By on September 27, 2013

10 - 1985 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe C4 Corvette is about the only Corvette that you can get for Camaro prices these days— even the 19-horsepower ’79s are worth good money now. Still, it’s pretty rare that I find a C4 at a cheap self-service wrecking yard; most of the examples I run across are melty-fiberglass burn victims, and the remainder have been picked clean. Here’s one of the latter type, discovered a few months back in Northern California.
05 - 1985 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCorvettes are much like Porsche 911s in the willingness-beyond-all-reason of their owners to spend money, and so those who run Corvette or Porsche shops stock up on parts whenever possible. That means that a Corvette must be rough indeed to make it past the auction process and into the hands of a junkyard’s buyer.
02 - 1985 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLook, it still has part of the driver’s seat!
13 - 1985 Chevrolet Corvette Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI predict that the taillight lenses and rear glass didn’t stick around long after I shot these photographs.

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108 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Chevrolet Corvette...”


  • avatar
    ggbox69

    Do you see what happens, Larry? Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?

  • avatar
    18726543

    I can remember about 10 years ago when I was in my early 20′s I had just traded up from my first car (a 1987 Camaro IROC-Z) to my second car (a 1998 Camaro Z28 6MT). A friend and neighbor of mine who’s dad owned an independant shop was on the way back from a vehicle drop-off with his roll-back when he came across a 1986 Corvette owner stranded on the side of the road. My friend’s dad pulled over and asked the clearly infuriated owner if he needed a tow. The owner said, in a huff, if you haul this thing away and drop me home I’ll give you the title! My friend’s dad didn’t need the car, but figured he’d fix it, flip it, and help this guy out so he did the deal.

    Once he got it running again he noticed the car’s digital dash was a mess, the steering rack was a mess and boost effort was incredibly inconsistant, and there was quite a list of other things that needed considerable work. The car was immediately nicknamed “The Blue Bomb” and after the repairs were complete my friend’s mom drove it for a while.

    I took it out for a drive once and can remember being so underwhelmed by the car’s performance because it felt so incredibly similar to my ’87 Camaro!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Having only been alive since 1977 there have been many of my years on this planet when a Camaro was 90% of the Corvette’s performance for 75% of the price.

      I still want a Corvette dang it.

      • 0 avatar
        18726543

        I think I’d change that statement to 90% of the perfromance for 50% of the price actually, at least during the dark ages anyway. If I remember correctly, the 350 TPI in the ’87 Camaro put out 230 hp while the ’86 Corvette’s TPI put about 245. Obviously performance goes far deeper than hp numbers alone, but when comparing a turtle to a snail does either really win?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I was thinking of the LT1 powered 300hp Camaro/Firebird vs the roughly 350hp base “Vette” in the 90s. But it is still an accurate comparison. Heck in 1985 or so wasn’t it Corvette 200hp vs. Camaro 180hp in top trim?

          • 0 avatar
            18726543

            Yeah, once the LT1 was available in 91 and the F-bodies were still soldiering on with the old TPI the power spread opened up quite a bit.

            Until the IROC package came out in 1987 the top Camaro engine was the old 305 which I believe put out 205 hp. I think the Corvette was using the same 350 TPI in those mid-80′s years as in the late 80′s years so it would’ve been making 230-245.

          • 0 avatar
            Numbers_Matching

            Not to nit-pick but, IROC came out in ’85 with an automatic TPI 305 rated at 215 hp. The 5 speed cars still had the L69 305 rated at 185 hp.

          • 0 avatar
            18726543

            Hmm…ok. The first year for the 350 in the Camaro was ’87. I thought that and the IROC coincided. I could be off on the numbers. I haven’t shopped an F-body in a loooong time. My ’98 was fun as hell until it required work…which was more often than I preferred.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          This has probably a different answer depending upon who you ask, and what they consider “performance”

          IMO though the drivetrain was similar the f-body didn’t quite compare. The Corvette C4 is a fairly purpose built car with independent suspension all around, not a strut in sight and tons of aluminum. Room for giant (at the time) 275 wide tires, 13″ PBR brakes. I am probably biased my aunt had the showroom-stock bound Z51 which was quite extreme with coolers and braces and Bilsteins. The 250hp L98 was but a small part in what makes the Corvette what it is, and if you don’t get that…well Chevy was there to sell you a Camaro that shared parts with S10 trucks for way less money. Nevermind you had to take a slushbox if you wanted the 350.

          I do like the f-bodies too, they are disrespected due to lack of refinement but were good performance cars in their day for the price.

