By on September 9, 2015

$_57

Here’s a fun game for those of us with petrol-addled minds: Go to eBay Motors, and type in “Project” in the search field. Marvel at the sea of rust. When I’m feeling forlorn about the enormity of the project I have on jackstands, seeing the guy who exploded his Ferrari V8 on the way home from buying it tends to cheer me up in a perverse way.

This sobering look at the bottom end of the classic-car spectrum also reminds me that I’m not exactly swimming in cash. Yet, there are automotive desires that must be met someday. My wife, for example, has only two cars that she has dreamed of owning: A lifted, large-tired, full-sized pickup (a remnant of her childhood in Appalachia, I’m sure) and a Corvette convertible.

So, when I played my eBay game this morning, I spotted this 1991 Corvette for under $4,000 and knew it required further attention. First, the metallic teal is a relic of the Eighties that really doesn’t need to return. There are some flaws in the fiberglass that will need attention. I’m sure the soft top will need replaced sooner, rather than later.

But that L98 engine is pretty much bulletproof. I’m sure there are minor flaws that the B&B will point out to me, but they can likely be easily and cheaply remedied using off-the-shelf aftermarket parts. The car looks basically straight in pictures, and the aftermarket for Corvettes means there are plenty of ways to upgrade everything that needs it. Really, this might not be a money-losing adventure if done right.

I won’t be buying this Corvette. I already have a rusty shelf in the garage that needs work before I bring home another boondoggle — but I’m sorely tempted.

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69 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 1991 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    C4’s are some of the best bang-for-your-buck deals out there. I won’t get into what needs looking at, there are forums you can use for that. They are a blast to drive and cheap to own.

  • avatar
    360joules

    Creaky squeaky leaky but very easy to wrench at home.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Cheap fun on a budget, the [post MY87] C4 is hard to beat.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Aren’t ALL Corvettes crapwagons? GM junk…as expected.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Not quite.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      My, what an in-depth analysis. I remember when I had my first beer too.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        When I was seventeen
        I drank some very good beer
        I drank some very good beer
        I purchased with a fake ID

        My name was Brian McGee
        I stayed up listenin’ to Queen
        When I was seventeen.

        • 0 avatar
          Chris Tonn

          101 minutes from publication to a Simpsons reference. I’m ashamed.

          Next week, I plan on reviewing the ’98 Canyonero.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We can make the Simpson references happen faster if you need us to.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            SNAKE: Uh, wallet inspector.
            GEEKS: Oh, well. Here you go. I believe that’s all in order.
            SNAKE: I can’t believe that worked!
            HOMER: Hey … that’s not the wallet inspector.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            KRUSTY: Ok here’s the deal. Every time you watch my show, I will send you $40 dollars!
            VOICEOVER: Checks will not be honored.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            REPORTER: Don’t you think there is an inherent danger in sending unqualified, under trained civilians into space?
            HOMER: The only danger is if they send us to that terrible Planet of the Apes. Wait a minute… Statue of Liberty… that was our planet. You maniacs, you blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            See

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            SNAKE: Oh man, that’s my car! [sniffs] What’s that odd smell? Unleaded??!! She takes Premium, dude!! PREEEMIUM!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Well, he does have a point- while the drivetrains are excellent as are the brakes and suspension, the interior plastics are bad and anything near this vintage will need them tended to or replaced. Seat bolsters are a wear item on these and the digital dash rarely lasts this long (if orig). All in all, interior plastics top my list of worst items needing attention as they are hard to avoid in everyday use.

      Worse are the V8s that used the dreaded opti-spark. You can google it. But s-box? No, these are pretty decent for the money hands down.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Who needs interior bits or functional displays – because race car.
        Seriously these things make perfect track day cars at this price. Strip the interior, get the brakes up to the task, ensure engine cooling is adequate and it drives straight. Noises? Creaks? Squeaks? Who cares, run some straight pipes and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Is there a brand that nobody has ever called “crap”, ever?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, according to the Long Term Quality Index report that just appeared here via S. Lang, the Corvette is Above Average although I am pretty sure that does not extend all the way back to the C4. Although with Corvette owners being what they are there is probably a hyper-low mileage one out there. Anyway, as someone here wrote you can easily find a 20 year old Corvette to drive whereas BMW M3 have pretty much become uneconomical to fix. But that C4 dash scares me a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The dash cluster is a pretty easy fix. There are companies that specialize in repairing them. Not much different than sending out the digital pointer dashes in Lexus ESs….

        Interiors in these cars are pretty awful, but the running gear is stout.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Don’t hate on teal, bruh. At least you could go on any lot anywhere in the 90s and buy any car you wanted in an actual color besides black,white, gray, or silver.

