California Stingrays

California's C3 Corvette Car Club

96 LT1 in a 1981 C3 Corvette

By Willie D. Powell
Proud Owner Since July 1983
11/15/2010

Table of Contents

What’s it all about?
Luke 14:28… count the cost
Why This Article?
How To Understand This Article
Emissions Certified & California legal
Why the LT1
Getting Started
Trailing Arms
Exhaust Manifold
The PCM
Electrical
Transmission
The Fuel System
The Coolant System
Air Intake
Putting it In
Evaporator Canister
Mufflers
Air Conditioning
Throttle Cable /Cruise
Custom Stuff
Diagnostic Codes
The Details
Final Engine Pics
The Interior
Paint
Auto Detailing
Phase Two
Part Numbers and Vendors

What’s it all about?

June 1981, another one of America’s awesome sports car rolls off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Kentucky; designed, engineered and produced by artisans in their field. The drive train has been designed and tuned to the aerodynamic drag force of the vehicle. Then what am I doing and what is this project all about?

I have been a Corvette fan since I was a toddler. I purchased this 1981 Corvette in July 1983. I never expected to own it this long but the C3 body style is second to none. The rolling curves of the C3 transcend each generation and have proven to be “no generation trend” but a true icon. And taking nothing away from the GM artisans of the 80s, the car is technologically bereft and lacks the efficiency of what’s available today and rightfully so as the car is thirty years old. Well the ensuing question would be why not simply go and buy a new car? I would have if the car below was available when I started this project.

The decimation of the curves on the C4s, in my humble opinion, left the cars wanting and no longer corvette distinctive.

Chevy tried to bring the curves back in the C5s and C6s but will strike gold if they bring the concept car above to fruition. And yes I’ve read all the forums about how horrid this car looks but I like it! Therefore, I had to work with what I had which is not a bad thing because I absolutely love my car and this article is about transforming a C3 into a powerful, efficient and fun-to-drive machine. Now I know there are the pundits or purists (I like to call them) who believe that a “restomod”, which is what this is, vice a “number matching restoration” is a horrible thing to do. Well each has its place. If you want to place your car on display as a survivor (I like to call them) and show how it’s still original after forty five to thirty years, then once again, put this article down and grab a restoration magazine. Restomods tend to decrease the value and rightfully so because the rare properties of the vehicle are gone. So if you do not own a C3 at this time but looking to transform one, don’t buy a clean/restored C3. Those cars should be preserved as they are. We need to preserve those survivors so that guys like me can look at those and say, “Ah, the days of yore”! But if you are in the market to buy a C3 for transformation, buy one that needs a lot of work because you will be changing just about everything anyway. In fact, buy one that doesn’t run; that’ll really bring the price down. Therefore if you have the affinity for the C3s and want to install some marvelous enhancements, then read on but get a true understanding of the cost and materials before starting.

Luke 14:28…count the cost

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish." Luke 14:28 NIV

These words of wisdom apply to a LT1 swap and its application is as follows:

"Suppose one of you wants to swap a stock carburetor 350 with a LT1. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he begins the transplant and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to transform his C3 and was not able to finish." WD Powell CSV (Common Sense Version)

The cost of swapping the stock engine for a LT1 is not cheap and yes I know; “cheap” is a relative term. If the main goal of the project is some type of return on investment, put this article down and go buy a new car. The goal has to be more horsepower, better gas mileage and most importantly, enjoying your C3. I can assure you that you can reach these goals. Oh and here is my paid political announcement; an LT1 has a lower environmental footprint than a carburetor engine.

But it would behoove you to talk with your mechanic (if you are not doing the work yourself) on the cost and how he plans to charge you; time and material or a flat fee. Unless your mechanic has done several of these before, time and material is not the right approach. If you are living in a stringent emission control state like California and plan on putting the vehicle on the street, it needs to be smog legal. This adds cost. Do you just want to install the engine or “pretty it up” while you are in there? Ask any woman, “pretty ain’t cheap”! I can also tell you that transforming the car becomes addictive. You start out with intentions of installing a new drive train and the next thing you know you are installing improved suspension, brakes and everything else. It gets expensive and this is the reason that the total project cost is not listed in this section. I want the reader to read on and I know that if I posted the cost of my project in this section, the “sticker shock” would terminate the reading of this article instantly. That’s why ab ovo, I stated count the cost. Determine the scope of the project, how much you want to spend and stay committed to that scope and limit.

Although just swapping a stock 81 corvette engine with a LT1 is a difference you can truly feel, don’t believe all the hype about the small modifications to LT1s that will produce seat of the pants results. Rather than spending a lot of time debunking those myths in this article, I encourage you to read the link below. It sets the stage for expectations of “so called mods” and puts in perspective the cost of trying to get more acceleration and increased top speed.

http://www.corvettephotographs.com/c4vettes/performance.htm

Why This Article?

In an effort to effectively count the cost, I wanted to get as much information as I could about an LT1 transplant. If you search the internet on the subject, there is tons of information on the subject. However what was frustrating for me was that it was all fragmented or not enough detail on the subject to complete the task. I had to review so many different sites and articles to get the required information. This was extremely time consuming. Hence this article burgeoned out of my frustration.

The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with all the lessons I learned along the way, identify parts and part numbers to assist with the swap and to point to websites that I found valuable in completing my project. It’s more of a “what I had to do” rather than a “how to do it” blog. And most importantly, the lessons I learned along the way. I tried to make it all inclusive but things such as the year of the C3, automatic verses manual transmissions, customizations, street legal verses hotrod, etc, will warrant additional research. In addition, there were quite a few websites that were very detailed about certain aspects of a LT1 swap and rather than rewriting their words, this article points to that link. New articles flourish on the internet by the second on varying subjects so this article is not purporting to be the end all on the subject but a good starting point.

Another thing that I believe puts this article a cut above the rest is that it is a smog legal swap. I couldn’t find any articles out there that were smog legal swaps. Most of LT1 swaps I read deleted a lot of the emission systems. One last note to guide you, what follows is more than just an LT1 swap but some info on my restoration. If you are only interested in a specific subject of the LT1, you can use the table of contents links to find the specific subject you want or get some popcorn and read the whole thing.

I have also included a table at the end of the article of parts, part numbers, cost and vendors where I purchased. This project spanned 18 months (November 2008 thru April 2010) and therefore the cost information for parts may not be applicable.

How to Understand This Article

I gave my car to my mechanic Tuesday before Thanksgiving of November 2008. I received my car Back January 2010. Over a period of two years, I found things that didn’t work right, things that can be improved, Trouble Codes with the check engine light, etc. Therefore, this article describes what I did initially with the swap between Nov 08 thru Jan 10 and what I learned in the ensuing two years. For example, under the “Electrical” section, I described how I modified a stock harness. However, after I got the car back and drove it for a while, I found it better served to remove and replace the stock harness with an aftermarket harness. These types of changes will be listed under “Lessons Learned” and will immediately follow my description of the initial install.

Emissions Certified & California Legal

In California, engine swaps are allowed and the emissions are evaluated against the chassis if the donor engine is older than the chassis or against the donor engine if it's newer than the chassis. For this project or any LT1 C3 swap in California, it has to meet the requirements of the LT1 engine. In short, you can’t increase the vehicles emissions.

A quote from the California Air Resource Board website:

.. If the part or modification is shown to not increase vehicle emissions, it is granted an exemption to emission control system anti-tampering laws. This exemption is called an Executive Order (EO) and allows the modification to be installed on specific emission controlled vehicles. Every Executive Order part or modification has an assigned number that can be verified by Smog Check stations, BAR Referee stations, or by the ARB.

Therefore, all the emissions need to be in tack. The engine must think it's still in the donor car. In an effort to ensure your hard work is not done in vain, you'll want to pick up and read the state's engine swap pamphlet. These pamphlets are available from the Bureau of Auto Repair. In addition, you can ask questions or get tips from smog referees before getting too far along. In California, smog referees are in CA Consumer Assistance Centers, which are located in community colleges. Make a friend!

Here’s a lesson I learned; get the VIN of the donor vehicle if you can. Referees like that! Here is a link to the California Air Resource Board.

Emission Label

I even installed the 96 Corvette Emissions label.

You can reach a referee at the link below (Toll free Phone number (800) 622-7733). Let them know your location and they will tell you the nearest station for meeting a referee.

BAR Referee Program

CARB Label

I went to the referee at Antelope Valley College. They use to give you the actual smog testing. Now they just perform the inspection to see if you have all the required components for the LT1, verify that the connections are correct, and that’s it! They place a sticker inside your door as shown above. Then you go to a smog station and the smog station reads the sticker and tests your car to the standards of the sticker. I passed with both the referee and the smog station with no problems whatsoever!

Going Green

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!" (JFK) Yeah, 300hp is nice, increasing Zero-to-Sixty by 3.2 seconds is impressive, and 60% improvement on MPG saves money but if I couldn’t achieve any "green" benefit, the project was to be terminated. How's that for humor; I’ll get serious now! Going green was a by-product of my objective. I guess "true green" would be to install a hybrid. However, this swap does make its contribution to the general environmental philosophy and social consciousness of natural resources. The LT1 swap contribution to “going green” includes saving power, reducing emissions, and saving gas. My emission system is fully functional with no "Check Engine" codes. (At least now it is! I will discuss that further in the diagnostics section). Under the hood is completely a 1996 Corvette car. All factory engine electrical systems are in tack. Inside the car are all 1981 systems.

The Team

Why the LT1

If you haven’t asked that question yet of why the LT1, it’s bound to come up as you read this article. For starters, I like the way the LT1 looks. To me, it a great looking engine. Did I consider the LS1? Yes, I did but LS1 albeit has more horsepower, it has more challenges which are by no means insurmountable. For example, an LS1 does not mount to the stock engine mounts of your C3 and requires slight modification. In addition, the LS1 Evaporative Canister for emissions monitors the fuel pressure as well as vapors where as a LT1 only monitors vapors which is simple to set up in a C3. There are a few more things but none of them are insurmountable if you want that additional horsepower. On that note of horsepower, remember it’s not all about horsepower but Torque is just as important. Consider these performance numbers of LS1 and LT1.

