dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 9:20 a.m.

New guy to the forum here, and although I've been lurking a while reading Mazduece's ongoing AMG adventure and other good stuff it was the other C4 builds that prompted me to sign up and share mine.

A bit of background first: I'm a 2nd generation gearhead and have owned a number of cars over the years. Been with a well-known Georgia-based muscle car parts company for 25 years or so, and done a fair bit of autocrossing, drag racing and track-day type stuff in the past.

For the last couple of years I've been driving an '88 Formula at a few autocrosses - primarily at the LS Fest in Bowling Green.

 photo 3rd Gen at LS Fest_zpsjh6w0uww.jpg

We've done decently, upper mid-pack, but after the '16 event we decided we needed to step it up a bit. The Formula is a project car for a good friend's LS conversion kit company, so of course we decided to look around for another good LS swap candidate for the new car.

I've always liked C4 Vettes. They're currently pretty cheap, and would seem to be an ideal platform for an LS swap. They're relatively light and with some basic upgrades should go around the cones pretty well. My buddy's company had not yet developed a C4 LS swap package, and was interested in prototyping one, so all roads seemed to lead to the C4 destination.

So, in September of last year - the hunt for a suitable C4 was on.

Ovid_and_Flem Reader
March 29, 2017 9:24 a.m.

Getting the popcorn....this is gonna be good

Oh yeah....welcome to the hive.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 10:02 a.m.

In reply to Ovid_and_Flem:

Thank you!

In September I started looking at Craigslist ads, on eBay, etc., for a cheap C4 that was relatively close by. I wanted a running car since it would take a bit of time to gather the engine and other parts needed. While parts accumulation was happening, at least I could drive the car around a bit. I've never owned a C4, so spending a little time with one before tearing it all apart seemed like a good idea.

While any C4 would work, I had my preferences after doing some basic research. A '90 or later 6-speed car would be my first choice since it had the later interior and a manual trans. I could put a manual trans in any car, but starting with one puts me way ahead of the game, along with getting a stronger Dana 44 diff.

I learned a couple things right away - there are a lot of early C4s for sale out there very cheap, and most of 'em are automatic cars that are beat up pretty well.

 photo 033c1481-b713-4ddf-9e30-5a616de7dab9_zpsalbbvx5e.jpg

After a couple weeks, I found a 6-speed '91 model with 104k on it in Greenville, SC that seemed decent. It had some injection issues and a few blemishes here and there, but otherwise ticked the right boxes. Once I finally saw it and took a look at the service parts sticker in the console - I knew it was the one. The car set me back $4k, but made the 100-mile drive back to North Georgia with no drama.

GTXVette HalfDork
March 29, 2017 10:27 a.m.

There ya go, I've gotten my down to the Flyweight neighborhood but it barely is there anymore, gonna go ahead with my Overboard build now that I won't be attempting a legal car ($2017) That one is Clean looking. Where is ya'll's shop, I am over in BallGround, Does his Dad Live off Midway rd.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 10:46 a.m.

In reply to GTXVette:

The LS shop is in Cumming - that's where the car is now undergoing lots of test fitting and whatnot. Once his guys are finished prototyping mounts/headers/accessories for the LS and LT engines with various transmissions, I can get back to actually putting it together.

conesare2seconds HalfDork
March 29, 2017 10:51 a.m.

Steel Blue is one of my favorite colors. Welcome, excited for build details.

Mad_Ratel Dork
March 29, 2017 11:42 a.m.

Seriously? how the berkeley? I've been searching daily/weekly for a c4 manual for <5k. that is the car I would have bought. (I'm in freaking greenville.)

classicJackets HalfDork
March 29, 2017 11:46 a.m.

Nice! Another Georgia member too! That's a great looking 'vette. Looking forward to seeing more of this!

GTXVette HalfDork
March 29, 2017 12:05 p.m.

I met he and his dad Many years ago,I assume it's the son, but no matter, just used the 55 kit to do a 57 Nomad, Very nice fit. welcome Ya'll.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 12:34 p.m.