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          Ahem: “turtle to a snail”, maybe relative to today’s cars, but this was 1985. Tell me which sports car made that year WASN’T a “turtle or snail”.

          245 HP in the Corvette
          204 HP in the Porsche 3.2 Carrera
          270 HP in the Ferrari 328
          300ZX and Supra barely broke 200 HP with turbos.

          Let’s keep things relative. The Corvette was still the best bang for the buck back then just as it is now.

      • 0 avatar
        p161911

        I had a 1994 Corvette (LT-1, coupe 6MT), I got married and ended up selling it, then I got a 1996 Z-28 (LT-1, convertible, automatic). The Corvette was a MUCH better car, no comparison between the two. They both had the same engine problems, that’s about it.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I wonder what the last owner who bought it when it ran (presumably for $2100) did with it, if he actually tried to drive/keep it running, or immediately began parting it out.

    Another one that might have an interesting story.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Would it be totally inappropriate of me to wonder about a Crabspirits take on this one? I’ve tried keeping all sorts of beaters running using the pull yards (from Audis and VW’s unsuccessfully, to Little Japanese trucks, much more so) and now that you mention it I do not recall ever seeing ANY ‘Vette, even the accident victims. And there are LOTS of Corvettes around here…

    Rudiger, you must’ve wondered the same thing!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Had one of these. It had been in an accident but tracked straight and never chewed up tires. One of the best used car bargains out there.
    Mine was super reliable and had high miles as well. I’ll take a white 88, one of my faves.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      +1 to the white Corvette! I think you and I are the only two in America who like white Corvettes. I had an ’88 with red interior. Was incredibly enjoyable even on long drives. Not particularly fast in a straight line, but with 45-series tires on all four corners, it was a blast in the curves. I really should have kept it . . . . .

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        Nice. I especially like the anniversary edition with white interior.
        Mine was fast enough in a straight line and ran the 1/4 in 14 flat at 93 mph.. Not bad for 160 plus K miles. That car was a lot of fun.
        I am surprised the disks and knuckles haven’t been scooped up on this one yet.. back window is worth some money too.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    A friend and I once test drove a really nice low mileage ’84 Z51. I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the staight line performance, but to be nearly blown away by a then new, lady-driven Honda V6 minivan on an on-ramp was just embarassing. I remember thinking – I could live with the squeeks and rattles, shudders and shakes, but almost being taken by a Honda Odessey – no way.

  • avatar
    tkewley

    The C4, like many (OK, all) of GM’s ’80′s performance cars, is an example of striking styling undone by laughably poor build quality.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    C4, the forgotten Corvette. I say that because even visiting Bowling Green, KY and the Corvette Museum this summer there were C4s on display in the museum but items featuring the C4 were laughably absent in the gift shop. Even the “photo both” where the staff would photo shop you and a loved one into a Corvette the C4 was completely unavailable, the only generation I noticed was absent.

    Make fun of the crappy interior and low power ratings until the early 90s all you want but damn it I still want a C4! It is the iconic Corvette of my childhood. My wife on the other hand likes them all but the C4. Watching the latest episode of Top Gear USA with the 2014 Stingray almost caused her a car-gasm.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the C4. My favorite Vettes are the C2 Sting Rays, but for a fifth the price, a C4 actually handles better and has similar performance.

      When I was a kid, we went to Epcot at Disney World and there was a new 1984 Corvette on display in the Motorama exhibit. It was grey with silver/charcoal leather. I remember sitting in it, looking at the digital dash and thinking how cool it all was.

      People’s opinion of the C4 are the same as their opinion of Members Only jackets and the original Miami Vice. You either like it or your don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Don’t they have an 83 at Bowling Green, from the year that never was?
      I know there are only a couple of prototype 84′s that are now called 83s, or something like that..

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah they have “historically significant” C4s there but their representation is small compared to the C3 and C5. I was talking more about the Gift Shop and the general attitude in things like the souvenir photos. I mean you can’t even get a ZR1 C4 as a souvenir photo.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I laughed at all the half-fast attempts to stick some sort of “83-1/2″label on certain serial numbers of ’84 Corvettes. The fact GM was willing to throw away a 30th anniversary marketing cash cow in order to get it right was significant enough to make everyone take notice. The 30 years since then have clearly separated the Corvette’s history into a before and after C4 dichotomy.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      1) I wish my wife enjoyed cars that much. She will watch Top Gear with me though.
      2) ZR1 C4 also a poster car of my youth, but I can’t get past the awful interior. Wouldn’t mind a C5 or C6 at some point though.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I don’t think anyone spends money on a C4 like they do on the C3 or earlier Vettes. They are truly unloved cars, if you shop for one you will find either completely mint garage queens or completely thrashed hoodlum specials. And the garage queens are so cheap that there is little reason to ever fix up a tired or broken C4.