Engine Horsepower Torque
1997-2000 LS1 345Hp @ 4600RPM 350 ft/lb @ 4400 RPM
1996 LT1 300Hp @ 5000RPM 340 ft/lb @ 4000 RPM

Notice the torque gain from a 1997-2000 Corvette LS1 is not that much (10ftlbs) which is another great thing about the LT1; it can produce some torque! But remember count the cost! There is a point of diminishing return on horsepower since C3s don’t have traction control and too much horsepower without modification to the rear end and a traction control system would (literally) just be spinning your wheels. However, even with a 300hp LT1 compared to the ignominious 81 stock 350 with 190hp, you will notice a huge difference. Look at the comparison table below of a stock 96 corvette to a stock 81 corvette.

Engine Performance 1981 1996
Horsepower 190 300
Zero to 60MPH 8.1 4.9
Top Speed 121 175
MPG (highway) 16 29

…..and no waiting on cold mornings for the choke to release.

Since initially starting this document in 2010, LS motors have become quite popular and several kits are available to aide in the swap. Chevy actually makes a powertrain system with everything you need to swap a LS3 motor. But it comes with a price; $13,000. See below.

Air conditioning compressor still looks challenging in a LS1 C3 swap but the industry is making great strides so maybe a simple solution for AC is around the corner. And if you are going to go with the LS, get the LS3. It’s 430 Horsepower and about 400Ft/lbs of torque.

But if you decide to proceed with the LT1, I strongly urge you to get a 96 Corvette motor. The 96 motor is OBDII which is a big deal for all of the plug play stuff that is out there in the automotive industry. Corvette motors have more horsepower and the fuel rails route on the passenger side which makes the hook up easy. In addition, 94-96 LT1s have vented OptiSparks which improves the reliability of that unit.

1981 Corvette Motor

Factory installed L81 engine in a 1981 Corvette.

Picking the LT1 required patience and good searching. The other LT1s (Impalas, Camaros, Firebirds, and the like) have less power than the corvette LT1, most are not four-bolt mains, and the fuel lines route off on the driver’s side. Corvette fuel lines are on the passenger side. Do yourself a favor and patiently wait out a corvette LT1. I found a 96 LT1 with 51k, complete with all harnesses, relays, solenoids, etc. (everything in the engine compartment), and 4L60E tranny attached for $2700.00. You can get LT1s from a salvage yard in San Diego CA, on the last Saturday of every month for as low as $500.00. (They run specials that way). However, you will not know the history of the engine, its one in a million that it will ever be complete, it definitely will not be a corvette engine and it must be rebuilt. By the time you invest to make a salvage yard engine “turn- key”, you would have far exceeded $2700.00. Most LT1 swaps were using aftermarket harnesses with no emission systems. As mentioned previously, this was to be an emission certified project so the stock harness was all I needed. Keeping this installation emission certified was just important as anything else.

1996 LT1 Corvette Motor

I bought this engine from a guy name Shawn who lives in Van Nuys, California who has more Corvette parts that you will ever imagine. What’s great about Shawn is he guarantees his stuff and he’s great to work with. On several occasions, I had to call him up and say ‘I’m missing “this or that” and he was more than willing to help. I highly recommend. Shawn can be reached at (818) 415-6969.

1996 LT1 Corvette Motor

Above is a pic of my stock 350 on the left and the new LT1 on the right.

1981 Corvette with Engine Removed

1981 Corvette with engine removed.

Getting Started

Some of the wiring of your C3 will be needed for the swap so identify and mark the following wires before you pull the engine:

  • Alternator wires
  • Temperature Gauge Wire
  • Oil Pressure Gauge Wire
  • Oil Temperature Wire (if so equipped)
  • AC wires
  • Ignition Wires
  • Tachometer Wire
  • Check Engine Light wire (if so equipped)
  • Lock – Up Torque Converter TCC (if so equipped)

The list above is for electrical and I’m doing it from memory after the swap so the list may not exhaustive. If you think of something else, label it and send me an email to update my blog. Items such as fuel lines, vacuums and cables are self-evident. Prior to installing the engine, we put a power wash to the engine compartment and tried to make it look “Bowling Green” new. We replaced the spark plugs and wires, water pump and optispark. On a used engine, you don’t want to put the engine in without doing this maintenance. My main seal at the front leaked oil and I did not find out until I had installed my engine. If you are installing a used motor, change all of your seals and gaskets; timing cover, oil pan, rear seal, etc. It’s not worth the headache to find a leak after the motor is installed and all the seals I just mentioned are less than $30.00 total. Live at peace!

Chrome Master Cylinder

And here is the beginning of the “pretty it up” addiction. I couldn’t resist dressing up the engine compartment with a chrome brake booster and master cylinder.

The engine compartment was power washed but not painted. The logic was we didn’t want to paint it until we had it functioning right with the assumption that it may have to go in and out a few times. Dumb logic; it went in and stayed in! Paint it before you install. I painted the control arms and put in new polyurethane bushings (control arm and sway bar), I replace the ball joints, replace the front pads, turned the rotors.

I installed (4) Bilstein Sport shocks. I also purchased Steeroids Rack & Pinion steering and had it installed prior to seating the engine back in the car. If you are thinking about installing rack and pinion, now is the time. The instructions state that you can do this in about 2 hours with no major engine removal but I can only imagine how hard that would be because it’s tight in there.

I have no idea how this U joint steering knuckle can be installed with the engine installed.

Steeroids

Here is a picture of the steering knuckle with the engine installed. Notice how close the steering knuckle is to the exhaust manifold bolts. There can be no binding on that u joint. Make sure you read the instructions carefully and pay attention to all the advisories

Steering Wheel Column

Check your steering wheel column bearing. If it’s worn and you have too much play, now is the time to replace. (Courtesy of Corvette Central)

I did a brake job while I was in there and painted the calipers and control arms black. Then I came across a great deal on Wilwood Calipers (Platinum in color so I upgraded. Absolutely love them but now I wish I would have bought red. ($450.00 more). But I received a blessing. I came across some new powder coated red ones for only $50.00 more and sold the platinum ones to my buddy. And then the ensuing addiction, I had to have drilled and slotted rotors. I bought the rotors from Brake Motive who has excellent prices. So below is the pic of the painted black ones and below that is the final install of red powder coate onesones.

Trailing Arms

My trailing arm bushings on the right hand side were nonexistent. I must have lost them on the highway some years back. Removing and replacing trailing arms is a pain in the butt. Most C3 owners pull their trailing arms and send them out for refurbish, wait for the return and reinstall. It was easier for me, albeit more costly, to buy new ones. Ecklers sell these with a life time warranty. Although Ecklers sell them, they get them from Van Steel, a very reputable company when it comes to trailing arms. I was fortunate to catch a 20% off deal at Ecklers. These units are ready to be installed (plug and play) except you have to pull the spindle (yoke) off of your old one and torque on to the new one.

There already exist two good articles on how to do this effort (links below) so I will cease from the echo except for the following: I did not remove the spare tire or the transverse spring. Some remove the spring to gain better access to the inner strut rod bolt. On an 81 Vette (fiberglass spring), you do not have to remove the spring to get the bolt out of the strut rod. The head of the bolt hits the spring as you try to take the bolt out so loosen the bolts on the spring (Qty 3) about 3/8” and the spring drops down enough to slide the bolt out. If you have an older Vette with steel springs, there is a wide “V” shape bracket that attaches the strut rods to the differential. (I think its 4 bolts). You can take that “V” bracket off and the struts come off with it as an assembly. See pic below. (Pic below is not an 81 or later installation)

The “L” bolt that holds the shock and the strut at the trailing arm is not going to come out politely. I used a 3X rivet gun to drive it out. Some guys use a sawzall to take the forward bolt out that attaches the trailing arm to the frame due to rust. I was fortunate; mine came out with no problem but my car is a California car and never saw much rain. And you will need prayer and patience to get that forward bolt back in the trailing arm (mostly prayer)! If you don’t know how to pray, I will share the answer to my prayer here. First make sure your bolt can pass thru the trailing arm while outside the car. Use some anti-seize compound or motor oil if extremely tight. Get some strong fishing line and thread the line through the bolt hole, then through the frame, then thru the trailing arm bushing and finally through the outer frame to the outside of the car. The next step works great if you have two people but a jack and jack stand can substitute a friend. Place the trailing arm in position while pulling the slack out of the fishing line as necessary. Use long needle nose pliers to get the bolt lined up to the hole while pulling on the fishing line to hold the bolt tight. Wiggle the trailing arm as required moving the bolt thru the trailing arm. She should go right in! After you’re done, take a second and say another prayer of thanks!

Here is the link to the two articles of how to remove and replace trailing arm:

http://www.corvette-restoration.com/restoration/corvette_restoration_updates_all.htm

http://www.corvettec3.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl

Good idea to clean up some of the grease in that area and pretty up what you can. The new strut rods came with a nice gray finish and I painted the half shafts silver.

Exhaust Manifold

The exhaust manifold were starting to get a little rusty so I had them powder coated. There were mixed feelings out there on powder coating. Most believe that the benefit purported with regard to heat reduction and improve horsepower wasn’t real. When I finally decided to powder coat it was for the sake of appearance mainly. I used Electro-Tech Powder Coating in San Marcos, California.

Exhaust Manifold

Before and after.

I didn’t reinstall the heat shields for aesthetics. In theory, the powder coating should reduce the amount of heat dissipated. This coating can withstand 1800 – 2000 degrees F. However, it still feels pretty hot in the bay around the manifolds so I suggest putting the heat shields back on. It’s important to note that exhaust ports on LT1s use “D” shape ports as compared to the traditional oval ports so any previous exhaust manifold will not mate to an LT1.

I bought the whole 1996 donor car drive train so I had the catalytic converters, oxygen sensors and mufflers. On the right side, the O2 sensor will hit the seat so we installed a bolt and welded a new boss on the outboard side of the pipe. If you have to buy O2 Sensors, be sure to get AC Delco. I heard Bosch injectors can make the car act weird in close loop.

Catalytic Converter

In an effort to take some of the load off of the exhaust manifold where the catalytic converter attaches, we built a custom bracket to support the catalytic converter on the transmission bell housing.

