PerniciousLies New Reader
3/27/17 7:30 p.m.

This won't be so much of a build thread as it will be a maintenance log for myself and anyone else wondering how bad of an idea it really is to DD a 25 year old Corvette. Some of ya'll may remember this this thread where I asked for suggestions and opinions about my next daily driver. Well, my P71 finally sold and I've got a shiny new (old) toy to play with.

I'd been watching this car on CL for a while, and had even texted the guy, but it was 250 miles away and at $5k, a little out of my price range. Finally a couple Fridays ago, I called the guy up and he told me about the car. After listening to all of the problems it had, I told him that it sounded like a little bit more of a project than I was looking for. The rear fender was cracked,check engine light was on, low coolant light would come on randomly, headlights didn't work right, climate control was broken, etc. Before I hung up though, I asked how much he would let it go for, expecting to maybe have a couple hundred knocked off. Instead, he told me that he was actually getting ready to relist it for $4k. I decided for that price, it was worth a look.

Now, for those who read my "what car" thread, my budget was around $3k. This however, was a 6 speed LT1 car with under 110k. I was willing to stretch my budget a bit for that. I grabbed my tools, rented a car, stopped at the bank, and headed south towards Virginia around 1 pm. On a Friday. On a route that took me right by Washington DC. My 3 hour drive turned into a 5 hour drive, with my blood pressure rising with every second I sat in traffic.

When I got there, the car looked about like I expected, which honestly was a good thing. It was far from perfect, but it looked decent and ran well. Sure the dash was lit up like a Christmas tree, but heck, I aint skeered. I had a good feeling about it. So we made the deal, he signed the title over, and I set off back home, on his personalized plates and insurance. It was really nice of him to allow me to do that. I'm not so trusting. Which reminds me, I still need to send his plates back.

The drive back was mostly uneventful. The car ran well and gave me no problems. I made the drive back in about 3.5 hours, and breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled into my parking space.

Now, you may be asking yourself, why would I buy a car with so many problems when I was looking for a solid daily driver? What can I say, I really had a good feeling about it. Not just that though. The car did have brand new tires, a new clutch, a new $1200 Alpine system, and did I mention 6 speed LT1? I also got the original window sticker, which I thought was pretty cool.

Over the next couple days I started digging into things a bit. The non working headlights? The more I used them the better they got. I put some brake fluid in it, and the brake light on the dash went out. I put some coolant in it, and whaddya know, no more low coolant light. The check engine light was a bit more complicated. I had to order an $18 temp sensor and spend 10 minutes changing it. Presto! No more dash lights!

That brings us to where I am now. I just dropped it off at my buddy's shop to get inspected. There's still a long list of maintenance items to do, but hopefully right now I'll be able to drive it and not get stranded anytime soon. I'll be using this thread to document the work I do and what it takes to keep one of these things going. Now on to the pics, if I can figure out how to get them to work. Most of these are from the seller, as I haven't had time for any decent pics.

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Fitzauto Dork
3/27/17 7:33 p.m.

Im excited to follow this. Ive always liked the c4 and you got a great combo with the lt1/6 speed.

PerniciousLies New Reader
3/27/17 7:44 p.m.

A bit more info on the car. It's a 94 base model, Torch Red/red interior. I realize red Corvette is a bit cliche, and it wasn't my first pick, but I do love the red interior. It's a loud, obnoxiously red interior, which means it's perfect.

Following the paperwork I got with the car, it looks like it's made its way up the east coast. It was originally sold in Florida, then I have some documents from North Carolina, and I bought it out of Virginia. Now its in Pennsylvania, hopefully for quite a while.

So far I've changed the oil and gotten rid of the warning lights. Once it comes back from inspection, I need to do a coolant flush, as the stuff in there is nasty. Someone mixed the orange and green coolant, and yuck, its ugly. I also need to do radiator hoses, as the current ones seem a bit soft. Plugs and wires will be next. I don't relish the thought of doing that job, as I've heard wires especially are a PITA with the optispark.

conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/27/17 7:50 p.m.

Congratulations. Wires aren't too hard if you have access to a lift. Worst case scenario, unbolt the crank pulley from the crank hub for better access to the Opti. This is also the easy button for replacing the Opti if the day ever comes. The pulley only goes on one way so there is no chance of putting it back on wrong. The driver side wires take kind of a fussy route behind the power steering pulley, don't be surprised.

Lof8 HalfDork
3/27/17 8:19 p.m.

Nice ride. My Dad used an LT1 6 speed vette for DE duty for several years with only a few upgrades.

maj75 Reader
3/27/17 8:54 p.m.