    And don’t forget those awesome graphics packages featuring grids, scallops, and fuscha and tangerine accents.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think a teal C4 looks entirely appropriate. It’s period correct, like those one owner mid-century homes you see for sale sometimes. Leave it teal!

      However, as I always must mention the ultimate C4 color is dark metallic green with directional wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Teal 90s Corvettes/Camaros and teal 90s Mustangs/Probes are sweet.

    • 0 avatar
      DanDotDan

      If you’re going to drive around in a teal Corvette convertible, you’ve got to get a nice fake tan to go with it.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Some crazy person painted a beat-up Sentra Sport Coupe teal, so of course I bought it.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      If you have a teal car must you also wear dress shoes sans socks and sport a five o’clock shadow?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        That is popular again. Many millennial males in the company I work for shave infrequently, wear dress pants with no break, and wear dress shoes without socks.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Bark M. will flip out when he hears that they haven’t all embraced two button suits on their climb up the corporate ladder.

          Then again, I have no idea where these examples fall on the socioeconomic scale. But they do not seem to perceive a need or a value to upping their game.

          But I’d be curious…what kind of a corporate area do they function in? IT, finance, marketing, engineering, dealer management? Just curious.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Finance and marketing.

            I don’t follow the Bark M school of dressing because most workplaces have gone much more casual. As long as my people follow the dress code, their work is all that matters. My personal rule is to make sure I buy clothes made in the US, make sure they fit well, and make sure they are cleaned and pressed/ironed. Everyone man should probably own a blue or gray suit though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Bark M school of dressing”

            The 28CL school of men’s fashion:

            HOMER: Don’t you hate pants?

            http://www.tshirtlaundry.com/assets/images/photos/DontYouHatePants1-4-2011-2.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          How do you wear dress pants with no break, they just stop at the ankle? I should think that looks very poorly.

          We are “business casual” here, but leaning more toward business than casual as it’s an insurance company. But there are people who take it entirely too far, and wear Crocs or sneakers, or some black jeans with Keds, etc. It’s up to the individual department managers to police this, and it’s too lax in my opinion.

          The WORST offenders (by wide margin) are middle-age and older women. I’m sorry, a sweatshirt with Ohio State or a basket embroidered on it is not professional. Neither are those all-black Nikes. The second group of inappropriately dressed people is young women, who are content in sandals and one of those floppy baggy sun dresses whenever it’s warm. Or some skirt way above the knee, revealing two matching buckets of cottage cheese.

          The men who violate the dress code generally are wearing the right clothes for the most part, they’re just ratty and don’t fit and/or not ironed. But I still see untucked Polos now and then.

          Also, many people in the Midwest have no concept of style/taste/fashion, so that’s part of it as well.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …plus you can totally get a matching trapper keeper for maintenance paperwork!..

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll say it. I love the C4 Vette, especially the later 6 speed models. Yeah it has all the interior shortcomings of GM at the time but now on the used market the bang for the buck and basic driveline durability trump all.

  • avatar
    Toad

    The Ferrari link was priceless. Reminded me of a guy who bought a Bluebird motorhome and the motor locked up on the way home: rebuild was just under $30k. Ouch.

  • avatar
    carve

    Teal is coming back

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Old Corvette interiors make me haz a sad. All that money and you’re looking at crap which is also at home in a Grand Prix.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Drive really fast and keep your eyes on the road young man. You won’t have any time to notice the crappy interior.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Great suggestion! Not normally how I drive, ha. Though I would get better MPG out of this than my car in regular driving I suspect.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The incessant squeaking and rattling will force you to pay attention to it. My crazy Air Force Pilot uncle bought a succession of these turds new. Terrible when new, I can’t even imagine how truly mind-bendingly awful they are at 20+.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I can’t deal with squeaks and rattles. I have a small one in my glove box lid which I must address very soon. Per my two second search, it was a service bulletin and is fixed with some felt tape.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    from the question section:
    Q: Does A/C BLOW COLD ?
    A: Yes, A/C was blowing cold when last used.

    trolling?

    i personally liked that teal color. to me, it was more of a 90s thing. first car i noticed it on was a civic si, but then everyone else started using it. co worker has a late 90s benz convertible in that color, which was already starting to become unpopular

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    You know, you can get one of these on eBay with like 56 miles on it for 7 grand or so. Why pay 4k for this heap?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s a very good point. Little more money, lots more car.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chevrolet-Corvette-Base-Coupe-2-Door-/351509353100?forcerrptr=true&hash=item51d797128c&item=351509353100

      Boom! Correct best color, final year of C4, much nicer interior. AND targa! Such opulence.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Worth it for the CrO2 button alone. When that car was made I was a huge tape snob, with a proper 3-head deck at home, a huge collection of metal tapes (none longer than 90 minutes, of course), and a WM-DD9 my dad picked up for me on a trip to Hong Kong (that most likely felloffa truck).

