumper and the trims surrounding the front grilles, to the window surround, door mirrors, sill finishers and rear bumper - not to mention the wheel adornments - all in great looking chrome.

The white folding soft top has a black fabric inner lining but appears to be vinyl on the outside, giving it increased weather protection. It fits well and again is thought to be only 8 or 9 years old but sitting over the original frame.

This Corvette has very appropriate looking 15-inch Rallye-style steel wheels, complete with chromed spinners and beauty rings. All of which seem to be in good condition and are fitted with matching BFGoodrich tyres with the lettering picked out in white - American style!

On the Inside

For a convertible, the interior is every bit as important as the outside when it comes to condition - as it’s often on show. This car left St Louis with a red vinyl interior and that’s pretty much what it has now, albeit one that we think was renewed 8-9 years ago. It’s likely too that leather has been used here and there in place of vinyl - such as on the centre armrest and steering wheel.

We’ve seen some red interiors where the trimmer has really gone to town and covered just about everything in red, but here they’ve still left enough surfaces, trims and items in black to ensure it’s not overdone.

Aside from a small crack in the corner of the dash by the left-hand A-pillar, there doesn’t seem to be any undue wear or damage to the interior upholstery or trim. The carpeting, also in red, looks fairly clean and intact too.

With just the two huge principal instruments taking up all the space in the binnacle, the rest of the dials are clustered in the compact and neat centre console. Below these dials is a retro-looking stereo, utilising the original fascia but with a modern display, digital tuning capability and auxiliary input.

Either side of the lower centre console is the fibre-optic based lamp monitoring system, which must have seemed ahead of its time back in 1970 before its simplicity was overtaken by electronic solutions.

There are a couple of greenbacks (dollar bills) in the ashtray - supplied at no extra cost - we don’t know if these were put there by the hire car company as a taster of the US of A or whether they were left there by the last American owner. Either way, it’s a nice touch and worth keeping there in case you need to tip the parking valet.

And then down past the manual gear shift with the cue-ball knob, there’s a written reminder that you’ve got a thumping 300 horsepower to play with. That’s 60 more than the contemporary E-type and about 20 on top of Aston Martin’s original DBS - you’d probably have to go Italian to beat it - either way you’ll be paying much, much more for the privilege.

Underneath

The engine bay is honest looking - there have been previous attempts to lift its appearance by repainting the block Chevy orange and putting some white paint on the exhaust manifolds but these are now developing a patina and there are tiny traces of surface rust on some of the components. The rocker covers appear to be the original aluminum (sic) items rather than having been substituted with chrome, but the air cleaner gives the touch of bling you’d be expecting on such a motor. Recent additions and changes to the ignition, power steering and brakes can be clearly seen.

The undersides of this car appear undamaged and relatively clean considering but there is a fair bit of surface rust across some of the chassis members and suspension components - although nothing that appears serious. The floor pans seem intact though, with a fair coating of underseal. The twin exhaust is likely made of aluminized steel as it looks largely in good order, but has now started to rust and there is a small hole in one of the back boxes.

Unless you fit a rear-mounted luggage rack or like to travel very light, don’t expect to go away in this Corvette for more than a night or two. It doesn’t have a trunk - the back end is mostly a fuel tank - so the only space you have is behind the seats and underneath where the folding roof is stowed.

In May 2020 work included a new master cylinder together with a servo and handbrake overhaul and a new viscous fan assembly.

History Highlights

The Corvette has a current MOT valid until June 2021, having been put in for UK testing just twice; in late 2018 prior to UK registration and then in June last year. Judging by the identical mileage recorded against both tests, it would appear that the odometer is no longer working.

The history file isn’t huge, there seems to be nothing from the car’s time in the USA but pretty much everything has been retained since it came into the UK nearly 3 years ago.

Notable items include:

Jul 2018 - power steering renewed, conversion to power assisted brakes

Oct 2018 - ignition renewal (plugs, leads, distributor, rotor), hand brake, suspension

Feb 2019 - various repairs and commissioning work - Xmoor Cars

May 2020 - rebuilt rear brake calipers

The US Mecum auction listing from early 2013 mentioned its new paint, top and interior - so we can assume that the car was probably restored during 2012.

The date of manufacture letter from Classic Corvette Club UK is included, which helped to get the DVLA to register it appropriately.

The Corvette comes with a period Owner’s Manual and two sets of keys; one original set and one more recently cut.

What We Think

It might take more than a little imagination to believe that you’re cruising the strip in Las Vegas or driving Route 66 when you’re nipping out on the occasional dry and sunny weather day here in the UK, but just the sound that this Stingray makes will give you something of those feels regardless.

Although neither of its two UK owners kept the Corvette for very long, both chose to move it on for business reasons and not because of how it looks or performs. It runs really well and of all the cars in the vendor’s business, it is the only one that started first time with no fuss after winter storage.

According to our data, average asking prices for C3 Corvettes were steadily rising until a couple of years ago when they started to cool. Given that this is an early chrome-trimmed C3 Stingray Convertible with the desirable manual gearbox, is in good order and has been restored within the last decade, we think it will fetch between £23,000 and £28,000.

Take a look at what you’d have to pay for this car’s European contemporaries - we’ve already mentioned some of them - and you’ll see that classic American muscle like this represents amazingly good value for a truly visceral experience.

Viewing is always encouraged (within Govt. guidelines of course), and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

philternent

  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Odometer Reading: 02648
  • Chassis Number: 194670S410599
  • Engine: 5700
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: White
  • Interior: Red

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