The PCM

I didn’t get all tricky with the things you can do with the PCM to get more gas mileage and horsepower. After exhausting researches in Corvette forums, I was persuaded that Chevy has taken advantage of maximizing the LT1 at the factory and the 10-20hp gain of tinkering with the PCM made “the view not worth the climb”. If you’re determined to do this, consider a coordinated system modification rather than a single component; i.e., exhaust, intake, throttle body, PCM, etc. Check out this website on benefits and lack thereof of modifications:

http://www.corvettebuyers.com/c4vettes/performance.htm

I’m sure there are pundits out there who will disagree with this position but dyno is a must. Even after installing all the emission systems, the car was still not running as efficient as I knew it should be. The idle would increase after about 30 minutes of driving. I could smell the excess fuel being dumped into the engine. The car would also cycle back and forth between open and close loop even with the stock thermostat. I eventually started getting two codes P0200 and P0300. I talk about this in more detail under Electrical but I bring it up here under PCM because I thought my PCM was bad. So I sent it off to Wong’s Performance Engineering for Dyno Tune (off the car) and VATS removal. Obviously it’s not the ideal way to do dyno tuning but I needed to have some resets on the PCM and I figured I would get a little tune out of it while they had it. The difference is noticeable. Tom does great work and he knows what he is doing. Here is Wong’s info:

Thomas Wong
Wong's Performance Engineering
9305 NE HWY 99
Vancouver WA 98665
(360) 695 9433
tjwong@qwestoffice.net

VATS

The VATS (Vehilcle Anti Theft System) in the corvettes can be a neat anti-theft device with a few modifications. Corvette is the only car to use what is called a serial VAT; meaning it requires more than just interrogating the resistor on a key to defeat the system. At the time of writing this blog, no one has been able to defeat this type of VAT. However, other cars use a PWM VATS (Pulse Width Modulated, I believe) and this type can be defeated and makes for a neat anti-theft device. If you have a Corvette PCM, you can take it to places like Turbo City and have them remove the serial VATS and replace it with the PWM VATS. Then you can build one of these neat key fobs below for an anti-theft device. The link below is someone else’s blog:

http://temp.corvetteforum.net/c3/70lt1/vats.shtml

Mounting the PCM was a challenge as there is no room in the engine compartment for the PCM and to try and place it in the interior of the car would have required extensive wire modifications to lengthen the harness. We built a bracket and mounted it inside the left fender well where the evap canister was. I would recommend a more maintenance friendly spot. This location was a problem when I had to do so troubleshooting. Master Cylinder had to come off to get to this unit. It’s been moved. The new location is shown in the Electrical section.

PCM

Mounting the PCM was a challenge as there is no room in the engine compartment for the PCM and to try and place it in the interior of the car would have required extensive wire modifications to lengthen the harness. We built a bracket and mounted it inside the left fender well where the evap canister was. I would recommend a more maintenance friendly spot. This location was a problem when I had to do so troubleshooting. Master Cylinder had to come off to get to this unit. It’s been moved. The new location is shown in the Electrical section.

Lesson Learned

Don’t mount the PCM as shown above. It’s too hard to get to and albeit the PCM is weather proof, this installation gets wet every time I wash the car. I have never used my windshield washer bottle so out she came and a new home for the PCM. See below.

PCM New Location

The PCM is sitting on a custom made “Z” Bracket with water heater straps holding it down. This location makes the PCM more serviceable than the previous location. I had to eliminate the windshield washer fluid tank to make utilize this spot. The Z Bracket is mounted to the body mount bolt.

Electrical

As mentioned previously, most LT1 swaps were using aftermarket harnesses because they did not need all the signals and input for the emissions. My project required the engine and PCM to still think it was in the donor car. Therefore, all the wires were connected and tested. This is probably the most labor intensive effort; trying to determine what goes where and how to power it up. However, this didn’t work out to well so I will start by telling you what I did and then tell you about the final product. In retrospect, I think it is cheaper and less labor intensive to go with an aftermarket harness unless you just enjoy this type of tedious electrical trouble shooting. Below are electrical diagrams.

Elec. Diagram Elec. Diagram Elec. Diagram

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Fuse Box Fuse Box

There are body harnesses and fuse links that are on the body of the car that you will need and probably will not come with your engine purchase. I got rid of the car before I realized I needed these relays and fuse panels. If you don’t get these fuse boxes, you can go to the local junk yard and build your own. I grabbed these fuse panels and relays out of a Ford.

The car is wired so that the ignition switch powers the 96 engine thru relays under the hood. I didn’t want the 96 wiring and power running thru my wiring in the car just in case something went wrong. The two systems are separate and make trouble shooting easy. Some important things to remember:

  • You need relays for the fuel pump, AC, fans, and main power
  • Make sure your fans are getting its power from the battery; not thru the main relay
  • Main power relay should be 40 amps or greater

To keep the car smog legal, you will need the following accessories that are on the body harnesses of the car rather than the engine:

  • Evaporator Canister
  • Secondary Air (Smog) Pump
  • Secondary Air Injection Bleed Valve Solenoid (96 LT1 Only)
  • Four O2 sensors

The only wires that you will need to locate and use from your stock car are:

  • Battery Power off the starter
  • Generator light wire (usually brown)
  • Check Engine Light wire (if so equipped)
  • Tachometer Wire
  • Wire to Brake Cutout Switch
  • Wire to Park Neutral Safety switch
  • AC Clutch and Pressure switches
  • Ignition wire – (this wire is hot in the crank and run position)

Finding these wires and labeling them before you get started will make your job easier.

Under the hood of the car, the electrical wiring is identical to a 96 corvette. Inside the car is still 81 wiring. Not that I ever plan on selling this grandiose project but if I did, the system is not so custom that you can’t readily troubleshoot with a 96 or 81 manual.

In retrospect, I would relocate my fuses and relay in another location if I had to do over.

Lesson Learned

So, after this was all done, I drove my car for about a year and I got a P0200 code followed by a logical P0300. P0200 is injector circuit malfunction and P0300 is a misfire which is what you would expect if you have an injector problem. I checked EVERYTHING on this fuel system; even changed out the PCM. We concluded that it must be the wiring. Something must have shorted out and we just couldn’t find it. The morass of wiring was ridiculous so we pulled the wire harness out and ordered a new one from Howell EFI. The reason I chose Howell and not other companies such as Painless is because the car is a 96 OBDII. Painless and most other companies do not make OBDII harnesses; just OBDI. The Howell harness is absolutely beautiful, simple to install and far less cluttered than the stock harness. This was my biggest lesson learned! Do not fool around with that stock harness; for the sake of aesthetics and ease of trouble shooting. There is so much stuff that you just don’t need in a stock harness. This is when I chose to relocate the PCM. So here is the Howell Harness before it’s in the car.

Here is a pic of the installation in progress. Notice all the bulky relays and fuse boxes along the firewall are gone. Not needed with an aftermarket harness. You only get what you need. However, I forgot to mention when ordering my harness to include the alternator feed and power connector so that those wires are neatly in the harness. Be sure to do so.

Also, now is the time to change your positive cable on your battery. It’s a 15 minute job if the transmission and drive shaft is out as the cable routes along the side and top of the transmission tunnel. It’s about 90 minutes and a few curse words with the tranny and drive shaft installed. The positive cable is thirty bucks or less so “getter done” now!

A C3 uses a single wire alternator but in the mid 80’s GM developed the three wire alternator which has two battery feeds. I have two suggestions for you; google this info and then figure out how you want to wire your car because the differences in opinion on this matter is phenomenal. I will take a few minutes here to tell you the difference and what I did but as I said, research and do what you want.

Single wire alternators only charged at high RPMs. GM came up with a brilliant idea to deal with charging at low RPMs and meeting the ever increasing demand of electrical power needed in newer cars; the three wire alternator. Two of the wires are pretty straight forward but it’s the two battery power wires that have a thousand opinions. There is a stud coming off the back of both alternators and that one goes to the battery or power distribution. All agree. It’s the second battery wire inside of the connector that people are using wrong in my opinion. They take that second battery wire and loop it to the stud and in essence defeat its purpose. Albeit this connection will work fine it has two fundamental flaws; it will not provide the additional power to the car’s electrical system as designed. It will deliver to the car the difference between the output of the alternator and the voltage drop after passing through the battery and to the system which is about 12.6 volts. The second thing this type of connection does is it provides constant power to the self exciter in the alternator. The self exciter was designed to excite the voltage regulator at low RPMs to produce a charge to the battery even at idle. If you loop this second battery wire to the stud, it powers the exciter ALL THE TIME and can cause a battery draw while the engine is off which can lead to a dead battery after a long period of sitting. By long period, I mean 10 days or longer. In addition, a self exciter always on wears out faster than one that only comes on when needed.

I wired my car with the post stud wire going to the battery and the second battery wire (inside the connector) to the power distribution system. This way the battery is getting 13.5 volts from the alternator for charging the battery and the power distribution system supplying power to the car is getting 13.5 Volts from the second battery wire. In addition, the self exciter has a resistance between it (the car and the generator light) and is not always on.

Transmission

I initially planned on using the 700R4 tranny in my swap. I was told it was a lot simpler than the 4L60E in that there is less electronics. My mechanic talked me out it (glad he did) and we used the 4L60E. Using the 700R4 requires tedious adjustments of the Throttle Valve cable (TV) which we didn’t want to be bothered with and using the 700R4 during hard acceleration and hard shifts could cause premature wear. Therefore, since the 4L60E was designed for my LT1 and I had all the harnesses, I stuck with the 4L60E. One of my goals was to keep my car as stock as possible so I did not want to change out my speedometer which is mechanical. The 4L60E provides an electro signal to the speedometer of 96 cars with no provision for mechanical connections. However, eliminating the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) from the tranny wasn’t an option. Therefore, we had to change out the tail-shaft. Shiftworks.com sells tail shafts with mechanical connections for speedometers while still retaining functionality of the VSS.

VSS

Assuming this is a C3 LT1 4L60E swap, you will need the SW41C which does not have mounting lugs because the transmission mounts to the cross-member just aft under the transmission pan and not to the tail-shaft. The lugs of the SW41A will interfere with cross-member installation.

Tail Shaft

I found a guy on the internet that cut the lugs off of his tail shaft.

Another option for getting mechanical readings to the speedometer was to use a device made by Cable X (pic below). It converts the electrical signal to mechanical. It has great reviews but I didn’t want to add another device in between the connections so I used a new tail shaft. Either one works

When using the Shiftworks tail shaft, the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) they install is not the GM stock VSS. Therefore, the pigtail from the stock harness will not connect. You can either acquire a GM pigtail that will fit and splice the connection or purchase an adapter from Shiftworks. Below is pic of the Shiftworks adapter on the left, the GM pigtail in the middle and Ballinger Motorsport’s connector on the right. Ballinger motorsport has the best deal on this connector ($7.00).

Connectors

VSS Adaptor left, PT374|12102747 center, and Comm-85556 right.

165 Speedometer

I changed the 85 MPH speedometer for a 165 MPH.

