Home corvette project
I created this site in order to have a living log of my corvette build. This is my hobby I have a very stressful job and like to spend my free time in the garage. Right or wrong I am just having fun. Not worried about making the fastest or the craziest just looking to spend some time in the garage covered in old motor dirt. The kind that don’t come off. When its complete I will probably drive it around for a month and sell it or tear it apart and build something else. Because for me its about the build not the finished product. I always have a few cars I’m working on. The main reason if something starts making me crazy I roll it out of the garage and work on something else.2013-08-30 00:53:42
My corvette project car PoorMans super car. Is a 1989 C4 corvette with over 300K miles on it. So most wear parts and even some hard parts will be replaced. In an effort to keep the cost down I will either be using Junkyard, New OEM or used racing parts. Anyone with some C4 donor parts should contact me if they want to donate to the project or sell cheap. I am poor so I can not offer top dollar for any thing. Also budget is very important to me for another reason I know this is a great car and can be made really, really fast. It is also cheap in the market and with engine swap choice there is really no limit as to HP. It surely can be made to put 1000hp to the ground. Now can it be done for under 20 thousand dollars. That is my goal which will run in a few phases the first will be the major system upgrade for the car and a motor capable of producing 500hp at least. Then moving to a much larger power plant. Along with other high dollar upgrades. That wil have to wait until the project is closer to completion.
Here is a the first look at the car in these pictures I have just purchased the car running with a bad tranny and a motor with 300K on the bottom end. The rear end and about 30K worth of minor upgrades and repairs were done still leaving the car in almost stock form. But with a rebuilt rear end and drive shaft. Along with full bushing replacement. I am betting by 200K when these were done the car was pretty tired and needed all the help it could get. Rear feels like a 3:73 or something close it pulls very hard and will smoke the tires with ease at this point. Tires are shot so that is no surprise.
Project PoorMan SuperCar
I have been working on the car for some time at this point. I found a few damaged areas on the body and other problems that needed to be addressed and decided it was time to go over the body and make sure it was correct and ready to be a platform for my project.
I noticed several deep cracks in the GelCoat clearly the car had a few boo boos in its long 300K miles of life of mostly city driving. As you can imagine its not perfect but the original owner had love for the car and anything that was damaged was fixed right away but time takes its toll on anything.
So here are some pick mid way into the restoration of the fiberglass body.
Here is the next set of pictures for the project don’t want to jam up the forum with one giant post that takes and hour to load. And also didn’t want to use really small useless pictures that cant be seen well by my readers.
I fixed many of the cracks by grinding them down and back filling with a good fine and course strand fiberglass. This should give the strongest repair possible and still allow for a little flex without the small amount of flex it will just crack and fall back out. Regular bondo would not work on these cracks at all.
Project Corvette 3
Here are some pics of the body repairs further along should give you some idea as to how long this part of the project really took. But in all my time I had to invest the cost was really low. Just some good body filler that was about 60 to 100 a gallon and a crap load fo sanding disc. The car had a few coats of paint and the factory gel coat I had to dig thru to get the right level of filler into the cracks to prevent them from forming again over time.
I had a compressor and borrowed an air sander from a friend. I also needed a few other products that did not total more than 50 dollars. Adhesion promoter for the rubber bumpers and rear end section.
From the pictures below you can see the door handles and emblems have been shaved. This was done to improve the look of the car and help if the car ever reached its 200mph goal. Just one less thing to fix when trying to reach those types of speeds.
Project Corvette 4
Here are the first looks of the car as the paint was applied. In these pictures the paint has been applied but it has not been buffed or cleared.
ProComp Cylinder Heads
In order to keep cost low I decided to use an older cast iron Camaro block. With a nice set of 59cc ProComp heads with 210cc intake runners. I knew none of the stock heads would come close to the flow I needed to hit a true 500hp actually to the rear wheels.
These came built with a nice set of springs 2.02″ undercut valves stems and high quality Bronze guides.
I got my set from a machine shop that sells on eBay.
I also got some support equipment at the same time from the same seller. A nice set of roller rockers head bolts and stud girdles. Just because I knew I was going to be pushing them way more than I should so figured a nice set of poly locks and Stud Girdles should help it live a little longer. I was not trying to build a grenade.
Vette engines and Piston Types
My Vette has a more modern v8 in it as its an 89 it was born with a roller cam and better shaped heads than normal v8s of the same time period. But in my case I am building one up from scratch.
