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C5 Newbie - now the questions start

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ozphoenix

Guest
After 25 years waiting (for many reasons) I finally have a 1999 C5 Coupe. It arrived in Australia Black with stock rims, I had it sprayed Metallic Pewter and had the rims polished while it was being converted to RHD (hey, we don't get many to choose from over here!).

Now the questions -- what's the quickest improvement in horsepower that's the easiest to carry on airline luggage? I'm going to USA in Sept and want to bring some goodies back but it's a long-haul flight and luggage restrictions are tough. I keep reading about air intake (Blackwing, K&N, Halltech) being the best improvement to start with, but I don't have places to go to see them over here or talk about them to others.

While on performance, anyone know for sure what a stock automatic will do in a standing 200 metre sprint?

Also, this one came via Japan, where (apparently) the exported units didn't include tire pressure sensors. Are they worthpicking up while I'm in USA or are they just a trinket? I run regular tires, not EMT's.

Next, I want to pick up the module for keyless entry (plus the key fobs) -- is it as simple as just going to a Chevy dealer or do they normally have to order this type of stuff in? Alternatively, is there a good, reputable, mail-order place for 'vette stuff like this (not after-market units -- the real thing).

Anyway, enough for now -- the car's a dream, the conversion (by Corvette Queensland) is seamless and the adrenalin is still there!
 
T

Timbrwolf9

Guest
ozphoenix said:
After 25 years waiting (for many reasons) I finally have a 1999 C5 Coupe. It arrived in Australia Black with stock rims, I had it sprayed Metallic Pewter and had the rims polished while it was being converted to RHD (hey, we don't get many to choose from over here!).

Now the questions -- what's the quickest improvement in horsepower that's the easiest to carry on airline luggage? I'm going to USA in Sept and want to bring some goodies back but it's a long-haul flight and luggage restrictions are tough. I keep reading about air intake (Blackwing, K&N, Halltech) being the best improvement to start with, but I don't have places to go to see them over here or talk about them to others.

While on performance, anyone know for sure what a stock automatic will do in a standing 200 metre sprint?

Also, this one came via Japan, where (apparently) the exported units didn't include tire pressure sensors. Are they worthpicking up while I'm in USA or are they just a trinket? I run regular tires, not EMT's.

Next, I want to pick up the module for keyless entry (plus the key fobs) -- is it as simple as just going to a Chevy dealer or do they normally have to order this type of stuff in? Alternatively, is there a good, reputable, mail-order place for 'vette stuff like this (not after-market units -- the real thing).

Anyway, enough for now -- the car's a dream, the conversion (by Corvette Queensland) is seamless and the adrenalin is still there!


First off - Congrats on your purchase.

As for performance upgrade, I hear more good things about the Donaldson Blackwing air intake system as a good way to up horsepower along with replacing the stock exhaust. Obviously you can't carry the new exhaust in your luggage so you will you have deal with that otherwise.

As for the tire pressure sensors, if you are not running the EMT (run-flats), I wouldn't worry about it. The sensors are needed with the run-flats since you might not realize when driving that your tire is very low or even flat without the sensors.
As for the keyless entry, you can check with a Chevy dealer or you might want to consider installing an aftermarket alarm system that would handle your keyless entry needs.

I am curious, did you have to convert it to RHD for legal reasons, or because that is what you are used to?
 
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MacShee98

Guest
Congrats on the '99 C5. We would love to see pix of the RHD conversion - dashboard, guages, pedals and all - we don't see many of those here in the USA for obvious reasons.

The lower-restriction air-filter route would probably be the easiest HP increase. I'd guess that a K&N filter could easily be fit into your luggage. If you travel light, you might be able to get a BlackWing into your bag. You should bear in mind that lower restriction air filters = more particulate matter entering the intake, thus the oil and filter would have to be changed more frequently than it would with a stock filter. I don't know what Mobil One synthetic oil goes for "down under", but that might be a consideration, esp. in a dusty climate.

We 'don't know from nuthin'' about 200m sprints over here. We'd have to do the math and it'd only be theoretical. A typical performance measure here in the US is the 0-60 mph dash, or in your case, 96.5 km/h. A typical stock '99 6-spd should be able to do it in about 4.8 seconds, A4 trans in about 5.1 sec.

Your tires ARE your tire pressure sensors: without runflats you really don't need the TPM system (your export may not even have the required receiver - I don't know). Anyway, they'd cost about $100 US each and aren't really req'd unless you are running EMTs.

I'd find out if your car has the receiver before attempting to add the remote keyless entry; If not the upgrade could be more than it's worth.

Best of Luck and send us those conversion pix!
 
