Welcome to the Corvette Forums at the Corvette Action Center!

First Corvette Purchase- Hit or a Miss?

Greg Gore

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
94
Location
Charlotte, NC
Corvette
96 Coupe-white, LT-1; 04 Convertible-triple black
I recently bought a 96 LT-1 coupe for a daily driver as a result of a poorly planned hasty decision and I wondered how often this mistake is made. I sure wish now I had researched to learn more about C4s and spent more time looking at cars instead of being in such a hurry to get one. I paid 12K for a local car with 110K miles mostly because I caught late C4 fever, it was convenient and I just had to have it. In reality this was probably a 10K car at the most if that. Not long after the purchase I realized I was going to want to do a lot more work than I originally thought it needed when I first looked at it and I was not prepared for the cost of all those needed parts. It is amazing when you start to add up the cost to fix all the little things that you can find wrong on these cars. Fortunately I can do the work myself and I have a connection for GM parts at cost plus 10% so that helps. After I am finished with it and have added the cost it will still only be an LT-1 coupe with high miles but perhaps a fairly reliable one that looks good. I attended the Knoxville, Bloomington Gold and Carlisle shows this year and it didn’t take long to realize I could have bought so much more car for 12K and this is not taking into account the additional thousands spent so far fixing this one. It has, however, turned out to be an opportunity to get real hands-on experience and education about C4s inside and out if nothing else. Anyone besides me ever put themselves through this? How did your experience turn out and in what way if any did you benefit from it?

Good points about this car:

Clean carfax, 3 previous owners, never out of South Carolina
No hit body, good original code 10 Artic White paint, light gray 141 interior
Clean cooling system, engine clean inside, transmission fluid still bright red
Runs and drives super, everything worked except power seats
Equipped w/ Sport Seats, Bose CD, Auto A/C,
Recent new waterpump and Optispark
Recent new blue tint roof from GM, original painted white and included
Recent new Edelbrock shocks
Recent Michelin Pilot tires
Recent brake pads
Hypertech programmer III included (used to change fan on-off settings)


What I have decided to fix on this 96:

Noisy Pre-cat or cats (something loose inside) - Replace both
Engine oil leak- looks like intake manifold end seals- Will replace soon
Transmission oil leak- looks like pan gasket and speedometer adapter "O" ring
Cabin water leaks- weatherstriping (ruined the carpeting) Replace everything
Seat track adjusters; DS, PS- failed plastic gears or bushings inside- Replace
Bose Radio panel lighting- 6 tiny size bulbs soldered to PC board- Replace
Windshield Wiper arms and blades- worn out- Replace
Parking brake mechanism- sticks, rusty from w/strip leaks- Replace
Dash Pad- edges curling from sun- Replace
Horn Switch- broken plastic- Replace
Lamps- Lenses (side marker, tail, stop, park-fog) scuffed or cracked- Replace
Door Panel- Rt side cracked, loose attachment- Replace
Dash trim panel; Console Plate- black Dulso coating coming off- Replace trim
Sunvisors w/lighted mirrors- floppy ears- Replace
Windshield header trim and rear Halo trim- cracked- Replace
Leather Sport Seats- cracked from neglect- No suitable replacement available
Turn Signal cancelling cam- broken plastic- Pull steering wheel to replace
Windsheld- small stone chip with small starburst cracks- not decided yet
Front Spoiler- beat up and abused- Replace all 3 pieces
DS Lower Dash Trim w/carpet- extensive rubbing wear- Replace w/ NOS
PS Lower Dash Trim- cuts from past unskilled interior work- Replace w/ NOS
Dash Squeaks & Rattles- Disassembled to replace all foam tape insulation
Rebuild brake calipers, flush brake fluid, turn or replace rotors
Service transmission

One other thing happened...as I get more involved with trying to make it into a better car I realized I am appreciating it more, bonding with it and enjoying a satisfying feeling of accomplishment after each successful improvement. This was supposed to be a driver Corvette I could drive everyday no matter what but now I find myself being protective with it, for example in what parking place I pick. I guess the Zaino will show up around here next. These cars sure are something aren't they??

Regards, Greg
 
T

tlong

Guest
It's 10 years old with high miles so yes I have put myself through it before-not with a vette though. I had 42K. You did OK with the price, maybe a little high.