    As a child of the 80s/90s I have always liked the C4, and a ZR-1 is very appealing to me because they are relative bargains, and most were garage queens kept by owners hopeful of massive collector interest in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Whenever I see a C4 I can tell some money was spent on it, unless if people get big silly spoilers and ground effects for free.

      Growing up the C4 and C2 pretty much defined Corvettes to be, I particularly liked the Grand Sport. But too often I see riced out C4s sitting around at trailer homes and ratty houses to have a desire for one.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Such a shame, I prefer the C4 looks over the C3 and even the C5.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I prefer the earlier C3s (later ones were just tacky), funny thing is that while the C4 influenced a number of Asian cars (early Nissan 300ZX in particular), the C5 was influenced BY dominantly Asian cars (the later fatter 300ZX in particular), funny how that works.

        Then theres always the RX-7 tailights in Firebirds of the time.

        • 0 avatar
          Crabspirits

          The Z31 300zx was available in Japan for the ’83 model year, so the Vette would be the biter.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Touche, though at the same time the 300ZX has some resemblance to the late 70′s Chevy Monza, which means…

            The C4 in no way shape or form bears any resemblance to the Chevy Monza and any similarities are purely coincidental.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Cars are much like film, one generation imitates or influences the next no matter where from they hail.

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      Loved the sound of a LT5 engined ZR1.
      When that car came out in ’89 (?), there was a local business tycoon who must have had one of the first production models. I worked at a self-serve Exxon. After he would fill-up, I would walk out of my booth, pretending I had something to do – just to hear the distinctive sound of that very exotic (for then) 4 cam engine.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ah LT5, parent of Northstar.

        • 0 avatar
          Numbers_Matching

          The only thing keeping me from looking for a good used ’90-’95 ZR1 is the gold-chain-wearing-leopard-print-underwear image that C4 ‘vettes are attached to. I guess we’ll need to wait a few more years to see what the collector market does with these..C3s were once the bastion of the velvet-Elvis-painting-shagg-carpeted-kitchen set not too long ago.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Well later C3′s still are… :)

            I like the early C3′s though, and some less desirable ones can be had for a relative song. But a C4 ZR-1 would be a good all around car, the performance is still very good, the interior modern enough to live with every day. An early C3 would just be a toy. But yea, my wife says the same thing, the C4 looks like something your Uncle Herb drives to singles night.

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      “I don’t think anyone spends money on a C4 like they do on the C3 or earlier Vettes.”

      Lord help me – I do. I’m probably into my 1985 for two to three times what it is worth (on a very good day).

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The thing with the C3 is that even if the Malaise models lacked in performance, they were still pretty much the same as the pre-Malaise cars and so can still be rather easily stuffed with big block power. I’m sure there is many a 73-82 ‘Vette stuffed with LS or GMPP 454.

    Hell, my dream Corvette plan is to buy a 73-82 cheaply, give it “Pro Touring” suspension and brakes, and cram a LS7 under the hood. Also exposed headlights because the flip-ups on the C3 never looked good.

    Should be tons of fun.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The first car I ever drove was my dad’s leased 1988 C4 right before he was turning it in. This was 1991 and being a 13 year old boy it felt like the fastest car in the world. He wanted to make sure I got a chance to drive a Vette at least once in my life. I still appreciate that opportunity.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Wanna know what kills me? When people start throwing dates out and say “I was X years old then” I mentally calculate their age vs my own and on TTAC sometimes its folks who have more than a few years on me. But I just thought 1991, I remember then I was ten… and damn I’m getting old.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        28- if you are old, then the rest of us older folk are dirt.
        Right now, you “think” you’re old. Enjoy it while you can.. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        My 35th is Sunday. You better believe that’s like a punch in the gut.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Happy Birthday. My advice is to do something crazy to commemorate.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Meh. I’m 36 with a 46 year old car as my hobby. You are only as old as you feel.

          I would agree with Ptahhotep’s advice. Good people, good conversation, good whiskey, and good cigars. Stay active and exercise but don’t go around avoiding everything that’s fun, just try to avoid excess. Live so that you enjoy it instead of going around purposely trying to avoid death.

