Welcome to the Corvette Forums at the Corvette Action Center!

Help! Restoring a 1986 Indy Pace Car Convertible

MBianco86

Member
Joined
May 12, 2011
Messages
11
Location
New Jersey, United States
Corvette
White 1986 Pace Car Convertible L98 TPI
Hey everyone.
I posted about this a long time ago but I'm still facing the same dilemma.
I'm a 17 year old newly licensed driver (for about 3 months) and I've been lucky enough to have been dealt two vehicles. A 1999 Ford F-150 which is my daily driver, and another one that I've been emotionally attached to since my family purchased it 10 years ago - a white 1986 convertible.
The car runs fairly well but burns oil and suffers from vapor lock when you start it after a recent drive (i.e. parking for an hour and trying to start it back up) so it needs an engine overhaul. Most of the electronics work well, the cluster is in good shape and the instrumentation on the information center is all in working condition. The dashboard itself is in great shape, it still has the original '86 plaque located alongside the climate control. But the seats are completely destroyed and the power no longer works, the inner door panels are falling off, the carpet is shot, the convertible top only works sometimes (luckily it is stuck down now and is a nice summer cruiser), and the overall interior is in bad condition. Not only that, it could use a suspension overhaul and new headlamp motors as well. The body looks extremely well for its age, but it was recently painted and it has a set of 1988 35th anniversary rims on it, as well as a new exhaust out of a Cadillac XLR (modded to fit our vette, it sounds wonderful) with chrome tips. The engine needs a complete teardown and rebuild, as well as the suspension. The transmission is functioning well, but I would like to get a new one put in if possible just because of its age.
That's the summary of what the car needs, here is the issue.
Being that I'm only 17, I'm operating with a very very small budget. My family purchased the car back in 2004 as a project car and we've put a fair amount of work into it, however, it still needs so much TLC. As a kid I was fascinated by Corvettes and I have a special attachment to this one, being that I grew up sitting behind it's wheel and dreaming.
My question to the forum is this:
What is it I should do with this car?
Should I attempt to restore it to the best of my ability, or should I sell it and try and scrape together some more cash to buy a C4 in nicer condition?
I'm a big fan of the C4. I have a lot of experience with Corvettes for my age, being that I'm a racecar driver and I've driven several different vettes since obtaining my permit to drive last year. The C4 tends to be my favorite because it is cheap to own, fun to drive for the price, and easy to work on.
Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out.
Even as young as I am, there is nothing more fun than waving to another Corvette owner.
 

Mac

Well-known member
Administrator
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
5,475
Location
Ottawa, Canuckistan
Corvette
1973 coupe L82 (gone as casualty of divorce)
Working within a tight budget is always a challenge. It's so easy to end up going over-budget while trying to make things right...

First and foremost, make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Investing in the engine but neglecting the brakes is a recipe for crash, if you get my meaning. Start with the basics and build on as you can afford to do so. Are the tires in good shape? If so, move onto the brakes... Is everything up to snuff? If not, you've found your first task... a relatively inexpensive but crucial repair... Next, your shocks... Methodical elimination of issues.

Are you certain the engine needs to be completely overhauled? Burning oil and vapour lock can be caused by things that don't require overhaul. Have you done a cylinder pressure bleed-down test on each piston? What diagnostics have you performed??

At the end of the day, the decision whether to sell or repair rests in your hands so make it an informed choice. Good luck!!

-Mac
 

WB9MCW

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Messages
135
Location
McHenry, IL
Corvette
1992 ZR-1 #443
How many miles are on this Vette?

With all that you mention not including the potential engine rebuild you would need about 4-5K.

If you have a tight budget less than this then you will need to save up.

The resale value will be better if it has low miles on it. This would determine if it is worth spending a lot of $$ on it or not.

See what the same vette as your model (in nice shape already) are getting on the open market to help with your decision on how to go. IE: modest refurb or all out back to mint shape refurb or maybe no refurb at all and sell as is and use the $$ for another vette.

Since you like to race maybe an 84 with Z51 would be the way to go. I started with a 84 myself but ended up spending a lot on getting it the way I wanted it and took a beating when I sold it. So you have to really always remember to study the current market values on the resale.

In my case on my 84 I did not plan to get sell it until the ZR-1 for a great price from my neighbor became available to me. So I sold my 84 to a friend and took a beating and when he sold it 2 years later he too lost $$ as well.

THE 84 WITH THE FOR SALE INFO IN THE SIDE WINDOWS
84vettejeepers600pwide_zpsd6f2e124.jpg
 
Last edited:

Wegone

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2002
Messages
516
Location
Atlanta GA.
Corvette
82,91 ZR-1,
Hey everyone.
and another one that I've been emotionally attached to since my family purchased it 10 years ago - a white 1986 convertible.


This says it all, at your age I would just take my time and get it right, I got my first Corvette at 21 and it took me 3 years to get it back on the road. Kept it for another 10 years. It started a life long affair with Corvette's. Always wish I would have kept that old 68.
 

hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
86

To my thinking, there are a number of factors that come together here. Do you have to pay storage fees or is the convertible parked in someone's garage? Do you have anyone to help work on the car? Do you have the knowledge and tools to do what's needed? Money will come later.

I had more than my share of jack-stand queens when I was young. I had friends that we shared aiding one another, I lead in projects I knew the best and followed when they knew better. I also spent a lot of time at junkyards and swap meets finding parts to install, rebuild or modify. It was neither quick nor easy but it was a learning experience.

