Into The Home Stretch
It's been a few months since we last visited our early C4 interior-redecorating project, so let's briefly review where we've been. In part one of this series (June '03), we stripped our well-worn guinea pig '84's interior down to the bare bones, removing most of the trim, doorpanels, seats, and anything else that got in the way of removing the thread-bare, faded carpet. We were optimistic, even with a gutted, interiorless Vette-stating that the quality of C4 replacement parts would make the job a remove-and-replace affair. In part two (July '03), it turned out that we were pretty much right. After laying down some noise-absorbing Accumat to quiet this noisy fourth-gen's ride, our new carpet panels from Corvette Central went into place just like the old pieces. There was a bit of gluing and trimming involved in places, but nothing that couldn't be handled, even by the rankest of amateurs.
We also replaced the console side panels and underdash plastic, and we rehabbed our thrashed seats in short order with C Central's mounted standard seat covers. And with that, it was time to put everything back together.
Ain't Nothin' To It But To Do It
Of course, saying "We just have to put everything back together" could easily be grouped with other famous last words. In this case, however, that's pretty much all there was to it. The replacement and reproduction parts we had left to install-rear-window weatherstripping, speakers and grilles, shift and center consoles, steering wheel, door panels, and doorsills-all went right into place. Even the couple of extras we planned-replacing the dreaded dash loaf and installing an awesome new Pioneer stereo system-were simple. It was just a matter of taking the time to put everything back together. Of course, we do recommend a couple of things that will make the process easier. The first, which we've stressed before, is to keep track of everything as you take it apart. Put screws and fasteners in plastic bags and label them, take photos, draw pictures, and do whatever you have to do to keep track of what goes where.
Another thing that helps in such an endeavor is to have talented and knowledgeable helpers. Mine-former Barry White's Street Rod Repair Company (and current Corvette owner) Ryan Rivers and Street Rodder staffer Jason Walker-were invaluable for their experience and moral support. In addition to helping tear this '84 apart, laying down the Accumat, and replacing the carpet, Jason helped make our stereo install a plug-and-play affair. And Ryan was "The Man" as we put everything back together and when it came to removing the dash top for a little R&R (you'll definitely want a manual and a helper on hand for this task).
So, Was It Worth It?
In short, absolutely! Doubts did arise at times, and it's easy to wonder if the time and effort were worth it. But all you have to do is slide into that new, thickly padded leather seat, smell that fresh carpet, grip the deliciously new steering wheel, and punch up some music on the excellent stereo, and all such doubts flee. On the inside, this old car is once again brand new. And the satisfaction of doing it myself makes it all the sweeter. As you take your ride from ratty to natty, we hope your experience is just as good.
Stereo technology has improved exponentially since the C4 Corvette first hit the scene. Our non-Bose '84 was fitted with a '90s vintage GM AM/FM cassette player and its original speakers; so it was entirely lacking in the musical-entertainment department. We wanted to improve the situation-with the proviso that installing the new system had to be a remove-and-replace affair so it could be included in this interior-rehab story. Pioneer Electronics was happy to oblige. Here's the scoop: Pioneer's DEH-P77DH CD player fit right into our factory stereo location without modification. To get it to work, all we (Jason) had to do was join the Pioneer harness to a GM adapter harness from Crutchfield and plug the thing in. This high-powered player (45 watts per channel) is chock full of features, including an easy-to-read LED display, a detachable face, a programmable equalizer and loudness, and the ability to control a remote CD stacker. It also comes with two-way crossovers to improve the quality of the sound you're hearing and a Supertuner III, which makes AM/FM signals stronger and better-sounding. For speakers, Pioneer came up with a pair of TS-A4667 two-way units for the front. They measure 4x6 inches (the stock dash size for non-Bose cars), can handle up to 120 watts, and bolt right into the factory location. The hardest part of installing these babies is removing the dash. Out back, we picked up a set of TS-A6980R four-way speakers. The fastener pattern on these new units is slightly different than the factory pattern, but all you have to do is drill new holes and move the J-nuts to make for a secure fit. These speakers can handle up to 350 watts, and we don't have enough space here to list the technology that went into creating them (it's an impressive list-let's just say you won't find paper cones here).
The bottom line is, of course, how it sounds. The answer is, incredible. We could've switched to a Bose system, but it's hard to believe it could be better than this. The high-power stereo is well-matched to the speakers. With the crossovers, each tonal range is clear, from crisp highs to booming base (booming enough to deal with that neighbor kid in the Civic). Those 180 watts are also enough to keep things distortion free, right up to volumes that erase all other sound (and thought). If you're looking for a virtually plug-and-play stereo upgrade with incredible performance, this is it. And with that, it's time to go-there's a Stevie Ray Vaughn CD in that player that's begging to be listened to.