Jump to content

Car Values Corvette vs Thunderbird; no match


RayDavis

Recommended Posts

Here’s something that has always boggled me, why are C1 Corvettes so much more valuable than first generation t-birds? In their day they were, head to head competitors, and by 2gen T-bird may have grown too big and heavy (and ugly some might say…)

But we’re talking about 1gen. cars here. To me T-bird is soooo much more bang for the buck. Take these two for example:

http://www.classicdigest.com/cars/chevrolet/corvette/19166

http://www.classicdigest.com/cars/ford/thunderbird/19099

To me 28t vs. 68t just doesn’t match up, no matter how you look at it. Is T-bird just too sophisticated (or boring?) for the great public out there or what’s the deal?

Regs Ray

post-96627-143142202628_thumb.jpg

post-96627-143142202632_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure of the real answer other than Corvettes have a Cult following and I believe lower production numbers although the style lasted longer. I find alot of T birds are bought by Casual and first time collectors so the serious Cult buyers will tend to pay more for certain examples. The 2 links you provided are of 2 cars in quite different condition. The Vette has been fairly well although a little bit incorrectly restored. The T bird needs to be restored to be compared to the Vette.

Crucial things to remember are Vette guys are very particular about details and especially correct matching number cars even on low horse cars like the one you posted the link to. I'm not sure if this is nearly as important on Thunderbirds other than maybe F code or E code cars.

My 60 Fuelie Vette is a great driver and Does really show up the 57 312 4 BBL automatic Tbird I had in the performance arena.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Beauty (and price) is in the eye of the beholder. I love early Vettes and early T-Birds and agree that the Vettes generally cost more. I don't think things like this really have a rational explanation. Each vehicle has it's own following and as auburnseeker noted those that follow Vettes have a cult like quality. Collecting early Vettes started in the 1970's or even before. There were national Corvette Clubs even in the 1950's. There have always been Corvette "people" that got together. There was Corvette only parking at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI in the late 1950's. Early T-Birds never had that. But, just so one doesn't get too bowtie crazy, why do Shelby Mustangs often go for $100,000 + (sometimes very +) when it is rare for a mid-year Sting Ray to break the 100 grand barrier? While I love those Shelbys they are basically Mustangs. It doesn't make rational sense it's just the way things are. I am sure there are a ton of similar examples. As auburnseeker also pointed out condition is key. A number 1 car of any make is very rare and will command stratopheric prices while a more common #3 or #4 condition car is never going to be a #1 and the market will price it accordingly. With the market being generally weak for project cars this difference will also distort efforts to compare various ebay offerings. I have been in this hobby since the 60's and it has been remarkable to see the prices for some vehicles soar while others that are quite similar to these pricey models just stagnate. No reason, it's just the market.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it has to do with the continuation of the Corvette production as the top GM performance car, whereas the T-Bird has not been the same. The T-Bird name was produced, but those later models were not the "top of the line performance car" to Ford like the Vette was to GM.

There is a generation of people now in the hobby that don't recall classic T-Bird's being made, but do of course realize Vettes have always been available, save for 1982.

I also think that since the Mustang took off like it did, it did so at the expense of the T-Bird, and has continued to do so for all generations of the T-Bird since 1964. The Camaro did no such thing to the Corvette line. Not because the Camaro wasn't a great car, but because GM always made the Corvette to be the top of the line car.

Corvettes have never left the reputation as being GM's top car. T-Bird's lost the reputation of being Ford's top car.

FWIW< the 2 cars posted in the original post, the Vette is 100% more attractive IMO.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The answer is very simple, the Corvette (especially by 1957) is viewed as a performance car while the T-Bird is more of a "cruiser". The cruiser perception is reinforced by the continental kit (which I like btw). Also, Ford made it official in 1958 when it went to the 5 passenger body style. The Corvette has over 50 years of iterations creating a much bigger market of buyers who may own a new version and decide they want an earlier car.

