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petegossett UltimaDork
12/3/16 9:07 p.m.

Despite my best reasoning & logic, and against my better judgement, I hauled home this 85 Vette today with the help of Aeromoto and his son.

Don't let the first two pics fool you - as you'll see further below this car was on the brink of being saved. It also has a past, with a story of great tragedy and loss.

The basic details are: 1985, TPI, automatic trans(which I wanted), Z51 package(which I also wanted, 63,800 miles, purchase price: $1000. Sounds pretty good so far, right?

I found the ad on the NOLA Craigslist yesterday, single picture - NOT of the actual car, one-line description stating it needed restored, and $1200 price. I replied stating I'd been looking for a Corvette project & requesting pics, and provided my phone#. The seller called, and after a brief exchange, she divulged the full history....

Her parents had bought her a then-new 72 Corvette for her own graduation, her son & only child knew of that story and began asking for a Corvette around the time he was in his teens. The seller and her husband declined, stating they didn't have the means to do so.

Fast-forward a couple years - her son is nearing graduation age, her husband has had a quadruple-bypass, and ok'd the purchase. However, rather than a new car, they find a (supposedly) pristine 1985 - the son's birth year. The son loves the car, and out of fear of damage & vandalism chooses to drive it sparingly.

Fast-forward a couple more years to 2014, and the son is now a park ranger. Dad gets sick, goes to the doctor & discovers he's had another heart attach AND has cancer. He starts chemo, and dies of a massive heart attack that same week.

The seller and her son are no doubt devastated. About 6-weeks later she is at her son's park for an event, and is behind him when he has an ATV accident, causing severe head and neck trauma. He dies 8-days later. I'm in awe of her ability to continue on after that.

Adding insult to all of her loss, a tree limb falls on the Vette, shattering the back glass, cracking the driver's rear quarter, cracking the transparenct targa top, and causing a couple smaller scrapes & gouges. She had the glass replaced...and by replaced, that meant someone set another hatch on there, without any weatherstripping, and raised about 1" in the front. Fortunately she kept the car under a tarp, but it was largely disintegrated by now. At one point she attended to give the car away to her son's best friend, but when he opened the passenger's door and found his own hat in the passenger's seat they both started crying, and he stated he just couldn't do it.

Also fortunate, is that she realized she would never have the resources to restore the car, or the emotional capacity to deal with it. Adding to all this, she lost her mother recently, and her out-of-state brother is suing her for misappropriation of their mother's finances. She was crying her eyes out on the phone yesterday, nearly was today when she gave me a hug after we'd finished loading up, and asked us to wait for her to leave because she couldn't bear to watch us hauling off her late son's pride and joy.

So if you've read all that, and your eyes are dry enough to keep following along, here are the remaining pics.

Presumably the original owner.

Here is the majority of the tree limb damage.

The general plan is to recusitate it enough to be functional, then eventually LSX/4L60e swap it, add flappy-paddles, and setup for CAM-S.

Edit: I found the owner's obituary.

Jordan Brooks Smith, of St. Tammany, passed away on Sunday, July 13, 2014, after being fatally injured on duty at Bogue Chitto State Park, where he was employed as an Interpretive Ranger. He was 28 years old. He was the son of Virginia “Jeanne” Brooks Smith and the late Macks “Randy” Smith; and grandson of John Alma Brooks and the late Hugh Brooks Sr., and the late Charles and Molly Smith. He is also survived by an aunt, Teneilia B. Anderson (Don); uncle, Hugh F. Brooks and numerous cousins, including Kim Parker Grubbs (Kerry) and Amanda Brooks Hindson (Jon). He was a 2003 graduate of Northshore High School, and received an undergraduate degree and graduate degree in Political Science and Applied Sociology from Southeastern La. University. He was a member of Grace Memorial Baptist Church, Jacques de Molay Lodge #389, Shriners International and Past Worshipful Master of Bayou Lacombe Lodge #459. A city boy who became a park ranger, Jordan read, researched and taught himself the skills he needed to share his wealth of knowledge. He was a true teacher at heart, creating and presenting programs to hundreds of children and adults, both in and out of the park. He was a hunter education instructor, boating safety education instructor and held certifications in multiple disciplines. The family wishes to thank the members of Grace Memorial Baptist Church, Marshall Pierre and the many friends who have supported us in this time. Masonic services were held on July 17 at Honaker Funeral Home in Slidell. The family is establishing the Jordan Brooks Smith Memorial Interpretive Education Fund, to help his legacy live on. To bring a deeper understanding of God’s creatures to the children of our state, please go to rememberjordan.com. Visit www.honakerforestlawn.com to sign guestbook. Arrangements by Honaker Funeral Home, Inc., Slidell.

