Classic Corvette Purchasing Tips, Part IVAbout "Numbers Matching" . . .
If you have done even a minimal amount of shopping for a classic Corvette, you have come across the term "Matching Numbers". What this means, in the strictest sense, is that the major components that were on the car the day it left the factory are still on the car. All Corvettes had at least some parts numbered, and these include the body (VIN), engine, bellhousing, transmission, differential, alternator or generator, water pump, radiator, distributor, window glass, carburetor, early fuel injection and cylinder heads. Not all these items are relevant to all years.
A Corvette that is "numbers matching" will have the correct numbers on all applicable components as listed on the build sheet.
Since many classic Corvettes are 40 or more years old, there is a problem. Most of these parts required servicing over the years and they were usually replaced rather than rebuilt as that would be fastest and cheapest. Remember that "matching numbers" is only a recent concept; back when a mid-years Corvette was first owned and maintained the ideology wasn't a priority and most owners were not aware of it. Also keep in mind that "matching numbers" Corvettes command higher prices than those that do not have matching numbers.
So how is it that these days there are so many "matching numbers" Corvettes? It is because of a magic process called "renumbering". The tools to accomplish this are easy to come by.
This brings up some interesting questions. Consider the following scenario:
- An engine block on a given Corvette is replaced with a new or remanufactured block.
- The engine block removed from the Corvette (commonly known as a "core") is rebuilt, sold and installed in another car.
- Years later, a subsequent owner of the Corvette "renumbers" the new engine block so that their car is "numbers matching".
You can see where the controversy is. This is also why many seasoned Corvette fans are a bit wary of the "numbers matching" claim. Despite all this, the marketplace does put an emphasis on the concept.
Our advice is to keep these realities in mind when your are shopping for a classic Corvette. And don't let a few digits on a water pump, be they correct or not, prevent you from enjoying the ride.
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