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How to Restore Your C3 Corvette: 1968-1982: Should Your Numbers Match?

by Walt Thurn

(Taken from How to Restore Your C3 Corvette: 1968-1982 by Walt Thurn) 

Should Your Numbers Match?

The C3 early models (1968-1972) are more popular with collectors. Add a documented rare optional equipment to one of these cars and the price can soar. The restoration cost for any of these models in similar condition is very close. Original parts for earlier cars are more expensive, but overall the restoration costs are similar for all models of the 14-year production run. The biggest difference is the initial purchase price, which trends higher for the early cars.

Fortunately the Corvette community has a great resource available that enables an owner to confirm a Corvette’s originality: the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS). It was founded in 1974 and began documenting and cataloging what original equipment was fitted to each Corvette when it left the factory.

This documentation includes factory options, paint (frame, engine, suspension, and all body components), and location of the vehicle identification number (VIN). In the late 1960s, General Motors introduced several anti-theft measures, and Corvettes left the factory with their VIN stamped on all of their major components to deter thieves and help in the recovery of stolen cars. The NCRS coined the term “numbers matching” to confirm the pedigree of a collector Corvette.

Today the NCRS has a large group of volunteer judges who inspect and evaluate Corvettes that are 20 years old or older to confirm their authenticity. If a car meets their standards, the car is awarded a “Top Flight” certificate that enhances its value.
Another resource group, Bloomington Gold, performs the same function; a Corvette that meets their criteria can become “Gold Certified.” This certificate also adds to the value of a Corvette.

To earn either of these certifications, each car must be completely original from front to back, top to bottom, and side to side. This includes the correct hose clamps, hoses, belts, markings, and everything else a Corvette had when it left the factory. Expect to pay top dollar for a numbers-matching Corvette.

Also restoring a numbers-matching Corvette is more expensive and time consuming. You must locate all of the correct parts that were installed in the car the year it was built. Proof that a car is original and has not been altered in any way must be made available during the judging process.

This book is not intended to take you down this path; for that you need to do a lot more research into NCRS or Bloomington Gold requirements.

The intention of this book is to help you restore a third-generation Corvette to the point that it drives and looks like a new car. Even if some things spoil its numbers-matching pedigree, it will be a joy to drive. My advice: Hold on to any original part that was on the car, no matter what the condition. Collectors can always restore a part to make it look original. These original parts add value to your car when you sell it.

numbers match

Trained NCRS judges determine if a Corvette is fitted with its original factory equipment. Nothing is left to chance during the judging process. Everything, including nuts, bolts, screws, hose clamps, markings, decals, etc., must match original factory specifications for a car to earn a “Top Flight” certificate. This 1969 convertible is being judged at an NCRS event. These C07 and C08 (vinyl covering) auxiliary hardtops were available for convertibles from 1968 to 1975.

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