Let some time go by and prioritize the repairs and upgrages. This place will save you big bucks! If you still have buyer's remorse sell it and go again. You didn't marry it! Y'all are just dating so dump it if you want and get into another. With all that work done you won't lose much if any.

Few of us are ultimately satisfied with the present choice and keep a wandering eye towards future projects be it older or newer models. These cars will be projects no matter if it has 1 mile or 100,000, so try to enjoy it!
 

Robertwav1

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
817
Location
Ocala, Florida
Corvette
1993 Blue
Real easy thing to do....get emotional about buying a car that you want. Fix what's needed and enjoy the car...I wouldn't think twice about throwing another engine in mine if I ever had to. That broken horn button....the warranty on mine provided a steering wheel replacement which had to be done to correct.....expensive! I don't know if the later models changed. Good Luck!
 

tyrel

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 7, 2002
Messages
574
Location
Portland
All cars need maintenance, and a corvette is no exception. Over the years I have spent thousands on car repairs, and I do most of the work myself. It just goes with the territory. I guess the only way around the maintenance requirements is to buy a new car every year, but not many people can afford that.
 
C

chuckndonna67

Guest
There are probably many out there in your same raft. I just sold a '56 BelAir at Hershey earlier this month after getting the "corvette bug" at Corvettes at Carlisle a couple months back. I just had to have one! I was looking at many nice ones but narrowed my search to late 80's/early 90's and it had to be a convertible. Well low and behold our local newspaper had one--an 87 convert and it was only about 5 miles away. So after a couple weeks I decided against it until I sold my '56. Well it took 10 minutes to sell my '56 at Hershey and with cash in hand went back to the '87 convert. I negotiated down to $12.5k and bought it. Everyone said I should look around more before deciding, but I didn't. Just replaced the rotors, the mufflers, and its missing a spare tire/jack. And now I have a code 32 EGR problem. Its great if you have all the tools, patience and good spec sheets to do your own repair---i don't have any. Someone told me long ago to keep my '56 and forget the vettes as they are constantly in need of repair. I didn't listen. But I WILL enjoy my vette when I have resolved all the issues. I am not sorry I bought one, just sorry I didn't look around more.
 
L

LIGHTMAN

Guest
Hit or Miss

Brother i feel your pain!!!! I' ve had to replace 8 fuel injectors,the fuel pump and strainer and fuel filter ( due to water in gas and bad fuel injector cleaner) 8 spark plugs,alternator and belt,valve cover gaskets , distrubitor cap and intake manifold gasket in the last 30 days !!!! All this on my 91 coupe which only has 65,000 miles !!!! If I didn't LOVE this car i probably would divorce her , but maintiance is part of owernership so I'll get off my soapbox and wish you luck.
 
A

AIRBUS

Guest
I think I'm having a similar experience with my '90 triple-black 6sp, FX3 that I bough in July. Though I feel I purchased at the right price, I have found that I must be extremely aware in shopping parts as there can be quite a difference between the famous catalog companies, if you know who I mean.
I'm also having the experience of bonding with the car while feeling a more aware each week of exactly how much this passion is costing me.
I would be most interested in hearing about your experiences in correcting the lost foam seals behind the panel facia and those hvac doors that are so tightly tucked away between our fingertips and the firewall. Best of luck and please keep us updated.
 

vett boy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
3,060
Location
Florida sometimes Maine
Corvette
2008 vert 6M silver
My first vett was a fast buy without a great knowledge of the car.Terrible, just terrible but after years of work and 1.5 million $$$$ it came alive and grew to love the car. My words would be there are no bad vetts if you have fun.
 

Greg Gore

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
94
Location
Charlotte, NC
Corvette
96 Coupe-white, LT-1; 04 Convertible-triple black
Ist Corvette- Dash squeaks & Rattles

The dash squeaks and rattles are solved now but it was quite a job. I had to remove and disassemble the entire instrument panel to replace the foam padding. Everything in the instrument panel assembly is just so tightly packed that GM strategically placed about 15 foam tape pads measuring 2" x 4" x 3/16" between parts that could rub together as noise isolators to prevent them from generating noise. My car was a South Carolina car with 110K miles that was driven to work every day by the previous owner and no doubt spent many hot Summer days in the parking lot with the windows rolled up. What I found was all the foam tape had decomposed into a tar like goo which allowed the plastic parts to squeak and rattle. I found the correct size replacement foam tape squares on the Internet and after cleaning the mess off everything I reassembled the dash making sure all the different screws went back in the correct locations and what a difference it made. I can drive the car over fairly rough roads now and the dash is solid and completely quiet. A word of caution: be careful tightening screws in plastic parts. This is critical, too much torque and the plastic strips or the top piece cracks. The service manual torque for many of them is 29 lbs/ inch.