In reply to GTXVette:

Yep, it's father and son. I've known the guys for over 20 years now, and we've built a few cars together. Worked with the son for years before he moved over to the LS shop with his dad. Their conversion kit business is booming - seems like everyone wants an LS or an LT in something.

Thanks for all the welcomes!

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 12:35 p.m.

In reply to Mad_Ratel:

This was back in September, '16. Were you looking then?

Mad_Ratel Dork
March 29, 2017 12:44 p.m.

FEW. I looked last summer. stopped in august, started again in january... so, much less angry now.

in talks with someone for a 1995, lt1 6spd right now. it's purple and he wants the same cash... 160k miles though and the car needs to be painted again. You've got me wondering if he'll take 3k...

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 12:54 p.m.

 photo Hood open_zps9ojgn4k6.jpg

Here's a shot of the car back when I first brought it home. The injection trouble that had the PO stumped was a bad fuel pressure regulator. I popped the vacuum line off of it and gas ran out - never a good sign. Put a new reg on it, set the timing and changed the gas-fouled plugs and the car ran pretty well.

 photo SP decal_zpsdkbaqdpu.jpg

When looking the car over I checked out the service decal inside the console lid. These decals have all the car's option codes listed. The one that sealed the deal for me was RPO Z07 - that was the new-for-91 handling package that offered up the stout Z51 springs, 30mm front and 26mm rear sway bars, the 13-inch brake package and the adjustable Bilstein shocks. Just over 700 cars got the Z07 package in '91.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 1:07 p.m.

In reply to Mad_Ratel:

Keep in mind if the tranny is good it's worth between $2k and $3k itself. That's how I rationalize stuff like this to myself anyway.

petegossett UltimaDork
March 29, 2017 1:18 p.m.

In reply to dkm455:

Hot damn!!!

Welcome...and glad to have you guys sorting out the LS swap before I'll get around to doing mine!

conesare2seconds HalfDork
March 29, 2017 1:31 p.m.

Z07 is a great get. The fast steering alone is worth the price of admission. The shocks are available (though Bilstein doesn't offer rebuild service any longer, apparently, which is too bad because you could get custom valving) and actuators can be rebuilt these days. The stock Z07 package can deliver very good results, hope you'll consider that route before ditching the selective ride, should the need arise. Most Steel Blue cars got a blue-gray interior but like it even better with black.

Scooter Dork
March 29, 2017 1:55 p.m.

Alright now this is getting out of hand...

Dirtydog New Reader
March 29, 2017 4:34 p.m.

Congratulations on a car well bought. Looking forward to the build. It's got me thinking about my C4.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 8:05 p.m.

In reply to conesare2seconds:

I plan on using the OEM springs and sway bars initially. The original shocks were still on the car when I got it, but were in bad shape - along with a couple of the actuators. It also had the dreaded "Service Suspension" light on - probably due to bad actuators or possibly a bad module.

BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
March 29, 2017 8:19 p.m.

I've always wanted a C4 Vette. Thanks to all the C4 projects on here now I want one really bad. Also, I really like that color blue.

dkm455 New Reader
March 29, 2017 8:19 p.m.

After I got the car running decently, I started checking out the other parts more closely. The factory adjustable Bilsteins were still in place, but were leaking and had certainly seen better days. The brakes were also pretty thin, so I needed to do something about those. Once the car comes completely apart for the engine swap, I'll be going through the entire suspension - but I wanted some seat time before that so I fixed a few things so I could drive it in the meantime.

 photo Bilstein_zpsh05ojny9.jpg

While replacement Bilstein FX3 adjustable shocks are available, they're pretty expensive. In the interest of budget and time, I chose to replace the tired original shocks with Bilstein Sports for cars with the Z51 package. These were readily available from Tire Rack and were quite reasonable. After scraping years of grunge off the suspension, I bolted on the new dampers.

PerniciousLies New Reader
March 29, 2017 10:14 p.m.

