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In the Garage: 1981 Chevrolet Corvette

1981 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Alan Steinberg.

1981 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Alan Steinberg.

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1981 Chevrolet Corvette owned by Alan Steinberg

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
For the Corvette, widely hailed as America’s sports car, 1981 was something of a transitional period.  It was a year when they were made in two different plants as Chevrolet transferred production from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  It was also the year before the end of its “Mako Shark” styling that had helped to boost sales since 1968.  Steinberg’s ride is one of the last of the St. Louis cars and it has a four-speed manual transmission.  “All St. Louis Corvettes were painted with lacquer paints, while Bowling Green had a brand-new paint facility and used enamels with clear coats,” he says.  “1981 was the last year a manual transmission was available until late in 1984.”

HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Since 2001

WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from a Long Island owner who had advertised it in Newsday.  “I work in lower Manhattan,” says Steinberg.  “Just after 9/11, after seeing so much death and destruction, I looked at my life and was so grateful for my wife and children.  However, I realized that all I was missing was that special car that I had never bought: a Corvette.”

CONDITION
“The car was in mint condition as the seller had a trophy that he said would come with the car,” Steinberg says.  It had won a first place award at a local Corvette show.

TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Since this was the body style from '68 to '82 with minor changes, there are plenty of original factory and reproduction parts available,” Steinberg advises. “Unless you are a mechanic, look for one in excellent condition that you can enjoy as a daily driver. Basic maintenance will keep this car in great condition for a very long time.”

VALUE
He values the Corvette at $25,500 since only one in seven ‘81s were delivered with manual transmissions.  Hagerty, the classic car insurer, says a pristine example is worth $26,200.

THE BOTTOM LINE
“When you fall in love with a car, as I have, it doesn't have to cost you a ton of money,” Steinberg says.  “Just find it, buy it and then drive it, and you'll never regret it.   Even your kids will want to drive it someday as they get older . . . as I now come to realize.”

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