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Classic Corvettes

Posted by on 5/12/2013 to Industrial Hand Tools

Many car enthusiasts at some point will talk about the development of the Corvette, one of the greatest American machines created by one of the biggest companies in history – General Motors. The Corvette has changed much through the decades but retains its key qualities of being powerful, beautiful and affordable at the same time. Individuals with moderate income can afford classic Corvettes by searching for them online or at dealerships. Getting an old Corvette can also lead to a very worthwhile hobby of restoring and refurbishing. Here are some tips on how to maintain and restore your Corvette.

History of the Corvette

General Motors was the biggest car company there was during the 1950s and built several famous car brands such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Pontiac among others. Despite its success in the automobile business, General Motors did not have a sports car that could match Jaguar or Triumph. Harley J. Earl initiated the idea of creating an open sports car that would be available to moderate income individuals or at around $2,000. The concept was further developed by Robert F. McLean.

To keep the price down, the suspension and chassis of the 1952 Chevrolet sedan was incorporated. The passenger compartment and drivetrain were moved to the back to have a weight distribution of 53/47 from front to back over the wheelbase spanning 102 inches. The same engine used on other Chevys was used but featured a ratio of higher compression. To have a more powerful output of 150 horsepower, a better cam and triple Carter side-draft carbs were added. The body was also changed from steel to fiberglass.

Another objective for creating the affordable sports car was to have something new to show at the General Motors Motorama exhibit at the New York Auto Show in 1953. Ed Cole, the new chief engineer of Chevrolet included the powerful V8 engine. Together with Myron Scott, they named the new car Corvette. A lot of people loved the car at the 1953 Motorama, which spurred immediate production by June 30 of 1953 in the city of Flint located in Michigan. These have continued to be well-loved and appreciated by the public up until today.

In 1955, the small-block V8 was incorporated in the Corvette. However, only less than a dozen of these actually housed the V8 engine. The 1956 model featured the two-seater as a staple in the car. The 1957 model included the four-speed manual transmission, the T-10, for the first time. The engine at this time already had an output of 220 horsepower. The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which features the ladder frame instead of the X-member design, was introduced and became a huge hit, . The new Mitchell-Shinoda body style was added as well to come up with the roadster model. Chevrolet was quickly establishing the Corvette as a premier American sports car.

Through the decades, the Corvette continued to add state-of-the-art features and technologies. The C6 was created based on the top aspects of the C5. The new 6.0-liter V8 is housed in the new model. Output is now 400 horsepower, making it one of the best sports cars in the world. There are three suspension setups available. Two of the main advantages that the C6 offers are the excellent powertrain and handling. The price of the new model was also reduced to make it more affordable and competitive against European brands.

Purchasing and Owning a Corvette

Here are some of the most coveted Corvettes.

1. C1 283/230 Convertible (1958-1961)

Collectors of rare cars will have to pay around $40,000 to $80,000 to get this powerful and beautiful machine from the 1950s. Featuring 230 horsepower, you can enjoy joy-rides and fun races as well as maintain or restore the classic parts and features.

2. C2 327/250 Coupe (1964-1965)

These models are considered as the most attractive and sought after among all others because the value never seems to drop regardless of the times. The coupe features 250 horsepower and is priced anywhere between $35,000 to $60,000 depending on the condition and upgrades.

3. C3 Coupe (1975-1982)

The C3 features 165 to 230 horsepower. It is a good choice for individuals who like vintage cars and can easily improve the interior and engine. The C3 is known for being very affordable, costing only around $9,000 to $20,000. It is best to change the interiors since it is one of its weakest points.

4. C4 Coupe (1984-1988)

The C4 Coupe is another very affordable Corvette with a price tag of only $5,500 to $10,000. Featuring 230 to 250 horsepower and an upgraded suspension compared to its predecessors, the C4 is a good option for drivers who like speed without hurting their budget.

5. C4 ZRI (1990-1995)

The model is highly prized by buyers because of its 375 to 405 horsepower capacity. Individuals looking for classic cars can opt for the C4 ZRI, especially one at least a decade old to have more sayings.

