Well, we’ve had a few weeks to dig into the project Corvette, and we have a good bit of stuff to report.
This thing is a mess.
Rust, rodent infestation, water damage, mechanical issues, bad paint, destroyed seats, old tires… this thing has almost everything wrong it possibly could have wrong. It’s perfect.
The first major issue I found after removing the carpet was the floorpans had rusted. It’s very clear there has been water collected in the outer panel on both sides, possibly mixed with mouse urine, and it had eaten through the paint and done a job on the metal.
Options I had here where to either cut the panel out and weld a new panel in, or try to clean it up and treat it with some kind of rust inhibitor.
In a normal car, the proper course of action would be to cut this panel out and weld a new one in. But this is a Corvette. This panel is in close proximity to, and bonded to other panels on the car that are made of plastic. Welding introduces a massive amount of heat, and would quickly damage that plastic.
So, I had to clean the panels with a wire brush and treat them. I used Evap-o-Rust to eat off as much of the scale as I could, then cleaned the panels and treated them with POR-15, then top coated in a Duplicolor red that is a rough match to the factory color. The result is quite adequate for a panel that’s going to be hidden under carpet and seats.
During the removal of the interior, I found four rodent nests. Getting those out has dramatically improved the smell. The smell will improve once I finish removing everything and get in there with some cleaners and scrub it all down.
Under the hood is a mess. The original engine failed and was replaced, but the replacement was never completed. It doesn’t run, and I’m not even going to attempt to start it. It’s leaking all over the floor, and that’s a feat for what supposed to be a freshly installed engine.
What gets me is the condition of the oil that’s leaking out. It’s black as night, which means the oil inside this replacement engine isn’t even clean. I try to install engines dry, with everything drained. It makes for less potential mess, and when it’s time to finally start the thing, it gets filled with fresh product. I don’t think that’s happened here. We shall see when I get it up in the air and drain it all.
Other issues? The rockers inside the passenger compartment are badly cracked from the outer corners of the footwells all the way to the midpoint of the passenger area, where the composite front half of the tub meets the back half, which is steel. All of these areas will be covered with carpet, so repairs will not need to be cosmetically perfect. But they do need to be strong and water-tight. A fiberglass repair kit and some paint should suffice.
Finally, there’s the paint. It cannot be salvaged. It is experiencing the clear coat delamination common to early 1990s vehicles. There is no saving it. I will have to sand the whole car down through the clear, then seal it, bodywork it, and repaint the entire thing. I had considered changing the color, but I believe I’ve settled on keeping it this particular shade of medium red metallic. Keeping the original color means I won’t have to completely disassemble the car to the tub to make the interior panels and hard-to-reach places match.
It is my opinion that this color will really pop once it’s fresh and has a good polish on it.