C5 – Health Check & Service

I’ve got my punch list figured out for my major drivetrain servicing. My intent is to check the health of the major components, primarily to see if they will support doing a head/cam/intake package on it. Not sure I want to really do all that tho, (compression test, leak down, oil analysis, etc.) because I don’t think I’ll reach my performance and driveability goals that way. Trans & diff are going to need to be built no matter what. And before I do anything under the hood. So there’s a lot I listed I may not do.

21st Century Muscle Cars did the work on my C7, so that’s where it’s going to get the below work done.

1-Check belts & hoses; replace as necessary.
2-Pressure test cooling system; repair as necessary.
3-Replace air filter.
4-Engine oil & filter change. Capture oil sample for Blackstone analysis.
5-Transmission oil & filter change. Capture oil sample for Blackstone analysis.
6-Differential oil change. Capture oil sample for Blackstone analysis.
7-Compression test on all cylinders; report results.
8-Leak down test on all cylinders; report results.
9-Install new spark plugs.
10-Replace existing oxygen sensors.
11-Install wideband sensor; AEM 30-0310X
12-Install catch can; Mighty Mouse C5/C6-Mild
13-Remove A.I.R. system.
14-Dyno tune; report results.

On the suspension, brakes and tires, the stuff I listed below is what I’m thinking, but will come later.

1-Health check on all suspension components, ball joins, end links, etc.; replace as necessary.
2-Replace shocks. Undecided on make/model, but need to be daily driver friendly; no Z06 shocks. Probably Viking or QA1 adjustable so they’re tunable at the track.
3-Stainless steel brake lines.
4-Brake system flush; what fluid to use for replacement?
5-Lightweight rotors?
6-Tires. Current tires are Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ ZP. They are in good condition with lots of tread left but they’re 5+ years old. I’m hoping the age of the tires attest to their poor dry/cold performance. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZPs I had on my C7 had better dry/cold performance. The MPSS ZPs are what I would like to go with but they don’t come in a C5 size (245/45R17 & 275/40R18), so I may go with the base C7 tire sizing (245/40R18 & 285/35R19) on a set of MRR M755 C7 ZR1 reproduction wheels in a C5 fitment. Or find another high performance summer tire. Other tire choices with C5 sizes include Bridgestone Potenza RE-11, Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval Indy 500, Nitto NT555 G2 & Toyo Proxes. Out of those choices, I think I would prefer the Nittos because I can run the NT555R drag radial in back, paired up with the NT555G2 in the front. Unfortunately, none of those choices are runflats. The MPSS tires really spoiled me on high performance & runflat technology.

That’s it for now.

C5 – Front License Plate

One update I  still need to do is mount my front license plate. Unfortunately in Texas, it’s a $200 fine without one and the State Troopers will definitely write you up. Well, I don’t need to unnecessarily invite The Man into my life; and I’m sure they have better things to do than hassle poor ole me. 😉

With the acknowledgement that there is *no* way to mount a front plate on a Corvette that looks aesthetically pleasing, my personal preference has been the Sto-N-Sho bracket. My experience relates back to my C7 ownership. The factory bracket for the C7 partially blocks the grill (see below) and I can confirm this drives the engine temp up at least 5* in the summer.

The Sho-N-Sto stands forward a bit, so it still allows the air to circulate behind and flow thru the middle of the grill. Plus it’s easily removable, so you can completely unblock the grill at the track. You can see pictures of this at the manufacturer’s website linked above.

With that in mind, I ordered one for the C5. Not a simple bolt up, you need to drill a couple of holes. 😦
Not sure I want to do that so I ordered a factory filler plate and a clear cover. I may eventually use the Sto-N-Sho, but I just don’t want to drill body parts on it, even if they are underneath.

C5 – Groundhog Day Misc Updates


Last weekend I upgraded my garage light. Sorta car related. Replaced my 4 bulb, 4′ CFL light fixture (ballast took a dump) with an equivalent size LED unit. WOW! 6500 lumens. Pricier comparatively but well worth it.

I installed a RadioFlyers LED interior light kit today. One of the footwell bulbs popped when I tried to get it in. Trying to get a replacement. The mirror map lights were a pain but I eventually got it done. Caution doing this with 15 year old plastic bits. Great upgrade for the interior lighting. I didn’t realize the kit didn’t include the underhood bulb so I ordered that today. Probably the extent of LED upgrades I’ll do.

Got one the Ecklers sun shade thingies for the transparent top. Even on a cloudy day, it didn’t help at all with the glare on my new DD head unit. Window tint is a definite go. The screen does have several angles of tilt and that helps, but tint will likely be a better solution as I’ll need it for the Texas summer anyway.

I was going to install my Flameball shift ball but I ordered the wrong size fitting for the sickspeed adapter. I’ll have to order a new one once I can figure out why my account isn’t working with them all of the sudden.

That’s it for now.

C5 – Double DIN Head Unit

First major mod done, albeit with a little bit of headache.
I had installed a new headunit, a Kenwood eXeclon DDX9904S and JL Audio speakers, using a Vettenuts DD bezel/console. Many thanks to the cats in the Corvette Forum Audio board for the guidance.
I’d be happier than a pig in …, but with that big rear hatch window, the glare is so dominate that it makes use of the large screen almost impossible to use. 😦
The screen does flip up almost horizontally, so I can actually see the screen without glare, although it’s a little awkward. I’m hoping once I get the windows tinted, this issue will go away.

