When it comes to vintage vehicular beauties, there's nothing quite like classic Chevrolet Corvettes. With the sleek lines, timeless designs, powerful engines, and undeniable swagger, it's no wonder why collectors and enthusiasts alike go gaga over a classic 'Vette. As true crown jewels of the vintage car world with a rich history dating back to the 1950s, Corvettes command attention by exuding sexiness and pure performance on the road.
So, if you want to turn heads and leave everyone in awe, consider getting your hands on a classic Chevrolet Corvette from our top 15 list of the most desirable classic Chevy Corvettes in existence. But, remember that these classic cars are bound to inspire envy – if you manage to snag one, be prepared. You've been warned!
Updated May 7, 2023:The Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most iconic American sports cars as well as one of the most reimagined ones. Rare versions command prices, oftentimes in the millions, and we have taken it upon ourselves to add a few more exciting versions of the definitive American sports car to this list. Some of them are later versions of models already included, while others are obscure one-offs and rare custom cars, made with GM's blessing.
15 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Stingray
The 1967 Corvette L88 Stingray is the "magical" upgrade version of the 1966 Chevrolet. It took everything that made the 1966 Chevy an eye-catching vehicle and elevated it to a new level with impressive power, jaw-dropping performance, and distinctive styling. This beefed-up thundering beast is considered one of the greatest second-generation Corvettes for a good reason. With its 427 cubic-inch V-8 engine (the most powerful engine offered in a Corvette at the time), advanced suspension system, lightweight body, and other special high-performance upgrades, the 1967 Corvette was built for speed.
It officially cranked out a staggering 430 horsepower, but it was making at least over 550 horsepower at 6,400 rpm. The 1967 Corvette L88 Stingray is a true rarity - with only 20 of these road monsters ever produced, it's no surprise that it's highly sought-after and commands a high price (one was auctioned for a staggering $3.4 million).
14 1955 Chevrolet Corvette V-8
Oh, boy, the 1955 Chevrolet Corvette is the ultimate visual feast - it can sweep you off your feet with its looks alone. This first-generation Corvette is a true classic and a symbol of automotive excellence. The 1955 Chevy flaunted a powerful V-8 engine, sporty and aggressive design, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, and impressive performance improvements.
Its 4.3-liter V-8 engine produced 195 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, enabling it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds. And, let's be honest; we're all lucky this car exists at all - if it weren't for the C1's impressive capabilities, it might have faced discontinuation due to the less-than-stellar performance of its predecessors.
13 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Fuel Injected
Corvette's first few models had their fair share of issues (rusk, leaks, electrical malfunctions, and poor build quality), as is expected with any new automaker. Since practice makes perfect, the '55 and '56 models showed some significant improvements over the first generation with increased horsepower and torque, attractive body style, and enhanced suspension.
And just when Corvette fans thought things couldn't get any better, the 1957 model came around and raised the bar even higher by using a Rochester fuel injection unit. Thanks to the improved performance and fuel efficiency compared to carburetted engines employed at the time, the 283 cubic-inch V-8 produced an impressive 283 horsepower. Chevy manufactured 1,040 fuel-injected Corvettes, but only 716 had an engine capable of generating 283 horsepower.
12 1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer
Okay, so here's an entry that may seem ambiguous, but there's a solid reason why the 1988 Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer is one of the most desirable Corvettes on the market. You see, this modified masterpiece was built by Callaway Cars, a company that has made a name for itself by tuning and modifying GM vehicles. The Sledgehammer is their crowning achievement.
After all, the modified version of the 5.7 liter V-8 engine generated an astounding 898 horsepower and 772 pound-feet (1,046 Nm) of torque. The robust engine, coupled with a four-speed automatic transmission, propelled the classic 'Vette to a record top speed of 254.76 mph, a feat that remained unbroken for many years.
11 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Split Window
Raise your hand if you think the 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window is an awesome-looking Corvette classic that exudes nothing but sheer coolness. We mean, just look at that futuristic fastback design with those impressive quad headlamps and the iconic split rear window. Talk about a head-turner introduced nearly 60 years ago. But it wasn't all about stunning looks.