Check the brake lines for rust. There are a ton of them and they are a PITA to change. If you are doing plugs and wires and pulling the balancer, do the water pump. Bad water pumps kill Optisparks.

Dirtydog New Reader
3/27/17 10:07 p.m.

Sounds like you did OK. A 3.5 hour shake down/test drive with no hiccups is a good sign. You certainly got lucky with the disappearing dash lights. Along with checking brake lines, flush the brake fluid. Flush out the cooling system real good. Dex and green mix is a bad thing. Naturally check all safety items. C-4's are a blast to drive, despite what some people think, good bang for the buck. My ride is a 1985, Medium Blue, with the graphite interior. It has 66000 miles on her. All I do is regular maintainence, and it runs good. Will follow with interest. Best of luck.

PerniciousLies New Reader
3/28/17 6:56 p.m.

Thanks for the advice so far! It looks like I'll have to change my plan of attack already. When it was on my buddies lift, he found that what I hoped was an unbalanced tire was actually bad rear wheel bearings. I have a set of Moog bearings from pep boys ordered and I plan to tackle that on Friday or Saturday, weather permitting.

Ovid_and_Flem Reader
3/28/17 7:15 p.m.

If you ever ever ever need c4 tech questions look up mrbeachcomber (Greg) on this forum. Great guy and literally knows everything about c4s. For example I was chasing an electrical problem in my fuel injection comma called and asked him about it and he told me exactly where to look and exactly what color wire and exactly where to put it. I would have never gotten the car running had it not been for him.

Really nice car and you snagged one of the best prices I've seen on a c4 that nice. Especially with a 6 speed. That alone is usually about $1,500 price differential

Dirtydog New Reader
3/28/17 7:29 p.m.

Good to know about mrbeachcomber. (I'm new here too) Straighten out the mechanicals first, then on to the cosmetics. Well bought.

Cotton UberDork
3/28/17 10:35 p.m.

I would have bought that too...looks like a good buy and fun DD.

Mad_Ratel Dork
3/29/17 7:15 a.m.

I have yet to see a $5k manual in my area in three months of looking. At least that is not wore the slap out.

EDIT: found one, 160k miles, 1995, needs paint, hmmm.

PerniciousLies New Reader
3/31/17 1:47 p.m.

So the good news is that this thing does great in the rain. The bad news is that it leaks worse than the Titanic. At least I don't have to worry about my floors rusting out. Hopefully a window adjustment will take care of most of it. The weatherstripping looks to have been replaced.

I got the passenger side rear wheel bearing changed on Wednesday. It wasn't a bad job. It took me about three hours, but that included two quarter mile walks (one way) to the parts store. I had planned to use my motorcycle for parts runs, but I forgot to bring my key. Except that I didn't, and it was in the bikes ignition. Duh.

I did the job without removing the halfshafts. Everything came apart easily, but I did have to use a 3", 6", and 20" extension to get the torx bolts out. Hopefully I can do the drivers side tomorrow.

All jacked up ; photo IMG_20170329_162450.jpg" />

The maze needing traversed to get to the torx bolts ; photo IMG_20170329_162515 1.jpg" />

Old vs. new ; photo IMG_20170329_175204.jpg" />

I also just placed a RockAuto order for new radiator hoses, spark plugs, and air filter. Those will all be jobs for next week. I do need to clean the leaves out of the front of the radiator, and troubleshoot the cooling fan. Temps start to climb as I sit in traffic. That will be a job for tomorrow, along with the other bearing and window adjustments.

Indy-Guy Dork
3/31/17 2:30 p.m.

You might as well through a set of plug wires on it while in there.

PerniciousLies New Reader
3/31/17 3:17 p.m.

That's definitely on the list. I'm trying to not spend too much at once though.

PerniciousLies New Reader
4/24/17 7:23 p.m.

I have about 1500 miles on the car so far, with no problems. Having fun, risking my license. I have realized that brakes need to be moved further up on my to do list.

I haven't had much time to get things done. Finals start next week and I've had a lot of papers due. I did get the coolant changed. It was nasty.

On my new harbor freight ramps <img src=" photo IMG_20170415_132205.jpg" />

This is why you don't mix Dexcool with any other coolants. Don't mind the floating E36 M3. It was in the bucket. <img src=" photo IMG_20170415_132152.jpg" />

I also put the car to work the other day. I found this on CL. It's a 1988 Toro with a Suzuki 2 stroke engine. <img src=" photo IMG_20170417_174839.jpg" />

Who needs a truck when you have a Corvette? <img src=" photo IMG_20170417_163207.jpg" />

Yes the hatch did close. <img src=" photo IMG_20170417_163156.jpg" />

So thats what I've been up to. So far C4 ownership has been a breeze. Hopefully it continues that way.

