A Star is (Re)Born: the Chop, Cut, Rebuild C4 Corvette

The inside story of the Chop Cut Rebuild C4 project car

Barry Kluczyk Aug 23, 2006 0 Comment(s)

Getting to Work

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D&P Classic Chevy, in Huntington Beach, California, handled the Vette'sbodywork...photo courtesy of WAS Productions

On the lift at D&P Classic Chevy, the body was stripped of its front andrear fascias, and the rest of the body was prepped for paint. CorvetteAmerica came through with '96-style front and rear fascias, whichdramatically updated the look of the car. The new panels were hung onthe body, and the car was sprayed House of Kolor silver and accentedwith a black centersection on the hood. Custom checkered-flag graphicswere supplied by Vandemon Absolute Custom and provide tastefullydramatic enhancement to the C4's lithe body lines.

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...Although originally painted a rare-for-its-year yellow, thebody was stripped and prepped for a new coat of silver paint. photo courtesy of WAS Productions

With the paintwork finished, the exterior was buttoned up with newlenses, weatherstripping, and a new black top, the latter installed byBill Dunn One Stop Shop Custom Upholstery. The interior also was redone,as its "before" condition was fit for neither man nor dog. Again,Corvette America came to the rescue, furnishing the necessaryrestoration supplies, while Azteka Custom Upholstery re-covered theleather seats. The only noticeable deviation from stock is a Sony Xplodstereo system.

Powering the revamped Vette fell to a tried-and-true ZZ4 crate enginefrom GM Performance. To preserve the TPI look of the car's originaldrivetrain, a complete L98-style injection setup was supplied by Streetand Performance. The plenum was polished to a mirror-like finish andcomplements an eye-catching set of polished valve covers. That the CCRteam didn't go with a later-style LT1 or even LS1 is interesting.

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A polished TPI unit from Street & Performance channels air and fuel to aGM Performance ZZ4 crate engine. The classic 350-cube small-block israted at 355 hp (in carbureted form). The detailed valve covers are anice touch, too.

"From the very beginning, this was to be a daily driver," says Woods."The engine combination is strong and reliable for everyday drivingalong the Pacific Coast Highway. It also underscores the comparativeaffordability over a complete swap to a later-model powertrain."

Fair enough. And, we think, the L98's distinctive plenum and runnertubes still look great. We won't go as far as claiming the L98 setup is"retro"--this magazine's staff feels old enough already. Exhaust from theinjected ZZ4 is carried away by a set of prototype Bassani long-tubeheaders and a dual 2.5-inch Bassani "Aft-Cat" system.

SEMA Debut

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One of the more interesting modifications was the use of a Tremecfive-speed manual transmission in place of the original, archaic "4+3"Doug Nash overdrive unit. The factory insignia is still on the console,serving as an "I remember those..." conversation starter. KeislerEngineering assisted with hooking up the Vette with its row-it-yourselfTremec.

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The car's thoroughly sun-baked cabin was redone with restoration partsfrom Corvette America, along with new seat upholstery from Azteka CustomUpholstery. The "video game" dash of the '88 contrasts with the rounded,later-model front/rear fascias, causing head scratches from Corvettefans who are intimate with year-by-year differences.

When it came to the car's underpinnings, the worn-out stock suspensioncomponents were replaced or upgraded. Baer supplied a set of heftybrakes, including drilled and slotted rotors. The final touch was a setof 18-inch American Racing polished wheels and BFGoodrich rubber. "Thecar has a great look and stance," says Woods. "The polished Americansreally complement the body's silver paint."

Indeed, they do. Woods estimates only about 50 percent of the originalcar remains. It also took about one year to complete the project, whichwas unveiled last fall at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. It was a standoutin the sea of all-new production vehicles.

Like any restoration, there were unseen pitfalls and time-challengingprojects. All of the car's weatherstripping and seals were rotted, forexample. All of them. Even the desert-sandblasted windshield wasreplaced.

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At the core, however, CCR's producers accomplished their goal. Theyrevived a close-to-dead C4 with attention to detail and carefulplanning. And unlike so many of the vehicles seen on competitors' shows,this Vette represents the realization of attainable goals and acomparatively down-to-earth investment. That's not the same as cheap,mind you, but for a car built to be driven on a daily basis, itdemonstrates considerable value.

"We never took the body off the chassis," says Woods. "It's a veryrealistic representation of what can be done with a worn and tired usedcar. It's a Corvette--we had to do it."

"An American Seduction...The Corvette Affair," begins airing in July. Go to www.ccrtv.com formore information and a broadcast schedule.




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