Link to post
Share on other sites

well lets see.... seems every year a well known Early Bird restorer sells one for a record price at well known televised auctions. Circa 109K, 115K, 125K as I recall. I'm not talking about E&F birds either. I guess it depends on who restored it and who's selling it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to believe any Early Bird not supercharged or atleast dual quad equipped could break the 60,000 mark. Any day of the week you could have your choice of probably several hundred in the USA for sale. (just start cruising the internet and view the various car mags and local classifieds) Most in the 20,000- 35,000 range. I've seen some pretty nicely restored ones in the 30,000-35,000 range and I'm pretty fussy. The market has really dropped on them. Used to be Project ones sold for 15,000 and up, I've seen project ones lately below 10,000 and that's not for a rusted shell. That's a complete car that you could probably drive with a little TLC all be it still really needing a full restoration. I can guarantee very few C1 Vettes sell for less than 20,000 in any shape at all. In fact carcasses with a vin tag and not much else bring 10,000. I saw a beautifully restored 57 E bird at Hershey last year for 60,000 I think the owner wanted and on Friday it was still there. Maybe it's just auction hype that put the other birds that high. We've seen it happen before.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Supply and demand rule, and for this comparison its the supply side of the equation that's calling the shots.

Thunderbird: 1955, 16,155 produced. 1956, 15,631 produced. 1957, 21,380 produced. Total: 55,136.

Corvette: 1953, 300 produced. 1954, 3,640 produced. 1955, 700 produced. 1956, 3,467 produced. 1957, 6,339 produced. Total: 14,446.

If you add every Corvette made from the beginning you have to go all the way to 1961 (8 years) to match the total T-birds built in the first 3 years. The final total for all 'Vettes considered "C1" through 1962 adds to 69,015, which admittedly is more than the 1st generation T-birds. However that covers a lot of different cars/years/features/levels of performance/etc. As a result there is just a larger supply of similar T-birds for it's specific demand than any similar group if Corvettes within the "C1" generation, whose demand IMHO is quite similar. They're all great cars! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was 10 years old in 1957 and, even then, I knew that a T-Bird couldn't hold a candle to a Corvette. The Bird was too refined, almost feminine whereas the Corvette was muscular and brutish. I used to go to the sports car races with my dad and uncle at Riverside and there were no T-Birds on the track, unless it was a pace car, but plenty of Vettes

Link to post
Share on other sites
Supply and demand rule, and for this comparison its the supply side of the equation that's calling the shots.

Thunderbird: 1955, 16,155 produced. 1956, 15,631 produced. 1957, 21,380 produced. Total: 55,136.

Corvette: 1953, 300 produced. 1954, 3,640 produced. 1955, 700 produced. 1956, 3,467 produced. 1957, 6,339 produced. Total: 14,446.

If you add every Corvette made from the beginning you have to go all the way to 1961 (8 years) to match the total T-birds built in the first 3 years. The final total for all 'Vettes considered "C1" through 1962 adds to 69,015, which admittedly is more than the 1st generation T-birds. However that covers a lot of different cars/years/features/levels of performance/etc. As a result there is just a larger supply of similar T-birds for it's specific demand than any similar group if Corvettes within the "C1" generation, whose demand IMHO is quite similar. They're all great cars! :)

Thanks, you nailed it. While I was looking up the production numbers, you were posting them. As you say, Corvette production was very small '55-57. Any demand at all would push up the price.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks, you nailed it. While I was looking up the production numbers, you were posting them. As you say, Corvette production was very small '55-57. Any demand at all would push up the price.

JMO: Don't believe production numbers have anything to do for the demand or car values for a car. So many examples come to mind. The Edsel had

very low production numbers compared to other sedans at the time and we know what happened to the Edsel. Like I said. JMO-Larry

Link to post
Share on other sites
^^^^Edsels are very collectable and their value is well within what other cars of that era are selling for.