6. C6 ZR1 (2005-present)

The newest creation by General Motors brings back a number of old-time features such as the exposed headlamps. The model has a powerful 6.2L V8 engine that can have an output of 100 horsepower per liter, or about 620 horsepower. It is one of the fastest cars in the world today.

Corvette Restoration

Vintage Corvettes can be restored and upgraded, incorporating new parts and features depending on the current quality or condition of the vehicle. There are some areas to check first, since these are noted by current and previous Corvette owners and mechanics to be the most commonly problematic. Check the vacuum booster for the brakes since these tend not to hold enough vacuum. There can be a slightly lean combination condition in one or more cylinders because of the intake manifold style of the car. The cylinder can be stopped from firing.

Also check the chassis dynamometer, which features a huge roller that goes under the rear tires of the vehicle. The machine will evaluate the horsepower and torque of the car, which will usually provide lower numbers than what is reported by sellers due to changes in the drivetrain. Considering that you’re getting an old Corvette, lowered numbers are still expected and should still provide you with enough speed. The carburetor should also be assessed and tuned when getting a Corvette. It should be one of the regularly checked parts for maintenance.

Next, check the engine oil. Corvettes built since 1989 will require a special type of oil recommended by the company. General Motors recommends the 5W-30 synthetic oil and says that other formulas should not be used, like the 20W-50 or 10W-40, depending on the model. One of the ideal oils to use is the Mobil 1 5W-30 synthetic oil. The manual will indicate how the oil used should properly meet the GM4718M standard. Models created before 1989 may use modern synthetic oils although the engines should be lubricated with those with ZDDP or Zinc Dialkyl DithioPhosphate. If your Corvette has a rebuilt engine, use the oil as recommended by the engine builder. Always check before introducing ZDDP or other additives through the oil or fuel.

When restoring or doing maintenance routines on the Corvette, the oil filter should be replaced whenever you change the oil. New filters will flow better and you will find how these work well even with a vintage chassis and body. The idea is to keep the classic appearance of the vehicle, but boost performance by changing to better oils and replacing the filter regularly.

About the Engine

Many owners and mechanics are confused whether they should keep the old engine of their classic Corvette or rebuild it completely. The original engine should have the serial number or VIN stamped, particularly on models made after 1981. This will appear on the flat boss on the block. Other information shown includes the date of manufacture. The VIN number should match properly. Knowing the number or originality of the engine will help you decide whether to keep the old one, or replace it with a newer or more powerful and efficient engine.

For broken original engines, you can either rebuild it using new parts or purchase a new replacement engine. An engine that can be rebuilt can be enhanced by replacing the heads, crank and pistons. Some of the warning signs include an engine block with a huge hole or with lacking pistons. Many small-block Corvettes are manufactured using the 4-bolt main 350 cubic inch engine of the Chevrolet. These can easily be acquired so you can get a new Goodwrench 350 engine at official dealers. You can expect an output of 195 to 260 horsepower at under $2,000. You can also find remanufactured and newer engine models although the cost will be much higher.

Donating Your Corvette

The SIFF or Sonoma International Film Festival started in 1997 and happens every April in Sonoma Valley, California. It is hosted by the Sonoma International Film Society, a non-profit organization categorized as 501 (c)(3). Donating old cars such as a Corvette to the organization can help support the Student Film Department at Sonoma Valley High School. Your old Corvette will be auctioned and sold to qualified individuals; the proceeds will go straight to the Sonoma International Film Festival Society to help students improve their talents and skills at filmmaking. There will be film presentations shown at various venues, falling in different categories like documentaries, student film programs, world cinema and feature-length narratives.

The value of the Corvette will be assessed depending on the year, condition and quality. Usually, these are valued over $500 , so you will receive tax deductions based on the real value of the car and the amount that it was sold for. An expert mechanic will be sent by the program to assess the condition and value of the car. You should be provided with a receipt and notes that prove your donation so you can get the tax benefits. 

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