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Corvettes Through the Years

  • The long-awaited 1984 Corvette debuted in March 1983, but it was designated a 1984 model. That meant there were no official ’83 Corvettes. This was the first of the fourth generation Corvettes, which ran through 1996. The ’84 Corvette was completely redesigned. Handling was greatly improved. - 0
  • Coupes, such as this ’85, were the only available body style in 1984 and 1985. Bosch Tuned Port Injection replaced the ‘84 Cross Fire Injection. Spring rates were softened for a more comfortable ride. - 1
  • The big news for 1986 was the return of the Corvette convertible. The Corvette convertible was the Indy 500 Pace Car and all ’86 convertibles were designated as Pace Cars. They came with decal packages for dealer installation if desired. The actual Pace Car was yellow and 732 yellow convertibles were produced. - 2
  • C4 interiors were focused on the driver as illustrated by this ’87 interior. - 3
  • A no extra cost optional 6-speed manual transmission was a big improvement for 1989. It was great under hard acceleration, but in low speed situations the transmission had a skip-shift feature that bypassed second and third gears going straight to fourth from first gear. This annoyance was supposed to help fuel economy. - 4
  • Super high performance returned in a very big way in 1990 with the addition of the 375 horsepower ZR-1 package. It was only available on coupes and cost a whopping $27,016 over the coupe’s base price of $31,979—and that was before any additional dealer markup. - 5
  • The heart of the ZR-1 was this four cam 32-valve LT5 engine, the result of a Lotus and Chevrolet collaboration. The LT5 engines were manufactured and assembled by Mercury Marine. - 6
  • A 40th Anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette was marked by the availability of the Z25 Anniversary Package. The package included Ruby Red exteriors and leather interiors plus special trim items. The package was available on convertibles, regular coupes and ZR-1 coupes. A total of 6,749 Anniversary Packages were ordered. - 7
  • 1995 marked the end of the ZR-1, which received unique five-spoke wheels for ’94 and ’95. The ZR-1 models looked like other Corvettes until they were parked next to one. The ZR-1 had many unique body panels including the doors, rear fenders and rear fascia. - 8
  • As is often the case a special edition commemorated the final year of the C4 generation. For 1996 there were two special models, the Grand Sport Package (Z16) shown here and the Collector Edition. All Grand Sports were Admiral Blue with a white stripe and red hash marks on the left front fender. 810 Grand Sport coupes and 190 convertibles were produced. - 9
  • The 1996 Collector Editions were all Sebring Silver with silver five spoke wheels and special emblems. 4,031 coupes and 1,381 convertibles (5,412 total) received the Z15 Collector Edition package. - 10
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by Bruce Caldwell  More from Author

A Capsule History of the Corvette - 1984 to 1996

There was such a delay in producing the new Corvette that it was designated a 1984 model thus skipping any official 1983 Corvettes. The new ’84 Corvette met 1984 emissions and safety standards, so it was introduced in March 1983 as a 1984 model. An argument could have been made to call it a 1983 ½, but auto manufacturers (and magazine publishers) like to push model/issue dates so the new Corvette became a 1984. This resulted in an extra long sales period for ‘84s that was reflected in the 51,547 total units produced.

Performance started out modestly at 205 hp in 1984, but picked up substantially as the C4 series progressed. A 6-speed manual transmission became a no-cost option in 1989. The quantum leap in Corvette performance arrived in 1990 with the introduction of the highly anticipated ZR-1. The $27,000 option included a radical 4-cam, 32-valve 350-ci engine that was developed with Lotus Engineering. The brutally quick engine seemed underrated at 375 hp. It was only available in 6-speed coupes.

Corvette convertibles returned in 1986 just in time to pace the Indy 500. Although popular, convertibles typically accounted for about one-third to one-half of annual coupe sales.

ZR-1 horsepower rose to 405 hp in 1993 and stayed there through 1995, the final year of the ZR-1. Even though the ZR-1 was gone a new LT4 engine rated at 330 hp became available in 1996. The last year of C4 Corvettes also saw two special editions, the Grand Sport Package and the Collector Edition.




The long-awaited 1984 Corvette debuted in March 1983, but it was designated a 1984 model. That meant there were no official ’83 Corvettes. This was the first of the fourth generation Corvettes, which ran through 1996. The ’84 Corvette was completely redesigned. Handling was greatly improved.




