Chevrolet Corvette C4
|1983 to 1996|
|Manufacturer||Chevrolet Division of General Motors|
|Assembly||Bowling Green, Kentucky, United States|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe 2-door convertible (1986–1996)|
|Related||Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette Callaway Speedster Callaway SuperNatural 450 Grand Sport Callaway SuperNatural Corvette Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette|
|Engine||5.7 L (350 cu in) L83 V8 (1984) 5.7 L (350 cu in) L98 V8 (1985–1991) 5.7 L (350 cu in) LT1 V8 (1992–1996) 5.7 L (350 cu in) LT4 V8 (1996) 5.7 L (350 cu in) LT5 V8 (1990–1995) (ZR-1)|
|Transmission||4-speed auto. 4+3 Doug Nash (overdrive) manual (1984–1988) ZF 6-speed manual (1989–1996)|
|Wheelbase||96.2 in (2,440 mm)|
|Length||176.5 in (4,480 mm) (1984–1989)|
|Width||71.0 in (1,800 mm) (1984–1992)|
|Height||Coupe: 46.7 in (1,190 mm) (1984–1992) Convertible: 46.4 in (1,180 mm) (1984–1992)|
|Curb weight||3,239 lb (1,469 kg)|
|Predecessor||Chevrolet Corvette (C3)|
|Successor||Chevrolet Corvette (C5)|
The Chevrolet Corvette (C4) was a sports car produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1984 through 1996 model years. The editors of Consumer Guide stated: "The first fully redesigned Corvette in 15 years was more sophisticated and more practical than the beloved Shark. And like previous generations, the new C4 only got better in time."The convertible returned, as did higher performing engines, exemplified by the 375 hp (280 kW) LT5 found in the ZR-1. In early March 1990, the ZR-1 would set a new record for the highest 24 hour-5,000 mile land-speed by going over 175 mph (282 km/h).Though prices rose even as sales declined, the fourth generation Corvette won its own loyal following as one of the world's most desirable sports cars. The last C4 was produced on June 20, 1996.
The C4 Corvette was known for its evolved, sleek and modern look. In a departure from the fiberglass panels of its forebearers, the c4's rear bumpers and panels were made from molding plastics, a sheet molding compound. The C4 coupe was the first general production Corvette to have a glass hatchback (the limited edition 1982 Collectors Edition being the first Corvette equipped with this feature) for better storage access. It also had all new brakes with aluminum calipers. The Corvette C4 came standard with an electronic dashboard with a digital liquid crystal display dash, with graphics for speed and RPM and digital displays for other important engine functions.
The C4 represented a clean break and a better, newer look with the previous generation of Corvette. Since emissions regulations were still changing and electronic engine management was in its infancy, horsepower was, compared to earlier generations, comparatively low. Therefore the primary design emphasis, at least for the launch, was on handling. The price of this no-holds-barred emphasis on handling was ride comfort, especially with the Z51 performance handling package. The unit-body frame used in the C4 was prone to rattles and squeaks due to minimal sound deadening. Also due to the external unit-body frame, the door sills were quite deep, with entry and exit likened by contemporary auto journals to a "fall in and climb out" experience. The emergency brake, located between the door sill and the drivers seat, was moved lower and toward the rear of the car in 1988 for easier entry and exit.
1984 Chevrolet Corvette C4
From 1984 through 1988, the Corvette was available with a Doug Nash "4+3" transmission - a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. This unusual transmission was a synergy that allowed Corvette to keep a stout 4 speed, but add an overdrive. As technology progressed, it was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual. However, the C4 performance was hampered by its L98 250 hp (186 kW) engine until 1992, when the second-generation Chevy small block, LT1, was introduced, markedly improving the C4s performance. 1996 was a high point of small block Chevrolet development and the 330 hp (246 kW) LT4 was introduced in all manual transmission cars.
The 1986 Corvette saw the reintroduction of the convertible and was named as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. 1986 also saw the introduction of the Pass Key I passive anti-theft system, wherein each key contained a special pellet that could be detected and identified by the car's computer system by detecting electrical resistance. Being early in the rollout of this new technology, there were only 15 different resistance values available, which, once thieves discovered this weakness, markedly reduced the value of this early system.
