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Vet Injection

A '89 C4 'Vette with a serious steroid injection!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Immaculate 1989 C4 Corvette
  • 383ci stroker
  • Cam and head work
  • 240kW ATW with heaps of torque
  • Suspension and brake upgrade
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A modified Corvette in Australia is about as rare as rocking horse droppings. Sure, some people might take the plunge to import a ‘Vette outa the ‘States and get it converted to right-hand-drive - but that’s about as far as they go. Merely owning a Corvette in Australia is enough to satisfy most people.

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But not Tim McCarthy of Queensland!

Tim is a through-and-through Corvette lover. While most people sit back and brag about having one ‘Vette in the driveway, Tim has no less than three – yep, three! There’s a restored ’61 (a real thing of beauty), a ’98 show car and this – a built-for-speed 1989 C4.

Interestingly, this ’89 C4 was imported to Australia before it was registered in the US – the previous owner bought it brand-spankers and had it shipped out straight away. Upon arrival, the car was converted to right-hand-drive, registered and driven fairly sedately for the next four years.

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That’s where Tim enters the scene.

Tim purchased the stock-standard ‘Vette and, after hearing about how fast a mate’s Aston Martin was supposed to be, he couldn’t help but give it some mechanical tweaks.

“I didn’t want to lose to some Aston Martin – I had to prepare for a fight,” says Tim.

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The first mods – performed by Corvette Automotive - are pretty run-of-the-mill if you’re a ‘Vette-aholic. The air intake was opened up with a TPIC intake snorkel, a Lingenfelter SuperRam intake manifold with dual 58mm throttles was fitted, the heads were slightly ported and port-matched and a mild camshaft was slipped in. Custom HPC’d 1 ¾ inch extractors scavenge the combustion chambers and blow into a twin 2 ½ inch mandrel system. The auto trannie was also treated to a shift kit and 2800 rpm Dominator stall converter.

These mods slashed the C4’s quarter mile time from around 14.1 seconds (standard) to a proven 12.7 at 107 mph. This was achieved with the help of a pair of BF Goodrich Drag TA rubbers.

But how did the ‘Vette fare against the big British beast?

Well, it’s fair to say the Aston Martin was absolutely dismembered.

“It didn’t know which way I went,” says Tim.

It was a case of ‘mission accomplished’. But Tim decided to go even faster!

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Since then, the car has been progressively enhanced with an ECU chip, Crower roller rockers, a 219 Lingenfelter hydraulic roller cam, Griffith aluminium radiator and a Dana 44 diff spinning a shorter-than-standard 3.33:1 centre.

After these mods, Tim could either go for a wilder cam, supercharger or capacity increase. Tim wasn’t too keen on simply stuffing boost into the 350’s belly or losing drivability so he opted for a thorough engine rebuild to 383ci.

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The 383ci displacement comes from a DRM stroker kit that includes a new crank, JE forged pistons (for a compression ratio in the 11s), Oliver rods and roller rockers. The heads were also given a bit more of a tickle.

A generic chip was no longer gonna cut the mustard with the stroker motor, so Tim took the car to ChipTorque on the Gold Coast for a custom chip. A larger diameter airflow meter was also installed to help reduce intake restriction. The stock fuel system was also struggling, so a Lingenfeld pump and regulator were installed in conjunction with Accel 24lb injectors.

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The current power output - 240kW at wheels – is not outa-this-world by today’s standards, but the average output is gigantic.

“It’s got sh*^ loads of torque,” says Tim.

“It pulls virtually straight off idle all the way up to 6000 rpm.”

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To date, the car’s best quarter mile time is 12.01 seconds at 116.6 mph. Tim is confident of cracking the 11s if only he could find better traction – the BFG Drag TA radials he uses are now a bit old to give their optimum.

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The C4’s already sizeable brakes were also beefed up to later model C5 specs with 14 inch discs, which were part of a DRM kit. A DRM suspension kit has also been bolted in – this comprises shocks and springs. A VetteBrake ‘Smart Strut System’ gives rear geometry adjustment to alter the rear wheel alignment angles and effective spring stiffness.

The steering remains standard but Tim did give the car’s existing right-hand-drive conversion a ‘freshen up’.

Rims are standard Corvette 17 inch alloys, which are polished to a brilliant shine. And check out the tyre size – 285/40 17 at the rear and 275/40 17 at the front. Tim relies on Goodgear Eagle GS-Cs for street use.

The car looks completely standard apart from the lowered stance and exhaust – the removable glass roof is straight off the production line.

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Inside, the standard leather trim has been rejuvenated with custom centre inlays, the carpets have been changed and the factory digital dash is augmented by a Monster tacho and shift light. The audio system is also brought up to date with a Kenwood CD stacker in the passenger side of the dash, an amp, front splits and rear sub.

Tim says the sound system is the envy of many Corvette owners – apparently the ‘Vette’s unique interior shape and dimensions make sorting a high-end sound system a real challenge.

Although Tim doesn’t use the car as an everyday-er now (it’s too good) he does make sure he gets plenty of fun out of it.

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“The best street drag I ever had was with a Viper GTS coming out of a car show,” says Tim.

“It did him no problems.”

“Oh, and then there was the time with a chick driving a Barina away from 3 sets of lights – that was a laugh.”

Boy, it sure is nice to hear about an Australian ‘Vette that gets driven!


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