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Sonic UltraDork
6/15/21 8:52 p.m.

This is going to be less of a build thread than a recommissioning and then WTF do I do with this car thread.  


Short version of a long story of how I ended up with this, a 1 owner, 43k mile, 84 Corvette with the 4+3 trans in quite rough shape for a car garaged its entire life.  My best friend, who has been so since high school, needed to do something with this car.  You see his parents bought it brand new in 1984. It was used semi regularly in the mid 80s into the early 90s, then it started to sit.  When we were seniors in high school (1997 ish) he started to use it some as he had nostaliga for it, even though his 96 Z28 was much nicer.  The car was last really on the road in 2001, and it has since sat in the same spot in the single car garage in Chestnut Hill, MA.  My friend's mother recently passed away, so they were cleaning out the house as she was the only one that lived there.  My friend lives in the city in Cambridge, MA and only has one parking spot, has no mechanical skill, but has great sentimental value in this car.  So he gave me the car in the hopes that I would bring it back to life, so here I am. 

My wife (also a racer) is obviously thrilled. 


I don't need this car.  I have too many cars already (NSX, E400 Wagon, Suburban as DDs for Mrs. Sonic and I, plus a working Lemons Mazda 3, a partially crashed Lemons Civic, a needs to get sold ex-Lemons Citroen SM, and my perpetual project that I've had since high school but havne't touched in a few years 1960 MGA.  All of the non DD cars need work other than the Mazda.  I have race cars.  I have DDs. I have an old car (or 2, want to sell them both).  This thing really doesn't fit but I'm going to make the most of it, who knows, I might like it. 

We had to winch it onto the uhaul trailer, I rented that rather than make a separate trip with my enclosed trailer from PA to MA as I had already towed my boat up to MA where it lives in the summer.  It went on pretty easily after we pulled it out of the garage with the truck and had it roll down hill a bit. 

Current plans are to clean the E36 M3 out of it (literally), replace everything rubber and all of the fluids and most of the hydraulic systems, clean the nastiness out of the gas tank and see what happens!   Last night I placed a big order at Rock Auto, it is amazing how cheap all parts are for this car.  Calipers are $70, hoses $10, fuel pump $20, etc, so that's excellent.  I've never had a gen 1 SBC anything and my only other GM is my Suburban, I'm usually an import guy.  


Tonight I started to work on the cleaning.  The mice had made this their home for many years from what I can smell.  By taking all of the interior out, then pressure washing everything soft from the interior and all of the exterior and underhood I'm hoping to have a good start, then possibly get an ozone machine if needed.  


Down the road, Radwood is certainly the plan, because of course it is.  I might try to make it a driveable HPDE car to bring rather than one of the race cars for when I instruct.  Lastly I think I'll take my friend on a Lemons rally in this thing as it seems to be the best way to make the most of his sentimental value of the car along with the fact the he has never really been on a proper multi day road trip, and doing so in your childhood Corvette seems like a kick ass thing to do. 

So, anything I should know about these?  

californiamilleghia SuperDork
6/15/21 9:04 p.m.

Great story......

Look at it as hours you will never be able to have for your MGA , 

You will have a nice Vette you have no love for , 

Sell it and Pass it on to a Vette nut who will be smiling as he works on it......

At least thats what I would do......

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
6/15/21 9:40 p.m.

I bought an ozone machine last year and actually used it earlier today. They really do an amazing job at getting rid of odors.

Mr_Asa UberDork
6/15/21 9:49 p.m.

I'd be mildly concerned with hantavirus, I don't know that pressure washing or an ozone machine will kill it.

From what I remember hearing (I'm not a SBC guy at all) the cross-fire injection in those is crap, so you might want to look at doing something different on the top end?


Hope you and your friend have fun with it.  Also, I want that garage/storage area in the first pic.  Its awesome.  Is it connected to the house?

Run_Away Dork
6/15/21 10:41 p.m.

x2 that brick garage is really cool!


The car is neat too.