44 Corvettes were manufactured with a 1983 Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), but none were released to the public as official production vehicles. All were destroyed except one, VIN 1G1AY0783D5100023 (white with medium blue interior), L83 350 cu in (5.7 L), 250 hp (186 kW) V8, 4-speed automatic transmission and was retired to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (MY1984 Corvettes were produced for 17 months.)
1991 Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR1
During 1986, General Motors acquired Group Lotus, the UK based engineering consulting and performance car manufacturing firm. The Corvette division approached Lotus with the idea of developing the world's fastest production car, to be based on the C4 generation Corvette. With input from GM, Lotus designed a new engine to fit in place of the L98 V8 that was powering the standard C4. The result was what GM dubbed the LT5, an aluminum-block V-8 with the same bore centers as the L98, but with four overhead camshafts, 32 valves. Lotus also designed a unique air management system for the engine to provide a wider power band by shutting off 8 of the 16 intake runners and fuel injectors when the engine was at part-throttle, while still giving the ZR-1 375 hp (280 kW) when at wide open throttle. In addition to the engine, Lotus helped GM design the ZR-1's (which in prototype version was called "King of the Hill") upgraded braking and steering systems, and helped them pick the settings for the standard "FX3" adjustable active ride control that Chevrolet was fitting to the car, helping to ensure that the vehicle was more than just a modern-day muscle car with a big engine and no real capability on the track.
GM found that the engine required special assembly, and that neither the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky nor any of their normal production facilities could handle the workload, so Mercury Marine corporation of Stillwater, Oklahoma was contracted to assemble the engines and ship them to the Corvette factory in Bowling Green where the ZR-1s were being assembled.
The vehicle went on sale in 1990 and was available only as a coupe. It was distinguishable from other Corvette coupes by its wider tail section, 11" wide rear wheels and its new convex rear fascia with four square shaped taillights and a CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp) attached to the top of the hatch glass instead of between the taillights.
The ZR-1 displayed stunning ability both in terms of acceleration and handling capabilities, but carried with it an astonishingly high price. MSRP for the ZR-1 in 1990 was $58,995, almost twice the cost of a non-ZR-1, and had ballooned to $66,278 by 1995; some dealers successfully marked units as high as $100,000. Even at base MSRP, this meant that the ZR-1 was competing in the same price bracket as cars like the Porsche 964, making it a hard sell for GM dealers.
In 1991, the ZR-1 and base model received updates to body work, interior, and wheels. The rear convex fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model found its way to all models, making the high-priced ZR-1 even less distinguishable. Further changes were made in 1992, including extra ZR-1 badges on the fenders and the introduction of Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) or traction control. For model year 1993, Lotus design modifications were made to the cylinder heads, exhaust system and valvetrain of the LT5, bringing horsepower up to 405. In addition, a new exhaust gas recirculation system improved emissions control. The model remained nearly unchanged into the 1995 model year, after which the ZR-1 was discontinued as the result of waning interest, development of the LS series engines, cost and the coming of the C5 generation. A total of 6,939 ZR-1s were manufactured over the six-year period. Not until the debut of the C5 platform Z06 would Chevrolet have another production Corvette capable of matching the ZR-1's performance.
Although the ZR-1 was extremely quick (0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and onto 180+ mph), the huge performance of the LT5 engine was matched by its robustness. As evidence of this, a stock ZR-1 set a number of international and world records at a test track in Fort Stockton, Texas on March 1, 1990, verified by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), including seven new international records:
- 100 miles (160 km) at 175.600 mph (282.601 km/h)
- 500 miles (800 km) at 175.503 mph (282.445 km/h)
- 1,000 miles (1,600 km) at 174.428 mph (280.715 km/h)
- 5,000 km (3,100 mi) at 175.710 mph (282.778 km/h) (World Record)
- 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at 173.791 mph (279.690 km/h) (World Record)
- 12 Hours Endurance at 175.523 mph (282.477 km/h)
- 24 Hours Endurance at 175.885 mph (283.059 km/h) for 4,221.256 miles (6,793.453 km) (World Record)
ZR-1 Active Suspension prototype (1990)
It was based on ZR-1, but it includes active hydraulic suspension found in GTP Corvette race car. It was developed as a prototype for a limited edition run in the 1990 model year.
