Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/5/19 10:25 a.m.

You may be surprised to hear that values for the later C3 Vettes are on the rise. Aside from stores of people hoarding L82s, what's so terrible about the Cross-Fire system? 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/5/19 10:50 a.m.

The nicknames I heard for Cross-Fire was "Mis-Fire" and "Cease-Fire". By all accounts, they never ran properly off the showroom floor. The other issue is, they are stuck to an engine that's pretty mediocre, so if you get it running properly, it's till a wheezy, low-compression engine with a tiny cam (0.403" lift, 204 degree duration!). Put better heads and cam on it, and now the Crossfire is the choke point because the intake manifolds ports are 2/3rds the size of the stock cylinder head port size and the tuning is pretty rudimentary (there are chips and guys bump fuel pressure but it's still early 1980s tech). I suppose you could probably Megasquirt it at that point to get some control, but it all seems like more effort than payoff, rather than throwing an RPM Air-Gap with a regular 4-barrel carb or even one of those FiTech/Holley drop-on style carburetor EFI dealies. Also, Crossfire was only backed by autos, and the earlier more trouble-prone 700R4s at that.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
9/5/19 11:26 a.m.

Yes, apparently the Cross-Fire cars were notoriously troublesome, so I'd stay away from the '82.  But IMO, despite how sad the performance was by todays' standards, the '80-'81 are still among my favorite Corvettes of all time.  I'd take one of those over a '63 or whatever any day. 

My first somewhat "expensive" weekend toy was a 1980.  Wish I could quickly find a picture to post.  I bought it back in 1998 or so.  Through a bit of investigative work, I found out it had been originally owned by a local drug dealer, which explained why it was pimped out in 1980 style decor.  It had the big bulge (L88 style??) hood, a spoiler on back, and best of all it had a tri-color stripe all around it, straight out of the late '70s/early '80s.  The car was gold and the stripe was orange/tan/beige...or something like that.  I had the stripe painted all black and it actually looked pretty good overall.  Engine had some work done to it, so it was faster than stock....which isn't saying much.

I was supposed to use it in my wedding as our ceremony drive-away car, but it was pouring like crazy that day so I left it at home.  We went back to the venue several weeks later.  My wife put her dress back on and I was in my tux.  We had pictures taken with the car.  They were awesome, so the '80 Corvette is now forever part of my life.  Sold the car in 2000 or so, but still want to get another one some day.  I love 'em.  To me, everything was just right.  I like the chin spoiler and lip on the tail much better than the '77-'79.  I also love the wheels.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
9/5/19 12:12 p.m.

My problems with C3s are mostly ergonomics being weird and the feeling like you're driving a kit car rather than something one of the biggest manufacturers in the world put together. I don't dislike them, i just dislike them when they're asking a lot of money for the more common ones. Even though they're becoming rarer due to age, it sort of blows my mind that some people are asking the same or more money for crappy C3s as people ask for C4s and C5s which are objectively about 2 and 3 times better. cheeky

I do kind of want a C3 vert based almost entirely on its size/shape/looks, but it'd have to be fairly cheap. Like 4k for a decent runner. If it was broke down, needed interior, needed top, bunch of cracked fiberglass, etc... sorry, but in my mind that's a $1000 car. Most of the owners of said E36 M3piles seem to think otherwise. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
9/5/19 1:35 p.m.

My wife had a minty '78 L-82 when we met.  I had never driven one before, and I was somewhat surprised to find that it drove like a truck.  Decent off-the-line punch, but not much up top.  The RX-7 was a couple seconds quicker in the quarter mile (13.6 vs. 16).  We ended up selling the 'Vette for about what she had in it.  We kept the RX-7 since it wasn't worth much.   Looking back, maybe we should have kept the Corvette too, but it would be just one more car that doesn't get driven enough.

chaparral
chaparral Dork
9/5/19 1:50 p.m.

A 2-seat car that's heavier than a B-body Caprice and comes with a "it'll make a nice SBC after you replace every component in it" engine? Why not?

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/5/19 2:29 p.m.
chaparral said:

A 2-seat car that's heavier than a B-body Caprice and comes with a "it'll make a nice SBC after you replace every component in it" engine? Why not?

I'm also not sure which frame and suspension is a better package if you want to build an autocross car if given a choice between the Caprice and C3.

They do look nice, though. Better than the C4, inside and out. I'd rather use a C4 as a track weapon, but a C3 would be good for cruising.

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/5/19 2:35 p.m.
chaparral said:

A 2-seat car that's heavier than a B-body Caprice

Are you sure about that?

Regardless of the weight, I can't think of a single good reason to own one. Even as the prices bottomed out and I was seeing them for $2500 I wasn't tempted. I do think they look nice, though.

dclafleur
dclafleur Reader
9/5/19 2:48 p.m.

