My Corvette Story: Tom Andersen’s 1987 Corvette Has Brought Him Many Years And Miles Of Smiles

I found my car in early 2007. It was a car at the crossroads, sitting in a small used car lot. It could have been driven as is (that was not my choice) or it could have been parted out since it was in overall decent shape, but that was not why I was interested in it. I wanted a car I could make my own and this ‘87 had solid bones, was affordable and would leave me with still some cash to put into it. I purchased it and immediately started a rebirthing process. The process is now in its 11th year.

I did some research and provided the VIN number to the National Corvette Museum and was able to purchase the build sheet, copy of the window sticker, and the dealer brochure for my Corvette.

The L-98 is a strong puller with huge amounts of torque. – Owner, Tom Andersen

This car was born on 1/19/87 and that is scribed by someone at the factory on a metal piece underneath the hood on the passenger side front, above the side marker light. I don’t know if all Corvettes from this vintage are marked that way, but I found the marks when cleaning the engine bay.

I also found out that my car is somewhat rare. Of the 30,632 Corvettes built in ‘87 it is one of 1,596 built with the Z-51 performance and handling package, four-speed manual with the Doug Nash built overdrive (4+3), oil cooler, auxiliary cooling fans, larger diameter sway bars front and rear, a 3.07 posi-traction rear axle, and a quicker ratio steering than cars without the package. This would have been the hot or track package back then.

The car still rides like it is on rails, especially since I replaced the Bilsteins with new ones, changed the wheels and tires to 17x 9-1/2 rims on the front with 275-40 tires and 18 x 10-1/2 and 295-35 tires on the back. The wheels are chrome-plated Motorsport C5 Z06 styled and tires currently are Bridgestone Potenza. Getting new rims really updated the look of the car and was one of the first major purchases. Next, I worked on the brakes and installed Power Slot rotors and Hawk pads all around with new stainless-steel lines.

The L-98 is a strong puller with huge amounts of torque. It breathes better by modifying the air box cover to an open style, thanks to a friend and use of a water-jet cutting machine. I installed a K&N filter, changed to a smooth connector to the TPI and installed a throttle body air foil. When working on tuning the car, I also added a Hypertech Street Runner chip and Pertronix HEI coil, Platinum plugs and 9mm red ignition wires.

The exhaust has undergone a number of changes. When I bought the car, it had pipes but no mufflers and no tips. I installed a set of chrome muffler eliminators and ran them for a while. I then changed to a set of Flowmasters and had a balance pipe added, re-using the chrome muffler eliminators. After a trip to Carlisle a couple of years ago, we returned home with a set of coated headers that I found in the swap meet area. My crew of “shade tree mechanics” (fellow Corvette owners) and myself installed them the following winter in my garage. This makes for a true dual system from the collectors back, reusing the mufflers and tips.

Over the years I’ve added dress-up items to the car’s exterior, such as stainless-steel inserts in the side louvers, carbon fiber style stripes to the hood and deck lid, the Grand Sport hash stripes to the driver’s side fender and a big mouth air intake that really helps keep the car run cooler. I also changed the thermostat and fan relays for the cooling fans to come on at lower operating temperatures.

Since I was modeling it after a Z06, had Chevrolet built one in ’87, I decided to recover the sport seats in a two-tone or Heritage interior which was an option available on later models. I ordered new leather covers on foam from Mid America and had them covered using the code correct red for the center of the seats and graphite for the exterior and head rests. The stitching is red with Corvette embroidered in red into the headrest, just like if it was from the factory. I completed the two-tone look with a red and graphite console cover, red and black shifter boot, red and black steering wheel, and red accents on the door panels and dash. The interior looks like the way it should have been originally. I have custom mats and deck lid mat with the C4 logo embroidered in them. Threads flow into the engine bay side of the hood, as I have custom inserts that are black and trimmed in red carpeted material with the C4 logo in the largest piece, year in another, my name in another and the L-98 Z51 embroidered in another.

Tom, along with Kim Snider, a friend who worked for Atlanta Motor Speedway. She reached out to Tom’s club the first year of the show, in which many of their cars registered. Now in its fifth year for the show, cars are coming from even further away and someone drove in over 600 miles to attend this year’s event.

The odometer just turned over 111,000 miles and I drive the car everywhere it goes. It has been to Bowling Green, to many southeastern shows over the last 11 years (recently to Jekyll Island for the Caffeine and Octane at the Beach event), Summit Racing’s Atlanta Motor Speedway Motorama last weekend and others are planned for the rest of the season.

The car gets noticed and recognized frequently and I continue to find little things that I can do. I’m not retired yet and my job takes me out of town frequently, so my license plate is WEEKNDZ as that is when I get to enjoy the car.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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