My Car Quest

April 14, 2024

Is Any Stock Looking Corvette Worth $3 Million?

by Wallace Wyss –

I not only remember when the ’69 Corvette came out, I wrote the 1969 Corvette brochure, I owned one, in yellow. But with a small block engine. Now of course a 427 big block was available but I wanted a little gas mileage (even in those days). But now the word is spreading that a 1969 Corvette ZL1 convertible is coming up for auction. One of two I realize that two cars out of several thousand made in ’69 is rare and that the ZL1, an aluminum block, is rare and cost $4,700 as an option back then but I think talk of this car being worth millions is ridiculous.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible

I consider the 1967 L88-code, 427-cubic-inch big-block engine version that sold at auction for $2.7M ridiculous too. But the ZL1 is much rarer. Why were so few ZL1s ordered? Because twice the stock price was hard to wrap your mind around.

Here’s some Corvettes that to me are worth more:

– An SR2 that was a ’56 show car of which three were made. One tamer than the other two. But dammit it was a weak attempt at a factory race car.

– The Corvette SS. Not the magnesium bodied race car, this was a sorta copy of the SR2, missing for many years and restored but there’s an ownership problem that stops it from breaking out into the open.

– A factory concept car with some dream car additions like the outside pipes car of a couple GM executives. At least it was an attempt to get some of the dream car stuff on a regular car.

– Any Corvette that raced at Le Mans like the Briggs Cunningham Corvette.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible

This 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible, due to cross the block at RM Sotheby’s in Arizona next month has never been offered for public sale. It was last sold in 2007, when the current owner bought it from the original owner. It was restored by Kevin Mackay in 2014 and was certified by Bloomington Gold as the first of the two ZL1s produced. The auction estimate is $2.6 to 3.0 million.

My argument is that some collectors go over the top just to have the most expensive of anything ever offered; for the bragging rights. I relate cars more to the personalities behind them such as the Mercedes 300SLR coupe that sold for several million, it was the only 300SLR racer made into a gullwing coupe; it was made for Ing. Uhlenhaut who engineered the 300SL, it was his personal car to take skiing. So dammit you are buying it as a tribute to him. That car I consider a tribute car to the man that engineered it; and customized it.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible

Same with Shelby’s two twin Paxton SuperCobras. One was made for him to drive, it had to have an automatic because an old leg operation gave him pain to drive a stick. It had two sets of gauges (left over from his pilot days). He had adventures with it. There were two of them, the other was accidentally driven off a cliff. So that car I can see spending over a million on, you’re buying a tribute to Shelby, a tribute to the Cobra really, built to order by Shelby but to think this Corvette is worth as much as that, I say no. If it was Zora Arkus-Duntov’s personal car, engineered especially for him, yes, but it’s a production car.

Enough already.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: In his salad days, Wyss was a copywriter on the Chevrolet account in Detroit.


1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible

Photos compliments of RM Sotheby’s.
Is Any Stock Looking Corvette Worth $3 Million?
Article Name
Is Any Stock Looking Corvette Worth $3 Million?
This 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 Convertible, due to cross the block at RM Sotheby's in Arizona next month has never been offered for public sale.


  1. your so correct. BRAGGING RIGHTS of those that have.

    i remember looking after a bentley racer for one of the top jewish law firms owners.
    advised me the invoices where not enough…how can i brag over dinner i have an expensive bentley..

  2. At that sort of price, you wonder how much this car gets driven. What’s a 1969 ZL1 like to drive?

  3. Robert Feldman says

    In order to understand the value of this car you have to look closer at Chevrolet’s ZL-1 project and the story told by Sotherby’s as to how this car came to be. The ZL-1 engine was designed to be sold to Can Am racers through GM Parts. The engine also found its way into (69) 1969 Camaros destined for NHRA Pro Stock racing. You had to be “somebody” to get one. Authentic ZL-1 Camaros have brought over 1M at auction in recent years. I don’t believe the ZL-1 was ever intended to be sold in Corvettes. The original owner of this car was John Maher from Pennsylvania. He was an accomplished SCCA racer and good friends with Don Yenko who told him about the ZL-1 project. Maher already owned a 1968 L-88 Corvette, which by itself, was not easy to obtain. He turned to his friend Grady Davis, a two time SCCA national champion and vice president of Gulf Research which had strong ties to GM Racing. Together, they exerted enough influence to get this car built. And, Maher traded in his L-88 for a ZL-1. Top that story! The true value of this car is that it is one of only two ZL-1 Corvettes, and the only ZL-1 convertible. Like many collectable cars, the story of how it came to be only adds to the value. The Kevin McCay restoration also adds value. The sad part is that whoever buys the car will most likely not drive it, or severely limit it’s time on the road considering the rarity of the engine components. I’m sure it won’t be me!

  4. wallace wyss says

    OK the car has a lot more “special car” to it with that historical background
    but since the body is dead stock, I still can’t see it comparable to an SR2 or some other Corvette that took a lot of custom work for GM to make, plus those show cars weren’t supposed to be sold but slipped out of GM’s hands.It’s like taking two ballpoint pens, same casing, same metal work but saying “this one’s got special ink so it’s worth 30times more than this identical one.”

    Ironically with the Celestiq Cadilac claims it is going to allow bespoke ordering–built special for you, so that Corvette shows they were bespoke tailoring way before on occasion for the insiders

  5. Robb Northrup says

    Wallace, I agree with you. While this Vette is historically significant (and it really is) I feel too many collectors fall for the hype and are willing to pay incredible sums of money for what are essentially very nice cars but not ultra-rare. Yes, the ZL-1 is very rare! But it’s only a production Corvette with an extremely rare motor (and I own a low-mileage C3 of 1972 vintage. Great car and fun to drive. But a production Corvette nonetheless) and not a one-off or low-volume early Ferrari — Maserati — Aston Martin — Lamborghini. These are works of art. So is the original Corvette SS sports racing car. And the Mercedes C-111. Etc., etc.

    American muscle cars seem to have generated a similar craziness among certain collectors. Yes, a rare muscle is a rare car, but it’s still a clunky mid-size (or compact) with a big motor. Not all that special.

    I guess sanity will never prevail.

  6. Glenn Krasner says

    In general, in my mind, there is no American car, with the exception of Shelby Cobras, worth more than even $500,000, although plenty go for more than that. Most American cars were sold in high volume production runs, and I don’t care if hypothetically it is one 9 sold with a four-speed, Plum Crazy exterior color with a red interior, and manual steering, it is one of 320,000 of that model sold that year. Then, some people will tell me that any car is worth the price somebody is willing to pay, so there you go. Glenn in Brooklyn, NY

  7. Rex O'Steen says

    This kind of behavior makes me believe people have a religious component, since with some cars the value
    is less with any physical property than the unique role it has to the owner(s).

    My ‘dream muscle car,’ has values that have crashed in the last two years- people who could value its role are dying out. In someone’s mind this Corvette has the pinnacle role value component and wealth distributions are increasingly positively skewed; Let’s face it, if you had a company that went public and the stock you paid a dime for is worth $ 25 and you have millions and a car has a special role to you, can’t you see yoursef paying this much money for the ‘Vette?

    It only takes the intersection of two people with money to get a crazy price.

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