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Going to the Well

Replacing the Rear Inner Fender Panel on an Early C4

John Nelson Aug 26, 2002

It was late, and I was toodling home on the freeway after a visit with family. By "toodling," I mean I was doing 85 on a semi-full four-lane highway. Everything was copacetic, except for whatever that was laying in the middle of the Interstate. I saw it too late and hit it square, launching my '84 into the air and blowing the right rear tire. Several moments of sheer butt-clenching terror ensured as I got the car under control (thank you again, Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School) and then to the side of the road. Spare tire mounted, I headed home to find a tranquilizer.

Now, I've related my experience here for what I hope is dramatic effect, but the fact of the matter is that everyone who drives will get a flat, and it may very well be a white-knuckle blowout. And once our person is safe, we look towards our Vettes. In my case, the damage was minor. The impact obliterated what was left of the '84s 19-year-old rear control arm bushings, and wrecked the rear inner fender panel. This piece of black plastic seemed like a minor casualty, but it actually plays two important roles. One, of course, is to shield the underside of the car from dirt and debris. The other, I discovered, is that the panel, along with a small brace, helps stiffen the lower-rear quarter-panel of a C4.

I figured a used panel would do just fine, and contacted J&D Corvette of Bellflower, California, about getting the part I needed from their "boneyard." Parts Manager Jaime Garcia observed that these old pieces are usually cracked and brittle, and suggested that I go with a new, reproduction piece. I took his suggestion, and then took the car over to have the part installed. This is actually an easy, do-it-yourself job. You'll have to drill a few holes, and do some trimming for later C4 fitments, but other than that it's a straight remove and replace job. So, whether you've had blowout damage, or just want to make sure everything's ship shape with your C4's rear wheelwells and lower quarter-panels, here's how it's done.


Here's what the wheelwell looked like after that late-night blowout. Large sections of plastic have been obliterated. Note the small brace that's now hanging free at one end (arrow), allowing the lower rear quarter-panel to flap around freely.

After jacking the car up and removing the right rear wheel, J&D's Ricardo Renteria removed the various fasteners from the remainder of the old wheelwell panel. Don't forget this Torx bolt, which is actually located underneath the car.

The old liner was removed in pieces. Note that the new liner does away with the mounting tab for the "underneath" bolt (arrow).

If your C4 is a '91 or later, you'll need to trim the panel at this line before installing it.

You'll also need to cut or drill a bolthole for mounting the aforementioned fender brace.

The new liner is then simply bolted back into place. Ricardo found two bolthole locations without corresponding openings in the liner. They were just above the center strip, one on the front edge and one on the back. Ricardo opened the holes, then inserted the proper Torx fasteners.

Make sure the rear brace is securely bolted to the new fender liner. This bar, along with the plastic insert, are all that keeps the lower portion of the car's rear fender panel from flapping around.


J&D Corvette
Bellflower, CA 90706

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