Now a lot of engine from the 80’s had low compression pistons. Many of these are freaking terrible. The one shown below is best for knocking and pre-ignition. I personally call these rattle cans. If you rebuild an engine and see these pistons your going to have some problems. First off if you replace them with the pistons shown below. You will raise the compression ratio. Not really a bad thing but once you go up on compression the cam and heads may need to be changed. Along with valve springs and other support equipment.
Now with the proper pistons heads and cam you will make lot more power. But it may be beyond your budget. Some engine combos factory and other wise can just have the pistons replaced with the ones below. But without a larger cam and at least good flowing stock heads it will still be a dog.
Here we have a standard sizes stock flat top piston from a 70’s Camaro. This engine made almost 300 hp from the factory and was no more prone to detonation than engine with dished pistons. The reason for this is shape the dished relieved piston are so poorly designed they are more likely to knock than ones that are higher compression. Sounds backwards but its true now there is a butter zone of compression where no types of piston matter and detonation is not an issue. But if you wish to make over 300 hp compression is going to be needed to make the engine snap off like you want for heavy street driven engine. With 9:1 compression an engine with a 300 duration race style heavy loping cam will only have about 6:1 actual compression or Dynamic compression ratio as it commonly known. So just putting this cam into an engine with 7:1 compression its going to be a turd. But with 10:1 and flat top piston like the std sized one just above will run just fine on pump gas and the large cam. Of course this changes drastically if the stock cam is used the smaller the cam the higher the Dynamic Compression Ratio is going to be. If you ever built an engine with big cam and big valves and big carb thinking it was going to be fast only to drive the car and find out its flat. Runs slow and has a little hit in the high rpm band but no real power. You may be amazed to find out that some people drive cars on the street with pump gas that have 12:1 static compression. Now usually cars that extreme have other issues like the cam is so big it doesn’t smooth out until 3000 rpm and needs a 5000 rpm stall. Of course the trade off is 800 plus hp. So not really that bad.
With pistons one thing to remember is always get the one that work with your cam and heads. If you have a low power setup or high rpm screamer you will want the DCR to be the same for a street engine. This is the major difference to a proper build and one that is just all over the place. For road, circle, and drag racing a correct dcr is a major factor to winning the race. Missing this calculation by a few points will either leave you standing still at the starting line or broken down half way down the track.
My next post will talk about DCR in detail. Just wanted to touch on the pistons a little before moving on.
Summary if your pistons are stock and look like the one at the top of the page. Replace them with much better one either the oem flat tops from a performance model engine or with aftermarket pistons. Factory pistons will take over 400 hp as long as its N/A and no NOS. With NOS or blown you will need forged pistons. But stock ones can easily support a weekend drag racer. Don’t break the bank on pistons if you don’t have heads and everything else to use the best top of the line after market pistons. Stock ones will do just fine as long as they are the correct shape and being used with the correct compression ratios.
Corvette Build: Tear Down Loosing Weight
My Corvette Build up Part 2 Tear Down & Loosing Weight
Corvette Build: Update
Its been a while since my Corvette build up project has been updated. The car has been undergoing some work but have not had time to write up some more information onto the web. I will try to make more updates as time goes by. The car is painted and still needs to be buffed out and some strips added to look the way I want. Engine is also built and ready for install. It has an Edelbrock tunnel ram and two 600 cfm carbs. Should be good for close to 500 hp. I also got a 1984 Corvette for parts and it comes with a good transmission and non ABS brake lines to help remove the ABS unit and gives me a normal braking system in the car.
I’ve been working on the build up of my corvette. To loose weight and tear down the car for the build. I have been removing the interior and wiring harness. The engine, transmission and other parts to be replaced or simply not needed have been removed. I also removed all the carpet and sound proofing material and of course all the junk found floating around a car of this age when the seats and carpets are removed. The Complete wiring and all electronic components were also removed. Since the 1989 corvette is heavily designed with electronics it has several pounds of wire and relays along with a pile of little gizmos. Including the Heat and AC with all its components. The complete Bose stereo system with its over sized speaker boxes and amplifiers. Seats and seat belts were also removed since I will be using racing seats and harnesses.
Corvette Build: Tear Down
The tear down also included a massive amount of nuts, bolts and screws. Tons of small clips brackets and other equipment. This tear down easily accounts for hundreds of pounds of weight that has been removed. This should mostly stay out of the car. I will be rewiring the engine and chassis with a custom harness. I also pulled the ABS unit and computer along with the complete EFI system since this car will run a twin carburetor tunnel ram engine with GM HEI.
Corvette Build: Loosing Weight
I am building a custom dash. It will be made from foam and possibly thin plywood and fiberglass. I am also going to make some custom door cards made from some thin carbon fiber I have laying around and some thin plywood and a foam top section to hold the window seal. I am going t use the power windows and oem glass since there is no other options on the market. A custom solution for roll up windows or plastic windows will not help much and not really road worthy.