The 1963 Corvette Stingray featured a formidable 327 cubic-inch V-8 engine capable of producing a whopping 375 horsepower. Moreover, the four-speed manual transmission fully allowed drivers to harness the car's impressive performance capabilities. While the 1963 Sting Ray was the first Corvette to be built with a coupe body style, the iconic split window design was unfortunately short-lived, lasting only one year due to visibility concerns.
10 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Although the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport did not have an illustrious racing career, it made a big splash while it was on track and had a lasting impact on the Corvette brand. Chevrolet engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and his team of engineers and mechanics designed and built this limited-production, high-performance version of the Chevrolet Corvette to compete with the Shelby Cobra in racing. It was a top-secret program, originally intended to be produced in quantities of 125 units.
Unfortunately, a ban on factory-supported racing by the American Manufacturer's Association (AMA) meant that the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport program was prematurely shuttered after just five cars were manufactured. The incredibly rare and prized 1963 Corvette Grand Sport's 377 cubic-inch, small-block V-8 engine, modified and tuned for racing, and lightweight fiberglass body allowed it to generate up to 550 horsepower.
9 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1
The 1969 Corvette ZL-1 is perhaps one of the rarest and most highly sought-after 'Vettes ever made. You could say that it is a true automotive unicorn since only two of these beasts were ever built. But the ZL-1's rarity isn't the only thing that sets it apart. It was powered by an all-aluminum version of Chevrolet's big block V-8 engine producing an impressive 430 horsepower.
This, however, was a very conservative rating, as it turned out, the actual output was somewhere between 560 and 585 horsepower. This advanced engine was fitted with high-flow cylinder heads and a high-rise intake manifold, giving it an extra boost of roaring power compared to regular production V-8 engines. The same engine was used in some versions of the McLaren M12 race car, which saw limited success on the racetrack.
8 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Manta Ray
Just like the original, the 1961 Mako Shark provided a glimpse at what the C2 Corvette Stingray would look like, and the 1963 Mako Shark II shed light on the C3 generation. The daring concept was, eventually, introduced in 1968, and once again, Bill Mitchell played a key role in the end result. A year later, in 1969, the Mako Shark II was transformed into the Manta Ray, an even more radically-styled version of the car. The car lived up to its name with sharp edges and an aggressive front splitter.
A new grille and side-exhaust pipes were also added, but by far the most unusual feature was the headlights, covered by lids that would mirror their reflection. The striking looks were complimented by the ZL-1's 427 cubic-inch, all-aluminum V-8, conservatively rated at 430 horsepower. According to the latest reports, the only Manta Ray in existence shares ground with the '61 Mako Shark at the GM Heritage Center Collection.
7 1961 Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark
We have two words to describe the 1961 Corvette Mako Shark's design: bold and dramatic. Larry Shinoda and Bill Mitchel designed this classic 'Vette as a concept car to showcase the design direction for the next generation of Corvettes. The low, sloping hood and split rear window gave it a sleek and streamlined appearance, while its massive front fenders - intended to evoke the image of a shark's gills - added a touch of ferocity.
It is one of the most influential and important concepts Corvettes ever made since it paved the way for future designs of Corvettes. You could say that the Mako Shark was ahead of its time - much like the ocean's top predator. It's been more than 60 years, but the Mako Shark still swims strongly in the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts everywhere (you see what we did here).
6 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 RPO Z06
Zora Arkus Duntov created the Z06 Corvette in 1963. Dubbed the RPO (Regular Production Option) Z06, it was initially, offered as a package for the base C2 Corvette, to people who wanted more on-track performance. The package was available only on cars with the 372 L84, fuel-injected engine, which put out 360 horsepower and rocketed the car to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
The package added beefier anti-roll bars, dual-master cylinder, vacuum brake booster, sintered metallic brake lines, heavy-duty shocks, and springs, and upgraded brakes with active cooling. The 20 US gallon fuel tank was replaced by a larger 36.5-gallon piece for longer track sessions. Only 199 examples of the C2 Corvette received the Z06 treatment. The treatment was exclusive to the 1963 coupe, which also meant all C2 Z06s were split-window.
5 1973 Chevrolet Corvette Baldwin Motion Mako Shark
You normally wouldn't think much of a smog-era American car, but this C3 Corvette is one of the few exceptions and for a good reason. The "Coca Cola" (C3) Corvette may be considered one of the best-looking generations, but some people were disappointed it didn't have more in common with the 1969 Manta Ray concept. Joel “Mr. Motion” Rosen - founder of Motion Performance, teamed up with hot-rodder Joe Silva to create a C3 Corvette conversion package, transforming the American sports car into something a lot more exotic-looking.
