5 Affordable Corvettes to Buy and Drive

New Corvette enthusiasts are often at a loss to decide what year and precise model they should buy.  You should always let your personal tastes be the final judge because you will be spending a lot of money on the car and it should reflect your preferences.

If you want to drive your Corvette on the road frequently, check out these five models. All of them are relatively affordable, may offer some upside investment potential for the future, and are a good value among similar sports cars.

(Estimated values courtesy of Corvette Market magazine.) 

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1975-1982 C3 Coupe ($9,000 - $20,000)

1979 Corvette Coupe
From 1975-1982, the basic C3 Corvette had from 165 to 230 horsepower. That makes these the last of the older Corvettes to languish with prices under $10,000. That's good news for collectors who are willing to invest a little more under the hood. General Motors

The second half of the 1970s is not a fondly remembered time. Engine power was low at the time (just 165-230 horsepower) and interior design was dreadful. But these Corvettes can be retrofitted with more powerful engines and updated interiors, and they are the last affordable classic ‘Vettes. Think about Mark Hamill and the movie ​Corvette Summer and you get the idea.

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1984-1988 C4 Coupe ($5,500 - $10,000)

1988 Corvette Coupe
The 1984-1988 C4 coupe has the distinction of being the least expensive Corvette in the world these days. But these cars came with 230 to 250 horsepower and can be fun to autocross or just drive for enjoyment. General Motors

The early C4 Corvettes were all coupes, and they have the least investment potential of any Corvette ever made. But if you want a ‘Vette for the autocross course and the open road, these sleek models feature 230 to 250 horsepower and a more modern suspension than the classics. Plus, you can leave a C4 parked outside without worrying about losing it. 

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1990-1995 C4 ZR1 ($20,000 - $40,000)

1995 Corvette ZR1 Coupe
The ZR1 brought ultra-high performance to the C4 line, and it's more affordable than a Callaway twin-turbo model. If you want to say you have a ZR1, but can't afford the ticket price of a C6, this is your car. GM

The option code ZR1 will always make a Corvette lover’s hair stand on end. These coupes, produced towards the end of the C4 line, range from 375 to 405 horsepower, and you can find many that are still in good condition. Cars with any potential to become classics sell for the lowest prices when they’re 10-20 years old, so these are at their most affordable right now. 

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1964-1965 C2 327/250 Coupe ($33,000 - $60,000)

1964 Corvette Coupe
The basic 250 horsepower coupes are the most affordable remaining C2 Corvettes. Their value is still high, but aficionados who want a vintage Corvette should act soon. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The most beautiful Corvettes in history are the ones from 1963-1967. A basic 250 horsepower coupe is the most affordable Corvette from that era – although “affordable” is a relative term in this case. You’ll spend the price of a nice new car to own one of these pleasant Corvettes, but it’s still a lot less than the price of an1967 427 with 430 horsepower. Yet your investment will be secure – these cars will not drop in value. 

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1958-1961 C1 283/230 Convertible ($40,000 - $80,000)

1961 Corvette convertible
This 1961 Corvette convertible came with a 283 cubic inch engine that produced 230 horsepower. These are the most affordable of the first generation Corvettes, so if you're looking for those classic lines this is the car you want. Jeff Zurschmeide

If you want the ultimate classic Corvette, your last chance to pick one up for less than the price of an average house is fading. The basic Corvette convertibles from the late 1950s and early 1960s offer you all the beauty and body styling, and really, at this point, who cares how fast they are? If you plan to race your C1, then chances are good that price is already no object for you. For a street machine, 230 horsepower is more than enough to enjoy this fantastic piece of automotive history.

Updated by Sarah Shelton