The dash will hold some switches for Main power, Ignition, headlights, interior lights and any other needed electrical items. Will also need a solution for turn signals, brake lights and high/low beams. Starter will be a simple push button. Since the car has no outside door handles and can only be opened from the remote theft is not a concern. It will also not be left anywhere for long outside of a garage. This should make things as simple as possible. The gauges will be standard aftermarket round gauges with the expected oil pressure, Water Temp, fuel pressure, speedometer, tachometer, Voltage and any other normal gauges needed or wanted. I like to know how the car is performing and if it has any issues. I will also include a lean rich gauge and some basic temp sensors for under hood and brake areas. Just to be sure that things are not getting out of hand.
Because most of the dash will work off of normal toggle switches like a race car the wiring system should be easy to wire and setup. I also plan on using them for the windows and other common electronic systems. I was also planning on using some LED’s to light up the dash and signal that power is being delivered to each part of the circuit. With these set to both sides of some of the common relays i can use these to diagnose any problems that arise.
I have to say i was shocked to see so much room inside the car after the interior was removed. Looked like the passenger could have a nice couch laid out inside there. With the stock interior installed the car was cramped and tight but once it was removed I was pleased to see the open look.
More to come soon once i get the car a little closer to engine install.
Building a custom dash for the vette
Once the corvette was striped it was clear the factory dash was ugly over sized and totally unusable for the project. So in this case i decided to build a custom dash and interior. First thing to do was get every removed from the car including about a mile of wire that weighed in around 50 pounds that will never be installed again. For this project i will be building a wire harness from scratch. The old harness was far to complex and had far to many gizmos and gadgets attached to it. Many of them were broken or had stopped working years ago. Once removed of its considerable mass of parts plastic and metal and a coffee can worth of screws and bolts. It was a clean stylish chassis that needed nothing to look great. One thing i wish is that it could have just left it alone. But some sort of dash was needed. The cross brace is a large aluminum structure that supports the chassis and is not removable. It does of coarse unbolt and can be removed. But once this is done the car is no longer structurally sound or safe. Even for mild auto cross where crashing is not a concern the brace is very important to the rigidity of the C4 corvette chassis.
Once cleaned up the corvette was ready for a new dash board. Since i had not cash for a replacement and no metal to make one out of. I decided to make it out of fiberglass. Since I also wanted it to be super light and not have the bulk of the original dash. I also decided to make it with a foam core. Basically like a surfboard using a foam core as a mold that stays inside the dash so very thin layer of fiberglass can be used to create a nice clean dash that also has some level of crash protection. Since you never plan to crash but it does happen figured it only makes since to build it as safe as possible.
I also wanted it to be very light so instead of heavy dense foam. I ended up using some regular polystyrene packing foam board that came with a relatives exercise equipment. It was about 1 1/2 inches its a good place to start then put a thin 1/4 sheet of construction foam insulation. Had an R1 value and used some 1/2 inch insulation foam that was covered with foil on one side to keep the bottom insulated from the electrical and engine heat. With the thicker sheet in the middle. This gave me about a 3″ thick block of foam that was very strong and easy to work. I cut it to shape so it could fit inside the car and click right into the spce around the window. When making this i also made it wider than i needed it so i could trim the front off and glue it to the bottom of the front so I could make the dash as thick as it needed to be and still fit inside the original space the old dash fit.
Once the shape was made i covered the entire outer section with blue painters tape since the fiberglass resin would melt the polystyrene foam easily i used the tape to prevent this from happening. The tap was laid in over lapping fashion to cover the entire dash. Allowing for a protective coating which worked perfectly. Much better than i had hoped. None of the resin got thru and melted the dash core.
The next step was to cover with some thin fiberglass cloth and resin in. For this i did only two applications of cloth weave that allows for a ridged but thin cover that is hard enough to hold a solid shape but will also flex easily if need be. It should also be safer than a metal dash made from aluminum. I also added a few coats of resin to allow for sanding and smoothing of the dash top and front face. Also to add some level of strength for light impact.
Once the glass was laid in the resin was sanded and everglass body filler with fine strands of glass to cover the entire outer surface. This was used to make the dash dead flat and smooth so it could be painted and coated with a textured that allowed for an older style finish not found in most modern cars. the coating was modern but made more of a rock like finish that came out incredibly well.
Once this was complete the dash was installed more to come when its prepped for gauges and wiring. It came out very nice and should work great for this purpose. It also ended up weighed only 2 pounds at most. very light weight along with its good looks. More to come….