We've Got Project Cars!
Whether considering automobiles, homes, or antique furniture, purchasing someone else's used property generally comes with the aggravation of making repairs. As even a well-maintained house will eventually need a new roof, and a well-preserved piece of antique furniture will inevitably need to be refinished, a used automobile--especially a performance model--can likewise present a variety of issues that need to be addressed before the car is driven. Such is the case with our latest project, a '71 Stingray we recently picked up from eBay. Although we feel like we got a lot for our money with this purchase, there were several areas that needed attention before the car could be deemed roadworthy. This month we'll completely inspect our project vehicle, and perform some necessary routine (and not-so-routine) maintenance before hitting the road. Though we're working on a C3, remember that our techniques can be applied to any used vehicle prior to trusting it on the streets.
Knowing that even a fairly new Corvette may have been poorly maintained or improperly modified by its previous owner(s), we decided to give our Stingray a thorough mechanical evaluation to determine its roadworthiness. Of course, you may not care to perform this work yourself, but if you don't have the skills or desire to mechanically evaluate a used car you've recently purchased, we suggest taking it to a mechanic who can inspect it for you. As you'll see, we found a couple of safety-related items with our Stingray that could have led to catastrophic results had they gone unnoticed.
It's always a good idea to inspect a vehicle before purchasing it, but since we made our transaction over the Internet, we could only rely on the description and pictures the seller posted on the website. Luckily, the vehicle we purchased was basically as described in the advertisement, with the major mechanical components in pretty good shape. When inspecting a vehicle like ours, we generally begin with the obvious, like looking under the car for puddles of leaking fluids. Next, safety-related items such as the brakes, suspension, fuel and electrical systems, and seatbelts should be inspected. Of course, the airbags of newer cars should be checked as well, as they are sometimes not replaced properly after being deployed. Since our Stingray is a '71 model, we didn't have to worry about that.
What we did worry about was the odor of fuel when we started the car. Since there are basically two systems in a car that can catch fire, and the fuel system is one of them, we had to make sure ours was working properly and not leaking. Starting at the rear of the vehicle, we discovered that the fuel tank and main supply line had been replaced with new parts, but as we worked our way forward we found out where the scent of petrol was originating. The fuel line connecting the main supply line to the carburetor, through the filter, was a mismatch of steel tubing and rubber hose of various sizes. Making matters worse, several fuel-line clamps were incorrectly sized; this was the main cause of the leaks. After making the necessary fuel-system repairs, we moved on to the second system that could cause a fire, the car's electrical system.