Regards, Greg
 
A

AIRBUS

Guest
Greg Gore said:
The dash squeaks and rattles are solved now but it was quite a job. I had to remove and disassemble the entire instrument panel to replace the foam padding. Everything in the instrument panel assembly is just so tightly packed that GM strategically placed about 15 foam tape pads measuring 2" x 4" x 3/16" between parts that could rub together as noise isolators to prevent them from generating noise. My car was a South Carolina car with 110K miles that was driven to work every day by the previous owner and no doubt spent many hot Summer days in the parking lot with the windows rolled up. What I found was all the foam tape had decomposed into a tar like goo which allowed the plastic parts to squeak and rattle. I found the correct size replacement foam tape squares on the Internet and after cleaning the mess off everything I reassembled the dash making sure all the different screws went back in the correct locations and what a difference it made. I can drive the car over fairly rough roads now and the dash is solid and completely quiet. A word of caution: be careful tightening screws in plastic parts. This is critical, too much torque and the plastic strips or the top piece cracks. The service manual torque for many of them is 29 lbs/ inch.

Regards, Greg

Greg, do you mind sharing the source of your foam?
 
S

STREAK

Guest
Greg Gore said:
I recently bought a 96 LT-1 coupe for a daily driver as a result of a poorly planned hasty decision and I wondered how often this mistake is made. I sure wish now I had researched to learn more about C4s and spent more time looking at cars instead of being in such a hurry to get one. I paid 12K for a local car with 110K miles mostly because I caught late C4 fever, it was convenient and I just had to have it. In reality this was probably a 10K car at the most if that. Not long after the purchase I realized I was going to want to do a lot more work than I originally thought it needed when I first looked at it and I was not prepared for the cost of all those needed parts. It is amazing when you start to add up the cost to fix all the little things that you can find wrong on these cars. Fortunately I can do the work myself and I have a connection for GM parts at cost plus 10% so that helps. After I am finished with it and have added the cost it will still only be an LT-1 coupe with high miles but perhaps a fairly reliable one that looks good. I attended the Knoxville, Bloomington Gold and Carlisle shows this year and it didn’t take long to realize I could have bought so much more car for 12K and this is not taking into account the additional thousands spent so far fixing this one. It has, however, turned out to be an opportunity to get real hands-on experience and education about C4s inside and out if nothing else. Anyone besides me ever put themselves through this? How did your experience turn out and in what way if any did you benefit from it?

Good points about this car:

Clean carfax, 3 previous owners, never out of South Carolina
No hit body, good original code 10 Artic White paint, light gray 141 interior
Clean cooling system, engine clean inside, transmission fluid still bright red
Runs and drives super, everything worked except power seats
Equipped w/ Sport Seats, Bose CD, Auto A/C,
Recent new waterpump and Optispark
Recent new blue tint roof from GM, original painted white and included
Recent new Edelbrock shocks
Recent Michelin Pilot tires
Recent brake pads
Hypertech programmer III included (used to change fan on-off settings)


What I have decided to fix on this 96:

