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America’s iconic Corvette sports car is one of the most desirable and collected vehicles of all time. Nothing in the world can compete with its performance achievements, longevity, and panaché. Being so collectible, there are lots of different years, engines, and options that make one more desirable than the next. But in the rarified world of “rarest ever made,” these are the top three rarest, most expensive, and most famous of all of the over one million ever produced.

1963 Grand Sport Corvette

Grand Sport
1963 Corvette Grand Sport | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The Corvette’s father, Zora Arkus Duntov, oversaw the construction of the 1963 Grand Sport to compete on the international stage with the likes of Ferrari and Ford’s Cobra. GM management shut it down after building only five. Automakers were supposed to honor the AMA ban on Big Three-sanctioned racing. 

But GM took many ideas from the GS it later incorporated into other race programs and performance vehicles alike. Amazingly, all five of the GS sports cars survive today. The few times they have come up for auction they bid millions of dollars, indicating how valuable and important they are.

1969 ZL1 Corvette

ZL1 Corvette
1969 ZL1 Corvette | GM

Is there anything rarer than the Grand Sport? Yes. The production of its 1969 ZL1 amounted to only two examples. These were meant to raise the stakes at the SCCA Canadian-American Challenge Cup Series. The lightweight aluminum 427 ci engines were advertised at only 430 hp. This was to slide under the corporate radar. But in reality, it was more like 560 hp to 585 hp. As a $3,010 option, it tipped the price of the ZL1 Corvette to $10,771. 

The alloy engine came in at 100 lbs less than the iron 427. That was an incredible advantage when combined with 560+ hp. Quarter-mile times were 11.2 seconds, on crappy nylon ply tires. Hagerty puts a ZL1’s value at over $1 million today. With the recent prices seen at auctions lately, we think that number is very low.

1983 Corvette

1983 Corvette
1983 Chevrolet Corvette one-of-one | GM

Many collectors take a pass on the fourth-gen Corvettes, and 1983 models are C4 models. We say “models,” but there was actually only one ever built. And you can see it at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It really wasn’t a production model at all, but actually a pilot model. And that’s close enough for our purposes here.

California changed its emissions requirements right before C4 production was to start. And there was no time to incorporate the changes. So Chevrolet took a pass on building 1983 models entirely. The first production C4s were 1984 models. 

The reason this Corvette even exists is that it was used as an assembly development car for the new Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It remained in its front lobby for over a decade. GM then donated it to the new museum upon its opening in 1994. So when it comes to rare production Corvettes, while this looks like a plain vanilla C4, it may be the ultimate one.

Updated: 6/13/2023


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