03Panther UltraDork
6/15/21 11:14 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

I got a totally different impression from his story than you did, somehow. I got the impression that his friend GAVE it to him due to sentimental value, knowing a good friend, into cars, would bring it back from the brink. I don't understand. 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
6/16/21 5:19 a.m.

Being handed a whole car you don't really want is different from being handed some small knick-knack that sits on a shelf.  I'm not sure what I would do in this case if I was the one being handed the car.  Probably find a way to not take it.

I wonder if there's a way to get a carb & intake swap through MA inspections. 

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/16/21 7:18 a.m.

Crossfire is fine, when treated properly. This has been neglected.....

If the parts are still available, they made uphrades and advancements in the enthusiast community and aftermarket that made them.far better than factory, and far less finicky. 

C4 is my favorite vette. Have fun!

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
6/16/21 7:22 a.m.

Sounds like a cool project. The '84 had the stiffest suspension tuning of all C4 Corvettes - the base suspension was stiffer than the Z51 sport suspension package on later years. But that got it to be one of the first production cars to pull 1.0 g on a skid pad. So if you find the ride is too harsh, it's easy to find some softer springs for it.

ZOO (Forum Supporter)
ZOO (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/16/21 7:29 a.m.

I like that chassis.  And the 4+3 is fine -- though as an "import' guy myself I had to learn to shift far earlier in my LT1 powered C4.  It wasn't really a "wind it out" kind of motor.  I suspect the SBC would be similar.

Handsome car.  They've aged well.  It couldn't depreciate much further right?

Sonic UltraDork
6/16/21 7:31 a.m.

03Panther, you are right.  I don't feel comfortable selling it until it is back running and has been used a bit.  This was from a good friend and it's not like the car is an iron duke 84 Chevy Celebrity or something else awful.   I do plan on giving him half of whatever I make when selling it. 

From what I understand the cross fire injection is basically just two TBIs on a crappy cross flow manifold.   What are the fixes or simple upgrades here?  I'm carburetor adverse in general and also trying to keep the effort on this one as low as is necessary for the use case.  

The garage (and house) are pretty cool.  House is enormous.  Garage is single car detached, was built in the late 20s we think.  It has a rudimentary electric system with knob and tube and a big knife switch.  It also has a radiator that was originally piped all the way to the house for heat.  The story is that the house was owned by a doctor and he wanted to keep the car warm for when he would have to leave at night or in the winter for emergencies.  It certainly is a cool space.  Here's another of the inside of the garage. 

bobzilla MegaDork
6/16/21 7:35 a.m.

Dad had an 84 crossfire C4 auto. I think thatmotor was perfect for the 700R4 behind it. Torque... so much torque. the 84's had the stiffest suspension from the factory and if its a Z51 car it's desirable in that alone. 

That interior is friggin mint for an 84.

Sonic UltraDork
6/16/21 8:46 a.m.

It is a Z51 car apparently.  It also came with a new old stock set of bilsteins from the 90s. 

APEowner SuperDork
6/16/21 9:20 a.m.

I worked on those when they were new.  They're not great cars in the sense that nothing GM was building in that time frame was great.  They were still playing catch up with the emissions regulations after acting like  environmental concerns were a passing fad for a decade.  Combine that with limited engineering budgets, questionable marketing driven design choices, aggressive release schedules to try and keep up with foreign competition, a corporate culture of having the customer do final design validation and ongoing conflicts with the UAW and mediocrity is the best one could hope for.

However, that particular car is old enough that it's cool just for still being around and the personal connecting makes it even better.  All of the problems from being put together by apathetic to downright malicious assembly line workers have likely been fixed by now and there's pretty good aftermarket support for anything else that's likely to fail.

It's always going to have more rattles and squeaks than your NSX due to the flexible chassis and it's also pretty slow by today's standards but it'll make cool V8 noises, pull pretty good as you go through the gears and turn heads.

