If you've been following our bucks-down C4 build, you'll know that up until now, we've focused our efforts exclusively on upgrades designed to increase the car's straight-line acceleration. After all, when dealing with a finite budget, it only makes sense (to us, anyway) to prioritize performance over aesthetic éclat.
This month's installment is a bit of a departure, then, in that it involves a suite of items intended to spruce up the car's interior. Normally we wouldn't stray from our build plan this way, but there were a number of factors involved here that convinced us to make an exception.
First, the hardware in question is actually quite affordable. Sold by interior-parts specialist American Hydrocarbon, our $490 ($695 without core parts) kit included carbon-fiber-look replacements for virtually every hard-plastic surface in the driving space. (The pieces are also available separately, should you prefer an incremental approach.) The company uses a "hydrographic" water-transfer printing process to apply a convincing carbon pattern to used core parts, so you get the high-tech look of the real thing at a price rivaling that of most cheap OEM knock-offs.
Second, while the kit unquestionably constitutes a marked visual improvement over the factory stuff, this job is as much a restoration project as it is a cosmetic one. Fourth-Gen Corvettes are notorious for their flimsy plastic cabin appointments, and while our '96 coupe was still in reasonably good shape for its vintage, its rubber-skinned interior surfaces were showing their share of scratches, heat bubbles, and other age-related imperfections.
Finally, American Hydrocarbon founder Pat Scorzetti was gracious enough to drive out and perform the installation at our Tampa editorial shop, freeing us up to photograph the job and ask our usual battery of occasionally cogent questions. Follow along now as Scorzetti lends a welcome dose of high-tech style to our long-suffering C4.