Coupes, such as this ’85, were the only available body style in 1984 and 1985. Bosch Tuned Port Injection replaced the ‘84 Cross Fire Injection. Spring rates were softened for a more comfortable ride.



The big news for 1986 was the return of the Corvette convertible. The Corvette convertible was the Indy 500 Pace Car and all ’86 convertibles were designated as Pace Cars. They came with decal packages for dealer installation if desired. The actual Pace Car was yellow and 732 yellow convertibles were produced.



C4 interiors were focused on the driver as illustrated by this ’87 interior. 



A no extra cost optional 6-speed manual transmission was a big improvement for 1989. It was great under hard acceleration, but in low speed situations the transmission had a skip-shift feature that bypassed second and third gears going straight to fourth from first gear. This annoyance was supposed to help fuel economy.



Super high performance returned in a very big way in 1990 with the addition of the 375 horsepower ZR-1 package. It was only available on coupes and cost a whopping $27,016 over the coupe’s base price of $31,979—and that was before any additional dealer markup.



The heart of the ZR-1 was this four cam 32-valve LT5 engine, the result of a Lotus and Chevrolet collaboration. The LT5 engines were manufactured and assembled by Mercury Marine.



A 40th Anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette was marked by the availability of the Z25 Anniversary Package. The package included Ruby Red exteriors and leather interiors plus special trim items. The package was available on convertibles, regular coupes and ZR-1 coupes. A total of 6,749 Anniversary Packages were ordered.



1995 marked the end of the ZR-1, which received unique five-spoke wheels for ’94 and ’95. The ZR-1 models looked like other Corvettes until they were parked next to one. The ZR-1 had many unique body panels including the doors, rear fenders and rear fascia. 



As is often the case a special edition commemorated the final year of the C4 generation. For 1996 there were two special models, the Grand Sport Package (Z16) shown here and the Collector Edition. All Grand Sports were Admiral Blue with a white stripe and red hash marks on the left front fender. 810 Grand Sport coupes and 190 convertibles were produced.



The 1996 Collector Editions were all Sebring Silver with silver five spoke wheels and special emblems. 4,031 coupes and 1,381 convertibles (5,412 total) received the Z15 Collector Edition package.




BY THE NUMBERS

YearProduction

Base

Price

Engine

Size


Horsepower

Range

Trans

198451,547 cp

$21,800 cp

350 V8

205

  

M 4-sp

A 4-sp

198539,729 cp

$24,403 cp

350 V8

230

  

M 4-sp

A 4-sp

1986
27,794 cp

  7,315 cv

35,109 T

$27,027 cp

$32,032 cv

350 V8

230--235

  

M 4-sp

A 4-sp

1987
20,007 cp

10,625 cv

30,632 T

$27,999 cp

$33,172 cv

350 V8

240


   M 4-sp

A 4-sp

1988
15,382 cp

  7,407 cv

22,789 T

$29,489 cp

$34,820 cv

350 V8

240--245

 M 4-sp

A 4-sp

1989
16,663 cp

  9,749 cv

26,412 T

$31,545 cp

 $36,785 cv

350 V8

240--245

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1990
16,016 cp

  7,630 cv

23,646 T

$31,979 cp

$37,264 cv

350 V8

245--375

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1991
14,967 cp

  5,672 cv

20,639 T

$32,455 cp

$38,770 cv

350 V8

245--375

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1992
14,604 cp

  5,875 cv

20,479 T

$33,635 cp

$40,145 cv

350 V8

300--375

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1993
15,898 cp

  5,692 cv

21,590 T

$34,595 cp

$41,195 cv

350 V8

300--405

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1994
17,984 cp

  5,346 cv

23,330 T

$36,185 cp

$42,960 cv

350 V8

300--405

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1995
15,771 cp

  4,971 cv

20,742 T

$36,785 cp

$43,665 cv

350 V8

300--405

M 6-sp

A 4-sp

1996
17,167 cp

  4,369 cv

21,536 T

$37,225 cp

$45,060 cv

350 V8

300--330

M 6-sp

A 4-sp


Legend: cp=coupe, cv=convertible, T=total, M=Manual, A=Automatic 

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