A few months ago we got a call from a gentleman looking to have his 1988 corvette fixed. "I have a remote starter alarm system and the car won't stay running when is cold" he said. Well bring it in and we will take a look at it.
A few days later, a very impressive work of art pulls up in the form of an 1988 Corvette, with the words "DELUXE VETT" on the tag. As the picture shows the paint job is there to catch your eye.
As we take possession of the car, for what seems to be standard repairs, we get a bit more information on the car and it's history. The car has less then 30k miles but it has seen a few modifications and as we will soon see, some were done very poorly.
Among the modifications: exhaust work, engine dress up, paint job, wheels and brakes, custom interior and a radio system, alarm system, under car lighting, interior neon.
The customer mentioned a few problems that he wanted to address, but the most important at the time was the engine stalling when the car was cold using the remote start, and a lack in power.
So we took on the job. We started with the standard stuff, checking fuel pressure, ignition timing, checked for computer codes, etc. We did find the timing off, but it did not solve our problem. The customer had mentioned that among the modifications he had done was new injectors, and a computer chip. With that in mind we put the car on the Dyno to see what it would do.
On the Dyno, the car proved to be a cow, and we did see the fuel was way off. We pulled the computer down to see this chip. After some research it was determined that the chip in question was designed for a completely stock car. Although this car was not highly upgraded in the engine side we knew we had to do some changes.
After making a new chip for it with some adjustments we were still having fuel problems. Upon looking at the engine, I noticed what the Corvette guys call "the frisbee", a dish looking wheel that mounts to the front of the water pump. I then researched to find the reason why Chevy engineers put it in. What I found out was that they wanted to remove the surge from the a/c compressor with this frisbee.
Well, this made no sense to me, then I did noticed how close this disc was to the maf sensor. After closer inspection the disc had rubbed a gauge on the underneath of the maf sensor, this was my problem. After a new mass air flow sensor and a re-tune, it was all good. But I was not happy with the closeness of the frisbee to the maf. So we pulled it off and left it off. The frisbee was installed only for a few years, and then replaced for a modified a/c clutch to improve the surge. So I did not think this would be a problem to the car.
When we were done, the car started fine when cold, the power was back and no surging at idle. We called the customer, but rather than picking up the car, he asked us to take a look at the radio. He said "my antenna goes up with the radio off, and it sounds really bad".
So after a quick look at the system, we agreed to take a hack at it. That was the beginning of my headaches. After pulling some trim panels to gain access to the radio harness, I was in disbelief, with the crappy work some people do, it was a rat's nest. The system was composed of a radio a cd/dvd player, a TV mounted on the passenger dash panels, also a 10" sub woofer and amp. But what a mess! Wires all over the place, components behind the seats, the sub woofer was mounted on a storage compartment behind the passenger seat. The concept was good but way outdated and poorly performed.
At this point, the customer came by to see the progress. When he saw the mess lurking under the custom interior, he turned to me and said "Hey Rae since you have taken some of the interior a part, why don't you re-do the whole interior as well?" I did not know which way he was going with the interior, but after some discussion, we had a game plan. Little did I know what a challenge this would be.
The interior was all custom, not a single part was it came originally.
Parts where either painted or wrapped in a very cheap vinyl, panels where customized with design features molded in. The problem was the material they used. Just to give you an idea of the poorness of the material, If you was to seat down on the seats when you would get off the seat, peaces of beige vinyl would stay stuck to you!
So all of it had to come out. the car was striped of the interior.
The customers idea was to bring the car back to original as possible with some inserts in the form gator skin he had someone try to make seat cover but they had failed. The owner and a friend decided on a black leather and the gator inserts. The challenge was converting the car back to stock form with a bunch of missing parts.
The list of parts grew every day. Progress was made in the upholstery department but we was hit with a constant "we need this now". After many call to our parts supplier we did it.
The radio system was removed and replaced with a Pioneer AVIC-X920BT, this radio has a bunch of features. But more importantly is its compactness. It was custom mounted to the car a set of new jbl 10" sub woofers on a small box was mounted and reused his amp. The reason for the box is due to the lack of space and in the event of the trunk needing to be used as a trunk. Also the targa top can now be stowed away in the truck area, something the customer could not do before.
There is more to be said but lets not bore you with detail. The customer is so happy to see his baby back in the garage. For us is another job well done and to the next project.