My three main requirements (using Android Auto)…



All in all, a very clean install.

C5 – Thoughts On Other Mods

This is sort of a punch list of other modifications I’m considering. Highlighted ones are definitely happening in the near term.

o HVAC control panel light fix*
o Homelink rearview mirror*
o Flameball shifter*
o Firethorn Red conversion. Carpet style as in C7 loop pile carpeting. Seats with gray alcantara insert. Door & dash trim to be painted.
o ??? head unit (Android Auto, Rearview Camera)*
o JL Audio speakers*

o Engine compartment detail*
o Tinted windows*
o ZR1 replica wheels
o LED/Projector headlights

C5 Drivetrain Upgrades

So let’s start with the drivetrain. The car came to me with LG Pro 1 3/4″ headers with catted x-pipe; Callaway Honker air intake; GHL Bullet cat-back exhaust. (as an aside, I thought the catback was going to be too loud and droney, but is actually a good sound with no drone)

It was tuned back in 2007 and put down SAE 388whp.

My power goal is to run consistent 10.9x 1/4 mile times with a density altitude (DA) of 3,000′. I’m wide open at this point as to how I get there; from a H/C/I LS1 to a Gen IV RHS block running 454ci. I’ve got plenty of time to figure that out as I won’t be doing this for quite some time.

I’ll also need to get supporting mods done first: built 4L60E; built rear with 3.42 gears (maybe 3.15 depending on engine size); driveshaft, couplings, halfshafts.

In the interim, I’ll have my tuner look over the tune since it’s been a decade+ and see if there are any opportunities with the current configuration. I’m also exploring converting to flex fuel. This model year PCM has the flex fuel settings, so it’s just a matter of plugging in the sensor and enabling the PCM. Provided I don’t need to upgrade fuel pump and injectors I will be doing this forthwith.

So to kick it off, I’m installing an AEM 30-0310 X-Series Inline Wideband UEGO AFR Sensor Controller, logging some “driving” and having my tuner analyze the results.

Stay “tuned”. 😉

Black Jack C5

I decided to move out of a C7 into a C5 Corvette, so I took delivery of a new to me, one owner 2004 Corvette A4 Coupe.


The car is in excellent shape for it’s age & mileage (65,000 US miles). My hats off to the previous owner for the excellent care he’s given to this car over the years.

I’m coming from a C7 Stingray 2LT. So here are my first impressions.
What I miss…
1) Miss the backup cameras.
2) Miss keyless ignition.
3) Miss passive lock/unlock.
4) Miss memory seats.
5) Miss Android Auto integration.

As for the C5, it rides and handles tight & responsive; much better than I expected based on age & mileage.

Looking forward to a new chapter of the Black Jack saga.

Version 2.0 — Out With The Old, In With The New

As you’ve no doubt noticed, I haven’t posted since my Drag Week blogs. I was involved in an slow speed accident a couple of months ago. 😦 I was rear-ended at an intersection with a yield sign and the person behind assumed I was going thru without stopping. No real injuries.

Car damage was purely cosmetic. No frame or structural damage. But I was not happy with the situation. Specialty cars, like a Corvette, take a huge hit in value when it’s involved in an accident. Also, once it was in the shop for repairs, the flex-fuel conversion was discovered and they put a power train warranty block on my car. 😐 Not that it really matters as I consider myself “self-insured” on the power train.

So I’ve spent these two months weighing different options. Keep it? Mod the hell out of it? Buy another Corvette? Or something else, but what? I finally went to CarMax for a trade-in quote a week ago and was shocked at the low offer*. But it’s easy to understand as the high volume Corvette dealers are offering as much as 20+% off new Corvettes. And the 2018s are fixin to be one model year old when Chevy starts producing the 2019 model year Corvettes in January.

Yesterday, I went to my favorite local Chevy dealer, Stonebriar Chevrolet. I was there only for research on what they would offer for trade-in. In order to get the process moving, I picked out a 2017 Stingray Corvette to use as a proxy for the conversation. Lo and behold, he came in on a number* that was $2,500 under my hypothetical target number. 😯

He came in lower on my trade-in, so I used that as the opportunity to walk out, having  concluded my immediate research. He stopped me and asked if he could match CarMax’s offer, would I buy? I thought about it for a hard minute or two and said yes. 😀 At the end of the day, it was probably the best case scenario for me staying in a Corvette. Also, my diminished value claim (AutoLoss.com) with the insurance company covered the negative equity*.

As far as the trade-in, for those that may be concerned, I fully disclosed the accident, the modifications and the blocked power train warranty.

So what, specifically, did I end up with? A 2017 Black Stingray, with the addition of the Z51 spoiler and the 2LT trim package (the 2016 was a 1LT). Otherwise it is identically equipped with red brake calipers, dual mode exhaust, carbon flash badges and 8-speed auto.

This also means I may not be competing in Drag Week 2018, as I won’t be modding this car at all. 😦

That’s it for now! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

*I’m purposely not disclosing specific numbers, so please don’t ask.