A friend of ours’ father passed away a few years ago and she inherited his 1977 Corvette. This car was special to her, her Dad owned it a long time and she has fond memories of cruising with Dad in it as kid. But it had been sitting a good long while and she decided to make it road worthy again.
The owner had a list of known broken stuff and wanted us to take a look to fix anything safety related and ensure it ran reliably. We did the first things you always do, replace the oil, replace the air filter, replace the dead battery then fire it up to see what’s amiss. In this case, nothing. The engine ran as smooth as silk, that’s a nice change from normal.
The owner complained it was leaking red fluid, so we took a look at the power steering and found a gaping hole in both power steering lines, that explains that. We replaced the lines and found we needed to rebuild the control valve and the steering cylinder since the o-rings were weepy.
We hadn’t done that work before but found if you take your time, pay attention and be a lot patient you can get all the balls, springs and seals back in the right place on the first try.
Next up, brakes. We found the rotors were good but brake calipers were all leaking badly, we replaced them, the pads and flushed new brake fluid into the system and now we have a car that can run and steer and stop, good progress.
During our test drive we heard some clunking in the suspension and after inspection of the 40 year old suspension we found exactly what you’d expect, worn rubber and joints. We replaced the front upper and lower ball joints, rear control arm bushings and rear spring mount bushings and lubed the chassis to get the suspension back in shape.
While we were lurking around in back we discovered the differential was leaking … a lot … from most everywhere. We decided to pull it to replace the seals. That’s when we discovered how large a job it is to get the diff out of a C3 corvette. Once the exhaust was cut and every damn thing in back of the car was disassembled we finally had the diff out. We drained the fluid and it looked suspiciously shiny. One look at the ring gear and we knew why, three teeth were missing. That sucks.
We took the diff over to Arizona Differential and they rebuilt the whole thing, new gears, bearings, posi, seals. After we got it back, painted it up and reassembled every damn thing in back of the car we went for another test drive and things were sounding great, no more clunks.
To button up the car we replaced the flat spot style tires with round ones, replaced some rotten weather stripping around the doors, repaired the speedometer, replaced the transmission fluid/filter and replaced a couple leaky seals on it. Off it goes back to the owner to enjoy for a long time and bring back those fond memories of her father.
This C3 was fun to work on and really fun to drive. It made me want to run out and buy a new project car, I’m thinking a 1972. We enjoyed the opportunity to work on a Corvette and learned one thing for certain, if the part says Corvette in the name it is extra pricey. If you are thinking about a Corvette project car, hope you have a thick wallet.