Well within?? Base 1959 Impala Hardtop ($46000) vs. 1959 Top of line Edsel Hardtop ($19000); figures from N.A.D.A. Typical

example of production figures: compare any year Cougar vs Mustang. Same Car practicaly; made on the same production line; Cougar

way more rare than a Mustang--Final Outcome--No comparison to value and demand of the two cars. Mustang wins all the time. Again-JMHO-Larry

P.S. It's something hard to explain but it just how the cars are preceived from the General Public.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are always anomalies. Of course a 59 Impala will sell for more. They are hot and have been for years. I'm simply talking across the board values. It's easy to pick the most valuable cars and compare them to mid range collector cars. They made far fewer J-Bergs than Model "A"s but, somehow, the Duesies are worth a bit more. Go figure.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting comparison and opinions. I think one point IIskis makes is if it was popular new, chances are it will be popular now, rarity aside.

I will go on record as liking "Boulevard cars" or cruisers as it were - our SL is more that kind of car, not what you think of in terms of cutting the curves at dawn, but a comfortable top down ride taking in the scenery and being seen. But the T-bird is more Suzanne Somers and the Corvette is more Tim Matheson "Otter" after all, a lot of this boils down to image, no?

FWIW I think these Gen 1 T-birds are undervalued, we have looked at a couple recently - I am amazed at the number available under $30K - even $25K. production figures an eye opener, that is a lot of units that likely have a high survival rate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Numbers are not the only factor. The 1953 -55 Vettes as a group are the lowest production numbered Vettes. I have owned a 54 since 1973. These early C-1s, with the exception of the incredibly rare 53 models, have never held their value in line with the later 56-57, 58-60 & 61-62 C-1s. Numbers built is part of the story but there really is no universal explanation on why some models are more valuable. I always laugh at the value bubble that occured when the 78 Vette Pace Car was introduced. The Wall Street Journal was prediciting $50,000 prices when they stickered at about $13,000. And for a moment the prices soared and everyone stashed away their instant classic. Today it is quite easy to find an original Pace Car with 10,000 miles or less priced at $15,000. Well, maybe not easy, but I have seen them. I would hate to have an example stashed that cost me $50,000. My two cents worth is that things get very weird when cars are held for investment purposes only. I say let's keep em for driving fun.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Ben, if one stashed away a '76 Eldorado and '78 Corvette Pace Car at the immediate post introduction prices well, let's say they would not have been astute investors... :D

Different subject but I laugh at the instant collectibles. 1 in 10 might ended up qualifying. Throw the ZR1 in with the Eldo & Pace car. I have a friend that paid 110k for a new first year ZR1. Sticker was around 35k. These days you can get the nicest one in the world for around 35k.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The other part of the story is the number of cars that have survived over the years. The T-Bird was an instant "classic" and not as many went to crusher as the standard model cars. While I can't prove it, I believe that at least half of the early bird production still exists and there could be 20K that are still driveable. I think that they may have the best survival rate of any car produced in volume in the 1950's. It is all about supply and demand. The "E" and "F" 1957 Birds are the most valuable because of their relative rarity. I like the early Corvettes too, I just wouldn't spend the extra money for a car like the Corvette given the way I drive my collector car. The extra performance envelope isn't worth it to me. Of course, I'm also Ford guy, which helps explain my choice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think value has a lot to do with what you grew up with and what impressed you the most. I am on the downward side of 60 yrs. old and as youngsters we cherished the design changes that created the sports cars of the mid 50's. Ford T-bird, Corvette, Jags, A-H's, two seater, quick, you name it, we wanted it. The 6 cylinder, power-glide Vettes did not have any appeal to me other than they were cool looking. When the high horsepower, 4-speed, positraction, and choices of rear-end gearing came into play, now that was enticing. We saw Chevy out market, out perform Ford on many drag-strips and oval races. They created a loyal following and they did their best to make sure you got what you wanted built from the factory. Today all of that has changed with being able to build your own, but the following is still there. You are either a player or a dreamer. I have been a Vet guy since my first one ('56), and still own a '62, but I still appreciate the mid 50's T-birds a great deal. The raw power of the early Vets was the deciding factor for me. Values, well, it is what it is. You either love them or leave them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...