The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 – The 1984 Corvette


The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 - The 1984 Corvette

And CorvetteBlogger’s award for the best Corvette of the ’80s goes to… the 1984 model! The first-year C4 is no stranger to winning prestigious awards as it was the first ‘Vette to ever take home the coveted golden calipers as MotorTrend’s Car of the Year.

1984 was the Corvette that brought America’s Sports Car into the modern age and it wasn’t just praised by the automotive press, it was also a massive sales success. ’84 is one of just two years that have ever seen Corvette sales eclipse the 50,000-unit mark. A total of 51,547 ‘Vettes found new homes that year; a number that no single model year has even come within 10k of in the 35 years since!

The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 - The 1984 Corvette

So, what was all of the hubbub about? First off, the public had been clamoring for a new Corvette to hit showrooms for years. After a first generation that spanned 10 model years with several significant updates that some nameplates would consider their own generations and a legendary run of second-generation cars that only lasted five rotations around the sun, the C3 lingered in showrooms for an agonizing 15 years. But it wasn’t just pent up demand that led the charge on ’84 sales, the new, space-age wedge that replaced the final “Shark” Corvettes was truly a world-class machine.

The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 - The 1984 Corvette

When they first drove one in 1983, the all-new C4 Corvette recorded the highest skidpad lateral acceleration of any vehicle that Car and Driver had ever tested. Its .90 g “trivialized” previous record-holding Porsche and Ferrari models, who could pull around .82 g. C&D also said that the ’84 ‘Vette was “hands-down the fastest American automobile,” with its 140 mph top speed, sub-seven second sprint to 60 and 15.2 second, 90 mph quarter-mile time. If speed and handling weren’t enough for you, Car and Driver was also sure to point out how well the ’84 stopped. Its 173 foot stop from 70 bettered anything from the year 1982 by more than seven feet and was within spitting distance of the then-record holder, the 930 Turbo “widow maker”.

The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 - The 1984 Corvette

Dimensionally, the C4 got the Corvette back to its sporting roots; overall length was down 8.5 inches (the wheelbase shrunk by two inches) from the C3 and more than 100 pounds of curb weight were cut, all while creating a larger, more useable cabin with a whopping 6.5 inches of extra shoulder room. Overall, the 1984 Corvette should be counted among the most important ‘Vettes in history, not just of the ’80s. Reading the excerpts from Brock Yates’ original review above really makes you realize that although the performance numbers are kind of laughable today, the blueprint for what each and every succeeding Corvette (and their reviews) would be is clearly evident, making the ’84 a no-brainer for our top spot on this week’s list.

The Best Corvettes of the 1980s: No.1 - The 1984 Corvette

Check out all of our Best Corvettes of Each Decade features:

The 1950s

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1980s

The 1990s

The 2000s

The 2010s



  1. REALLY ???? The 1984 model ?? That’s my last choice if I was buying a C4. With the quirky Cross- Fire Injection…and if you wanted a manual, a cobbled up 4 + 3 gearbox, and lets not forget the ugly “Pie Pan” wheels. If you compare the 84 with all the other sport cars out at the time…when we were deep into the Performance “Dark Ages”, then perhaps, it wasn’t too bad. But if you are comparing with the later C4 models,
    especially the last 3 or 4 years of production , when they had the C4 dialed in with the styling, engineering and
    performance, then the 84 model was the Ugly step child of that generation..

  2. What irks me is the fact that a great number of so called Corvette aficionados are so down on the C4s. I rather like them and have since day 1. They were a kind of “Gateway” car to better things for Corvettes to come. Thank you G.M.

  3. I have nothing against the C4, in fact we have two of them in the household, both 94’s a coupe and a convertible. It was the C4 generation, that brought the Corvette back from the dead, after those terrible
    days back in the mid to late 70’s. My problem was this poll. Having bought a 57 Corvette when I was 18
    and having owned cars from all the generations up through the C6, I feel I have had a enough experience with Corvettes, to know the better models in all generations. So, I was commenting on my thoughts on which is the “best” years for the C4 generation. I still enjoy driving my 94 very much, its still fun to drive, and its been a good reliable car.

  4. Jeff, thank you for weighing in. It has been a pretty common misconception that we are doing the best of each generation (which has been done) but we are actually counting down by decade. I agree that the later C4s were vastly superior to the early ones but only models from ’80-’89 were eligible this week. Stay tuned for the best of the ’90s next week and thank you for reading! If you still take issue with the ’84, substitute the “most significant” for the word “best,” and it is hard to argue against the first C4. I agree that they brought ther ‘Vette back from the brink.

  5. Sweet! I’m gonna go buy me a collection of ’84 Vettes. I should be able to this because most are selling for $1,000-$2,500 each. What a great way to get into the lucrative collector Corvette market. I’ll just need to convince pretty much EVERYBODY that they’re really the #1 Vette from the 1980’s.

    Uh…never mind. ;>)

  6. The only reason they sold a lot of ’84s is because there was no ’83 model and the ’84 went on sale March of 1983 and just like people today lining up to get a new C8, back then a lot of people were waiting for the new C4. Down the road probably many of them were disappointed as the car just wasn’t that good.

  7. I bought a new 1985 Corvette which was very loaded (>$29K). For it’s time it was a fantastic car technologically and looks wise, only Ferraris & Lamborghinis were as good looking. The ’84 being the first and much more advanced than the C3s is I guess is why it gets the nod as it was a game changer for Corvette. My ’85 tuned port injected Corvette with 4+3 transmission was much quicker than the 1984 and the ’86 with its aluminum heads and anti-lock brakes was even better still. A friend had his 1989 red on red coupe out last Saturday and it’s not that much more advanced than the 1986 Model, but it does have 15 more horsepower and other refinements.

  8. my 1st C4 was an ’84 and it was the the worst Corvette that I have had the pleasure of owning. The handling and ride were way to rough, and the cross-fire was very quirky, a friend of mine bought a new ’85 and it was like night and day, the ’85 was improved so much! I only kept it a year and went back to C3 until ’92 when I got a Black Rose coupe, Love the later C4’s

  9. I took delivery of my early production 1984 Corvette with much enthusiasm and excitement. But that was soon diminished as I had to have it towed back to the dealership the first day and that was only the beginning of the most horrible car ownership experience ever. After 29 documented service events, Chevy bought the car back. I have since owned 8 Vettes beginning with the C5, all of which have been near perfect, and I have a C8 on order. ’84 C4 in my book is a poor choice for Vette of the decade.

  10. So many people just hated the flat ugly pizza pie pan flat wheels. Back in Dec. of 93 I was at large flee market in Orland FLA and one dealer had stack’s of them for sale. You put a hot set of wheel’s on a early C4
    and you have your self a good looking Vette.

  11. I have the Y2K wheels, thin spoke, polished, standard wheel on the C5, on both of our 94 Corvette.
    It gives a much lighter look then the Late C4 “saw blade” wheels

  12. I’ve had 20 Corvettes over the years, and 5 were C-4’s. Two of those were ’84’s with Z51 suspensions. Both were so rough riding that I had to apologize anytime I took someone with me in the car. Then the window regulators started to break, In total I had six drivers window regulators replaced, two dash board rebuilds, four rear glass cylinders replaced, and countless tires with the center treads worn away before the edges (all set at factory pressures). Finally and the end of the line was an electrical fire under the hood. But I will concede that the two cars could corner exceptionally.
    My ’88 roadster was fine and the 2 ’92 ZR 1’s were sensational. Talk about technology breakthroughs.

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