          “Be ye a king or a lowly street sweeper, sooner or later you gotta dance with the Reaper.” – Death, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        You wanna feel old? How about “my first memory as a three year old child was dad bringing that 1953 Corvette home from the dealership”?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Dude – I should have been a Senior in college in ’91 (did the 6-year plan and graduated in ’93). Shut, up!

        You know you are old when you have a work engagement at a High School and you realize every single kid could be your kid, AND some of the TEACHERS TOO! That was a few weeks ago for me. Sigh.

        Back in Jr High, a buddy of mine’s Dad got one of the very first “84″ Corvettes in ’83. I mostly remember how incredibly cheap it seemed compared to my Mom’s new Saab Turbo (’83 8V with APC). Last I heard, he still had the thing, that was <10 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        You feel old ’cause you were ten in 1991? Heck, I was 26…

  • avatar
    ash78

    My childhood memories of the C4 were about the cool, sleek looks, the relative ubiquity of them at the time, and the fact that flat-out, they made 10x as much noise and only seemed about 20% quicker than my dad’s MkI VW with the little 1.6L engine.

    The grab bar on the passenger side always intrigued me. It really said “Hold the f*ck on, this car means business” but it was ergonomically out of reach.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Have you seen the grab bar on the 2014? It is mounted to the passenger side of the console/dash connection and looks like it was designed to defend the shifter from the passenger grabbing it, lol.

  • avatar

    I remember talking to a guy who owned a 1st year ZR1. He said he paid $25K for the engine and got the car for free. At some point those cars will appreciate in value and will probably take the rest of the C4s with them. But it might be a long time coming.

  • avatar

    A Vette like this would be tempting…as a suspension donor for my ’57 Chevy Handyman.

    http://www.newmancarcreations.com/55-57-chevy/

  • avatar
    MK

    Around 1988 I had just graduated high school and since i had a scholarship I had also saved up some spare cash, my dad and I went shopping at a local insurance salvage lot back in the days when you could freely wander around and sit in/crawl over/under/through the vehicles before you bought them.
    So it was that I found myself with an eye on a dark metallic bronze 1984 Z51 vette with the weird as hell 4+3 gearbox. It already had a salvage title even before the current accident but it was in decent physical shape other than a drivers complete door, hood, tires and left headlamp assy, plus someone took the two rear bose speakers…oh and it was crossfire injected (ugh). But who cared! it was a four year old VETTE with a removable targa roof a manual and the Z51 performance suspension!

    I think I ended up getting it for about $4800 and set about the process of collecting parts to fix it. By the time all was done I probably had another $4000 in the car with parts and labor, not even counting time and favors I had to pull-in as an 18 yr old student/waiter really shouldn’t have been buying a car like this.

    The weirdest thing I found was while doing the prep work for painting. So the right mirror was functional but it had a deep scratch on the outside from the prior accident.
    So I started sanding it down to remove the scratches before the respray….It was like cutting into an old-growth tree, this right mirror on a 4year old car had ELEVEN (11) different colors of paint underneath. Not even counting primer layers. I have no clue how this even could have happened. Anyway over the course of my four years of ownership I became VERY well acquainted with GM Kwality of the 80′s….primarily in the form of leaks, squeaks and various electrical issues.

    I ended up rolling it off a bridge upside down into a stream after a breakup with the girlfriend of the time.

    The culprit? Bad judgement.
    The co-conspirators? Rain and the 4+3 kicking down from OD2 to 2 when I punched it and slid sideways right off the edge of the bridge, rolling over as it went.

    After escaping through the back hatch with no injury and rebuilt the whole damned thing AGAIN (much worse this time but cheaper because i knew how) and ended up selling it to some distant relatives for $4500 who drove it for another decade and still have it in a barn somewhere as it’s basically of zero value.

    I respect the performance and value of Vettes but yeah I can’t see owning another one.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      4+3 always confused me, how the heck did it work? It seemed like something that would have been cooked up in someones garage by welding an old school auxiliary overdrive from the 60s to a 4 speed manual. (Although last I checked there were still places rebuilding that monstrosity.)

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        A 4+3 gearbox? Sounds like the 5X4 and 4X2 gearboxes fitted to big trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        First gear was just like a normal manual, but shifting into second with minimal throttle put it into second overdrive. If you then gave it full throttle it acted like an automatic and dropped into second gear, which could be quite abrupt and in my case it broke traction as I was turning and punched it

        The same scenario in third and fourth gear. It had an on/off switch that would make it like a reg four speed manual but the revs were a bit higher than desired in 4th gear if the overdrive was off.

