JR's Little Piece of the Web

Shinoda/Mears Corvette Convertible

Have you ever seen a car for sale and thought that it was a good deal or would be a fun project to complete? I’m sure everyone has at one point or another, but not everyone actually gives it a whirl. As I have learned, it can become quite costly, time consuming and downright painful. The build of this 1990 Chevrolet Corvette is one of those projects.

Year:
Manufacturer:
Model:
Package:
Engine:
Transmission:
HP / TQ:
Exterior Color:
Interior Color:
1990
Chevrolet
Corvette
Convertible
Supercharged V8
700R-4 Four Speed Auto
625 hp / 606 ft-lbs
Green
Tan

Project Log:

  • Introduction and The Story: The painful process of buying the car and bringing it home.
  • Engine Details: Specifications and details about the custom built engine.
  • Review of HPP Motorsports: Details about my dealings with this performance shop.
  • The Plan: What left to complete the project.
  • Interior Part 1: Repairing the fiberglass floorboards.

The Story:

It began back in 2005 when I came across an advertisement placed for a highly modified C4 convertible that was for sale because the owner was going through a divorce. The car was located in Texas and came with thousands of dollars in receipts for performance parts that had previously been installed. I contacted a local performance shop and had a pre-purchase inspection done which turned up a few different issues. HPP Motorsports (Lewisville, TX), stated that the car ran well but needed tires, brake work and a transmission which was slipping. They also stated that it would be wise to beef up other parts of the car so that the engine could deliver the power it was designed to make. HPP provided quotes for all of the work which seemed quite reasonable (probably due to lower labor rates in Texas verses New Jersey), so I decided to buy the car (still having never seen it) and had it delivered to HPP Motorsports for some upgrades.

Anyone reading this far can already tell that the project is headed for problems. Buying a car online sight unseen and then dropping it off at an unknown shop across the country is a recipe for disaster. I chalk this up as an aggravating and expensive life lesson, but at the same time I am determined to complete the project and slap a happy ending on it.

The car is a 1990 Corvette convertible that came with a purpose built 396cid V8 engine fed by an air cooled supercharger and topped by a wet nitrous system. With such a power plant up front, it was easy to understand the need to upgrade parts of the drivetrain and fuel system.

1990 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible with automatic transmission

  • Augostino Racing built 396cid V8 (Engine Specs and Details)
  • Procharger D1 supercharger system with dual air to air intercoolers
  • TPIS Miniram II intake manifold
  • AFR heads
  • Custom 8-rib pulley system including AC compressor
  • Aeromotive eliminator fuel pump and -10 and -8 fuel lines
  • TNT nitrous system (bottle, gauge, solenoids, purge, fuel cut-off, RPM window switch, etc)
  • Hal Qa1 shocks
  • Defi fuel pressure and boost gauges in a-pillar mount
  • Transmission shift kit and Vigilante 3600 stall torque converter
  • 50lb Delphi fuel injectors
  • MSD 6BTM digital ignition system
  • MSD 8.5mm plug wires
  • High flow aluminum radiator with Evan’s Cooling coolant
  • Full 3” custom exhaust system with Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers and Hooker Super Comp headers
  • ATI super damper and flywheel
  • AZEL 17” chrome wheels

My goal was to have much of the car upgraded in Texas by HPP Motorsports so that little would be needed after the car was delivered to me in New Jersey. After multiple discussions with HPP, we decided on a number of different modifications:

  • Transmission: The original 700r4 would be removed and rebuilt to handle the additional power. Modifications included machining of drum for extra clutch, machine pump for constant pressure, installation of manual valve body, cryo-teating all hard internals, completely reassemble and fill with Red Line transmission fluid.
  • Rear End: The stock D36 would be scrapped in favor of a D44 with cryo-treated 3.45 gears installed. Other related components replaced include yokes for rear end, misc fittings, u-joint clamp kits and shortened and balanced drive shaft with new u-joints.
  • Fuel Management System: Installation of a FAST XFI, wiring harness and 3 bar MAP sensor with dyno tuning for the car to run on pump gas, high octane race fuel and with the addition of nitrous oxide.
  • Fuel Delivery System: New Weldon 2025 fuel pump, Weldon Dial-A-Flow controller and fuel filter.
  • Suspension: Exotic Muscle street coilovers, camber brackets, camber rod kit, trailing arm rods and bolts and camber brace along with Energy Suspension control arm, differential carrier and PS polyurethane bushings.
  • Safety: 6-point roll cage with swing out door bars, Corbeau race seats with 5-point harnesses and a driveshaft loop.
  • Miscellaneous Items: new battery, modified Corbeau seats to fit roll cage, machining pulleys and brackets, valve cover and intake manifold gaskets, lug nuts, micro-v belt, belt tensioner and dyno tuning.

At this point you are probably wondering how this all turned out. Well, you can read my review of HPP Motorsports for all of the details, but suffice it to say that it was indeed a disaster.

So now, I am left with a ton of work to complete the project. In addition to the work that wasn’t completed by HPP, I have infused a bit of scope creep myself. Hopefully, I’ll find the time, money and patience necessary to get the car completed sometime before I’m 90 years old!


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