The TCC (Lock up Torque Converter) must be hooked up properly to the brake switch in order for the car to go into overdrive. The TCC gets a constant 12V through the brake switch when the brakes are NOT depressed. When the conditions are correct, the car goes into overdrive using the 12V power through the brake switch. Once you apply the brakes, it opens the circuit, interrupting power to the TCC. This interrupt is a must or your car will stall. If your car did not come with cruise control, you probably have no provisions to interrupt the circuit when the brakes are applied. Cruise control cars already have this functionality in the brake switch. You will need to buy a new brake switch. Purchase a 95 Camaro brake light switch. It’s design to work TCCs. Or if you are electrically savvy and don’t want to mess with the brake switch (because it’s not easy to get to) you can use a relay. Relays have 5 terminals. Two of them switch the relay on when it receives power or ground. Then there is a terminal on the relay that is normally open and a terminal that is normally closed. You need to feed 12V to the supply leg and hook the brake switch signal wire to the normally closed leg. This will allow 12V to flow through the relay and provide the correct signal for the PCM. When the brake pedal is pressed, the 12V circuit in the relay is interrupted. This will cause the normally closed leg to become open, whereby turning OFF the 12V signal to the PCM. When you release the brake pedal, the relay will close again allowing 12V power to the PCM to energize the TCC I changed the 85 MPH speedometer for a 165 MPH. This was accomplished by Corvette Central.

Speedometers

Watch EBay as someone is usually selling a speedometer already converted. Also, Corvette Instruments has great prices on 140MPH speedometers but I planned on testing my LT1 upwards of 140 so this didn’t work for me! Corvette Instrument also offers a cool 200 MPH speedometer (on the right).

I initially connected my tachometer wire to the negative side of the coil. This will give you a tach signal. However, after I replace the harness, it came with the “white” wire (pin 13 in the red connector) free to connect to the stock brown wire of the tachometer.

And here was an opportunity to upgrade the technology; I installed a Heads Up Display (HUD). You can get these aftermarket units to display just about any engine parameter you want. My main interest was speed and water temperature. I found an awesome one from 360 Infinite USA with Speed, Tach, Water Temp, Volts. But what’s really cool about this unit is that it’s plug_and_play. You plug it into the OBD II connector and you are ready to go; no splicing and connecting various wires. The unit gets all its info from the PCM. I love this thing!

HUD

And here was an opportunity to upgrade the technology; I installed a Heads Up Display (HUD). You can get these aftermarket units to display just about any engine parameter you want. My main interest was speed and water temperature. I found an awesome one from 360 Infinite USA with Speed, Tach, Water Temp, Volts. But what’s really cool about this unit is that it’s plug_and_play. You plug it into the OBD II connector and you are ready to go; no splicing and connecting various wires. The unit gets all its info from the PCM. I love this thing!

Transmission Conversion

My 81 Corvette had the stock TH350 3 speed automatic. The 4L60E is a 4 speed. The Shifter in the car only has three positions ( 3 - 2 - 1). Shiftworks, Ecklers and Corvette Central both make conversion kits for adding 4 speed automatic detents to the interior center console ( 4-3-2-1). The 81 detent frame is tack welded to the assembly. You will have to drill it out and re-tack weld.

The cross member for mounting the transmission will require some consideration. The stock TH350 is about three inches shorter than the four-speed 700R4 or the 4L60E. Therefore, the stock cross member will not work. You can cut and weld the mounting plate to make this work but don’t forget to make provisions for the emergency brake cable pulley. If you can find a reasonably priced 1982 corvette cross member, that would work. But most people, who have one, want way too much. So I decided to go with a Bowtie Overdrives cross member set-up.

An advantage of using Bowtie is greater clearance for exhaust. As mentioned before, make sure your tail-shaft does not have mounting lugs or it will hit the cross-member. Upon receipt, we placed the Bowtie cross member over the 81 stock cross member and the difference did not look like 3”. After installing the cross member, it validated the appearance; the transmission holes did not line up. The holes (although slotted) were too far forward. The reason for this is the 4L60E will not allow the tranny mount to sit flush. (See Below)

Transmission

You will have to shave the transmission case to get the mount to sit flush. If not, it will look like this.

Shaved Transmission

Shave the transmission case until the mount sits flush.

Cross Member

Then the Bowtie cross member nestles right in. The parking brake cable bracket is perfectly located by Bowtie.

The same dimensional challenges exist for the driveshaft. Because the 700R4 and 4L60E transmissions are longer, the drive shaft needs to be shorter. If you can find an 82 reasonably priced, go for it. I had to have mine cut to size and blue print balanced. I used Driveline in Mission Viejo, Ca. The final dimension for my driveshaft was 25.5” which removed 3.5”. This dimension was pretty close to Bowtie’s number of 3.13”. I doubt that .375” makes a difference since it’s a slip yoke but you should measure your vehicle just to be safe.

I installed new transmission lines. I used the stock transmission lines for 1982 corvette since the stock tranny on an 82 is a 700R4.

The Fuel System

Once again, the 1982 car can help with the fuel system. The Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) in an LT1 swap requires an electric fuel pump where C3s (except for 1982) use mechanical fuel pumps bolted to the engine. All of the forums I read spoke of modifying the fuel tank for a new sending unit. The 1982 Corvette (C3) used an electric fuel pump and the sending unit will fit 78-82 C3s. These sending units are readily available everywhere. It’s a direct bolt-on to an 81. You CANNOT use the fuel pump that’s comes with the 82 because the pressure is too low. The 96 corvette LT1 requires 47-49psi and achieves this pressure from AC Delco EP 376 fuel pump and an AC Delco TS17 fuel pump strainer. This is the stock corvette pump. There are several articles out there purporting the use of the AC Delco-Ep-241 pump. This is fine if you are not using a corvette motor. The -241 cannot keep up with the fuel flow demand of a corvette motor. See stats below courtesy of NAPA:

Part No. Fuel Pump Gallons Per Hour (GPH) Fuel Pump Pressure Rating
AC-Delco - Ep241 19.2 50.8 psi
AC-Delco - Ep376 27.6 50.8 psi
AC-Delco - Ep381 32.4 60.1 psi

During Wide Open Throttle (WOT), Corvettes require 25GPH. As you can see, the -241 cannot support. I included the specs for the -381 pump because that’s what I installed for my swap. The stock corvette pump (-376) can only support the fuel demand up to 375 horsepower which is more than enough for a stock LT1 swap. I put the -381 in mine just in case I went to more horsepower down the road, I wouldn’t have to change out the pump.

Hopefully this was just an anomaly for me but the electrical connections at the filler neck of the 1982 sending unit were troublesome. On a full tank of gas my car would shut down. We spent days trying to figure out what the problem was. The terminals at the filler neck on the sending unit had a poor connection and a full tank of gas would disturb the terminals and its connections so we soldered them.

Tank Sump

The tank on the 81 does not have a sump or baffle so you will need a method to baffle the fuel during cornering and acceleration when the fuel level is low. We took a fuel sump from a 2000 Chevy truck. There are probably other applications out there other than the Chevy truck. When installing the sump, make sure the fuel level arm can move up and down without binding. Here is a pic of a Chevy truck sump

Wiring the unit is pretty straight forward. The fuel pump sending unit is one wire and it’s already there from a C3 (at least on my 81). To power the fuel pump requires a fuse and relay which we pulled from a Ford but you can get from any car (post 1990). Then we allowed the PCM to ground the fuel pump relay and the fuel pump relay was powered by a common fuel relay.

Another caution is to make sure you change your rubber fuel hoses. The increase in fuel pressure will burst the standard 81 fuel lines. Yes, I learned the hard way.

My fuel rail leaked at the inlet side where the tube goes into the rail. Albeit rare, it can happen. The problem with this kind of leak is GM did not make the line serviceable. Therefore, we had to cut the tube off and weld an AN fitting in the rail. See below:

This gave me the opportunity to “pretty it up” by using stainless steel braided lines.

Fuel Lines

Pure Choice automotive makes a kit to adapt stainless steel lines to the stock set-up. Buy the kit rather than individual components. See below:

Also added a custom fuel filter and fuel pressure gauge. The stock 96 LT1 filter was too big and bulky. When I cut the leaking tube from the fuel rail, I lost the Schrader valve for fuel pressure testing since it was part of the tube. Therefore, I installed a permanent fuel gauge inline to monitor fuel pressure.

After the car was running for a year, I started getting a P0200 injector circuit problem. Although my stock Multec injectors checked out ok, I changed them for Bosch injectors that seem to outperform stock Multecs. This was more a preference than anything else. Take a look.

The Coolant System

LT1s use electric fans verses engine driven fans on C3s. The fan and radiator set-up can be acquired several different ways but the most expensive route was the best route for me. You can find electric fans and radiator combos from salvage yards that will work with minor modifications. I hear the 95 Z-28 set-up requires the least amount of modifications. This is the least expensive route ($100-$200). However, I did not want to make any structural modifications for my transplant so I bought a direct fit electric fan and radiator combo from Mid America. $900 bucks but it satisfied my objective.

I still had to make a minor adjustment though. Where the fans are mounted to the radiator, the black plastic shrouds of the fan hit the upper control arm. The fan assembly and shroud mounts to the radiator with sheet metal screws. So we removed the screws and moved the assembly over to clear the upper control arms. In addition, I was concerned about the LT1 running hot so I put in a 185° thermostat. On a hot summer day (100°), AC blasting, in traffic or cruising on the highway, my temperature runs at about 200 to 210°. Although I like running that cool, the system was design to operate around 210° and if you run the car too cool, the PCM will make the car run rich trying to warm it up so don’t go less than 185° thermostat. I also programmed my PCM to turn the fans on at 210° verses the stock setting of 225°.

Radiator Drain

Before doing the final install on the radiator, verify that you can open and close the peacock drain on the radiator. It’s probably going to be up against the frame and you will have to notch out the frame to make the drain serviceable or put an elbow on it.