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ozphoenix

Guest
Thanks for the replies folks -- they confirmed what I thought about the tire pressure sensors and warned me about the receiver -- thought it would alreadybe there -- any quick clues on where to look - I think it's placed somewhere on the left hand side of the car.

About the conversion -- unless you want to register a car as a 'show only' classic (and isn't any 'vette a classic?) and only drive it for limited mileage and put it in shows, you MUST convert cars to RHD in every state in Oz. This car is my everyday business car (will rack up about 30,000 miles per year, mostly on open country road -- what a bore! -- NOT!!), so it's registered and insured for full business use, even though a lot of it will be relaxing and touring.

I don't intend to race this one hard, but I do intend to give the local cars a bit of a run at th sprints and in rallies (on-road only, though I've had this one on a bit of country gravel already and it was ok -- bit of a crime though, to do that to it).

The place that did the conversion did an outstanding job -- almost undetectable, except for a few minor things -- dual air con knobs are on USA layout ('Driver' knob on left, 'Passenger' on right) but that's not an issue cause I've got long arms! Other than the little things, they did an cracker job.

For the record, I lived in USA for 12 years (Jan '79 to Oct '90) so I'm used to cars and driving there. Most of my time was in California, but I travelled a lot and almost had my 'vette then, but newly arrived kids put a stop to that. They're grown and are (almost) away now and my wife and I have split, so a two-seater was definitely the go, especially as I have now semi-retired (I know, at 48 -- oops sorry, 49 last week! -- what else to do when you sell a business but buy a 'vette, at last!!). Cars while I was there? Rambler SST Javelin, Cutlass, Thunderbird, some family cars, some muscle (all V8, of course, with mods -- there's no substitute for cubes!)

Before going to USA, I was in Oz and had a Datsun 240Z ans then a 260Z 2+2, so the natural progresion was either a 300ZX Bi-turbo or the 'vette, with the obvious choice winning (remember -- no substitutes!).

Anyway, I've started taking pictures of the interior and other conversion parts, so I'll post them when they're developed (sorry, still prefer hard pics, not digital).

Thanks again fo rht ereplies, folks. Great Forum, I'll be sticking around for a while yet.:upthumbs
 
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ozphoenix

Guest
Just had a work colleague shoot these.

Go to www.clubline.com.au/peterm for the pics of a RHD C5.

Notice the right hand door controls and the right-facing console!

Anyway, it still performs the same as an original, so nothing lost.

Keep in touch.
 
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MacShee98

Guest
Great Pix! Thank You..

I have some questions for you, if you don't mind too much.
How much did the conversion cost? What did the paint job run you? It looks great! Were the body panels removed for painting?

What is that thing blocking the left side (passenger) air vent?
Are the amber/yellow? side markers adjacent to the firewall required in Oz?

Beautiful Car! I'd guess you don't see too many of those in Oz.
Best of Luck with it!

(keep off the gravel if you can. just the thought of it makes my bottle of touch-up paint very nervous.)
 
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ozphoenix

Guest
No probs on the questions:

Conversion costs vary, but the crowd who did this one are 'top of the line' so others might be cheaper (but who wants a half-baked half-arsed cake?). For the C5, I believe they charge AUD$27,500 (about US$16,000) and take about 8 weeks (this was included in my deal). The paint job cost AUD$5,000 (US$2800) and the entire car was dismantled to a bare shell and resprayed, one panel at a time, including places I defy you to find. They did an exceptionally good job, including when they re-assembled it afterwards -- not only can you not tell its been re-done, it actually looks better than a factory 2000 Pewter 6sp coupe I test drove (it was already sold) when I chose this car.

An irony here -- my car had been already partially disassembled during the conversion to RHD BEFORE I saw it (other than on their Web site) and was fully re-assembled and in their showroom when I went to see it (as a Black car!). It looked awesome, but when I asked them to change the colour, they said 'No prob -- what colour would you like!' They then pulled it apart again and did the paint job. Top service!

The thing 'blocking' the air vent is not actually blocking it -- it just looks that way in the picture -- it is quite a way forward (to the rear?) of the vent. It is the hands-free mounting kit for my cell-phone (mandatory in Oz if you want to talk and drive). The microphone is (almost) hidden near the sun-visor hinge above the driver side and the speaker is hidden under the dash. The antenna is a flat plate antenna inside the windscren up behind the rear-view mirror, out of the way (so there's no outside antenna on the car). Works really well.

The amber markers are actually turn indicators (flashers?) that (I think) are required here because you have trouble seeing the front ones from some angles at the side.