I've worked on several crossfire equipped cars, it is just a TBI.  The biggest issue is that it is a couple of year part and it's on a really weak sauce SBC.  If you want to add power to the SBC it is just as easy to replace the Crossfire as it is to port it and tune it.  One in decent shape (admittedly somewhat rare these days) isn't any less reliable than any other engine of that period (granted not the greatest endorsement). 

slowbird
slowbird Reader
9/5/19 3:53 p.m.

You might as well throw a 454 in it...like this one cheeky

https://engineswapdepot.com/?p=45449

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
9/5/19 4:10 p.m.

I owned a 78 L82 4 speed car in anniversary paint with Oyster white leather.  That car gets attention like a scantily dressed model.  It just doesn’t deliver on the looks though.  The clutch is way too heavy to enjoy on longer outtings.  The engine makes the right sounds but underwhelms, and it rides like a 1963 Corvette, since it basically is one underneath.

If you want a car for presence and appeal definitely.  If you want strangers to strike up conversations at stop lights and gas stations, get it.  They are nostalgia on wheels but a great or even a good car?  Probably not.

Kreb
Kreb UberDork
9/5/19 4:39 p.m.

I'm shocked at how much $ C3s are fetching. Those cars epitomized low-quality malaise-era crap for so many years. Not long ago you could find a cherry one for 6 grand. Now worn out ones are going for 5 figures. I'm not too good to have one, but then I like Vegas too. (double meaning intended).

barefootskater
barefootskater Dork
9/5/19 5:00 p.m.

I had a crossfire C4 for a bit and it ran just fine. As stated, it is just a TBI, and anyone familiar with early chevy injection shouldnt have too much difficulty with them. Not powerhouses by any means, but reliable enough. 

As far as C3s though, around here prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. A rough runner will cost $5k or so. $20k for a nice one. Crazy. Pretty though. In my money-is-no-object-dream-garage I'd have one or two, and a C4 as well.

P3PPY
P3PPY Reader
9/5/19 7:50 p.m.

I have nothing to add here other than I had the top down and a C3 pulled up behind me at a stop sign today. I gave him a thumbs up as I turned and he made it rumble for me. That made my day :)

maj75
maj75 HalfDork
9/5/19 7:55 p.m.

C3 prices are not rising.  I follow the market closely and have an early one at a consignment dealer.

If you think their prices are high, compare a similar year Camaro or Chevelle.  Late model C3s are cheap.  The problem with them is rust.  Although the body won’t rust, the frame and unpainted birdcage rust just like every other early muscle car.  The birdcage is just far more expensive to restore than a comparable steel bodies car.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/6/19 8:15 a.m.
maj75 said:

C3 prices are not rising.  I follow the market closely and have an early one at a consignment dealer.

If you think their prices are high, compare a similar year Camaro or Chevelle.  Late model C3s are cheap.  The problem with them is rust.  Although the body won’t rust, the frame and unpainted birdcage rust just like every other early muscle car.  The birdcage is just far more expensive to restore than a comparable steel bodies car.

Generally when working on Car Catchers, we use Hagerty's Valuation Tool. Here's what they show for late model C3s, which shows a general upswing in values, especially on No 1 and No 2 cars. I don't point this out to be contentious, of course.

Personally, I love the looks of the late-model C3s with the hatch glass and revised rear bumper, but that's me, and I'm strange. 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
9/6/19 9:21 a.m.

I'm just as strange as you, Jordan.  I agree the last of the C3s are in no way, shape or form performance cars.  They're car show cruisers, but they're gorgeous...in my opinion of course.  Besides, I'd resto mod the E36 M3 out of it if I could, or buy one already done.  Slap a more modern LT/LS series engine and 6 speed in it, upgrade suspension and brakes and now we're talking....

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/6/19 4:26 p.m.

I drove a (particularly scabby) Solstice a few days ago.

As I sat in it I thought, it feels like a mini C5.

Then as I drove away I thought, and it drives like a mini C3.

Do they all drive like that or was it just because this was a thoroughly beaten example?

grover
grover HalfDork
9/6/19 5:05 p.m.

I had a 79 as a senior in high school, even then I thought it was sort of half baked. It was neat to watch the gas gauge move when you floored it. They’re strange cars to me- I like them ok, but they’re also sort of redneck. 

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
9/7/19 10:14 a.m.

I had a ‘76 with a swapped in big block (garden variety mid ‘60’s 396).  It had well finished body with the ‘82 nose and tail pieces and an L88 hood.  It got lots of compliments, drove well after I got the rear suspension aligned, and was pretty amazingly reliable. Boy oh boy did it ever drink it though.  8 mpg or there about.  Two happiest days I had (just like a boat), day I bought it and day I sold it.

 

oh, and massive bonus points for a Daytona Widebody kit with wheels actually wide enough to fill the flares.  C3’s look good flared to the max.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
9/7/19 11:45 a.m.

A quick look at the Minneapolis Craigslist turned up a couple C3 cars in the $6,000 to $7,000 range but most are $10,000 and up.  The low price point appears to be early C4 cars now.

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