Is there anything more frustrating than being locked out of your Corvette and having to wait God-knows-how-long for a locksmith? How about being locked out because the key broke off in the door? Still not agonizing enough for you? Well, all this happened to yours truly only hours after purchasing my first Corvette, an '84 I affectionately call "The Bronze Bomber"-and in public, no less. What a way to start out!
Annoying as this situation was, it did determine what the first tech piece on this car would be. At the very least, a new door lock cylinder was a must. Corvette Central sells them in pairs, though the new pair wouldn't match the interior compartments. Not wanting to carry a third key, we compared the cost of re-keying the interior locks with that of getting a whole new lock set. The prices were close enough for us to go with all-new locks and ignition (we'll show you how to replace that in a future issue). Given that the outer door widow seal had just been assaulted by a "Slim Jim", we ordered a pair of these as well, and a few other goodies we'll show you here.
We kept a factory shop manual close at hand and paid attention to how the original parts were assembled. The installation took what amounted to an entire day to accomplish. The hardest part, of course, was the door lock cylinders. Access to the inside of the door handle area was the toughest hurdle to clear, which brings us to our first caveat. In order to get the space we needed to replace the cylinders-and take pictures while doing so-we removed the sheetmetal inner mounting plate that resides behind the door panel, as well as the lock mechanism itself. This also gave us a chance to clean and lubricate the door locks. One experienced C4 mechanic we consulted, however, said that he does the job without removing these pieces. It's a tight fit, but who are we to argue? The process for the lock cylinders is the same either way, and we suggest that you do whatever works best for you.
With that, lets get to it and see what it takes to make sure your C4 stays all locked up-or unlocked, as you see fit.
While We Were At It
It's a fact of life-old Corvettes develop squeaks and rattles. And some have actually claimed that '84s can be a bit noisy. Well! But since we did have the doors in The Bronze Bomber most of the way disassembled, we decided to add a few items to make sure that the ride in this '84 is as quiet and rattle-free as can be.