The seller said, "Let's put it on the lift to look at the underside."This was music to my ears, as the seller didn't know of my knowledge ofCorvettes and I wore clothing without any Corvette logos. As the car wasbeing lifted, the seller told me the engine and power steering hadleaks, and the right front caliper had a slight leak. I took a look withmy trusty Maglite flashlight. It had the leaks as stated, but the framewas in good shape--no severe rust, kinks, or cracks at the frontsuspension area. No bodywork had been performed on the inner fenders,indicating no major accident had occurred. The underside consisted ofall original pieces, including well-worn bushings and bearings. Theexhaust system had been changed, eliminating the catalytic converters.
After lowering the car, I looked at the door gaps, especially at thetops of the fenders. If there is a major gap between the upper part ofthe fender and door, accident damage may have occurred. The windshieldframe looked clean and the windshield wasn't leaking badly. The floorswere good, indicating there were no major leaks in the car.
After the underside inspection, I started the car. As the engine turnedover, it sounded as if it had two weak cylinders. While I was waitingfor the engine to warm up, I found a replacement cooling-systemthermostat in the glovebox, reinforcing the overheating theory. The A/Cblower came on, but the A/C compressor did not. The headlights didn'topen. The tachometer worked erratically, but all other gauges appearedto function correctly. The dash was cracked above the gauges and thedoor panels required replacement, as would the carpet. The odometershowed 24,736 miles and I believe the car probably had 124,736 milesbased on the number of original parts still present.
Checking the numbers, I found the car was originally dark brown metallicwith light beige interior. It was a four-speed L82 with factory A/C.Since there were 42,454 automatics built, the four-speed certainly madethis car desirable.
Having covered all the major areas of the car, I began to make my finalassessment. Even though this Corvette required more work than Ioriginally wanted for the Shark Attack project, it had a lot of goodattributes. Usually, paint is of secondary importance when inspecting acar, but the red exterior was fresh and well done. This was importantbecause even an inexpensive base/clear paint job, done correctly, wouldcost $2,000. The frame, suspension pieces, and most hardware were inplace and intact.
The seller wanted $5,000. After discussion, we settled on $4,000, minusthe seats. They were incorrect anyway, and I had a set of correct onesat the shop.
I didn't testdrive the car because of the obvious necessary brakerepairs. I came back with my trailer and took it to the shop, ready toget the ball rolling on our project. The next phase of the project willbe a complete inspection of all mechanical components. Then acomprehensive list of necessary mechanical parts and labor will becompiled. Once we determine what parts we need, Corvette Central, asponsor of this project, will assist us from start to finish.
Before any work begins, all phases of the frame-on restoration will bediscussed and planned out, as well as some possible enhancements.Planning is essential to ensure any project is successful and on budget.
Tiptoeing around the fresh paint while the work is being done will bethe first challenge. But, rest assured, there are many more in store.