OHSCrifle Dork
12/3/16 9:19 p.m.

Rough story. Awesome buy. Does it run?

Pattyo New Reader
12/3/16 9:29 p.m.

I like the color combo! Ive got one of those but mines a bit of a basket case. This website helped me with all the vats random no-starts and then injector failure: http://www.joestradingpost.com/vats/. I did end up buying one of the $30 ecm chips to bypass that situation, but she starts every time now!

petegossett UltimaDork
12/3/16 9:45 p.m.

In reply to OHSCrifle:

We didn't try. The gas is at least 2-1/2 years old, the battery was dead & his jump pack didn't have enough power to roll up the windows after we used it to air up the tires. I'm going to drop the tank & get all the old gas out, then change the oil, before attempting to start it. I'll try to find time tomorrow to put a wrench on the crank & see if it turns freely though.

I ran the RPO codes, here are a few that stuck out.

These seem to contradict each other:

AG9 Power driver seat

AG9 Sport seats - leather(cloth 1994)

A42 Standard leather seats

...but there's this:

65V Bronze cloth sport seats

It shows these, which I believe relate to the Z51 package, but I didn't find one for quicker ratio steering:

FE7 High performance suspension

FG3 Preloaded gas shock absorbers

G44 Rear axle 3.07 ratio

KC4 Engine oil cooler

K90 108 amp generator

V08 Heavy duty cooling

Z51 Performance handling package

It shows the two-tone paint:

D84 Two-tone paint

...but lists them both as the same color?

63L Light Bronze Metallic secondary (lower) exterior

63U Light Bronze Metallic exterior

Does this one mean it was ordered for dealer inventory vs. special-order?

1AY Stock order

And I can't find a description for this:


Woody MegaDork
12/3/16 9:58 p.m.

Liking this...

Rufledt UltraDork
12/3/16 10:09 p.m.

wow that story is full of unhappiness indeed. Cool car though.

petegossett UltimaDork
12/3/16 11:30 p.m.

I neglected to mention the car is also packed full of mud wasp nests. Supposedly they don't sting people, but I'm not going to wait until spring to put that theory to the test. There's also signs of spider activity, so I'll be spraying bug killer into some areas before I get too serious about turning wrenches.

Aeromoto Dork
12/4/16 12:10 a.m.

Damn. Someone should've talked you out of it.

QuasiMofo MegaDork
12/4/16 5:48 a.m.

I wonder what made you start searching CL for C4 Corvettes.

NOHOME PowerDork
12/4/16 5:57 a.m.

May your Carma improve through hard work and good deeds.

petegossett UltimaDork
12/4/16 7:27 a.m.
QuasiMofo wrote: I wonder what made you start searching CL for C4 Corvettes.

Oh I've already told Ovid_and_Flem that he & his gracious offer to let me join their Challenge team & flog his Vette are fully to blame.

QuasiMofo MegaDork
12/4/16 7:42 a.m.
petegossett wrote:
QuasiMofo wrote: I wonder what made you start searching CL for C4 Corvettes.
Oh I've already told Ovid_and_Flem that he & his gracious offer to let me join their Challenge team & flog his Vette are fully to blame.

Seriously look into a 5.3l/6.0l swap. I spent 25 minutes in a 5.3/4l65e swapped 1989 car the week before thanksgiving and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the power in that chassis. The rest of the car was all 110k mile OE with a set of WalMart economy tires (I suggested he look at them because of the 18" tires I bought for $55 each )

Quite jealous my friend! Good on ya!

fasted58 UltimaDork
12/4/16 7:48 a.m.

Wow, what a story.

Nice score!

Stampie Dork
12/4/16 7:55 a.m.

