A red 2020 Chevy Camaro SS is shown from the front at an angle.

Is It a Smart Move to Buy a Used Performance Car?

There are certain advantages to purchasing a used car. Most people are attracted to pre-owned vehicles because they offer an opportunity to drive a great car at a fraction of the original retail price. The average lifespan of a vehicle is increasing at an amazing rate, to the point where a car with 100,000 miles on it is considered “barely broken in.” But what about performance cars? Let’s say you’re extremely interested in Corvettes and Camaros; is it a good idea to look for these models at a used Chevrolet dealer?

Shopping for a used car always has the potential for extra stress. Who knows what lurks under the hood of a vehicle someone else has driven? Corvettes and Camaros are equipped with exquisitely-tuned specialized equipment that drivers of non-performance vehicles may not be familiar with. Kicking the tires and looking at all the machinery under the hood may only tell part of the story. Still, a professional used Chevrolet dealer should be able to provide a complete inspection and report on the vehicles they are selling. If the roar of the engine is calling your name, but your budget says, “not this year’s model, buddy,” shopping for a used Corvette or Camaro may be the best option. Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you get a quality performance vehicle.

Why Buy a Used Corvette or Camaro?

What’s a driver to do when the heart says “speed,” and the brain says “prioritize your budget?” Well, there are several options. You could purchase a car that is appropriate for your budget but not meant to go very fast and play pretend, but that’s not very satisfying. A better option would be to look for a used Corvette or Camaro from a reputable used Chevy dealer.

Set your budget first, and then start looking. This may be a lengthy process, especially if you have a very specific dream car in mind. If you’re looking for a particular year, trim, or model, it might be wise to keep saving while you search so that you can jump on exactly the right model once it becomes available. But if you have a more general idea, such as how much horsepower will make you happy, or a certain generation of Corvette or Camaro, you may be in luck more quickly.

When purchasing any new-to-you car, you’ll have to consider what features you simply cannot live without, how far you’re willing to go to find the car of your dreams, and vet whether the sales ads are legitimate or seem fishy. When browsing used car ads, you may find some tempting prices from private sellers, but bear in mind that buying your used performance car from a qualified dealership can provide peace of mind that you’re not paying good money for something that will never work quite right.

A white 2016 Chevy Corvette is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a used Chevrolet dealer.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Chevy Performance Car

There are, of course, reasons why certain used Corvettes and Camaros may be priced lower than other similar models. Performance cars are meant to be driven to the edge, and as a result, they might have a few quirks by the time they’re offered for sale. This is one advantage to purchasing a vehicle from a used Chevy dealer––any vehicle that they’ve taken in as a trade-in will have been fully inspected, and the dealership will either make any necessary repairs or fully disclose any issues.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many drivers customize their Corvettes and Camaros with after-market parts. On one hand, that means bonus cool stuff that you don’t have to install yourself. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the previous owner had the same style or driving manners that you do, and these upgrades and adjustments can also impact the overall price. You may find that the Corvettes and Camaros in your price range may have more than a few “quirks.” While dealerships are required to disclose this information, you will need to determine if these are things you can live with, fix, or pay to have fixed.

Still, there is definitely a market for original-part Corvettes and Camaros in terrific condition. Drivers may trade in their late-model Corvette for this year’s newest options. Some may choose to lease a Camaro in order to consistently enjoy the current model year offerings. It is not impossible to find a recent model that’s in terrific condition at a reasonable price, as long as you’re comfortable with searching for a bit.

Is Buying a Used Chevy Corvette or Camaro a Good Investment?

Before you pull the trigger and exchange money for a performance car, you need to be honest with yourself: are you going to preserve the resale value of this vehicle for future collectors, or are you going to drive the devil out of it yourself? Many drivers will argue that there’s no point in having a car with over 400 horsepower if you’re not going to experience that raw force yourself, but there’s a difference between regularly going 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit and the regular track performance that properly-equipped Corvettes and Camaros are capable of enjoying. The former may result in more speeding tickets than you would like, while the latter is going to put a strain on the car’s overall condition.

With the exception of the 1984 model, nearly any Corvette for sale will attract a certain amount of attention, but in order to someday bring in “collector” type prices, it would need to have the right features, paint job, and be in immaculate condition in order to bring top dollar. Since the term “right” generally translates into “what’s currently trending,” there might be complications with this plan. For example, the Corvettes of the 1980s were outfitted with an all-digital display that is no longer manufactured. So what do you do if that goes out? These are dilemmas you may wish to prepare for by researching any potential model you are considering purchasing.

Camaros have the benefit of being mostly recall-free with a genuinely happy family of fans and drivers. This is part of the recipe for excellent resale value, but again, that depends on how you use it. With a usable backseat and a modest price tag, many Camaros pull daily-driver duty, which can lead to higher mileage and more general wear and tear.

Furthermore, recent-model Corvettes and Camaros can be outfitted with factory-installed track-ready features like launch control, performance tracking apps, and specialized brakes and shocks. While we have the technology to repair these features today, who knows if they’ll go the way of the Corvette’s digital display. Will touchscreen infotainment systems still be cool in 2040? Considering these features may be helpful when deciding what you’ll do with your new-to-you performance car.

A white 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE is shown from the front at an angle.

Looking for a Used Corvette or Camaro

When shopping for a used Corvette or Camaro, you’ll notice that they don’t show up at a dealership as often as, say, a Trax or a Suburban. That’s because many drivers buy their performance car, fall in love with it, and keep it for a very long time. However, this is not an impossible dream.

When you’re considering buying a used performance car, it’s a great idea to work with a trusted dealership, so you know exactly what condition the vehicle is in and pay an appropriate price. At the same time, this may limit what years, trims, and options are offered since inventory depends on what the dealership receives. You can’t special order your dream used car, after all. Still, with some careful shopping and dutiful research, you should be able to hit the roads in a vehicle that makes sense and makes your heart sing with no regrets.