[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette

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[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette


When the 1984 Corvette was introduced in the spring of 1983, it set the automotive world on its ear. It wasn’t just a breath of fresh air, it was like taking a long, undiluted hit of pure oxygen. After 14 years of the long-in-tooth C3, the 1984 Corvette ushered in the budding decade of the eighties with many high-water engineering milestones.

This new Corvette debuted with a non-structural composite body, a drivable chassis, unidirectional tires, electronic instrumentation, and slinky, slippery styling that made everything else look old and dowdy. Though some might disagree, the C4 established the modern blueprint that led to all later iterations of front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Corvettes.

[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette


It was also a demon on a road course. In fact, it was so good and so fast, the Sports Car Club of America banned it in the late eighties. According to an article from our friends over at Hagerty, “Auto racing might be the only sport that penalizes a team for winning. When that happened to the C4 Corvette in the late 1980s, the incident started an intriguing new chapter in the marque’s racing history. The C4 Corvette thrust Chevy’s sports car into supercar handling territory, if not ultimate speed, when it debuted in 1984. With 0.9-g cornering, reliable Chevy small-block V-8 performance, and excellent brakes, the C4 quickly proved its mettle in SCCA Showroom Stock GT racing. The Vette utterly dominated the podium in the Playboy and then Escort Endurance Championship from 1985–87, relegating the Porsche 944 Turbo to a cameo role in the series.

“The Corvette beat Porsche 29–0 from 1985 to 1987, says John Powell, who ran a racing school at Canada’s Mosport track in Ontario, Canada, and campaigned ‘Vettes in that series. Corvette fans were happy, but the ‘Vette’s dominance threatened race participation by other brands, as well as fan attendance.

“And so, after the 1987 series, the SCCA booted the Corvettes. Powell says that when Corvette chief engineer Dave McLellan asked him for ideas, he proposed creating a new spec series along the lines of the Player’s Challenge that he’d produced in Canada for the Camaro and Firebird. Chevy leadership and marketing got onboard with his proposal and birthed the now-famous Corvette Challenge.”

The C4 also began what would become a Corvette tradition that eluded the poor old C3. While Chevrolet let the Shark flounder in the automotive equivalent of a tidepool, Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan implemented constant improvement of the C4 through its twelve-year lifespan. Tuned Port Injection, ABS, Traction Control, adjustable suspension, and the multi-valve LT5, ZR1 “King of the Hill” model were just some of the highlights. As a finale in the early nineties, the C4 received a very deft cosmetic refresh and the LT1 V8 which was probably underrated at 300hp.

[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette


The LT5 ZR1 was wicked fast on the track and smashed speed records in 1990 as well. “A stock ZR-1 set seven 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) for the group II, class 11 category:”

  • 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)

In total, the C4 had an incredible twelve-year run and is undeniably a bright spot in the history of the marque. Fast-forward to today and the C4 is the misfit of the Corvette hobby.

Huh? How did this happen?

Well first off, Chevrolet made approximately 350,000 of them as it was a big seller over twelve friggin’ model years. To put it bluntly, there ain’t anything rare about a C4.

Secondly, the car is a bitch to get in and out of and that’s soured many folks on C4s. Lastly but most critical, the reason the C4 is at the bottom of Corvette desirability is because it missed the LS revolution. Had the C4 been the recipient of an LS update, as opposed to the reverse-flow LT1 in 1992, it would be a triple hot commodity, not only on the used car market, but with modders and rodders as well. Sadly, that was bestowed on the new for 1997 C5 and the rest is history.

Which brings us to this YouTube video we saw recently from the guys at Everyday Driver.

[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette

They drive three affordable used sports cars, a Porsche Boxster, a Nissan 370Z and a later-era C4 Coupe, each valued at $10k or under. As Corvette fans, we could care less about lumpy Nissans or dopey Porsches with fried-egg headlights and tiny, trouble prone motors. We want to know how the Corvette compares.

It turns out, they loved it! They wax euphorically about its poise, power and road worthiness. The most telling aspect of this comparison happens at 18:44 in the video. One of the talking heads says, “We never have spent much time in a C4…” I would wager to say the most vocal critics of the C4 haven’t spent much time in one, or know jack about it’s still impressive performance envelope or history of trophies and speed records.


As the owner of a 1995 roadster, I can tell you the car has many virtues. I bought my four-owner, 35k original mile car in Lincoln Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, in the summer of 2016. It was an accident-free car that had been properly maintained over its lifetime. I always say, but the best car you can right out of the gates, it will save you headaches down the road.

After four years of ownership, my C4 has revealed itself to be a multi-talented sports car. It has an ample reserve of power, a hell of a passing gear, and is a tremendous highway cruiser, easily inhaling ribbons of asphalt with nary a quibble. Also, I prefer Jerry Palmer’s styling to that of the C5 and C6. It has longer front and rear overhangs and has just a skosh of old-school styling mixed in with the air tunnel tuned shape.