Just as an indicator of costs, this one ended up costing AUD$115,000 but I got them down to AUD$111,500 (about US$62,400). Keep in mind that there were only two C5's for sale in all of OZ(!) when I went looking seriously. Of the AUD$111,500 paid to the importer/converter, his outlay was something like $27,500 conversion, $5,000 paint, $1,000 wheel polishing, $10,000 freight and shipping, $5,000 state taxes on license plates, probably $40,000 for the car (in Japan), $2,000 new set of tires, etc, etc. He probably makes about $25,000 clear on the vehicle (US$14,000) but if you saw the workshop setup and support he has in place, it sure would get eaten up quickly. This shop is the biggest LHD/RHD shop in Oz, but even so, the volumes are not high.

Realistically, the two guys who started this business 15 years ago are 'vette fanatics and have made a business out of importing US-made cars (mostly Chevy, but the odd Viper or two). One of the guys is one of the top Oz motor-rally drivers in the open enduro class and has won several 'Targa Touring' enduros driving (what else) a C5!!

Anyway, I'm a fanatic, too, and now have my gem. It will be looked after as it should be, and gravel roads will be far and few between, as I get goosebumps as well!! This is one of only two 'vettes in my hometown, a small farming city of 10,000 people (the other car is about a '76/'77 - haven't actually seen it yet, just heard about this 'ghost car' that I 'just have to meet'!) and it is the ONLY 'vette in the town that I live in (a coastal holiday resort), so (needless to say) it is already getting a HUGE amount of attention no matter where I go. My girlfriend is rapt and just loves it and being allowed to drive it (hey, you gotta make some concessions, right!?!)

Keep in touch.

Ozphoenix.
 
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MacShee98

Guest
Hey OzPheonix, thanks for answering (in detail, no less) my questions.

We've got a "hands-free" law here in NY state, too. I've never bothered with the gizmos for the Vette (clutter averse) so I just go with the "soap on a rope" earbud, mic setup - works for me.

So, you bought the car from the conversion guys? right? Meaning, you didn't import it yourself. I guess that would be a major pain..

When I got my new 2002 Pewter Coupe's safety inspection done for NYS MV compliance, i took it to a body shop, who was authorized to do the inspection. One of the guys there was a body-panel expert and told me that the car was easy to work on because to repaint all you had to do was take off all the body panels. I thought he was seriously imbalanced at the time and took a few steps back from him - I don't think so anymore.

Good choice of color, by the way.

Road Attention has always been part of the Vette scene, though less so here in NYC. It's gotta be big in Oz.

When I first ordered the car, my wife made a big deal over how "impractical" and "foolish" this car would be. Her girlfriends scoffed, made derogatory comments about the car. Now, 8000 miles later, my wife loves the car, loves to drive it, loves the color, loves the storage space (read extra luggage - probably an entire bag full of shoes), loves the whole shebang. So do the girlfriends. "Wow, that is such a cool car!" I have to bite my lip to surpress the explosive desire to say "I told you so..."

Oz questions: state and local speed limits? gotta ask. Gasoline prices? Octane? Got any good roads where you can do the WOT thing and blow a little carbon off the valves?

Cheers
 
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ozphoenix

Guest
I looked at the process of importing one myself, including when I moved back from USA to here 12 years ago.

The cost difference was marginal and the hassles were a pain. Also, at that time, I didn't know where the best conversion house was, so probably would have stuffed around for a while trying to get the job done. When you look at the dollars difference, and the engineering approvals process to get a converted car approved for road use here, as well as the warranty that these guys have to provide as part of the deal, it's almost not worth it -- in fact, when you take into account the hassle of getting road insurance, etc for a car you're converted yourself (some companies wil not insure them for you) it's a no-brainer -- leave it to the professionals.

The standard road limits in Australia are 100 kph (62 mph) on most roads, 110 kph (69 mph) on motorways. In one state (Northern Territory) there are no limits at all (!!) but there are bloody big kangaroos and emus and camels wandering around along the side of the road and they make a helluva mess when you splat them!

Other than that, there are some roads where (but I WOULDN'T KNOW WHERE would I!?!?!!!) that you can get away with a bit -- and I've heard of a Pewter C5 (!) that's been KNOWN to hit 210 kph (about 130+ mph) in short burst along there -- but that wouldn't be anyone I knew, would it now??

Also, there are similar roads that are winding, with sweeping banked curves which are (oops, should say, are reputed to be!!) a blast to swing at high rates of knots (choose your poison, kph or mph!).

The 'vette really enjoys these roads out here!

Gas prices vary from state to state, but are mostly around AUD$0.82c per litre (US$1.50 per US gallon).

Anyway, keep in touch along the way, and enjoy that car.

Ozphoenix.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Messages
523
Location
NY, NY
Corvette
'02Torch Red Coupe - sold
Thanks for sharing all that information with us. Very interesting. Keep your eyes open for that Pewter C5; He, He!!!
 

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