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.