The designed gap between the AC condenser and the radiator will need to be addressed. It is imperative that you put the stock seals back around the radiator frame. Air has to be forced to pass through the radiator. Without those seals, air will take the path of the least resistance which is everywhere except passing through the radiator and at high speeds your car will run hot. “HOT” meaning your fans will always be coming on while you are on the freeway which is the direct opposite of when your fans should come on. Ram air should be cooling your car on the freeway but the seals have to be in place to do so. Install the vertical seals onto the frame before you put the radiator back into the car. After installing the factory seals, there was still a gap between the seal and the radiator. So I purchased one inch wide weather stripping from Home Depot and place it on the radiator in the corresponding location of the seals on the frame. This closed up the gap. All of these seals and weather stripping installations are best done before installing in the car. Once permanently installed in the car, install the horizontal strips across the top of the radiator. Ecklers sells the radiator seal kit (item 25805). However, if you have an 80 – 82 Vette, this kit is not the best but will work; just require a bit of customizing across the top because the hood on the 80-82 cars is different and requires different seals. Corvette Central has the 80-82 specific seal but not as a kit and consequently you are buying the seals separately and it cost more. After you install the factory seals, use the weather stripping from Home Depot to ensure you have complete sealing when the hood is closed.

Chrome Cover

JEGS PN 552-52090 pictured.

I have seen some people with chrome covers but I have yet to figure out where they get them; probably custom made. JEGS carries one but I’m not sure if it will fit.

 

Lesson Learned

After driving the car, I realized the radiator cover I made was pushing against my hood causing stress cracks in the hood and was not sealing the air at the top of the radiator. I built a custom cover that sealed the top of the radiator and directs all the air through the radiator. However, now the K&N Filter is not secured. I will build another bracket soon. Also note, the picture above was taken before I installed the radiator seals. In the above picture, notice the gap in front of the radiator forward of the red radiator cap. That should be completely sealed to the top. Here is my install with my custom cover and all my seals installed. You will notice that gap just forward of the cap is gone (cap is no longer red).

On the right side of the LT1 Engine block is an analog sending unit for temperature gauge. However, I wired mine to the radiator coolant sensor that came with the radiator. I used an infrared thermometer to ensure its accuracy because sometimes radiator readings can be false. It was dead on!

The radiator hoses required are:

  1. For the upper use a 95 or 96 Z28 hose. It has the secondary heater hose coming off of it
  2. For the lower hose, use a 96 corvette hose. This hose has different diameters on each end.

The upper radiator hose, albeit it cleared the alternator, was very close to the alternator and I was concerned that flexing and torque would put the hose in contact with the alternator. Therefore, we designed a pin to keep the hose away from the alternator and secured it to the hose clamp and the radiator. See below.

However, now they make the Z28 hose as three separate hoses all clamped together and you can rotate that hose out of the way of the serpentine belt and alternator. By the way, you will need to use a Camaro/Z28 hose and NOT a Corvette hose for the upper radiator hose unless you plan on installing the complete corvette cooling system which is a lot of components. The hose that is branching off the radiator hose in the picture above goes to the throttle body. On a corvette that hose comes from the passenger side of the car with several other hoses. Corvettes use a recovery tank and a surge tank which is a bit cumbersome to fit in a C3 so use the Z28 hose. In addition, unless you are in Alaska, I would recommend by passing coolant running the throttle body. You can get a little more horsepower. See dyno statistics below.

GM routed coolant through the throttle body to prevent freezing of the throttle body components which is highly unlikely anywhere in the U.S; especially if your car is garaged. Corvette Central sells a kit (Item# 304782) for this for those of you who want step by step instructions. The kit is $18.00. Or you can do it yourself from the local auto parts store for about $3.00. All you are doing is connecting the inlet tube to the outlet tube of the throttle body. Albeit not required, I bought some 3/8 vacuum tube caps and capped off the ports of the throttle body after I bypassed them.

Tube Recovery System

Tube Recovery System.

I also wanted to eliminate the ugly plastic recovery bottle so I upgraded to a 2 x 17 stainless steel tube recovery system with a red anodized radiator cap. Red cap didn’t work out too well; lever was flimsy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson Learned

But here is a lesson I learned. These radiators/engines have surges whereby they force coolant out of the radiator and into the recovery system. In fact, the surge is so great on the 96 corvette that they have a surge tank and a recovery tank. The problem with using the stainless tube is that it can’t handle the volume of the coolant surge and dumps the excess on the ground. But the real problem is when the radiator recalls that same volume of coolant back and half of it is on the ground, it then sucks in air and these reverse coolant system are very sensitive to air in the system. So I went back to the ugly recovery bottle. (Not so ugly when you get a new one).

Bleed Screw

Bleed screw on the water outlet.

Flush the radiator out. You have to remove the Knock Sensor(s) because its reverse cooling and you can’t get all the coolant out by simply draining the radiator. You have to get it out of the block and that’s through the knock sensor(s). Some LT1s have two. Everybody says remove both to flush; even the manual. I can’t figure that out because the block is not partitioned. I only removed one to do my flush. Coolant looks pretty good and clean. After the flush and you fill the system with coolant, you will inevitably have air in the system. LT1s can’t handle air in the coolant system. You have to bleed the air out through the bleed screw which is on the water outlet.

Bleeder

You MUST stuff plenty of rags under this outlet to ensure the coolant does not get on the Optispark. However, make your life easy. I have since learned about this excellent bleeder that ensures you don’t get coolant on your Opti and you know when all the air is out.

You can read up on this efficient product at the link below. I wish I had known about this when I was doing mine. I still plan on buying this and using it if and when I open my system again.

http://www.yourcustomcar.com/coolant-bleeder-valve.html

Transmission Life

Keeping tranny fluid cool is imperative for long life of the 4L60E. Take a look at this chart provided by transmissioncenter.net.

If you add an auxiliary cooler for the transmission, remember it’s only auxiliary; not in place of! Although it may not have been required, I purchased this auxiliary cooler. Radiator coolant is on average at 190 degrees so your tranny fluid is not going to get cooler than the radiator coolant temperature. Therefore, I wanted to try and get the tranny fluid temperature down as low as possible so I decided to use this 2 pass finned cooler. If nothing else, it’s a WOW! Still haven’t found a place to install it yet!

Air Intake

Throughout the project, I never regretted using the LS1 instead of the LT1 until we considered the Cold Air Intake (CAI). In addition to an efficient engine transplant, I wanted the “wow” factor when I opened the hood. Finding a CAI that provided function as well as beauty was tricky. The LS1 can use a nice looking twin air horn that mounts directly to the engine since the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor is bolted to the engine. See below (courtesy of hotrodlane.cc)

This is the look I wanted for my LT1 but the problem was the LT1 MAF is not on the engine block. We had to abandon this look and use the 1994 – 1996 Z28 1LE Intake Elbow (PN 25147187). Although functioning ok for now, this is not truly receiving cold air but hot air that is surrounding the engine compartment. As I previously mentioned, I will be building something to enclose my filter so that it’s only receiving cold ram air. (Still in design). But this set-up works fine; flawless in the winter.

Air Intakes

Trickflow makes an aluminum ceramic coated LT1 Elbow (pn TFS-3150800) that I may try later on. I hear theirs fits with no trimming at all. Hotrodlanes has the twin air intake for the LT1 that mounts to the throttle body of the LT1 but there is no provision for a MAF. Right (courtesy of hotrodlane.cc). This project has to satisfy all emissions so I didn’t want to try and get around the MAF sensor.

Lesson Learned

I was at a car show and saw a demonstration where “Green Filter” allows more air through then K&N; thus more power and better gas mileage. It’s hard to tell when you have a true Hp gain without a dyno but I definitely got an extra two miles to the gallon. Although I stuck with the green filter, I’m sure not happy with the color. I wish they had another color.

http://www.greenfilterusa.com/

Putting it In

It’s not that easy. If you are using a corvette LT1, it’s extremely tight. The standard GM 350 engine mounts will work; one of the reasons I did not do the LS1. On the left hand side the power steering line was hitting the threads of the rear upper control arm bolt. We had to cut this bolt to practically flush with the nut. Try and leave some thread protrusion because when you do wheel alignment, they shim under these bolts and you will need some thread protrusion if you have to add shims. After we cut the bolt we had about an inch clearance.

Re-fabricate this line if you can. Fabricate it so that the new line bends forward of the bolt and it will give you greater clearance. This is important because you will not be able to remove and replace the control arm without pulling the engine if you block yourself in.

We broke the oil pressure switch at the back of the engine on the top. Take this off before installing or be very careful. You will also need to remove the A/C compressor.

We installed the Smog pump on the frame just forward of the damper. Find a better spot; it was in the way when I needed to pull the damper off. The smog pump installed in the pic below is for 93-94 corvettes. After reviewing the wiring and researching, we realized there is a difference between 93-94 and 95-96 smog pumps. I don’t have picture but it was installed in the same location.

No other components required removal to install a 96 Corvette LT1. I caveat with that statement because I’m not sure the same success will be yielded with an LT1 from any other donor such as Camaro, Firebird or Impala.

Installed

It looks horrible at first but you will see when you get to the end that she cleans up pretty well.

Evaporator Canister

We used the 96 Corvette canister and located it behind the left front wheel well. Fastener heads need to be as low profile as possible to avoid hitting tires on hard left turns.

Lesson Learned

Do not mount the canister to the fender well. I believe this to be too much weight for the fender well. My fender well separated at the bond line. It could be a coincidence but I removed the canister nonetheless. I bought a 6” hose clamp and clamped it to the Z bracket holding the PCM.

Mufflers

When considering the muffler, I wanted a delayed “wow” factor. Meaning, I wanted to be sitting at a traffic light with a quiet engine when someone who thinks he can smoke me pulls up and gives me that “nod”. He’s delusional with this thought because the sound of my “ponies” is concealed. The light changes and he sees nothing but my tail lights and all he can say is “……..wow”.

The performance gain from mufflers is negligible. So I stayed with the stock system. I pulled the complete 96 exhaust system out of the car, cut out the resonator because there was no room to keep it installed, and then routed the pipes and mufflers as normal. I have since learned about the advantage of using mandrel bend of the pipes verses conventional bending. In short, conventional bends reduce the flow area of the pipes by 35%. Therefore, your 2.5” exhaust pipes are no longer 2.5”. However, mandrel bends maintains the consistent 2.5” flow area to maximize exhaust flow. The stock system from the factory is mandrel bent. I may have them re-done to mandrel bend later or purchase cut mandrel bends from Summit Racing (much cheaper to go Summit).

Stock vs. Mandrel Bend

Here are some statistics from Bob’s Muffler (vertical axis I believe is backpressure).

Exhaust Tips

I got blessed with my exhaust tips. The 96 has the wide rectangular tips on the muffler. The fact that my car has a body kit, the “would be” gap between the rear bumper and the exhaust tips are closed. Here is the final installation. Looks like they were designed for the car!

