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How To Steal A Corvette For $5,000, Part I

Remember, What You Save In Greenbacks, You’ll Pay In Elbow Grease And Wrench Time

Andrew Bolig Aug 1, 2000

Step By Step

The engine and transmission have long since been removed. This gives us an excellent opportunity to clean up the engine compartment and make changes as needed. With the engine bay open, installing the new rack-and-pinion will be much easier. We removed the engine wiring harness and the computer because we’ll be upgrading the system with an ’89 ECM.

The seats were already unbolted, which helps because we’ll be installing new carpet and the newer-style C4 seats in place of the originals.

The console was apparently used by the previous owner for a third seat, because the console brace and lid were cracked, so we decided to replace them with new pieces. He also smoked and used the cup holders as ashtrays! We were shocked to find the number of burn marks from hot ashes dropped inside the console. Hey, it’s a project car!

A thorough cleaning is never a bad idea when you buy a used Corvette. When we removed the console side panels, we found out why. I received my rebate when enough change fell out to equal a Las Vegas jackpot. There were also several razor blades that had fallen down under the console. Don’t know why they were there, and I’m not asking!

Availability of parts was one of the selling points for this car. In fact, Chris had been squirreling away parts for over a year. Many of the pieces we’ll need were stored in, on, or around the car. If you take on a task like this, make sure you know what’s included before you settle on the deal.

While working on a story at the Corvette Clinic, I mentioned to the owner, Chris Petris, that I was in the market for a daily-driver Corvette. A few days later, Chris began a conversation by saying, “I’ve been thinking...” After some deliberation, this ’85 Corvette became a Corvette Fever project car. And project it is!

The engine and transmission are out of it, and we’ve chosen to put an LT1 where the L98 originally resided. The initial price of $5,000 included the body of the car, with all of the odds and ends that can possibly be stuffed inside, as well as an unassembled LT1 engine and transmission, and some go-fast goodies. The selling point of this car was the fact that Chris had taken the time to locate and purchase many of the parts necessary to complete the project, and that he’ll be coaching us each step of the way to ensure that the project will be a success.

Chris mentioned that we’ll almost double the actual cost of the car before we’re done, but the fact that it will be new in almost every respect makes it a cost-effective effort. He says that if you’re going to purchase a Corvette for $5,000-$7,000, you’ll most likely be doing major repairs before long.

Kevin Schylaske’s ’85 Corvette, which was covered in the June issue of Corvette Fever (“Crate Engine Install”), was also a $5,000 Corvette, and Kevin had the opportunity to drive his new Corvette only two days before the engine overheated. Since we have an empty block right now, we have the opportunity to install some performance modifications to take our engine to the next level of performance, and bring you along for the trip.

We’ll be doing some upgrades, which would be necessary sooner or later on any early C4. But before we get there, we’ll be doing a lot of cleanin’, scrapin’ and scrubbin’ to get everything ready to put back together. The benefit of this car being disassembled is that it makes cleaning and painting a lot easier. We’ll keep you posted on this ’85’s progress.

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