Hot Wheels Classics: Chevrolet Corvette – 1981-2011

May 14, 2012, 6:00 a.m. EDT

A Truly Hot Car – More Than One in 10 Stolen Over Past 30 Years


DES PLAINES, Ill., May 14, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Although racing purists might recognize the Stutz Bearcat or the Mercer Raceabout as America’s first sports cars, there is no question that the Chevrolet Corvette holds the title as America’s oldest, continuously produced sports car.

In this, NICB’s second Hot Wheels Classics report, we look at how the Corvette has fared as a theft target. For a video report on Corvette thefts, click here.

A Little Corvette History

The public saw the Corvette for the first time in January 1953, at the Motorama Show held at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. It went into full production on June 30, 1953, at the General Motors facility in Flint, Mich. By the end of the year, 300 were produced–all of them white convertibles with red interiors and black soft tops. The price tag was $3,498 with a heater and AM radio as the only options.

In 1954, Corvette production moved to a renovated facility in St. Louis, Mo., where it remained until 1981. That year, Corvette production moved into a new assembly facility at Bowling Green, Ky., where Corvettes continue to roll off the line today.

The first-generation Corvette–C1s as they are known–were manufactured from 1953-1962. Successive generations appeared in 1963 (C2); 1968 (C3); 1984 (C4); 1997 (C5); and in 2005 with the C6. A seventh-generation Corvette is expected sometime next year.

At the 1978 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Corvette made the first of its 10 appearances as the official Indy 500 Pace Car, an unmatched record on two counts–most appearances as a pace car and most consecutive years pacing the field (2004-2008).

Often compared to more exotic European sports cars, the Corvette has performed well in racing circuits around the globe. However, with the introduction of the supercharged, 620hp ZR-1 in 2009, Corvette has convinced its few remaining skeptics that it can perform on the world racing stage, as well as (and mostly better than) cars three times its price tag.

It’s no surprise then to find Corvette owners doting over their cars and keeping them in showroom condition. But like other items of high value and popular attraction, they get stolen. NICB reviewed Corvette theft data from 1953-2011 and identified 134,731 theft records. However, since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required vehicle identification number (VIN) standardization beginning with the 1981 model year, confidence in pre-1981 records is low due to the inconsistency in reporting protocols and VIN systems. Consequently, only 1981 and later data was used to produce this report.

Thefts vs. Production

During the 30-year period from 1981-2011, a total of 90,427 Corvettes were reported stolen in the United States and Puerto Rico. During that same period, a total of 862,918 Corvettes were produced in the United States. However, from 1953 through the end of the 2011 model year, a total of 1,526,747 Corvettes have been produced. The year with the most U.S. production was 1984 with 51,547. The year with the fewest Corvettes produced was 1953 when just 300 units were built.*

The following graph shows the 10 most stolen Corvette model years for the period 1981-2011.

        10 Most Stolen Model Years 1981-2011
        Rank         Model Year Most Stolen Total Number of Thefts
        1            1984                   8,554
        2            1981                   8,262
        3            1979                   6,399
        4            1985                   6,348
        5            1980                   6,331
        6            1982                   4,565
        7            1978                   4,129
        8            1977                   3,983
        9            1986                   3,525
        10           1976                   3,036
                     Total                  55,132

As for the top 10 states where most thefts occurred, California leads the nation with 14,002. Of the overall total, 90,427 thefts, 63,409 of them--70 percent--occurred in the top 10 states.
        Top 10 Theft States, 1981-2011
        Rank       State         Total thefts
        1          California    14,002
        2          Florida       8,731
        3          Texas         8,198
        4          New York      7,926
        5          Michigan      5,467
        6          New Jersey    5,287
        7          Illinois      4,092
        8          Massachusetts 3,821
        9          Ohio          3,078
        10         Missouri      2,807
                   Total         63,409

The complete Corvette theft data tables are available here.

At NICB, we have been in the business of identifying and recovering stolen vehicles since 1912. Our expertise has been sought by law enforcement agencies all over the nation to assist with major auto theft investigations. Frequently, NICB recovers stolen vehicles that have long since been forgotten–except by their owners.

Whether or not you own a classic 1963 split-window or a 2012 Centennial Edition ZR-1 Corvette, take steps to protect your vehicle from theft. Although vehicle thefts have been declining in recent years, if it happens to you it can be financially devastating and just an all-around hassle. NICB urges motorists to follow its “layered approach” to auto theft prevention.” By employing these simple, low-cost suggestions, people can make their vehicles less attractive to thieves.

Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our website at . Or, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response.

* All Corvette production figures provided courtesy of Corvette Black Book, Copyright, 2012 Michael Bruce Associates, Inc., . Special thanks to the National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, Ky., for historical Corvette information, .

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $339 billion in insurance premiums in 2011, or approximately 80 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 94 percent ($156 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit .

SOURCE National Insurance Crime Bureau

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