[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette


I modded my car with 18-inch CCW SP500 wheels, Nitto NT555 G2 tires and Baer Eradispeed rotors. I also upgraded the interior with Mid America Motorworks seat covers. When the car was finished, I placed third in my class at the Plastic Fantastic Car Show in San Diego in 2018.

The car does have well-known C4 bugaboos, (OptiSpark, Fisher-Price interior, flexible chassis, shift lockout failure, and steering rag-joint waddle) but other than that, it has been incredibly stout and reliable. It’s probably the last true Corvette as well. What I mean by that, it’s an exotic, rough and tumble bruiser that revels in its uncompromising personality. The C5 became a “real car” with all the rough edges polished off and while a quantum leap forward, it brought the Corvette into the era of modern automotive refinement. An old-school Corvette is about many things, but polished edges ain’t one of them.

[VIDEO] To Know One Is To Love One: Everyday Driver Digs the C4 Corvette


So to all the folks who hate C4s, please drive one before slagging them? Learn the incredible history of the car too. I think when we’re all driving autonomous pods, the C4 Corvette might come back into favor with a new set of fans, especially ones who are unaware of the current Debbie Downer narrative.

Until then, buy the best one you can, focus on well-maintained model of any year, and snap them up while they’re cheap.


Source:
Everyday Driver

Related:
Corvettes for Sale: 1987 Callaway B2K Twin Turbo
[VIDEO] Young Owner Loves His C4 Corvette, Calls It The ‘Best Buy I’ve Ever Made’
The Time GM Almost Offered a 454-Powered C4 Corvette

 



8 COMMENTS

  1. I had a 1993 C4 and it was one of the best sports cars I ever had To include 3 Porsche 944s, an Audi and an Opel GT!

  2. My 1985 Z51 Coupe was my first Corvette. I had driven several C3s that friends owned and to be polite, disliked how they drove, handled and rattled. The first time that I drove a C4 owned by a friend of my son, I told him, “I don’t care if this looks like a brick, I love the way that it drives!” Several months later in December 1994, I bought my C4. It was dark bronze metallic, which is the only thing that I disliked with the car. I kept it until the 50th Anniversary Edition was introduced. We took museum delivery in April 2003 and enjoyed the light years better driving car all 5500 miles home to Oregon. I still own it and will probably keep it.

  3. SCCA banned it because the manufacturers were spending buckets of money, using on site race engineers, and using professional drivers to pretty much wax all the privateers in that class. SCCA is an amateur based organization. There was a push to make an all Corvette class, but it didn’t last long. C4 is my least favorite generation, but I’ll have to admit it was a good jumping off point for the things to come.

  4. Had an 84 and got t-boned bought an 87 roadsters in 98 and completed in 2019. 4 PT roll bar, mini ram 383 stroker, 420hp, 430tq ,suspension upgrades, headers, side effects side pipes, 4 PT Guldstrand roll bar, c6 zo6 wheels, carbon fiber dash, will wood 6 piston front, 4 piston rear brakes tci competition transmission and an 8 pack of analog type gauges needless to say that this c4 runs and handles great and I probably won’t buy another Corvette.

  5. I own a 94 coupe,6-speed, which I bought in 2003. Every since I have had it, its been a very reliable, good running car. It has 114,000 miles on, but it starts, runs well, doesn’t use any oil, and passes smog with flying colors. I enjoy the design with the high door sill, because compared to my newer Corvettes, everytime I get into the C4, I feel like I’m dropping down into fighter cockpit. The big clam shell hood is also a favorite feature of mine. Its Dark Red Metallic paint is still in very good condition. Sure it’s not nearly as fast as my 2007 Coupe, not as comfortable a ride, and has some rattles, but I take it to Laughlin NV on the I-40 and it will cruise at 90 to 100 MPH (one eye on the rear view mirror) effortlessly and still get 28 MPG at 70 to 75 MPH. Every time I drive it, I think…”this is still a damn good car”

  6. I love my 1990 C4 coupe. Have a stage 1 chip and Forced Air intake on it to dyno at 259. Using it for slalom and just now putting Hawk brake pads in it. Had it for 23 years and 2001-2005 it was my only driver, so got driven in the snow and quite able with big Toyos/Michelins on it. It has a “hidden hitch” on it because I needed to haul my mountain bike. That usually gets stares. LOL I’ve had a ’07 C6 and 2 C7s since, keeping the 2017 Grand Sport. So the old C4 doesn’t owe me a thing and I love it. Lucky enough to keep it. The first Corvette that shouted out to me that it was a car I wanted.

  7. Author says older Corvettes are rough around the edges and rattle traps and he’s right. I own a ’72 that and also a ’07 Z06. It’s “apples & oranges” between the two cars, but I enjoy driving them both, just no long trips in the ’72. I tell people that Corvettes are like Harley-Davidsons; they don’t do anything really right, but they’re made in America and they really are in a class by themselves. No one should go through life without owning one of each at some point.

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