The stock sound was perfect. I was worried about the effects, performance and sound without the resonator but nothing negative is noticeable. I can cruise down the highway with no annoying exhaust audible inside the car. The only negative thing is these mufflers are huge and minimizes the space to work on your power antenna and your tail lights if you have to work on them. If you have any work to do in that area, do it first!

Muffler Tail Pipe

Installation under the car

Magnaflow

After a year of driving with stock mufflers, I decided I wanted just a little bit more rumble so I decided to try these Magnaflow mufflers. They offer the stock look while providing the increased power and sound. They are just a tad bit louder than I would have liked but tolerable. I like them!

Air Conditioning

Most of the LT1 swaps I have read did not install AC. Unfortunately, I couldn’t survive without it. First we had to custom fab AC pressure lines off the compressor. We started with radiator clamps on the hoses but eventually had them professionally swaged. Pay attention to the hinge for the hood as you route the lines in front of the radiator. See below.

After I fabricated these lines, I didn’t like the look and it caused the routing of the hose to be excessive because it went out in front of the condenser and then back in the engine compartment on the right. You are better off using the stock lines off of a 96 which comes off the compressor and then turns the lines to the right and across the front of the engine compartment along the radiator. See below of a stock 96.

Then swage the lines or clamp and route to your desire. Next, your stock condenser (serpentine model) is not an efficient design. It uses a single tube routing back and forth through the condenser. This creates excessive high pressure in your system which will cause frequent cut in and outs of the compressor, cause your AC compressor to work really hard and consequently premature wear. A more efficient design is the parallel condenser. See the design differences below.

Condenser

Parallel Flow condensers are approximately 1/3rd more efficient than standard OEM Tube & Fin / Serpentine condensers. So I purchased a parallel flow condenser from Nostalgic Air Parts. The one I bought was the 15 X 27 Superflow R-134A Condenser.

If you measure your stock condenser, the dimensions are probably 16 X 28 but the 15 X 27 from Nostalgic Air Parts will do the trick. You will be extremely happy with the performance of your AC system with the addition of this condenser. R-134 with parallel flow is just as cool as R-12. If you have the opportunity before you disassemble your car, measure the pressure and temperature of your R-12 system with the stock serpentine condenser and then measure again after installing the parallel condenser. It’s a difference you can measure (in psi & degrees) and most certainly can feel inside your car. The larger fitting of the new condenser goes on top. You can use the stock brackets to mount the new condenser but you will only be using two of the three screws in each bracket (top and bottom, no middle). There are universal holes across the top of the condensers for mounting but none of them lined up for me. Below is how the line was initially routed; in front of the radiator.

You will also need an AC pressure sensor for the AC sensor to communicate properly with the computer.

Final Install Final Install

So here is the final install with fully swaged lines and routed just like the stock 96 corvette.

Throttle Cable / Cruise Control

I considered many options here just to end up with going to the local automotive store and splicing and installing a standard throttle cable. The pic below shows our initial thinking of trying to use the 81 cruise control system. But we abandoned that idea and acquired all the components of the 96 system and installed it. You want to read this thoroughly before you do cruise control because it takes up all the available space on the left side of the engine. In the pic below you can see a few of the spark plug wires. By the time you get done with installing a cruise control system, all that space is gone. To do any work below the valve covers on the left hand side requires removing the system (not disconnecting). You will see what I mean as we move on.

We were going to use the stock 96 corvette cruise system but the 95 impala and Cadillac user fewer components. The pic below shows the vacuum servo and cruise control module for a 96 corvette.

However, you can use the set-up out of a 95 Cadillac. It does not use the vacuum servo but it combines the cruise control module and servo cable in one unit. See below.

Both setups require the use of the Traction Control unit or as it commonly called in Cadillacs, the ASR. The throttle cable and the cruise control cable all go into this one unit and out of that unit to the throttle body. Don’t try running two cables to the throttle body; one for throttle and one for cruise. Binding can occur. Here is a pic of the ASR installed and mounted to the back of the AC compressor. The bracket was custom made. If you make one, make sure you can readily remove the bracket because this installation blocks access to spark plugs.

Cruise

Here is snapshot from the 96 corvette manual on how to hook up the cables to the ASR or TCR if you are using a corvette unit. The servo has three cable drives. The top one goes from the servo unit that we pulled from the Cadillac. The middle one connects the accelerator pedal. And the lower one goes to the throttle body. That’s what the picture above depicts and instructs if you can’t read it.

Cruise

Here it is installed and you will notice all my space is gone.

Cruise

Above is a pic of the square servo module from the Cadillac. It’s mounted on the firewall. I’m not happy with this location and will be moving it. It added to the excessive weight on my fender well and I think cause it to dis-bond. I’m looking for a new place.

Once the cables are installed, move the servo and make sure the throttle body moves with no binding and then depress the accelerator and verify the servo and all the cables move without binding. If your car previously had cruise control (like mine) just wire it up and test drive.

Custom Stuff

A good friend of mine turned me on to this cool toy; LED digital sequential tail lights. They look really cool but it’s a lot of work because it’s a custom modification; they do not make these lights for corvettes. Therefore you have to by a 70-73 Camaro set-up and customize the installation. The key thing to remember when you do this is to seal around the lens with weather-stripping to keep water out.

You need to check out the video below to appreciate the functionality of these lights.

C3 Sealed Headlight Beams are whack; even the Ultra Beam by Sylvania is not satisfactory to “today’s” standard of lighting up night roads. In addition, California has several roads that require “Daytime Lights” which is really annoying to pop up your headlights for this lawful requirement. So, I added Daytime Running Lights (DRL).

These specific lights when wired “properly” function like late model cars where they turn off when you turn on your headlights. When wired “improperly” (like I did mine), they stay on as long as the car is running and shut off after the engine stops. By “improper” I mean I did not wire the DRLs to the existing lighting system. The proper way to wire the DRLs is to tap into the existing lighting circuit and when that circuit is energized, it cuts off power to the DRLs. If you don’t tap into the existing lighting system, the DRLs will never receive a signal to turn off. This improper wiring allowed me to use the Daytime Running Lights as supplements to my sealed beams. Check out the brightness below with no headlamps on during the night.

Now here are the lights in the daytime.

Halo

And I couldn’t stop there. I have to get my headlights brighter and added the “Halo”.

Halo on a 1981 C3 Corvette

These are Halogen crystal clear semi-sealed beam glass headlights with blue angel eye LED Halo ring. They can be wired to the daytime running lights but it’s useless unless you are going to drive around with your headlights up. These are wired independent of my headlights so that I can drive with just my Halos or with Halo and headlamps. The Halo fades out when the headlights are on. In the picture above, I have all four halos on but the headlights hides the halo.

Halo on a 1981 C3 Corvette

Now here are the headlights and high beams and notice you can no longer distinguish the halos but they are still on.

LED

And in case you’re wondering if I have “a thing” for lights, the answer is “YES”! I added these underbody lights that can project multiple colors.

LED

Here is a shot with all my lights on. It’s a regular light show where I go down the highway. But these look cool at car shows that extend into the night.

Lighting

In addition, if you are “fortunate” enough to be doing this install on a 68-77 C3 corvette, you have the opportunity to install these cool dashlights by inclusive lighting. “Unfortunately” they don’t make these for 78 and up C3 corvettes; yet! Inclusive lighting said they are working on it. I will definitely add to my 81 Vette when available.

GPS

Rear view mirror and GPS

It gets old taking the GPS from car to car and having the power cord for the GPS hanging in front of your stereo so I went with this cool rear view mirror GPS set up. There is a drawback though. The mirror is 12” wide and from tip to tip of your sun visor is 11”. Therefore, when I flip my visor down, I have to re-adjust my mirror. I have no regrets; I can make the sacrifice. This is a very cool device. It has a speedo on it and the passenger can watch DVDs from a SD card, etc.

Diagnostic Codes

OK, so when I fired it up the first time she ran about twenty minutes and died. We used the stock fuel lines in the fuel tank and the increased pressure blew the lines.

Replaced the lines and then I received P0132 Check Engine Code. P0132 is Front O2 Sensor fault. We found out by using the existing harness that was removed from the car, we had no way of knowing whether all the grounds were still in place. The O2 sensor was not being grounded. Some grounds could have been cut to remove from the engine and consequently by plugging into the harness, the other end may not have been grounded. Rather than troubleshoot this, we grounded the O2 sensor at the O2 sensor under the car. We didn’t wait to see if the other O2 sensors were going to flag the same issue. We grounded all of them at the Sensor under the car.

Next we ran for a while and got a DTC 1441, Evaporator purge fault. The purge solenoid was sticking. We flushed the hoses and system out with air as it appeared to have some crap in it (particles of the charcoal filter). Connected it again and the a few miles later, it came back. Check the solenoid and it was gunked up again. Blew it out and this time put a fuel filter in the line to catch any floating debris.

And finally the code that made me wished I would have never done this swap, the P0200 - Injector Malfunction followed by a P0300- misfire. This can be a nightmare to solve but before you waste time and money, follow the steps in the link below.

http://www.obd-codes.com/p0200

This problem would not have been so bad if I wasn’t using a modified stock harness. The source of my short (which is what was causing my P0200) could have been anywhere and was probably due to a solder job gone bad. We solved this with a new harness.

No more codes!

The Details

Below is a pic of the finished product. I got carried away with the red wire loom and started pulling it out. I removed the valve cover bolts and had them powder coated red.

The K&N air filter coming of the intake duct needs to be supported. Leaving it unsupported will take its toll on the air intake elbow as the filter and the Mass Air Flow sensor has a considerable amount of weight. We built a shroud to cover the radiator and attached a tab to the shroud to support the MAF and air filter. We used two of the MAF bolts to support it. The shroud reads “81 ICON” which is what’s on my California License plate. Behind the shroud is red reflective tape that when the light (or a flash from a camera hits it) it looks lit up. Looks cool but be careful that it’s low enough under the hood. I cracked my hood in two places because it was sitting too high.

As part of the “Lesson Learned” for Cooling, I removed the radiator cover in the pic above because it wasn’t sealing the ram air effectively. Consequently, I still do not have the support for the K&N Filter. It now looks like this:

As mentioned earlier, there are several fuse boxes that are required for an emission certified car. A good place to mount these additional fuse boxes is against the firewall but make sure you mount them low enough to clear the hood when the hood closes. Also, the data link connector (for OBD II diagnostic) is in the engine compartment. These pics are my first install with Stock harness.

