Zip often receives calls from folks who have just acquired an older Corvette and are looking to purchase a book or two for reference. The big question is “What book would be best for my Corvette?”
Tom Richardson, Zip Sales Associate offers the following advice:
Luckily, there are few cars that have as much written about them as the Chevrolet Corvette. But with all of the choices and variety, how do you know which book or books will have the information you need?
Of course, it depends on your situation. Building a judged show car is a much different process than diagnosing a mechanical problem and fixing it, and the reference materials used for each situation are just as different.
If NCRS judging is in the cards, then the NCRS Judging Manuals should be considered required reading. With descriptions of all of the judged components throughout the Corvette, these manuals are the ultimate authority when it comes restoration accuracy. Need to know if the wiper arms should be dull or shiny for your mid-year or what the correct style screw should be on your exhaust bezel? The NCRS books have these answers and many more. These manuals are not heavily illustrated, however they still manage to go into incredible detail.
Corvette Buyers Guides and Corvette Coffee Table Books are some of the best places to find color pictures of a complete Corvette. While sometimes dismissed as simply eye candy with no substance, these can prove invaluable when trying to achieve a certain paint finish or determining the relationship between individual items within a subsystem. Curious if your heater hoses are routed the correct way or how your jacking instructions decal should be applied? These buyers guides and coffee table books are often a good start.
Corvette Assembly Manuals are copies of the original instructions used by the factory workers while building the Corvette. Available for cars built from 1956 to 1982, these books are not very wordy, however they do contain detailed diagrams and drawings of the different assemblies. Black and white only and sometimes organized in an unexpected fashion, learning how to use the assembly manuals is a point of pride for many Corvette restorers. Remember, major sub-assemblies (engines, convertible top frames, seats and the like) were sent to the factory pre-assembled and are not covered as thoroughly. Available on CR-ROM or as a printed edition. If there is one reference that is considered essential for a restoration, it is the Assembly Manual.
Repair and service manuals are typically split into two categories: Corvette Aftermarket Shop & Service Manuals such as Chiltons or Haynes guides, and GM Factory Shop & Service Manuals. The GM books would have been supplied to dealers and technicians directly and we are quite fortunate to have access to the diagnostics and specifications within. These are the references to use when your Corvette is having an issue such as running poorly, making a clunk-thud-clunk noise and so on. These manuals also have dis-assembly and re-assembly instructions for most of the major components, as well as electrical diagrams and flow charts. The aftermarket shop manuals have much of the same information, however it has been rearranged for the more casual mechanic. With black and white photos, easy to read directions, advice about common issues and more, the aftermarket books will usually answer questions not dealt with in the factory manuals.
Whether you are a seasoned restorer, a grass-roots racer or simply an enthusiast, there is always something more to learn about your Corvette. With the help of a good book or two, no task is insurmountable. Many times it is best to check multiple sources, what is not in one book could be in another. It is not uncommon for enthusiasts to accumulate a small library just for Corvettes. But all of the study time easily pays off – the satisfaction from completing a job yourself cannot be calculated.