The Crossfire injection is limiting if you're trying to build power but other than being close to 40 years old there's nothing really wrong with it.  Follow the factory manual to set minimum air and TPS, give it a good tune up and enjoy.

The 4+3 gearbox is weird, or quirky and fun depending on your perspective but they're pretty reliable.  I rebuilt one overdrive recently that had been run out of fluid but other than that I've never seen one fail at factory power levels.

As far as the interior smell is concerned a friend of mine that sells used cars told me about this product Link and I've used it with great success.






Dirtydog (Forum Supporter)
Dirtydog (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/16/21 9:29 a.m.

I had an 85.  Fun car, but for an older arthritic kinda guy, fall in, crawl out got old.  Parts are not crazy priced, considering.  Plus the sentimental value, and rekindling some childhood shenanigans, would be priceless.

californiamilleghia SuperDork
6/16/21 10:17 a.m.
03Panther said:

In reply to californiamilleghia :

I got a totally different impression from his story than you did, somehow. I got the impression that his friend GAVE it to him due to sentimental value, knowing a good friend, into cars, would bring it back from the brink. I don't understand. 

I think I will stay with my idea , 

maybe do a little value added to get it running, battery , fluids , plugs , But  then find a new owner and split the $$$ with your buddy.

Good luck with it whatever you do :)

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/16/21 11:26 a.m.

Wheelbase is within 1" of Corvair pickup.

Mr_Asa UberDork
6/16/21 11:26 a.m.

In reply to Sonic :

Man, that second photo clinches it

I don't know that I'd kill for that garage, but someone would get a stabbing out of it, maybe a light maiming. 

mr2s2000elise UberDork
6/16/21 11:51 a.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

Being handed a whole car you don't really want is different from being handed some small knick-knack that sits on a shelf.  I'm not sure what I would do in this case if I was the one being handed the car.  Probably find a way to not take it.




Been living with same scenario for a while....


Clicked on thread hoping to see more pics of OP's stunning NSX. Left disappointed. 

rustomatic Reader
6/17/21 3:36 p.m.

The chassis is great.  All of the other stuff is what gave the C4 a less-than-favorable reputation, right from the get-go.  Hysterically, Chrysler used the name "Crossfire" again, on purpose . . .

The electronic stuff is what will drive you nuts when trying to "use" the stock gear.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/17/21 3:47 p.m.

 A friend got a '84 C4 for free from a relative.  His was an auto, but otherwise in similar neglected condition.  He spent the better part of a year getting it running again, although he never actually drove it any farther than in/out of his garage a few times.

He found there are quite a few "1984 only" parts in the car, although most parts are available. 

I think he found a guy who rebuilds the digital dash for reasonable cost.

Tires are apparently a tough one.  The 255/50ZR16 size isn't offered by many brands and isn't always in production.  Tire Rack lists a BFG model (on back-order). The original Gatorbacks appear to be NLA.

barefootskater (Shaun)
barefootskater (Shaun) PowerDork
6/17/21 4:04 p.m.

I had an 84 crossfire auto for a brief minute. I liked it mostly.
Crossfire is fine. especially if you're at all familiar with gm TBI stuff. Parts are still available and cheap. 
One of the cars I wish I'd held on to. 
My only real complaints about it were mostly due to neglect and hibernation. And not enough pedals. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
6/17/21 7:04 p.m.

This actually had some fun/good info in it:


I've heard/seen great things with them as a budget fighter on track. Might be a great option for your instructing car, they're more capable then the credit they get from what I understand...

GCrites80s HalfDork
6/17/21 7:59 p.m.

^I've seen lightly modded TPI C4s murder at autocross on Hoosiers.

ValourUnbound Reader
6/17/21 10:38 p.m.

I had an 84 Z51 Auto, sold it last year. It was only in marginally better condition that yours in that I never found any carcasses inside and I drove it home (20 min). Pretty beat up though.

I will say two things:

  1. I still lost money on the sale. (10%)
  2. Other than a fusible link going out and leaving me stranded (in town), I never had any issues over 3 years.


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