The pic below is the Howell EFI harness. Notice the removal of all the bulky fuse boxes and relays against the firewall. This install is a lot cleaner and simpler. Pic below is work in progress.

After removal of the unnecessary bulky fuse boxes against the fire wall, I built a custom panel for the 4 fuses and 5 Relays.

Final Engine Pics

Although the title of this section is qualified with the word “Final”, you will notice some changes that were made even after I declared final. Corvette restoration is addictive.

In the picture below, cruise control cables installed with ASR assembly and new radiator shroud/cover to force the ram air through the radiator.

Fuel filter and pressure gauge installed.

As previously mentioned, gas mileage is outstanding due to the overdrive of the 4L60E. I can drive 50MPH with RPMs just above idle.

The Interior

Although there are many improvements in the drive train that can be adapted to the C3 corvettes, there aren’t a lot when it comes to the side panels along the center console. I read an internet article where one guy built one from scratch using wood. Albeit a lot sturdier in its design, I didn’t look “corvett-ish” anymore. So I upgraded on things that I could. Keeping in tradition with the black and red theme of the LT1 under the hood, I continued with the interior.

The stock interior color was silver.

I bought a new black dashboard. Have you heard the expression “they don’t make them like they use to”? Well corvette dashboards are included in that phrase. The aftermarket dashboards are very flimsy. After spending several hundred dollars on the new dashboard, I spray painted mine and put in back in.

I bought black carpet and used red the red trim ring for the cargo doors.

By the way, that stereo system rocks. I have a separate 200 watt pioneer amp driving the bazooka tube subwoofers and a 120 watt amp driving a six speaker system (6X9 Triaxial in the rear with 2 tweeters on the rear deck lid and 4X6 dash board speakers) The stereo head is a Sony with a 10 disc changer and there is a pioneer EQ under the disc changer. Who still uses an EQ? Me! Awesome set-up with an awesome sound!

Albeit the system set-up is great, it was found wanting when I wanted to pull my T-Tops off and store them or take a drive somewhere and no place to put luggage. So I built a deck to fit over the stereo components that afforded me T-Top storage and place for luggage. Pretty simple to make; plywood, foam, round Woodstock, matching fabric, and an iron patch.

I removed and replaced my silver seat belts and replaced them with red ones.

I painted my T top center molding and forward pillars black and red

And the final install of the seats and door panels

I bought the black double strip status sills from Corvette Central and had the two chrome strips powder coated red.

After a year of these red floor mats getting dirty and not quite matching my red and black theme, I changed them out for these black ones with red trim. These look awesome.

Paint

The paint job on my 81 is Ford E9 Laser Red. I had it painted in 1992 and the paint job itself is still flawless except for the massive amount of chips and nicks that occurred over the years. I’m having it painted again the same color. It’s a three stage paint; base color, pearl, and then a clear. On the Ford’s the red is a little too deep for me. It’s almost maroon. You can control this depth by the base and pearl coat. We didn’t get it exactly but that’s the problem with these three stage paints; it’s hard to duplicate. Below is the color of the car before paint and notice it’s not that dark on the red. However, we were not successful in achieving this same color red. The final paint came out a little more maroon then I would have preferred but not as maroon as a stock Ford paint job. That’s the problem with E9; it’s hard to match!

Back in 92, when I painted the car the first time, I had the car block sanded to be straight as metal because C3s were notorious for being wavy in the glass. This helped on my cost to paint this time. The car was painted by:

House of Customs Auto Body
805 W Avenue L8 # A,
Lancaster, CA 93534-7188
(661) 726-7678.

96 LT1 in a 1981 C3 Corvette These guys do awesome work and the prices are reasonable. All the nicks were filled in and sanded. All the emblems, mirrors, door handles, and ground effects kit was removed. Here is the scuff sanding:

Final Finish

Auto Detailing

I am a fanatic for keeping my cars looking like they just came off the showroom. With that being said, I decided to take a moment to talk about auto detailing. First avoid using dishwashing soap. Dishwashing soap will strip the wax off the car and once the wax has been stripped off, the soap will go after the clear coat. Use car wash soap. However, it is a good idea to use dishwashing soap once or twice a year just before waxing the car. As mentioned above, it’s a good cleaner and will prepare the surface for waxing.

In addition to the shine, the purpose of the wax is to offer a sacrificial layer to your paint finish. My preference of wax is Liquid Glass and P21S. I use Liquid Glass as the first layer and put it on about every four years. It’s very durable. Then use P21S about every three months. I know it sounds laborious but P21S goes on easy and wipes off easy. However, waxes that go on and off easy are not that durable. PS21S wax will come off in a month in the hot summer heat.

Phase Two

Now that I have completed this transformer and found a home for every component, phase two will be a complete off the body restoration. This type of restoration is going to be needed some day because the body mount bushings will not last forever. I will have the frame powder coated, half shafts, and drive shafts powder coated red, lightweight control arms, professional looking routing and wrapping of all the harnesses, upgrade my LT1 to an LT4, etc. But I plan on getting five more years or so out of this current install. I would have done all that initially but I was prototyping with this project. Any of you reading this article have an advantage in that you can use my project as your prototype.

Part Numbers and Vendors

Below is a spreadsheet of the parts I purchase for my entire project. I had initially tried to break this out by LT1 swap parts verses the total restoration project but it was getting complicated. The spreadsheet is exhaustive. If I bought it, it’s listed. I am a bargain shopper so chances are the vendor with the best price is on my spreadsheet. In addition, the list is not filtered so in some cases you may see some items twice. This is indicative of my lessons learned (not doing it right the first time) and may had to buy a part twice.

