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1979 Chevy Corvette - Part 2: We Have Our Orders

Establishing the plan and setting a budget

Chris Petris Jan 28, 2005
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If your shark has been sitting in the garage waiting for you to tackle arestoration, or you recently purchased a '74-'82 Corvette and want tomake it roadworthy, you need a plan of attack--a Shark Attack.

Too often, we see our dream shark for sale, realize we're getting aCorvette at an unbelievable price, and look no further. As wedemonstrated in our last installment, a Corvette buyer is better offgetting the best possible car rather than the cheapest. In thisinstallment, we'll prove that point and also show you how important theplan of attack is in taking on any project, especially one where overallspending is crucial.

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Arm yourself with the right resources. From left, a '79 Corvette shopmanual, a Corvette assembly manual, and '79 Chevy wiring diagrams.

Since our Corvette isn't a daily driver, we plan to do the partialrestoration in stages. At each stage, we'll order the parts thoughtfullyso the Corvette won't be in pieces for long periods of time. This allowsdrive time between the restoration stages, so you look forward to thenext phase. It's easy to drag out any project or lose interest when it'sin pieces all over the shop.

As stated, we'll do a partial restoration to create a reliable,comfortable cruising car. To ensure reliability and safety, eachmechanical system must be inspected and restored.


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Stay organized. Give yourself ample space so you don't have to pick upand move the mess to get your car in the garage. If you keep the projectmoving, you'll stay motivated.

Before performing any work, a close inspection of the entire Corvette isimportant, then a complete plan of attack can be established. Assemblinga comprehensive list of all restoration pieces is difficult butworthwhile, because careful planning can save labor and parts costs.

When disassembling components, you'll usually find surprises that can bequite expensive. At one time, around $200 would cover the surprises, buttoday $500 can go quickly. If you're working with a tight budget, thisis the time to consider where to spend your money. Controlling anyproject is difficult, and other Corvette owners can be helpful in makingyour decisions.

Need Help?

If you don't have much experience in the area you're working on, theexperts at Corvette Central can help identify the parts you'll need. Thecompany assembles kits to help with small items that are sometimesforgotten until you're in the middle of a job on a Saturday afternoon.

In addition to a catalog of products from a supplier like CorvetteCentral, be sure to have an assembly manual. This will not only help youput the car back together, but will identify missing components orprevious work that was done incorrectly.

Once a comprehensive parts and labor list is compiled, enhancements canbe considered. Corvette Central has an excellent Web site for viewingand ordering parts. Being able to see the parts and compare beforebuying is a huge plus.

Keeping Down The Cost

Because we're on a budget, the cost of parts is important.Unfortunately, many parts that cost less aren't the best quality. Don'tlook for the best price; shop for the most reliable parts.

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Our first priority is to get the car moving safely. We'll begin bybringing the braking and suspension up to factory standards, along witha few minor upgrades.

Buy the parts for the area of the car you're working on at one time.Corvette Central has a start-to-finish plan that can be beneficial in amajor or partial restoration. Many times, suppliers discount largeshipments and help with shipping costs. If you order single partsseparately, the shipping charges will dramatically increase the cost ofyour project.

Cutting Corners Costs More

If you have a shop do the work for you, bringing your own repair partscomes with a set of rules. The shop typically makes a profit from theparts sale, but the profit is lost quickly if a part fails. Mostsuppliers don't pay labor when a part fails, so the shop must absorb thecost. If a customer supplies the parts, the shop can only guarantee thelabor that was performed.

For most shops, how to charge for labor can be an issue for majorprojects. Charging a flat rate from a labor guide is difficult whenparts must be cleaned and painted before assembly. Flat-rate laborguides are for relatively new vehicles with minor corrosion and grime.If you want the shop to take extra care with your restoration, it cancost quite a bit more.

Discuss your plans and ask how the shop charges for labor. Do they paintthe pieces they're working on? Do they clean the pieces and apply apreventive coating before they paint? These days, powdercoating costsare in line with good epoxy or urethane paint coating. The problem withpowdercoating is, additional time is required for processing the pieces,but it can be more cost effective than traditional preparation andpainting.

