Back Me Up

back up camera

Most new cars come with a very handy accessory, a back up camera. Unfortunately Corvette owners, with the exception of the C7, were not afforded this option.  The lack of rear view visibility can make backing a C6 Corvette into a very tight parking spot a tricky proposition. The tricky part can also be expensive if you inadvertently back up into a spot that has a high concrete tire stop. The low hanging rear mufflers can self destruct if you hit these things. We have seen this happen a number of times, usually at a car show when you are forced to back into a spot.

The simple solution to enhanced backwards navigation is to install a backup camera system. Those of you with the factory NAV system might wonder if you can simply plug a camera into the back of the NAV unit with an  AV plug. Of course you can't, GM never makes anything that simple. There are no AV inputs on that expensive GM in dash monitor.

There are two option open to C6 owners:
Option 1 - Replace the entire in dash unit with an after market AM/FM/DVD/GPS....yatta yatta yatta wiz bang unit.
Option 2 - Look on Amazon or EBay for an inexpensive camera and monitor.

Option 1 is great if you are willing to shell out some big bucks for a new stereo system. A very nice replacement for the C6 is the Pioneer AVIC-8000NEX In-Dash Navigation AV Receiver with 6.1-inch WGA Touchscreen Display. 

This unit has all the bells and whistles. This type of system is what GM should have put in the car in the first place. Talk to any C6 owner with the NAV factory NAV option and the universal response is "it's a real POS".  If your car does not have factory NAV this is a perfect upgrade. The unit retails for about $700, add installation and you still have a great system that costs less than $1k.
With the Pioneer system all you have to do is buy a cheap rear backup camera, mount it to the rear, hook it up to the rear backup lights and run the wire up to the back of the monitor and plug it in. If you don't want to run wires you can even transmit the picture with a cheap wireless adapter.

Option 2 is great if you want to keep the crappy factory NAV system. The installation of a stand alone backup system can be done by anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of automobile electronics. We found a very highly rated and very low priced camera and monitor on Amazon. 

backup camera

The camera is the Lot Fancy waterproof rear vehicle backup camera with a 135 degree viewing angle. The camera is chrome plated and is mounted on a small metal base. This was perfect for the rear mounting location on the C6.

backup camera

The monitor as purchased from the same company, Lot Fancy.  It has a 3.5 inch screen and is about 1/2 inch in width. Again perfect, a big monitor would not fit the look of the C6. The best part of these units are the price. The monitor costs $19.90 and the camera costs $11.80. Total cost for the system was $31.70, how are you going to beat that, we even got free shipping from Amazon. 

The camera and monitor are built and shipped from China. The price of China's currency dropped dramatically recently and the price of their products show it. The two items we ordered were packaged very neatly and arrived within a week of ordering. The items themselves are excellent quality and work perfectly. 

The first step in the installation is hooking up the rear camera. We mounted it above the rear license plate on left side. We did not screw the camera into the car body. 


A small piece of 3M double sided tape was used to secure the camera to the location we selected. There is a small opening at that location where the wires can be passed through.
You will also need about 15 feet of heavy duty speaker cable that will be used to power the monitor from the same source (the rear back up lights). 


unscrew the 4 screws that hold up the rear valance            reach under the valance and unscrew the reverse light from its socket

The positive and negative leads to power the camera were run to the rear back up lights. The speaker wire was also run back yo the backup lights. To access the lights all you have to do is unscrew four of the 10mm screws under the rear fascia and reach inside until you feel the the bulb connector. Turn the connector and pull it down so you can splice into it. 

The rear backup light bulb is powered by two wires, The green is positive and the brown is negative. Using a plastic wire splicer we spliced the red camera power wire and the positive lead of the speaker wire into the green rear backup light wire. We then spliced the black camera ground wire and the negative speaker wire into the brown ground backup light wire. 

After the connections are secure you can re-plug the rear back up bulb back into its socket. We left everything hanging until we were sure that both the camera and monitor was working.
The camera has a a yellow AV plug the has to be run to the monitor. 


remove one rear lens                                  drill a 1/4" hole through to the rear cabin

We removed one of the rear light assemblies and drilled a 1/4 inch hole through the rear plastic frame directly behind the light. This allowed us to pass the power and AV plug wires into the passenger cabin. 

The camera AV plug wire and the speaker power wires were run through the hole and under the rug along the driver side of the cabin. The wires were then snaked through the center of the rug and tucked under the right side of the console where they exited to the center console.

        backup camera
monitor on lower right side of console                         monitor in center of console

The monitor can be mounted on the right side or the center of the center console using a small piece of 3M double sided tape.  The center of console location is much easier to see, the trade off is that in this location it hides the temperature read out. If you can find a better spot let us know about it. The speaker wires that power the unit were spliced into the red and black monitor power leads and the yellow AV plug was connected to the female monitor connector.

The moment of truth had arrived we fired up the car and put the shifter in reverse. Sweet success the monitor powered up and gave us a very clear picture of what was behind the car. The monitor also has colored backup grids, just like factory units.  The yellow hash marks puts an object about three feet from the bumper.

After we were sure everything worked we buttoned up every thing on the rear end. The backup light was re-plugged into its receptacle and the wires were tucked away after re screwing the four bolts that hold up the rear fascia. A small dab of RTV sealant was placed around the cabin hole that we passed the wires through. The rear light assembly was then put back into place.
This is a great rainy day weekend project if you have nothing else to do. Total install time was less than two hours.

The Vette Nuts

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