Nice! I really like that color. Looking forward to following this.

dkm455 New Reader
March 30, 2017 9:45 a.m.

With the new shocks in place, it was time to freshen up the brakes. Since this car will be primarily a dedicated autocross car I saw no reason to go with an aftermarket upgrade. The factory J55 setup has 13" front rotors with PBR aluminum 2-piston calipers up front, which should be plenty for cone racing. I did think about a 2-piece rotor to shed a few pounds, but the cost/benefit ratio didn't really add up for me. So, once again I relied on Tire Rack and ordered Stop-Tech grooved rotors front and rear, with Stop-Tech Sport pads. The pads are marketed as suitable for performance street use, along with light track days and autocross. Once the car is together we'll see how the pads perform. I also ordered a set of Russell stainless brake hoses front and rear.

 photo wheelnrotor_zpsnj7nwzls.jpg

When the brown truck of happiness brought the brake stuff, I spent an afternoon installing it all. Except for the stainless hoses, unfortunately, which were a few days late. I'd ordered a new set of wheels and tires for my 2000 Z28 in the meantime, and since offsets are basically the same between C4 Vettes and 4th-gen F-bodies, I threw the new stuff on the Vette to see how it looked.

 photo NW2_zpsmuz5gaga.jpg

Not bad. Of course, a few days after this shot the Russell hoses showed, so I threw those on and filled the system with fresh ATE fluid. At least now I could drive the car around some and see how I liked it.

I like it!

conesare2seconds HalfDork
March 30, 2017 12:47 p.m.

You're right, the J55 brakes are more than up to the task when it comes to autocross. Shouldn't need an upgrade there. Let us know how the Stop Tech sport pads perform.

dkm455 New Reader
March 31, 2017 7:42 a.m.

When I bought the car in September I knew it would be a CAM-S car primarily, and I knew running a competitive tire would be mandatory. The only real choice in the size I needed was the BFG Rival S. The challenge was that Rival S availability has been hit or miss, and although I was months away from needing the tires I went ahead and backordered a set of 315/30/18s from Tire Rack. Two months later, around the 1st of December, they showed up. No wheels yet, but I had the tires.

 photo Rivals_zpsbgogwlsc.jpg

Expensive buggers.

1 2 3

You'll need to log in to post.

Also on Grassroots Motorsports

Your Projects: Wide-Body, V8-Powered Porsche 944

18 minutes ago in News

Wing, flares, V8 swap and more!

You Need This: Eclipse!

20 minutes ago in News

Today's special.

Your Projects: Boosted and Flared E30 BMW

2 hours ago in News

Another forum member put it best: “This build is absolutely mental. And I mean that in the best possible way.”

You Need This: 1990 Suzuki Carry 4WD Mini-Truck

3 hours ago in News

It looks cool, matches our cargo shorts, and makes little sense.

Concours d’Lemons: Showcasing the Best of the Worst and the Worst of the Best

4 hours ago in Articles

This year’s Concours d’Lemons celebrated two cars rarely associated with the glitz and glamor of Monterey.

You Need This: Gullwing Doors and Exotic Styling for Just $1500

6 hours ago in News

Meet some brown ’70s awesomeness.

Acura Unveils New Prototype Race Car in Monterey

2 days ago in News

Acura yesterday unveiled the new Acura ARX-05 prototype race car.

We're Back In Monterey for Car Week

2 days ago in News

And so it begins, another trip to Monterey Car Week.

Mark Your Calendars: August 18 Is Wear Your Helmet to Work Day

3 days ago in News

Wear your racing gear to work and win prizes.

You Need This: A Real 1LE Camaro

3 days ago in News

Chevy only built 62 1LE Camaros that year.

Little Car Show: Celebrating All Things Quirky and Small

4 days ago in Articles

As the name suggests, the Little Car Show is all about little cars.

Concours d’Lemons to Ruin Monterey Car Week Yet Again

4 days ago in News

What started as the anti-concours has transformed into a major event on the Monterey Car Week schedule.


Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More