Where can you get a front-row seat for a concert featuring some of country music's biggest stars? Terry DeVault's '87 Corvette is as good a place as any.
Terry, who hails from St. Pauls, North Carolina, has modified his C4 for extreme cruiseability. This (dare we say) tricked-out Corvette has been reinvented. Once a soft-top graduation gift, it is now a hard-top concert hall on wheels. Terry tells us how it came to be his:
"It was 1988, and I saw the prettiest car I had ever seen at a local Chevrolet dealership. I immediately called my dad, and he asked why I was calling him; he did not need another car. I did not know it, but he went down to the car lot and negotiated to buy the Corvette. After finding out he purchased it, I was upset that I didn't buy it first. After about five months of asking to borrow the Corvette at least 30 times, he gave it to me as a graduation present."
About 10 years later, Terry began making improvements. Little by little, the car was transformed. "I started with the motor," Terry says. "It had a small leak in the back of the manifold. After removing it, I sent it to Street & Performance in Mena, Arkansas, to have the runners, intake, fuel lines, and alternator chromed. The smog pump was polished, also."
But when Terry got his engine back together and into the car, he received a pleasant surprise. "I didn't ask them to do anything to it [performance-wise]," he says. "But when I got it back, I had about 30 more horsepower. I figure they must have done something to the carb."
Terry said one of the problems he encountered was his soft top was not only tearing from use, but also when it was down, it damped the stereo sound from the rear of the car. To correct this, Terry fabricated something the Corvette plant never did: an '87 removable hard top. He then performed a major upgrade to the sound system, which required substantial dash modification. Now, when Terry puts in Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, or any of his other country favorites, they come through loud and clear. For details about the modifications, read Terry's comments at the end of this story.
It took Terry around four years to complete his customization. "I did all the fabrication and audio work myself," he says. "I learned the skills by trial and error. I came up with my own techniques for doing things and just learned as I went along."
Nowadays, Terry uses the Corvette for showing and cruising. It's way too much fun not to drive.
How I Did It
I took the dash and converted it into a sound stage-left side, right side, and center. Once I fabricated the speakers into the original dash, I then fiberglassed and marbleized. To achieve the best sound possible, equalizers were installed into the back of the seats.
The original computer display, located in the center console, was relocated to the passenger side and replaced the dashpad. The original center console was modified with plexiglass to house the Alpine CVA 1005, Alpine DVD, Alpine sound-field processor, and audio control equalizer. The cup holder and ashtray are now an AMP voltage meter and AMP temperature gauges. Both pieces have been painted to match the car.
To make room for the enormous sound system, the soft top was removed. The concept was that the decklid would house the speakers. Once I found a hardtop, I had to fabricate special brackets for it to fit my car, as the hardtops did not come out until 1989.
The speaker was built to slide into the convertible trunk section. Two Optima batteries were located in the back section. A special seal was placed in the trunk area to prevent a fire hazard.
An amp rack was constructed behind the seats. I took the same basic concept as the new Corvettes and made a waterfall look. I fabricated wood around the seat and down the center console, then fiberglassed them. They were painted the same as the exterior of the car. The amps are protected by fuse holders. Also integrated into the system are purple neon lights that light up the back of the seats and the amp rack. The overall sound-system wattage is 2.350, and it draws about 250 amps of current at full power.-Terry DeVault