On the shelf this time: historical books about the assembly plants which built the Corvette over the years and a series of legendary racing Vettes; and more how-to books, including one from one of Corvette Fever's own experts.
From A "Drive-Away" Garage to a State-Of-The-Art Plant
If you've got an eye for the history of America's Only True Sports Car, and you've got volumes in your Vette book collection that cover your favorite years/generations of Corvettes (if not every single one), there's one more type of book that you need. Namely, one that details where production Corvettes have been assembled, from the early-production '53s to where they're built now.
Mike Mueller's The Corvette Factories: Building America's Sports Car is like a well-optioned Corvette-loaded with lots of features. That includes tons of Chevrolet and GM archival photos showing how each generation of Vette went together at each plant, starting with the first Corvette assembly operations in what was the Customer Drive-Away garage at Chevrolet's Flint Assembly Plant. It then details the move for '54 to St. Louis Assembly and how it (and Corvette) changed over the years-and why Corvette had to leave it if it was to be a real world-class car. Then it goes into detail about the building of Bowling Green Assembly and relocating Vette production there, and about BGA's modernization and expansion that accompanied each new generation of Vette.
There are lots of in-progress photos detailing just about every step of Corvette production over the years that you're likely to give your closest scrutiny, even if they don't show your Vette being built.
There's also an in-depth chapter about the National Corvette Museum, showing the planning, construction, and expansion of the "Good Neighbor" to Bowling Green Assembly, plus historical sidebars covering significant Vettes and moments relating to the three plants. All this and more makes The Corvette Factories: Building America's Sports Car a must-read for anyone interested in Corvette history.
What Makes a Vette a Legend?
In one case, it involved a Regular Production Option (RPO) that was installed on just 216 Corvettes: RPO L88.
Peter Gimenez has written and published a thorough history of that legendary race-only Vette option package, and the ground-shaking engine at the heart of it, in Corvette Racing Legends: The Story of the L88 Option Package. In it, he tells the L88's history by first going back to the roots of Corvette racing in the '50s, and the factory option packages that turned the C1 from a cruiser into a serious race car on street circuits, purpose-built road courses, and airport tracks alike. Then, he takes you through the C2's racing development, from early Z06s to the Grand Sports, to the first regular-production L88s, which arrived at the very end of the 1966 model run (and made it onto the option list for '67) through the all-aluminum ZL1s and the displacement of the factory-built L88 by tube-framed Corvette race cars in the '70s.
The trackside photos are worth the price of this book alone, as you see the L88-powered Sting Rays and Sharks raced by drivers like Roger Penske, Don Yenko, Dick Guldstrand, Tony DeLorenzo, Bob Bondurant, George Wintersteen, Doug Bergen, Bob Johnson, Rex Ramsey, Ed Leslie, Jerry Grant, and Jerry Thompson, on tracks ranging from local SCCA tracks to Sebring, Daytona, and LeMans. It also has plenty of detail about the teams of L88 Vettes that ran in the late '60s and early '70s, including Penske's Sunoco-sponsored ones, the Owens-Corning Fiberglass-sponsored L88s, and James Garner's American International Racing team.
If you remember seeing these all-out racing Vettes run, or if you have an active imagination, you might need a set of earplugs to read Corvette Racing Legends: The Story of the L88 Option Package, as the sound of the L88 (and its all-aluminum sibling the ZL1) will be ringing through your mind the way the sound rang through your ears long after they flew by you!
Three More How-To's from CarTech Books
You've got to hand it to the CarTech Books crew. They keep coming up with thoroughly-detailed and lavishly-illustrated how-to books that would make great teaching texts. Their latest titles include Designing and Tuning High-Performance Fuel Injection Systems; Musclecar Interior Restoration Guide; and How to Design and Install In-Car Entertainment Systems.
The first one, Designing and Tuning High-Performance Fuel Injection Systems, is of particular interest to VetteRodders (or VetteRodders-to-be) who are thinking about turning the carburetors on their engines into permanent museum pieces. Greg Banish follows up his previous CarTech how-to (Engine Management: Advanced Tuning) with in-depth basics on fuel injection systems, as well as the benefits and limits of stand-alone FI systems. There's also plenty of information about useful formulas, VE equation and airflow estimation, setups and calibration, creating timing maps, and start-to-finish calibration examples (illustrated with lots of screen shots). There's also a detailed glossary, and appendices that include a resource guide for stand-alone FI system manufacturers and test-equipment makers.
The interior pictured on the cover of Daniel Strohl's Muscle Car Interior Restoration Guide is familiar to any Chevy lover: the '69 Camaro Super Sport (a car which Chevy showed in a memorable print ad alongside a same-year Corvette with the caption "We'll Take On Any Two Cars In This Magazine"), and the information inside pertains to vintage Vettes as well as steel-bodied cars. There's a lot of detail about the interior-resto process, the tools and materials needed, as well as each aspect of the interior from the dash to the carpets and everything in between-wiring, seats, door panels, pedals, the steering wheel and column, and more. You'll also find information about glass replacement, seat repair (leather or vinyl), and convertible top replacement. If you like the inside of your Vette to look like a couple of tigers fought in it, don't get this book. But, if you want to learn how to do it before you jump into an interior-resto project in your Corvette, this book is a must-read.
If you want the sound system inside your Vette to be as much a set of high-performance hardware as the powertrain or suspension, then Jefferson Bryant's How to Design and Install In-Car Entertainment Systems is for you. With it, you'll not only be able to choose the right amplifier(s), speakers, head units, and other hardware for your Vette, but you'll also learn how to install it yourself like a pro-saving you the big bucks that professional installs cost. There's also a section on tuning your sound system for your car's interior, plus sections on fabricating speaker enclosures and kick panels, electrical upgrades, and how to add the latest goodies like iPods, GPS navigation systems, and satellite radio. It all means your favorite tunes can go with you on the road, the way you want them to (and, in the case of satellite radio, you can still hear legendary DJs like "Cousin Brucie" Morrow and Michael Tearson).
For Weekend Wrenchers
Even the latest-generation Corvettes can use a little attention on the weekend, be it basic maintenance or upgrades inside or out. Tom Benford, who writes Garage Talk and C5/C6 Solutions each month for Corvette Fever, has written a bunch of straightforward projects for '84-later Vettes in his new Motorbooks Workshop book, Weekend Projects for Your Corvette C4/C5/C6.
There are a total of 52 projects inside, one for every weekend during the year, ranging from underhood projects like installing an oil filter magnet, repairing intake manifold vacuum connectors, or adding stainless steel hood struts; interior projects like replacing targa top weatherstripping, adding an aluminum dead pedal or upgrading your sound system with a satellite-radio receiver; exterior projects, from replacing your C5 headlight bulbs to putting on a nose mask the right way; as well as chassis projects like upgrading to performance shocks and replacing your C4's upper control arm bushings.
Tom tells you exactly what is needed in the way of tools and supplies for each job, about how long it will take you to complete each one, and he gives a cost estimate for each project. That's in addition to text and photos that take you through each one step-by-step.
When you get Tom's Weekend Projects for Your Corvette C4/C5/C6, you'll get those "little" Vette projects done sooner, and you'll make more time to enjoy your Vette later-especially if you live where Vette cruising season is waiting for the weather to warm up!