25 active suspension vehicles were built at the Bowling Green Plant.
A prototype was sold in 2009 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction for $60000 (before buyer premium).
B2K Callaway Twin-Turbo
Callaway Twin-Turbo engine
In 1987, the factory B2K option appeared at dealers. The option's price was almost equal to the base price of the Corvette.
The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO) B2K, the only time in Chevrolet's history a specialist manufacturer was entrusted with a technically advanced high performance RPO. The B2K option was critical in bringing a select few Corvettes to a higher performance level. Although often compared with Chevrolet's ZR-1 option, they were simply two different approaches to solving the issue of bringing a higher performance Corvette to market. The early B2K's produced 345 hp (257 kW) and 450 lb·ft (610 N·m) of torque.  The later B2K's produced 450 hp (336 kW) and 613 lb·ft (831 N·m) of torque.
A derivative of the Twin Turbo Corvette, the 880 hp (656 kW) Callaway SledgeHammer, recorded a speed of 254.76 mph (410.00 km/h) on Ohio's Transportation Research Center track making it the fastest road-going car at the time
Pace Car Convertible
A yellow convertible was the pace car for the 1986 Indianapolis 500 race. This marked the return of the convertible body style, absent from the Corvette lineup since 1975. All 7,315 1986 convertible Corvettes (all exterior colors) had "Indy 500 Pace Car" console identification.
The 1988 35th Anniversary edition, also known as the "Triple White Corvette" is a white coupe with white wheels and white interior (seats & steering wheel). It also features a removable black top and came equipped with everything, including its own unique emblems. The 35th Anniversary car is the 2nd Serialized Corvette in Corvette History, with each car receiving an engraved number plaque on the console. There were 2050 of these cars built and a quoted 180 of these were Manual Transmission cars, making this a rare Corvette and collectible Vette.
In 2009, the Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction house offered an original, one owner Z01 optioned 35th Anniversary Corvette with only 682 miles (1,098 km). The 350/245 engine was coupled to a rare 4-speed manual transmission (MMF), an option chosen by only 19%. For 21 years this Corvette was stored in a climate controlled environment. The 35th Anniversary Corvette hammered home for $37,500 and with commission the final sales price was $41,250. This easily beats the high price for a 35th Anniversary edition of $32,100 at an RM Auction held in 1998 in Monterey as listed in the VetteMarket.com database.
The 1993 40th Anniversary package was available on all models. It included Ruby Red metallic paint and Ruby Red leather sport seats, along with special trim and emblems. 6,749 were sold at an additional cost of $1,455.
Indy Pace Car
In 1995 a C4 convertible was again the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, and a special pace car edition was offered. 527 were built.
Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker is a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 hp (246 kW) and 340 lb·ft (461 N·m) of torque. The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front driver's side wheel arch added to its distinctive look.
The 1996 Collector Edition was the last of the C4 Corvettes, just as the 1982 Collectors Edition was the last of the C3s. It included Sebring Silver paint and special trim. Of the 5,412 built, 4,031 were coupes and 1,381 were convertibles. It cost $1,250 extra.
In June 1985, Chevrolet Chief Engineer Don Runkle and Lotus' Tony Rudd discuss creating a new show car to show off their engineering expertise. The project would become the CERV III (Corporate Engineering Research Vehicle III). It was first unveiled in Detroit Automobile Show in January 1986 as Corvette Indy prototype car.
Also called 'Big Doggie', it is a concept model build based on C4 Corvette, But with a much larger 454ci big block v8 OHV engine with multi-port fuel injection similar to the tuned port injection found on the 5.7L corvette from 85-91, 6-speed manual transmission, and includes electronic fuel injection.
The vehicle was built by Corvette Development Engineering as a development car to study the possibility of achieving ZR-1 performance while reducing cost by utilizing a big block engine. The engine was rated 400 hp.
The prototype vehicle was sold in 2009 at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction for $65,000.
1991 Chevrolet Corvette C4 convertible rear