Chevrolet Corvette C4: Cost, Facts And Figures

Corvette specialists tend to view the C4 era with less enthusiasm than other generations, but cars produced from 1984 to 1996 deserve more appreciation. Collectors recognize the classic ’50s to early ’70s Corvette (C1-C3) as a high-value model that is better kept in the garage to retain its value. The Corvette C5 (1997 and 2004) brought advancements in performance, ergonomic innovation and quality improvements, while the C6 Vette (2005 to 2013) made inroads into the exclusive world of European racing, the most famous of which is the Le Mans 24 Hours.


Chevrolet reintroduced the Stingray name for the Corvette C7 (2014 to 2019), featuring a more muscular look than the previous model and most notably the last front-engined Corvette.

And most recently, the C8 (2020 to present) excites the automotive industry with its new European supercar styling, a 490 horsepower V8 engine mounted behind the cockpit providing excellent handling and, perhaps best of all, a great price.

Main feature

  • The ZR-1 with the LT5 powerplant makes 375 horsepower accelerated to 60 mph in a blistering 4.5 seconds.
  • All aluminum serrated suspension and components provide the best handling characteristics.
  • Resale prices are very cheap: some models average only a few thousand dollars
specification

  • Motorcycle engine: LT-5 350 cu. in. V-8
  • Horsepower: 375 hp
  • torque: 370 lb.-ft.
  • Drive chain: RWD
  • Transmission: 4-speed automatic, 4-speed manual and 6-speed
advantages

  • Long tradition as America’s “sports car”
  • Acceleration and top speed on par with European competitors
  • Outperformed all European sports cars of that era
Counter

  • Less collectible than other Corvette generations
  • Simple interior featuring only AM/FM radio

C4 Corvette Powertrain And Drivetrain

Starting with the L83 350 cubic-inch V8 with 205 horsepower in 1984, the Corvette engine advanced but at a modest rate during the C4 generation.

However, two engines stand out as the most significant contributors to the Corvette mystique during the C4 generation.

When GM introduced the L98 to its Corvette line in 1985 after the protracted global oil crisis of 1973 saddled with persistent emissions obligations, it marked the beginning of a power and performance revival.

GM abandoned the 1984+ Cross-Fire injection engine and designed the L98 with a new Tuned-Port Injection system and more .5 psi compression. The changes result in a 25 hp increase in power output and a 40 lb-ft increase in torque.

Chevrolet introduced the LT5 engine as a new engine for the 1990-1992 Corvette ZR-1. The Lotus Engineering-designed 350 cubic-inch power plant features dual overhead cams and aluminum heads that produce 375 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque.


In 1993, changes to cam-timing, improved porting of the ZR-1 engine, addition of a 4-bolt main bearing cap and exhaust gas recirculation system increased power to 405 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque.

Initially, Chevrolet sent power to the rear wheels of all Corvette C4 models with the same four-speed automatic transmission that was first introduced in 1982. From 1984 to 1988, Chevrolet offered the Corvette with the awkward Doug Nash “4+3” transmission, a 4 -manual speed with automatic overdrive in the top three gears.

The unique configuration allows the Corvette to maintain a rugged 4-speed but allows overdrive with higher gears. As technology advanced, GM replaced the 4-speed with the modern ZF 6-speed manual transmission.


Related: 5 Classic Corvettes Used for Bargain (5 Which Are Not Worth The Price)

Corvette C4 Improved Handling And Performance

Prior to the C4, the auto community criticized the Corvette for its low structural rigidity resulting in excessive body flexibility and poor handling characteristics.

In response to these criticisms, Chevrolet developed an all-aluminum suspension for the fourth-generation Corvette that consisted of very stiff shocks and very high spring rates. Rack-and-pinion steering, anti-roll bars, all-around ventilated discs and unidirectional tires complete the package.

General Motors is so confident in the C4 that the company claims the sports car can beat any European sports car. Indeed, the Corvette made 0.95g through turns while the Porsche 928 failed to hit 0.9g.


GM fixed the Corvette’s handling issues early in the C4 generation, but needed a power boost to improve overall performance.

The 1984 C4 holds a 350-cu. enter the engine that accelerates the car to 60 mph in a respectable 7.3 seconds, reaches the quarter mile in 14.62 seconds at a speed of 87.2 mph and reaches a top speed of 150 mph. The 0-60 performance competed with other 1984 cars, such as the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 at 7.8 Seconds, Ford Mustang SVO at 8.2 Seconds, and Porsche 944 at 9.2 Seconds.

When Chevrolet introduced the ZR-1 with the LT5 powerplant producing 375 horsepower, it blew away the competition. Journalists wrote of the Corvette as the “King of the Hill,” and some claim it to be the most significant “Vette” in history. The new Corvette accelerates to 60 mph in a blistering 4.5 seconds and hits 100 mph in just 10.4 seconds on its way to a ridiculous top speed of 175 mph.

GM has built a complete package with the Corvette C4 ZR-1. Road & Track claims 3,680 lb of acceleration, cornering and stopping performance. The super ‘Vette’ could embarrass even the most exotic European sports cars of the time such as the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari Testarossa.

Related: The 10 Most Expensive Corvettes To Shop

C4 Corvette Interiors

The interior of the Corvette C4 looks simple compared to the interior of a modern vehicle filled with high-tech infosystem, touch panel, parking assist camera, head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and more.

The Corvette C4 center console houses the heating and air conditioning systems and controls for the Delco AM/FM-stereo radio. GM positions instrumentation, including analog and digital graphical displays of road and engine speed, directly in front of the driver.

Perhaps the most sophisticated feature of the Corvette’s interior is the adjustable electric seat. While the earliest Corvette models featured bucket seats, the C4 models were the first to offer reclining seats.

Related: 10 Classic Corvettes Every Collector Wants To Get

C4 Corvette Price

Corvette fans still think the C4 generation is less attractive to collect than other generations. As a result, prices become bargains, and some models in average condition only sell for a few thousand dollars.

However, the ZR-1 which sold for $66,278 in its final year in 1995 was the grand prize of the C4 generation, making its resale price higher but less than expected.

Even the perfect ZR-1 model, well-maintained and possibly less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, is available for less than $35,000. An outdated model with a range of nearly 100,000 miles can be obtained for around $15,000.

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