What is a C4 Corvette?


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The C4 Corvette was the forth generation Corvette produced by General Motors. The C4 Corvette production run starts in 1984 and goes through 1996. No 1983 Corvette was ever sold to the public leaving a year between the last C3 Corvette 1982 and the new C4 Corvette starting in 1984.

Hopefully this narrative will answer, “What is a C4 Corvette?”

Key Features of the C4 Corvette

The C4 Corvette brought significant changes and advancements compared to its predecessor. From 1984 to 1996, the C4 showcased a fresh, modern design that retained some elements from the C3, such as round taillights and a sleek, tapered nose. Although it had a less curvy appearance than the C3, the C4’s smoother surfaces improved its aerodynamics. Additionally, the C4 offered enhanced practicality. It featured a flip-up rear glass that opened to a spacious cargo area located between the seats and the fuel tank. The forward-tilting clamshell hood allowed easy access to the entire front end of the car. Similar to the C3, the C4 had a removable roof, but without the T-top center bar.

Under the hood, the C4 Corvette carried over the Crossfire Injection 5.7-liter V8 engine from 1982, but it was improved to deliver 205 horsepower, an increase of 5 horsepower compared to its predecessor. The C4 came standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the 4-speed manual transmission returned as a no-cost option.

The Absence of the 1983 Corvette

No 1983 Corvettes were sold. Quality and production problems had delayed introduction of the new C4 generation so 1983 was skipped. Some were used to work out manufacturing problems while others were assigned to engineering review and crash testing. A few made it to a December 1982 press introduction at Riverside Raceway in California.

Of the 44 1983 C4 Corvettes, only one car remained, number 23. It was retired to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green KY where it is currently on display. On February 12, 2014, a large hole caved into the ground at the museum, luckily it was not one of the eight Corvettes that was damaged.

Unfortunately the design team was unable to get everything completed even though there was a desire to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Corvette with a 1983 model.
The C4 was introduced in September 1983. The final design was a completely complicated undertaking that incorporated a ton of the latest technology at the time.

The Evolution of the C4 Corvette by Year

  • 1984 – The all-new Corvette had a drag coefficient of a 0.3 which was 24 percent more aerodynamic than its predecessor. Top speed was over 150 MPH. The C4 5.7 liter Cross Fire engine included 205 horsepower, 290 lb-ft of torque, a one-piece removable targa top, and digital dash board. The base price was $21,800, and 51,547 1984 Vettes are produced.
  • 1985 – Big news for Corvette was the addition of tuned-port injection of the 230 HP 5.7 liter L-98 V8. 39,729 1985 coupes were built, 16 with the optional AM/FM Citizens Band radio.
  • 1986 – The first convertible since 1975 is built and serves as a pace car for the Indy 500. All 7,315 1986 convertibles were “pace-car replicas,” with the decals included for dealer or owner installation. Antilock brakes (ABS) become standard.
  • 1987 – Horsepower increases to 240 thanks to roller valve lifters. A new Z-52 suspension option is available for all-around ride and handling improvements. Callaway Twin-Turbo engine package was introduced (RPO B2K).
  • 1988 – 35th Anniversary Edition is offered. New dual-piston front brakes appear as standard. Chevy also builds 56 street-legal cars for the 1988 SCCA Corvette Challenge race series.
  • 1989A jointly developed ZF/Chevrolet six-speed manual replaces the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission, 26,412 models are produced.
  • 1990 – The Corvette ZR-1 debuts. Driver’s side air bags become a standard feature.
  • 1991 – The first major restyle since 1984 adds ZR-1–style tail lights to the 1991 Corvette coupe and convertible.
  • 1992 – Performance of the Corvette’s new 300 HP 5.7 liter V8 engine is so impressive that it’s given the name LT1. On July 2nd, a white convertible with red interior becomes the One-Millionth Corvette, matching the first Corvettes of 1953.
  • 1993 – 40th Anniversary package optional with all models – Ruby Red metallic exterior with Ruby Red interior. The term “STINGRAY” is finally registered as a trademark to GM, rumors of a badge renaissance that wouldn’t come to fruition until the C7 is introduced in 2014 .
  • 1994 – Sequential Fuel Injection provides improved response, idle quality, drive ability, and emissions.
  • 1995 – Corvette paces the Indy 500 for the third time (first in 1978, also in 1986). The year of the ZR-1 concludes with 6,939 examples produced.
  • 1996 – Two unique special Corvette models are available – a Collector’s Edition and a Grand Sport. The Collector’s Edition features Sebring Silver paint, Collector’s Edition emblems and an LT-1 engine. The Grand Sport has blue paint with a white stripe and red “hash marks” on the left-front fender with an LT-4 engine. Only 1,000 Grand Sports are made and it was only the second out of three times in Corvette history that a Grand Sport edition was made.

The Corvette Years

Corvette timeline history

The first year of the Corvette was 1953. The 1953-1954 were very similar. In 1956 the Corvette changed slightly to become what was a similar look through 1962 These first series were called C1’s. Starting in 1963 a whole new body style was created. This style continued from 1963-1967 and is known as the C2. Some consider the C2 Corvette’s body style as one of the most beautiful ever built. Starting in 1968 the all new Macoshark Corvette was created, 1968-1982 are known as the C3. No 1983 corvettes were sold to the public, more on that below. The C4 began in 1984 and went until 1996. Starting in 1997 was the C5 and it went until 2004. Starting in 2005 through 2013 is the C6, 2014-2019 is the C7. The C8’s model run started in 2020.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Corvette C4 had a great 12-year run with lots of changes and improvements. I hope this brief history taught you a little about what is a C4 Corvette and also about the C1-C8 years of the Corvette. Moving forward this site will include additional information about C4 Corvettes information and repairs.

Looking for additional information on C4 Corvettes and Corvettes in general, try the Corvette Black book, its been the Corvette bible for a really long time.

Have a comment or a bone to pick about what is outlined on this page? Leave a comment in the comment section.

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