Noisy Pre-cat or cats (something loose inside) - Replace both
Engine oil leak- looks like intake manifold end seals- Will replace soon
Transmission oil leak- looks like pan gasket and speedometer adapter "O" ring
Cabin water leaks- weatherstriping (ruined the carpeting) Replace everything
Seat track adjusters; DS, PS- failed plastic gears or bushings inside- Replace
Bose Radio panel lighting- 6 tiny size bulbs soldered to PC board- Replace
Windshield Wiper arms and blades- worn out- Replace
Parking brake mechanism- sticks, rusty from w/strip leaks- Replace
Dash Pad- edges curling from sun- Replace
Horn Switch- broken plastic- Replace
Lamps- Lenses (side marker, tail, stop, park-fog) scuffed or cracked- Replace
Door Panel- Rt side cracked, loose attachment- Replace
Dash trim panel; Console Plate- black Dulso coating coming off- Replace trim
Sunvisors w/lighted mirrors- floppy ears- Replace
Windshield header trim and rear Halo trim- cracked- Replace
Leather Sport Seats- cracked from neglect- No suitable replacement available
Turn Signal cancelling cam- broken plastic- Pull steering wheel to replace
Windsheld- small stone chip with small starburst cracks- not decided yet
Front Spoiler- beat up and abused- Replace all 3 pieces
DS Lower Dash Trim w/carpet- extensive rubbing wear- Replace w/ NOS
PS Lower Dash Trim- cuts from past unskilled interior work- Replace w/ NOS
Dash Squeaks & Rattles- Disassembled to replace all foam tape insulation
Rebuild brake calipers, flush brake fluid, turn or replace rotors
Service transmission

One other thing happened...as I get more involved with trying to make it into a better car I realized I am appreciating it more, bonding with it and enjoying a satisfying feeling of accomplishment after each successful improvement. This was supposed to be a driver Corvette I could drive everyday no matter what but now I find myself being protective with it, for example in what parking place I pick. I guess the Zaino will show up around here next. These cars sure are something aren't they??

Regards, Greg

I feel your pain. I paid more for my corvette than any other car in my life, but it all is worth it. Even after I have had to put a few expensive repairs into mine after the purchase. I thought that after the price I paid and the lack of mileage it had, that I wouldn't have to do anything to it. Wrong!! But, I still am a proud owner of a 96 Corvette! I am not sorry for the purchase at all.
 

G Winter

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 21, 2004
Messages
2,177
Location
NW Iowa
Corvette
1990 red convert 6 sp
I have found this true with any used car. There are always things that need to be done to bring it up to expectation. The biggest problem I am finding with owning a Vette,, when I get all the little things fixed ,,, Gotta find a cheapy to beat on. One Vette just isn't enough. They need company.:D I thought I spent plenty for my 90 but when talking to other owners they seem to think it was a good deal. Some of it depends on where you live. Around here used vettes sell for a premium, and it costs to much to travel a distance and bring one back from any distance. Also if you go to buy one and then find out when you see it that it isn't the deal you though you just spent travel money for naught. All this has to be factored in. One other thing,, 110k on a GM is not high miles.
Glenn
:w
 
L

Luweegy

Guest
Could've been worse,1st Vett I bought,1967 small block coup turned out to be stolen,I spent a night in jail over that.I still buy them,just more careful.
 

Greg Gore

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
94
Location
Charlotte, NC
Corvette
96 Coupe-white, LT-1; 04 Convertible-triple black
Foam Tape Source

I found the foam tape strips at Autotoys.com and I think it is half price right now. I wanted to attach a picture with a referrence but their website is experiencing difficulty at this time. The tape was listed under a heading like tools I think, I will try a little later to update this post. Let me know if you have trouble locating it.

Regards, Greg
 

Greg Gore

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
94
Location
Charlotte, NC
Corvette
96 Coupe-white, LT-1; 04 Convertible-triple black
One Corvette Just isn't Enough

"The biggest problem I am finding with owning a Vette,, when I get all the little things fixed ,,, Gotta find a cheapy to beat on. One Vette just isn't enough. They need company."

Thanks Glenn! I found that to be true too. Soon after I got the 04 vert I was bitten by the bug and decided I wanted to save it for perfect days so I started looking for a driver. I found a 96 LT1 coupe for sale and got that which I thought would be the car I could drive every day no matter what. It was supposed to be a beater if you will, but after I started getting all the little stuff fixed on it a strange thing happened and I realized I was bonding with it. Now I find I am being careful with the 96 too. What a dilema!! These cars are awesome!

Regards, Greg
 

Corvette Forums

Not a member of the Corvette Action Center?  Join now!  It's free!

Help support the Corvette Action Center!

Supporting Vendors

Dealers:

MacMulkin Chevrolet - The Second Largest Corvette Dealer in the Country!

Parts/Accessories:

Vetteskins

Advertise with the Corvette Action Center!

Double Your Chances!

Partners

Top Bottom