Make no mistake about it--the sight of one's very own Corvette, sans interior and essentially gutted, can be a bit disconcerting. That's where we left off last month, as we took on the challenge of performing a do-it-yourself interior replacement on an early C4. Now, it's just common sense that the old has to come out before the new can go in, right? Even so, the sight of my interior-less Corvette, and the knowledge that I was responsible for putting things right again, brought on a grave case of the "I should'ves." As in, "I should've had someone else do this!" On the positive side, things took a definite upward turn as we began to put our subject (victim?) '84 back together again.
Much of the positive outlook came about as we actually begin to fit the replacement interior pieces into the car. The main reason for the change of attitude is that the new parts fit--and fit well. The plastic parts were either GM replacements or exact reproductions.
When it came to the seats, the bulk of the work was done for us (see sidebar). In fact, except for some minor carpet trimming and gluing, this was truly a remove and replace process. This amazed one of my colleagues (and helpers), Street Rodder staffer Jason Walker. Jason's experience with street rods has taught him that aftermarket parts usually don't fit without being modified. In the Corvette aftermarket, however, suppliers such as Corvette Central know how exacting the Corvette owners are, and this attention to detail certainly benefits the home mechanic.
DID YOU HEAR THAT?
So, we start Part Two with a dismantled Corvette and a bunch of new parts that fit correctly. Before reassembling our barren C4, however, we decided to address an issue that many early C4 owners know quite well--noise. I didn't nickname my '84 "The Bronze Bomber" for nothing-- this is one noisy car. Our tests with a decibel meter bore this out, as we got interior sound level readings from 90-104 dB at speeds ranging from idle to 70 mph. That's much too noisy, and we turned to Scoche Industries for help. Scoche's Accumat is designed to block out or dampen unwanted noise, depending on the thickness of the material. We used AMT250, a 1/4-inch sound-blocking material, on the hatch floor, behind the seats, and on the floorpans. We also used AMT045, a .045-inch thick sound damping material, on the rear wheelwells and along the transmission tunnel. Both types of Accumat are easy to use. Once the material is cut to size, it sticks to the car with an adhesive backing and can be molded to the sheetmetal. Will it work? And will it help block out the dreaded C4 drone? We'll let you know in Part Three, when the car is finally put back together and we can perform an "after" test with our decibel meter.
BACK AT IT
So, with a new layer of sound control material lining our C4's cockpit, it's time to start putting the new interior pieces into place. As we said, everything fit really well. If you pay attention to how the old parts came out, putting the new ones in is not difficult. One thing that we didn't do, however, is keep very good track of all those little screws that hold so many of the plastic panels in. You, of course, will do a much better job of bagging and tagging all those little bits and pieces. In our case, a quick phone call helped save us. C Central sells an Interior Fastener Kit, which even comes with an index sheet that says which screws go where--believe us, this kit was very handy, also ensured that we had new screws to use in visible areas.
Other than that, there ain't nothing to it but to do it. Take your time, as we did, and work deliberately. Our goal here is twofold--we want everything to look good, and we also want it to work correctly. As we continue through Part Two and finish up in Part Three, both of these goals are within reach, and we're looking forward to having a Corvette interior we can enjoy and be proud of.
One of the hardest parts of replacing any car's interior has got to be dealing with the seats. Going through the process of hog ringing the covers to the foam before installing the new pieces into our C4's seat buckets was not something I was looking forward to. As it turned out, however, I didn't have to do it at all. Corvette Central's Scott Kohn suggested that I opt for Mounted Standard Seat Covers. Here's the deal: My new leather seat covers, already attached to new foam and ready to install, were priced at $1,009, plus tax. The separate pieces (Leather Standard Seat Covers, Standard Seat Foam, a Seat Cover Installation Kit, and Hog Ring Pliers) come in at $1,016.95, again plus tax. It actually costs less money to get everything preassembled, and it saves some work, to boot. If you take the pieces to an upholstery shop, it costs even more. We'll show you a bit of what's involved if you want to re-cover your old foam, but it's hard to beat the convenience of ready-to-install seat cushions.