Dirtydog Reader
4/24/17 11:07 p.m.

Good for you. Take care of the maintainance items and it should be good to you.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
4/25/17 6:34 a.m.

Very cool. Where are you in PA?

PerniciousLies New Reader
4/25/17 11:00 a.m.

I'm in Harrisburg.

PerniciousLies New Reader
5/10/17 6:41 p.m.

So school is done for the semester, and I've had time to get some work done on the car, and I ran into the first real hiccup. The climate control doesn't work, which means as the days get hotter, the gf wants to ride with me less and less. She's not a fan of the car to start with, and no ac makes it worse.

I checked all my fuses, and they were good so I started pulling the dash apart. After getting the climate control head unit out, I checked and had no power going into it. From doing some reading on the forums, I thought I had narrowed the problem down to a bad capacitor.

Pulling the dash apart <img src=" photo IMG_20170428_130918.jpg" />

Now the head unit is accesible <img src=" photo IMG_20170428_131906.jpg" />

While the head unit was out I cleaned all the contacts, to avoid another common C4 problem of the buttons not registering being pushed. <img src=" photo IMG_20170428_133133.jpg" />

The circuit board was up under the steering wheel. In retrospect taking the seat out may have been a good idea, but I figured I was limber enough to not need to do that extra step. After several hours with my butt in the seat, head under the dash, and legs up in the air, maybe that wasn't the greatest plan.

The under dash web to pull the circuit board out <img src=" photo IMG_20170428_145919.jpg" />

So I got the board out and replaced the capacitors. First time I've ever done something like that, so it was a real learning experience. I plugged it back in turned the key and whadya no, still doesn't work. By this time I was running out of daylight so I had to admit defeat and put everything back together. As of right now, I remain defeated by this particular issue.

I changed out the four capacitors in the bottom of the pic. It wasn't easy to find capacitors for sale. I called several places before landing on one, and rode my bicycle there right before they closed. <img src=" photo IMG_20170428_171151.jpg" />

So that job was a bit discouraging, but honestly I'm ecstatic that so far its the only job on this car thats beaten me to date.

That was two weekends ago. Now since schools out and I'm only working part time, I have loads of free time. So on Monday I finally got around to replacing the bushings in the headlights. When I first got the car, they seemed to work fine, although slowly. What I found is that as the weather got warmer, the lights got worse. I'd have to get out of the car and help the motors open them.

Unfortunately, I didn't take pics of this job, but its well documented online. There are three plastic bushings in the motor that literally turn to dust. Like, no resemblance to a bushing was left. I did both lights, and they work great. A good thing, because some neighborhood kids came over to see what I was doing, and they were fascinated by the lights going up and down. I probably did it a dozen times for them.

Today, I took it upon myself to adjust the drivers window. It leaks badly and I get lots of wind noise. Again, no pics, but I will have to do it again I'm sure once I get some parts to do the job correctly. I'm broke as a joke right now.

So, about two months and almost 3k miles later, I still have no regrets about this car. It hasn't let me down, and I'm still loving driving it. This experiment could still turn out to be a disaster, but so far so good.

PerniciousLies New Reader
8/29/18 5:36 p.m.

Well, it's been a year since my last update, and much has happened. Back in October, my car decided it didn't want to at start one after afternoon at school. After much coaxing, I got it going. It ran fine the whole way home, but once there refused to start. 

I knew in my head that it was the optispark, but I was in denial. I tested everything else, but all signs pointed to a bad Opti. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the budget, so this was my daily

PerniciousLies New Reader
8/29/18 5:54 p.m.

In reply to PerniciousLies :

By the time late November rolled around, being cold and often wet was getting old. I was still broke, but I managed to trade an AK47 for this.

It's a 1986 C20 Suburban, aka, a tank. It had been sitting in the guys woods for years, so naturally I dragged it out and started dailying it. I've had to do a little work along the way, but it's been surprisingly reliable, always getting me home. 

In the meantime, I slowly researched and collected parts to get the Vette going again. 

Agent98 Reader
8/29/18 8:03 p.m.

Good plan, hit it hard, break off the attack for awhile if you get bogged down. One suggestion, consider posted a "parts wanted" ad on the Corvette Forum those C4 guys have lots of spares, might have a fix or a replacement HVAC control panel for cheap/free, they seem willing to help a fellow C4-er especially a young college student one.

by 1994 GM got a lot of the bugs worked out of that C4 platform.

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