I'd be inclined to hold onto the car with the understanding if I fixed it then it was mine to drive. If there was no way to get it running in any reasonable time then I'd consider selling it or putting it into more stabile storage for now .

Good luck whatever you decide to do.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 3, 2001
Messages
314
Location
Andover, MA USA
Corvette
1986 "Bright Red" Coupe
Are you sure the motor needs a rebuild? Sometimes you can burn oil because the valve stem seals have worn out and no longer do their job. Cost for seals about $30 + Valve cover gaskets another $20. You could also have one or more leaking fuel injectors, that can cause hard starting after a short drive. Cost for new injectors I'm guessing, $400 Up or down $ either way depending on brand and quality. I had similar problems as you described and the injectors took care of the hard starting, the seals took care of the oil problem. I did either job over a few weekends, not difficult at all if you have the tools and are somewhat mechanically inclined. Do a compression check, that will give you an idea about cylinder condition in general. Do you have a lot of miles on the engine?
 

MBianco86

Member
Joined
May 12, 2011
Messages
11
Location
New Jersey, United States
Corvette
White 1986 Pace Car Convertible L98 TPI
Mileage

Over 5 of us have offered advice and not a peep out of the kid now.

I do not think he is even reading the thread anymore.

I haven't been on in quite a bit and apologize for the extended absence.
With that said, I am unsure as to how many miles are on the car. The Odometer reading is false, it reads about 30,000, but we were told that the ODO was tampered with upon purchasing the car. I believe the engine needs a rebuild due to the fact that it has a slight knock upon idle, prompting me to draw the conclusion that excessive wear is the cause. The interior needs new door panels and seats, which is doable on my budget.
The convertible top is now new, and everything is in working condition. My biggest concern with this car are the engine, drive shaft components and transmission. 2nd gear shifts slightly hard and does not pull the way it should, and the car sometimes refuses to shift from 3rd to 4th.
Trans fluid is always good when I check it, though.
I took the car to a Corvette show last week, about 3 hours worth of driving in total, and it ran excellent.
It burned about 1/8 of a quart of oil to my surprise. Everything was good upon arriving back home.
The car is garage kept in my father's garage, and doesn't see the road if weather conditions are poor.
I would eventually like to get it painted as well.
 

MBianco86

Member
Joined
May 12, 2011
Messages
11
Location
New Jersey, United States
Corvette
White 1986 Pace Car Convertible L98 TPI
Working within a tight budget is always a challenge. It's so easy to end up going over-budget while trying to make things right...

First and foremost, make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Investing in the engine but neglecting the brakes is a recipe for crash, if you get my meaning. Start with the basics and build on as you can afford to do so. Are the tires in good shape? If so, move onto the brakes... Is everything up to snuff? If not, you've found your first task... a relatively inexpensive but crucial repair... Next, your shocks... Methodical elimination of issues.

Are you certain the engine needs to be completely overhauled? Burning oil and vapour lock can be caused by things that don't require overhaul. Have you done a cylinder pressure bleed-down test on each piston? What diagnostics have you performed??

At the end of the day, the decision whether to sell or repair rests in your hands so make it an informed choice. Good luck!!

-Mac

I am fairly certain the motor needs a rebuild due to the knocking that the engine develops after idling for a bit or running for a while. It is not short on power, as it still delivers extremely well for it's age. I have not performed any diagnostics on it as of now. My issue is not that I am not willing, but that I have a tough time obtaining the proper tools to perform some of these tests or work on the engine in general. I did manage to put a new distributor on it and perform routine maintenance, but that's about it.
 

MBianco86

Member
Joined
May 12, 2011
Messages
11
Location
New Jersey, United States
Corvette
White 1986 Pace Car Convertible L98 TPI
To my thinking, there are a number of factors that come together here. Do you have to pay storage fees or is the convertible parked in someone's garage? Do you have anyone to help work on the car? Do you have the knowledge and tools to do what's needed? Money will come later.

I had more than my share of jack-stand queens when I was young. I had friends that we shared aiding one another, I lead in projects I knew the best and followed when they knew better. I also spent a lot of time at junkyards and swap meets finding parts to install, rebuild or modify. It was neither quick nor easy but it was a learning experience.

I'd be inclined to hold onto the car with the understanding if I fixed it then it was mine to drive. If there was no way to get it running in any reasonable time then I'd consider selling it or putting it into more stabile storage for now .

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

This says it all, at your age I would just take my time and get it right, I got my first Corvette at 21 and it took me 3 years to get it back on the road. Kept it for another 10 years. It started a life long affair with Corvette's. Always wish I would have kept that old 68.

Are you sure the motor needs a rebuild? Sometimes you can burn oil because the valve stem seals have worn out and no longer do their job. Cost for seals about $30 + Valve cover gaskets another $20. You could also have one or more leaking fuel injectors, that can cause hard starting after a short drive. Cost for new injectors I'm guessing, $400 Up or down $ either way depending on brand and quality. I had similar problems as you described and the injectors took care of the hard starting, the seals took care of the oil problem. I did either job over a few weekends, not difficult at all if you have the tools and are somewhat mechanically inclined. Do a compression check, that will give you an idea about cylinder condition in general. Do you have a lot of miles on the engine?

The emotional attachment is such a huge factor, as you guys know. I've been in love with Corvettes since I could walk, and I'm just a young kid. I can't imagine what it is like to own multiple Vettes, the feeling of driving one is just amazing. With that, I'd really like to get this one completely restored for the sole fact that it is the one I grew up going for rides in, working on, and washing. Nothing is cooler than pulling up somewhere with a vette. The attention is just awesome. You guys get it.
 

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