Item. Vendor Catalog Number Price
Two Tone Seats BKTRD Mid America S646999TRD359 $999.00
Power Door lock Motors (L/R 39.99ea) Corvette Central 593194 $79.90
Power Door Lock harness L Corvette Central 663250R $82.95
Power Door Lock harness R Corvette Central 663250L $82.95
Power Window Motors (L/H) Corvette Central 663250R $89.95
Power Window Motors (R/H) Corvette Central 663250R $89.95
Power Window Motors (L/H) Corvette Central 283092L $82.95
AC Heater Control Mid America 606-151 $139.99
Center Gage Bezel w/ Din 1 Mid America 618-556 $189.00
Two tone Door Panels (L/H) BKTRD Mid America 628-034 $349.99
Two tone Door Panels (R/H) BKTRD Mid America 628-035 $349.99
Side Marker Lamp Assy Corvette Central 493105 $94.95
LT1 Engine Shawn N/A $2,295.00
4L60E Shawn N/A $500.00
Fwd Center Header Molding Ecklers   $69.99
Radiator & Fan Mid America 638-768 $899.99
Spark Plugs Auto Zone AC Delco 14 $44.00
Trans Conversion to 4 Speed Ecklers 34801 $109.99
Center Console Shift Console Ecklers 34433 $49.99
Exhaust System Shawn N/A $400.00
Arm Rest Steve N/A $40.00
Driver’s Seat Back frame Shawn N/A $60.00
Re-Program PCM (Remove VATS) Turbo City N/A $81.00
Tailshaft kit for mechanical speedo Shiftworks.com SW41-A $395.00
Opti Spark Mid America 614-654 $0.00
Opti Spark Autoparts Giant 1104032 $317.17
1982 Fuel Sending Unit Mid America 609-875 $199.00
Cruise Control Transducer Mid America 609-549 $99.99
Fuel Rail Letters Mid America 609-691 $16.99
Water Pump Auto Zone DWP-9001 $144.62
Engine Mounts Auto Zone 3.1114-G $73.46
Thermostat OEHQ AC-12TH10E $9.09
Powder Coat Exhaust Manifolds E-Tech, San Marcos   $150.00
Electric Fuel Pump OEHQ AC Delco ep 241 $88.00
Serpentine Belt Auto Zone 667K6 $21.64
Floor Mats Bow Tie JD Corvette N/A $92.01
Complete Power Mirror Set-up JD Corvette N/A $595.38
Transmission Filter Auto Zone TF320 $20.56
Transmission fluid Auto Zone N/A $27.01
Engine Oil Auto Zone N/A $40.54
Engine Oil Filter Auto Zone PF-52 $4.32
Radiator Coolant Auto Zone N/A $30.29
Power Steering Fluid Auto Zone N/A $4.97
Spark Plug Wires AC Direct AC748C $91.11
Speedo Cable upper Mid America 609-497 $14.99
Speedo Cable lower Mid America 609-503 $19.99
A Frame Dust Shield Mid America 602-168 $16.99
Rear Compartment trim Mid America 602-453 $29.99
Seat Belts Corvette Central 483031-52 $249.00
A Frame Dust Shield Corvette Central 313011 $12.99
Rack & Pinion Corvette Central 563031 $1,249.00
Red Wire Harness Loom Swap Meet N/A $26.00
Urethane Control Arm Bushing Street Side Auto 3.3108R $55.99
Transmission Cooler (12") CFR Performance HZ-0050-1R $40.04
Stainless Steel Recovery Tube (2X17) CFR Performance HZ-6077 $33.55
1LE Elbow OEHQ PN 25747187 $89.99
K&N Filter Auto Zone RU-3130 $40.04
Radiator Cap Summit Racing 380153 $9.95
1995 Corvette Service Manual Swap Meet N/A $10.00
Fuel Filter Auto Zone FF3504 $10.81
Lower Ball Joints (2) Auto Zone FA533G $54.10
Upper Ball Joints (2) Auto Zone FA500 $62.76
Brake Hoses (2) Auto Zone 88298 $30.29
Outer Wheel Bearings (2) Auto Zone 693044 $30.29
Inner Wheel Bearings (2) Auto Zone 693085 $34.62
Inner Bearing Seal (2) Auto Zone 9406S $25.96
Front Brake Pads Fast Undercar CEN 106.00080 $45.21
Urethane Sway Bar Bushings Auto Zone 3.5195R $15.14
Dot 3 Brake Fluid Auto Zone $6.48
Bilstein Sport Shocks (Front) Eshocks B36-0222-H0 $78.65
Bilstein Sport Shocks (Rear) Eshocks B46-0232-H0 $70.85
Oil Pressure Switch Auto Zone PS168 $21.64
Coolant Temp Sensor Auto Zone SU109 $18.39
Engine Oil Temp Sensor Auto Zone TU225 $16.79
Emission Label OEHQ 12555869 $13.88
Neutral Safety Switch OEHQ $25.44
Fuel Pump connector OEHQ $16.29
Bowtie Crossmember Bowtie XMCO80817 $195.00
U Joints Auto Zone 4800DL $54.07
Conn 85556 for VSS Ballinger Motorsport Conn 8556 $16.00
Cut, Blueprint & Balance Drive Shaft Driveline Inc. $181.75
Stainless Braided Fuel Lines Purechoice Motorsport 6010 $99.00
AN6 Female to 90 AN6 male R & E Racing $13.57
Return of Dewitt Radiator Mid America SP-70 $157.00
Radiator Hoses (upper) Auto Zone 66532 $16.38
Radiator Hoses (lower) Auto Zone 679467 $21.83
Transmission Lines Corvette Central 533134 $82.00
Transmission Lines (lower radiator) Corvette Central 243009 $12.00
Transmission Lines (upper radiator) Corvette Central 242003 $14.00
Fuel Hose Separators Summit Racing EAR-167007ERL $25.90
Transmission Line Separator R & E Racing $11.21
A/C Compressor Amazon (Parts Factory) 471-0335 $500.00
Secondary Air Pump EBay 180360358084 $35.00
Secondary Air Injection Bleed Valve Corvette Central 354332 $21.95
Pigtail for Bleed Secondary Air Valve Keefe Performance OEM 12052643 $9.99
Secondary Air Pump Pigtail Ballinger Motorsport Comm 85664 $14.39
Spiral Wrap For Transmission Lines Pro-Tec 93055 $40.00
Carpet kit Mid America 666-512-976 $295.99
Power Antenna Mid America 601.164 $80.99
Power Antenna Heat Shield Mid America 601-166 $17.99
Red Shift Boot Mid America 600.546-RD $35.99
Door Quiet Shield Mid America 619-404 $17.99
Door Escutcheons Mid America 606-162 BK $71.98
Throttle Body Flow Booster (Air Foil) Mid America 609-091 $29.99
Corvette Mass Air Flow Housing Mid America 616-002 $49.99
Seat Hinges & Covers Mid America 604-486 $36.00
AC Pressure Sensor Auto Zone MT1339 $65.54
AC Pressure Switch OEHQ ACD15-5705 $39.89
Blower Resistor Ecklers 27260 $28.51
1" red Wire loom Electriduct WL-100-1-RD $25.70
Alternator Auto Zone DL1445-6-1 $153.64
Alternator Pig Tail OEHQ PT2297 $18.45
Dash Pad Ecklers 32981 $424.99
Brake Booster & Master Cylinder Ecklers 46846 $339.99
Sun Visor Ecklers A17-94B $42.49
Seat Hinge Covers Ecklers 39466 $42.49
Front Spoiler Ecklers 10297 $229.49
Rear Bumper Ecklers 10341 $288.99
96 Stock Exhaust Shawn N/A $200.00
96 Stock Exhaust Installation Joe's Muffler N/A $440.00
Hood Cross Latch Cable Mid America 609529 $29.99
Hood Release Cable Mid America 604140 $19.99
Emergency Hood Release Cable Mid America 604801 $19.99
Optima Battery Auto Zone $207.56
Battery Cable Auto Zone $10.91
Re-Route Throttle Cable Curtis Randolph N/A $50.00
Ash Tray Door Corvette Central 233019 $34.95
LIGHTER HOUSING - FEMALE - 2 PIECES Corvette Central 252210 $17.50
INSTRUMENT CLUSTER BULB SOCKET - 1/2 HOLE Corvette Central 663223 $2.95
INSTRUMENT CLUSTER BULB SOCKET - 5/8 HOLE Corvette Central 233064 $2.25
Crank Case Ventilation Tube Dealer 12557604 $8.06
VALVE COVER BOLT SET - 8 PIECES Corvette Central 44009 $15.95
THROTTLE BODY COVER - WITH LOGO Corvette Central 354266 $44.95
REAR BUMPER EMBLEM - CORVETTE Corvette Central 294281-013 $49.95
Headlight Door Actuators (Pair) Corvette Central 443014 $149.99
Headlight Switch (Dashboard) Corvette Central 593046 $39.99
Cruise Control Servo EBay 25074627 $36.00
Cruise Control Module EBay $20.00
Powder Coat Valve Bolts $20.00
96 Corvette Manuals EBay $44.99
Cruise Control Vacuum Check Valve EBay $12.49
Red & Black Steering Wheel EBay $149.00
Throttle Body 40th Anniv Cover Plate EBay $21.98
GM Intermittent Wiper Switch EBay $10.24
Passenger Power Door lock switch Mid America 612-262 $29.99
Center Console Cushion (Red & embroided) Mid America 638-068-361 $69.99
Hood Weather Stripping Ecklers A2958 $6.29
Side Panel Screw retainers Ecklers A9528 $0.94
Sun Visor Rod Ecklers A1797 $11.39
R/H Kick Panel Ecklers 45824 $47.49
Emergency Brake Cover Ecklers 251113 $37.99
Seat Acorn Nuts Ecklers 33674 $11.39
Rear Spring Bushings Ecklers A7070 $7.56
Coat Hook Corvette Central 483259 $5.95
Cruise Control Stalk lever EBay $25.00
Cup Holder Mid America 606-319 $29.99
Ash Tray bushings Mid America 602-541 $9.98
Stock Power Antenna nos4gn Buick Grand National Parts $161.00
Power Antenna Harness Corvette Central 663116 $22.00
Door Decal Corvette Central 263042 $4.95
Evap Canister OEHQ ACD215-127 $75.07
Wheel Alignment Pep Boys $69.99
3M Clear Bra XPEL Technology $48.24
Kumho Tires America's Tire 255/50/17 $650.00
Curtis Cruise Control N/A labor $100.00
Wiper Compartment Cover Corvette Central 653013 $49.99
New Paint Job House of Customs $3,500.00
LT1 Spec plate Corvette Central 234343 $14.95
Wiper Motor Auto Zone 40-162 $52.35
Under hood switch for lamp Corvette Central 463002 $18.95
Under hood lamp Corvette Central 463119 $39.00
Emergency Brake shoes Auto Zone $52.55
Emergency Brake hardware Corvette Central 193135 $39.95
Fuel Filter & fittings JEGS 027-12316 / 555-110106 $69.66
6" Stainless line & fittings R & E Racing $21.58
Rear Door Emblem for under hood Corvette Central 295002 $58.95
Valve cover decals (qty 2) Corvette Central 263805 $17.50
Door Springs Corvette Central 283110 $15.90
Status Sill Corvette Central 103012 $74.95
Back up Lens Corvette Central 493071 $59.95
LT1 Chrome Exhaust tips Corvette Central 324192 $49.95
LT1 Recovery tank Corvette Central 244422 $29.95
LT1 Recovery tank Cap Corvette Central 244412 $6.95
New Universal joint for steering Steeroids $128.00
HUD in Km 360 Infinity USA $148.17
Digi-tail lights US Auto Parts S1E1100170 $181.13
40 Amp Relay with Metal Tab WiringProducts.com R-40ATM $2.95
60 amp Relay with Mounting Tab WiringProducts.com R-60AT $6.55
Pre-Wired Relay Socket WiringProducts.com R-73571 $7.50
LT1 Plate Corvette Central 234343
160 degree thermostat Summit Racing 244427 $21.99
Red Radiator Hose Corvette Central 244526
Plenum Cover Corvette Central 304405
Fuel injector O-rings
HUD in MPH 360 Infinity USA $191.63
Trailing Arm Ecklers A7098L/R $1,598.00
Trailing Arm Alignment Kit Ecklers A7124 $31.99
Gas Door Emblem Ecklers A2052 $31.99
Strut Rods Ecklers A7114 $89.58
Hood Alignment Bumpers Ecklers A37720 $14.39
Radiator Seal Kit Ecklers 25805 $35.99
Wilwood Brakes EBay $919.00
Rear View Mirror GPS CSB Electronics Boyo VTG43 $269.41
Opti Spark Amazon.com 1104032 $301.43
LT4 Red Spark Plug Wires EBay AC748D $94.95
Billet Engine Oil Cap LT4 EBay (Autodinamics) Item# 250415554401 $24.90
Heater Control Valve Auto Zone 74610 $15.11
Billet Engine Oil Cap Corvette EBay (ESR PERFORMANCE CORP) Item# 120668603157 $23.90
K&N Filter Amazon.com RU-3130 $27.54
Shock Mount Corvette Central 582100L $39.95
Body Mounts Corvette Central 183124 $39.00
Steering wheel bearing Corvette Central 563055 $29.95
Door Jamb switch Corvette Central 593145 $21.95
Quartz Clock Corvette Central 223040 $159.00
LT1 Decal Corvette Central 294102 $14.95
Radiator Seal Top Corvette Central 313094 $23.95
Brake Hose Clips for the rear Corvette Central 193045 $3.95
Bigger MAF Housing Corvette Central 354325 $102.95
Magnaflow Mufflers Corvette Central 324337 $259.00
Throttle Cable Clips Corvette Central 354157 $3.95
Door Lock w/ Key & Pawls Corvette Central 503041 $49.95
Door Lock Latch Corvette Central 283158L $124.00
Opti Spark Vent Hose GM PN 12556174
CENTER GAUGE CONSOLE LIGHT GUIDE Corvette Central 233063 $13.95
Control panel light for A/C Corvette Central 663257 $16.00
CENTER GAUGE CONSOLE LIGHT BULB Corvette Central 233065 $9.95
HOUSING
LT1 Engine Harness Howell Electric HY47T $625.00
Tuning PCMs Thomas Wong $200.00
Bosch Fuel Injectors Fuel Injector Connection FIC72 $204.95
LT1 Throttle Body Plate NDZ Performance $25.00
AC Delco O2 Sensors Amazon.com AFS75 $92.00
AC Delco-Ep 376 Fuel Pump Amazon.com AC Delco 376 $60.65
Under Body Car Lighting IJMDToys $94.00
Fuel Pressure Gauge EBay $29.00
Alarm System California Soundworks $240.00
A/C Hose Shawn $60.00
Parallel Condenser Nostalgic Air Parts PN 44-1527 $112.00

Closing

By now it should be obvious that this article covers more than just an LT1 swap but a total restoration project. I tried to capture and document as much information as I could to help with someone engaging in a similar task. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. In an effort to prevent me from deleting your email as junk mail, use “81 ICON LT1 Swap” in the subject line.

Dave Powell

And finally here are two good websites of others who did the swap but no A/C and not smog legal.

http://vetteworksonline.com/
http://www.hotrodlane.cc/PDFFILES/Bob Womack Vette.pdf