I picked this car up with 170,000 original miles, and the engine was in fantastic shape, with absolutely no work done to it since new, besides basic maintenance.

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Since it’s another dark, windy, and snowy day, I’m thinking back fondly on the funner sunny days of the past. The photographs aren’t the best quality, since I don’t care for cell phones, and I always make sure I have the most primitive one possible. This was a project I picked up and worked on with my friends. This pre-dates my Camaro project from my earlier thread. This one was a 4th generation (C4) introductory model year 1984 Corvette. It had been sitting with the previous owner for a fairly long time and hadn’t been driven for a few years. It needed a fair amount of work. It also had a very rough interior, but that didn’t really bother me. I’d never owned or driven a Vette before, so this was a good one to get into (C4s can be bought for pretty cheap, compared to any other Corvette generation). While the car had been sitting outside for years in a temperate rainforest, the good thing was that since it was all fibreglass and sheet moulded composite, there was no rust to worry about.

The C4 were a completely new, redesigned, re-engineered, and different generation of the Corvette. The C4 had a lot of aluminium and aluminized steel in the “unibody frame”, over which were fibreglass and sheet moulded composite panels, including the floor pans. The air intake cover was completely made of magnesium since they were trying to go for a space-age look. The Z51 Racing and Handling Package option, which mine had, was an amazing suspension set-up that allowed the car to handle and feel like a street-legal race car. It also had a unique fibreglass rear transverse leaf spring replacing the coil springs from the previous generation. And of course, the roof panel came off (Targa top). And the best part of all was the “Tron” like digital dash, which looks very dated today, but like all things old, was incredibly functional, and is still one of the coolest dashboards ever made in my opinion (with the exception of my 77 Trans-Am ). Unlike the newer generations, however, the C4s were still old-school American sports cars, that were designed to be worked on by the owner with basic tools, unlike the later C5 and up generations, which turned gradually into exotic cars crammed full of needless electronics etc that no owner could work on in their garage with basic tools. The C4s came with the bulletproof Chevy 350, with various states of tune over the different years of the generation.

I picked this car up with 170,000 original miles, and the engine was in fantastic shape, with absolutely no work done to it since new, besides basic maintenance (a testament to the incredible reliability of a Chevy 350). The car itself ran like garbage when I picked it up since it had the one-year-only Cross-Fire Injection system, with twin throttle bodies feeding the intake, which needed tuning. The Cross-Fire injection, also called “Cease-Fire Injection” by numerous owners thanks to being a little finicky, was actually pretty easy to set in tune once we figured out the tuning process with the throttle position sensors, which I had to replace, along with numerous other sensors, like the coolant temp sensor, oil pressure sensor, fuel pump etc. Of course, the usual plugs, wires, and distributor were replaced along the way. The digital dashboard was completely nonfunctional thanks to the old LCD displays and screens (a common problem). I was able to source out a replacement dashboard and replace it (again, another testament to how these cars were easy to work on). I couldn’t imagine doing a dashboard replacement in any modern car. One thing I did do was take the replacement dashboard out again and replace all the bulbs with blue LEDs, which I thought were way better in looks (pictures below). The brakes were worn out, and since this was basically an old Chevy, I replaced the pistons and calipers in an hour with brand new parts for just $60, compared to a friend’s newish Subaru that needed a brake job for $700 at the same time! Did it have C4-specific issues? Yes. God help the poor soul who had to change out the taillight bulbs in the 84-87 model years (which I luckily didn’t have to do), or change out the passenger side spark plugs nearest to the firewall (which I, unfortunately, needed to do). Also, the car was not designed for larger human beings.

I didn’t really bother too much with the rest of the interior, since my goal was to make the car mechanically fully functional and have fun with it. In the end, it was running great. I had fun with it and sold it after a year or so. The car took off like a locomotive any time you pressed down on the gas pedal, and you could take a turn at 90 miles per hour without any body flex. It’d pretty much do whatever you wanted it to do. I probably won’t ever get one of these again for a project, but I’m glad I had the chance to mess with this car and drive it.

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