Where To Start? Rear Suspension & Brakes

I've performed many mechanical restorations, and the question I'm oftenasked is where to start. The front suspension and steering are best donewith the radiator and shroud removed. So I do all of the rearsuspension, differential, and brakes first. Once they're removed, theframe can be cleaned and a coat of urethane primer can be applied.

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With our list in hand, it's time to log on to tomake our order.

There are a few enhancements that are worth doing to the shark. Urethanesuspension bushings for the front and rear last longer and providepositive suspension control. The downside of using urethane bushings isthey can be noisy at times depending on heat and humidity levels, andthey also create a rougher ride. But in this case, the benefits outweighthe minor concerns. Stainless steel shims will be used for thetrailing-arm toe alignment because the shims allow easy alignment formany years. The steel rear spring will be replaced with a fiberglassspring. The fiberglass composite spring provides a smoother ride and, aswe all know, the shark can be tough on the backside after a long trip.

The brakes on Project Shark were not safe at any speed, so we'll replacethe stock components with drilled rotors. We'll use Stainless SteelBrakes calipers at all corners, along with a set of stainless brakehoses and rear-brake-caliper lines.

Ordering The First Parts Online

First we'll order parts for the rear of our car from Corvette Central'sWeb site. Buying parts online is simpler, and provides the opportunityto create a list using Corvette Central's ordering system.

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Parts Lists & Costs: Barkes

Check the parts carefully when they arrive before beginning any work.Make sure they are the correct parts and aren't damaged.

What's Next?

The next phase will be the rear suspension, brake, and differentialrestoration work. Once we start on the rear suspension work, we'll orderthe front suspension parts. Once the suspension and brakes arecompleted, we'll go for a testdrive to check the condition of the engineand transmission.

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Parts Lists & Costs: Suspension

The aesthetics of Project Shark will come near the end of the project.We'll tackle the interior items once we're sure the car functions safelyand performs at the Corvette level.

We're satisfied with the exterior, and we'll deal with any issues whenbudget and necessity dictate.


Our goal with Project Shark Attack is to get you and your shark back onspeaking terms. Maybe you'd love to tackle the project, but need somemotivation. We'll show you how, on a budget, enjoying your shark can bea reality. Don't let the naysayers tell you your Corvette isn't worthinvesting time and money. A review of the classified ads in your areawill give you an idea of what Corvettes are going for. Armed with thatinformation, you'll realize your '74-'82 is clearly a project worthtackling.

Taxes, Tags, & Insurance

What could be worse than completing your project and finding out there'sa problem with the title? Delaying the title or registration work canresult in a few surprises.

* Many states impose a penalty if the title transfer is not done within10 days.

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Parts Lists & Costs: Additional Parts

* In some states, the title can be transferred without assigning alicense tag, if you prefer, as long as you sign an affidavit stating thecar will not be driven on any public right-of-way.

* In Florida, a bill of sale is required to reinforce the sale price. Ifthe selling price is lower than the typical Kelley Blue Book price andyou do not have a bill of sale, the state will send the buyer and selleran affidavit, which must be signed and notrized by the buyer and sellerverifying the sale price. If both parties cannot sign the affidavit,a penalty and whatever additional taxes are due will be charged to thebuyer.

I don't plan to drive the project car for a while, but since it's titledcorrectly, I can insure it during the partial restoration. My autoinsurance provider has 100,000, 50,000, 100,000 liability, uninsuredmotorist, personal injury protection, and physical damage coverageavailable at a reasonable cost. For approximately $150 a year, theCorvette will be covered from accident damage or inclement weather,based on a stated value of $8,000. If a road test is necessary, I candrive with confidence, although road-test mileage is strictly limited.Don't forget to increase coverage as the project nears completion.


Corvette Central
Sawyer, MI 49125
Stainless Steel Brakes
Clarence, NY
Corvette Clinic
Sanford, FL



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