I'm looking forward to watching this build. Make sure you add a couple of turbos to the LSX just cause.

petegossett UltimaDork
12/4/16 8:05 a.m.

In reply to QuasiMofo:

That's the long-term plan.

In reply to Stampie:

No turbos required. I'm not convinced there's any reason for more than 400hp/tq in an autox car, and I won't need the extra weight/heat/complexity of turbos to hit that with an LSX swap. So if I can get near those numbers, get it down to 3200lbs, stuff 315 tires on all-4 corners, and get the chassis setup, then I think it'll be pretty fun.

I noticed the Craigslist ad was still up, so I got a pic of it.

Edit: I'll note too that the car does NOT have a salvage title as stated in the ad.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/4/16 8:15 a.m.

Ouch. What a story. Good luck on the project. TBH, after hearing a story like that, I doubt I would have tried to haggle and just handed her the asking price.

ClemSparks PowerDork
12/4/16 9:03 a.m.

I'll follow along with interest. Thanks to the nuthouse here, these C4s are creeping onto my radar. To the extent I have a cheap Corvette email alert set up on craigslist. Given the chance, I would totally have brought this one home had it been a local example.

And if you end up without a need for the TPI at some point...I also have a hankerin' to put TPI in something a little older (or in place of the TBI on my '89 Shortbed project). While outdated, you have to admit it's one of the better looking induction systems ever made.

petegossett UltimaDork
12/4/16 9:06 a.m.

In reply to Ian F:

If she hadn't told me that she'd tried to give it away to her son's friend, I'd probably have paid the $1200 without question. Instead I just simply asked her what she needed for it, and I didn't question when she said $1000.

In reply to ClemSparks:

I don't consider myself a purist, and I'm definitely a cheap SOB, so unless Corvette ownership changes me & I feel the need to keep the original drivetrain w/the car, I'll likely be selling it off piece-by-piece in a year or two.

ClemSparks PowerDork
12/4/16 9:36 a.m.

My dad wanted a Corvette when I was about 10-12 years old. So I got to accompany him on several shopping/inspection excursions. He always noted how the cars had been modified in some way to make them less valuable. (He ended up buying a '37 Ford coupe street rod instead...that was completely modified and has been completely remodified since then). So I learned that modified Corvettes seem to have a negative connotation. That turned me off of Corvettes until sometime much later.

Seems the best Corvette (for me and in my mind) is a Corvette with no value. Because if you get it already devalued...you can do whatever you want to it with no "consequences" from the goofy purist dorks.

So to me, you have purchased the ideal Corvette (except for the automatic transmission...but I also appreciate that you specifically wanted that).

fasted58 UltimaDork
12/4/16 10:05 a.m.

In reply to ClemSparks:

TPI's on Ebay? Used to be E36 M3loads.

ClemSparks PowerDork
12/4/16 10:41 a.m.
fasted58 wrote: In reply to ClemSparks: TPI's on Ebay? Used to be E36 M3loads.

Thanks, I'm not "looking" per se. Just a threadjacking opportunist ;).

fasted58 UltimaDork
12/4/16 10:46 a.m.
ClemSparks wrote:
fasted58 wrote: In reply to ClemSparks: TPI's on Ebay? Used to be E36 M3loads.
Thanks, I'm not "looking" per se. Just a threadjacking opportunist ;).

Nothing much on fleabay but parts anyway, nothing on CL here either.

I know a guy who just might part w/ a TPI set-up tho.

Ovid_and_Flem Reader
12/4/16 11:18 a.m.
Rufledt wrote: wow that story is full of unhappiness indeed. Cool car though.

I told him it sounds like the car is cursed

SVreX MegaDork
12/4/16 11:25 a.m.

In reply to QuasiMofo:

You should be thanking Ovid_and_Flem.

The single party interested in my RX8 I referenced a while back was not you, it was Pete.

If it wasn't for Ovid_and_Flem, Pete may have gone home with the RX8, and you may have been walking!

Good story, Pete. I am a little jealous.

petegossett UltimaDork
12/4/16 11:39 a.m.

In reply to SVreX:

I did seriously consider it, but magic spinning doritos really terrify me. Apparently John too.

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