An all-new, fiberglass body was designed, which replaced almost all C3 Corvette body panels. The front was completely redesigned, featuring fixed, round headlights, resembling those on a Shelby Daytona. The 5.7-liter Chevy 350 V-8 was also tweaked to produce 475 horsepower instead of the original 400. Only three such Corvettes were ever built, making this one very sought-after.
4 2003 Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06
If you are interested in performance on a budget, the Chevy C5 Corvette is currently the biggest bang for the buck of all Corvette generations. The fifth-generation Corvette brought many firsts for the brand. It featured hydroformed steel chassis, which was a couple of times more rigid than the one underpinning the C4 Corvette. The peak of the model was, of course, the Z06, and for 2003, it got even better.
The familiar, LS6 V-8 engine retained its displacement of 5.7 liters but received a bump in power from the original 385 to 405 horsepower. Although the 2001 and 2003 C5 Z06 shared the same, Tremec T56, a six-speed manual with 3.42 rear gears, the bump in power was enough for a 0 to 60 mph sprint in as little as 3.9 seconds. The quarter-mile went by in 12.4 seconds at over 116 mph (187 km/h).
3 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
This baby was the product of a collaboration between GM and Group Lotus, a British sports car manufacturer (which was owned by GM at the time). The ZR-1 featured a number of advanced design elements, including a modified version of the standard Corvette engine equipped with a Lotus-designed double overhead cam valvetrain.
This enabled the engine to produce significantly more power than the standard Corvette engine, giving the ZR-1 impressive performance capabilities. It was powered by a 5.7 liter V-8 engine that generated 375 horsepower, making the 'Vette capable of reaching top speeds of 179 mph (288 km/h). It goes without saying that the advanced technology and impressive performance capabilities of the 1990 Corvette ZR-1 at the time have cemented its place as a highly sought-after Corvette classic.
2 2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The 2001 Corvette Z06 was the impeccable combination of style and performance at the time. And, it wasn't just a pretty face - it had the brains and brawn to back up its attractive looks. Its LS6 engine, a 5.7-liter V-8 beast, pumped out a dazzling 385 horsepower.
The impressive power of the Z06 and six-speed manual transmission allowed it to achieve a top speed of approximately 176 mph and a 0-60 mph time of around 4.5 seconds. Overall, the powerful engine and enhanced suspension made it a thrill to drive, while its sleek, low-slung design turned heads wherever it went.
1 1993 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1
When it comes to collectible vehicles, there are two schools of thought. To some collectors, the early examples are more valuable, while others prefer the later, more refined versions of a certain model. Just like the C5 Z06, the C4 ZR-1 boasted some changes over the years.
For 1993, the C4 ZR-1 got more power out of the Lotus-developed LT5, engine. The DOHC V-8 now packed 405 horsepower instead of earlier models' 375. Peak torque was set at 385 pound-feet (522 Nm). Together with a ZF, a six-speed manual, 0 to 60 mph went by in 4.4 seconds on to a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h).
Q: What is a classic Corvette worth?
The value of a vintage Corvette can vary widely since it depends on numerous factors, such as the specific model, rarity, and overall condition.
Q: Why are classic Corvettes cheap?
It is because GM built a lot of vehicles during that time. Take an example of C3s as GM manufactured over half a million of these cars.
Q: Who bought the $3 million Corvette?
Rick Hendrick, owner of NASCAR's Hendrick Motorsports team, made headlines when he purchased the first C8 Corvette Z076 for a whopping $3 million at a 2020 auction.
Q: What is the most desirable classic Corvette?
The most desirable Corvette model is subjective since there are immensely desirable models, such as 1955 Corvette V-8, 1963 Corvette, and 1961 Corvette Mako Shark.
Q: How to figure the value of your Corvette?
You can do that by checking online pricing guides, comparing the values of similar models sold recently, or consulting with a classic car appraiser.
Q: What is the most popular classic Corvette year?
The 1979 Corvette is the most popular classic Corvette year, with 53,807 units sold.