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          That’s not being a snob, it is about sound quality. A three head deck was essential and Nakamichi metal tapes were the bomb. Make a tape on a Dragon and the first generation copy was virtually indistinguishable from the original record.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      For 7k, I’d rather have a late 70s C3 than a C4 honestly. Much sexier to look at and much less electronic sh*t to break.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    If you must have a C4, get one of the late-model ones from the 1990s with the LT1. I would never own one of the 1980s ones, just for the fact that the electronic instrument cluster (1984-88) is one static-zap away from certain death. While working at Delco Electronic back in the mid-1980s where we made the cluster, it was found that a non-trivial percentage of them didn’t even survive the shipment from Kokomo, IN to Bowling Green without getting damaged by ESD.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Had a former coworker laugh at my choice of a new 88 Thunderbird SuperCoupe over his late 80’s C4, with its much more “modern” digital dash…until six months later his speedometer was broken and it had to be fixed to get it reinspected for the road.

      When he found out about the cost of a digital equivalent to a speedometer cable — about $1500 +/- — he stopped talking about the advantages of modern digitized automobile hardware.

      And of course, when a small group of us wanted to go out for lunch, either everyone took their own wheels, or we rode in the Bird. His C4 came with the obligatory bottle blonde in too tight for a professional office capri pants. And when they went places with their eighteen year old son, they had to go in his car.

      Well, I guess that’s one way to get them out of the nest. Though I am more happy to have my only son hang around working locally and having at least one meal a day with me, at least until such time as he decides to take on the trappings of being a family man with his own family.

      I like the suggestion to go with a C3 instead…a better vehicle with less things to go wrong.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx for this ~ I see these as described but with ratty seats for under $2,500 and think ‘ I’m an old guy , why the hell not ? ‘ .

    As mentioned , ignore the rattles & squeaks , it’s a CONVERTIBLE FGS .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Soft spot for C4s, you had to grow up in the 80’s. Reminds me of a fighter jet.

    I want one as a project, but setting aside nostalgia, they weren’t great cars. They became decent in the last few years but the C5 model really was a giant step up from these.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Because beating on a C5 and driving it like it’s stolen just wouldn’t feel right. This ’80s machine is beggin’ for a good spanking, after swapping in some 4.11 gears, with zero traction nannies, just hold on to your sh!t.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Out of every car on the road, the C4 Corvette has the highest % of sleezeball drivers. Every single one seems to fit this description:

    Middle-aged, sunburnt white man. Receding hairline, acceding chest hairline, stained undershirt below with stained Hawaiian shirt on top. Beer-belly. Gold-chain. Pack of cigarettes hanging out of chest pocket. 2 angry ex-wives, working on the third.

    There is a special sleeze-multiplier if it’s a white exterior with maroon interior.

  • avatar

    My father has an 89 convertible burgundy 6 spd. Bought from an “engine guy” engine runs great and has some tuning done (cam etc)but it needed a lot of suspension and brake work when he got it and corvette parts are not nearly as cheap as other GM parts. But not a bad looking car for 6-7k. His has a battery drain issue which is common problem with C4’s looking at the forums he has 4 other cars so it doesn’t get driven much and he threw in a battery disconnect.

  • avatar
    Irvingklaws

    Sold my 95 Miata few years back to buy a 94 C4 in “Polo Green” (the best and only color I considered) with body color targa top, 36k miles, and zero factory options. Looked at a lot of crappy dilapidated cars before finding a clean one without a crazy price tag. Great 2nd/hobby car. Tough but not terrible to work on. Months of evenings in the garage disassembling, fixing, cleaning, re-assembling, etc. Replaced the optispark and water pump when it started running rough. Removed the entire interior, fixed all the wires and vacuum hoses mice had chewed through while it was in storage. Learned all about SMC (sheet molded compound) to repair a crack in the floor. Added layers of sound deadner/insulation. Replaced the stock AM/FM cassette with a modern stereo/nav system, speakers, and amp. Replaced a few cracked/broken plastic parts and put it all back together. A set of longitudinal frame connectors really helped with the rattles and squeaks, especially with the top off.

    Lives in the garage, comes out on sunny days and starry nights (I prefer the latter). Comfortable, cool, a blast to drive. These cars are made as much for looking at as driving. The clam-shell hood and engine compartment layout are fighter-jet cool. For someone who’ll likely never sit in, let alone own, a Ferrari or other such exotic pointy super car, it’s as bang-for-the-working-class-buck-awesome as it gets.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      That’s perfect! If you don’t drive it often, may I suggest using a battery tender or similar battery maintainer (either on-board or off-board)? This will keep your battery at 100% state-of-charge and make it last years longer, as well as minimize the recharging load on the alternator.

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