        It was a weird transmission for sure, prob as an idea to improve mileage before they came out with CAGS.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      That is what I call dedication to Vette-dom. Someone buy this man a drink. Perhaps you can be coerced into buying back and continuing the love affair.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        Lol, thanks for the offer. Yeah it was fun growing up back then and clearly I didn’t learn from my mistakes as I now own the vettes pricier but otherwise equivalent German cousin Porsche.

        And at the age of nineteen that was the second occasion in which I rolled a sporty car upside down.

        Ahhhh youth! ;)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Damn, just damn. Sir, I will buy you a drink if you happen to venture into the Greater Pittsburgh area.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “… even the 19-horsepower ’79s are worth good money now.”

    Everyone seems to act like late 70s was the worst period for horsepower, but in GM land anyway, it was ’80-’82.

    In a ’79 Corvette you could either get 195hp or 225hp. Generally with a 3.55 or 3.70 rear end, although there way a 3.36 “highway ratio” available. This was actually an increase in power from ’78. ’79 Corvettes also look awesome.

    In ’80 you could get 180, 190, or 230 hp but only a 3.07 rear end.

    In ’81 you could only get a 190hp engine with a 2.72 or 2.87 rear end.

    In ’82 you could only get a 200hp engine with a 2.72 rear end. And it was automatic only.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Dan was a baller on a budget.

    Dan emerged from his apartment wearing his standard blue polo and tan slacks. The Best Buy logo glowed proudly on his chest. He stuck a serrated key into the deadbolt, and secured the domicile. His new Playstation2 was safe, and he was now counting the minutes till he could play Grand Theft Auto III again. He stood there facing the door for a spell while he contemplated the logistics of possibly calling in sick. The prospect of getting chewed out by Jerry again deemed it as being not worth it. On the way down the steps into the parking lot, he fiddled with his keys. It was a nice day, and he had a sports car. He had a choice to make. Should he take the ’96 Civic or the Vette? Life is tough for a baller. He swapped out the usual ergonomically shaped key in his fingers for the generic metal one, then made his way through the filled parking spaces to the 80′s dream car. The low-slung roofline came into view among the lesser machines as he drew near. The Prince song popped into his head every time at this moment. It was unavoidable.

    Little Red Corvette
    Baby, you’re much too fast

    He couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics, so he was stuck in a mental loop, repeating the chorus to a sickening degree. “Such a stupid song.”, he mumbled with a smile. He took in the sight of the red flowing lines, filthy from the many dew cycles since it’s last wash. The key was worked into the lock forcefully to gain access, and Dan swung open the long plastic door. It creaked, and the collection of parts made every other sound possible while being moved. An orchestra of disrepair. Dan looked at the shredded leather throne. His eyes moved inside to the center console lid. It’s rubbery skin was warped over the disintegrating foam skeleton. He suddenly remembered why he always took the Honda. Dan clambered down into the car. A searing pain shot through his ribs as he speared himself on the edge of the door glass. “Ummmmphfff!” He clenched his teeth and winced off the firing nerves.

    It was now an unfamiliar place to be. The interior of the Corvette smelled like it looked. Sticky, syrupy remains of spilled cola merged with fast food debris into a medley on the console. The petrified swill reflected the mid-day sun. Dan thought it remarkable that he hadn’t noticed how awful some of the details were in his own car. He made futile attempts to put the wrecked console lid into place, and pushed on ill-fitting, creaking, satin black plastics. The fit and finish of his 90′s econobox blew away this 80′s flagship. The door closed with the sound of a dropped bucket full of nails and Legos. It wasn’t even terrible in a way that was charming, such as how a metal vent window latch on a ’64 Malibu would fall apart in your hand. No. This was just cheap. It made you not want to fix it. He put the key in the ignition, noting how closely the column assembly resembled the one in the S-10 he owned in high school. Once he twisted the key, however, the similarities ended. Pure, V8 muscle burbled to life…then died. Dan restarted the Vette, adding a few prods to the gas pedal until it was fully awake. The tailpipes of the Corvette emitted brawn, and the digital cockpit still impressed, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the forming opinion of it’s owner. Dan hated this car.

    The ratty leather-wrapped shifter was pulled into “D”, and the “might as well” cruise in to work began. Dan made his way carefully over the unnecessarily large speedbumps of the apartment complex. One was especially troublesome, necessitating a crab-like diagonal approach akin to a rock crawling off roader. Still, the C4 managed to scrape it’s black plastic beard on the asphalt. Dan accelerated onto the main drag. The 700R4 had the same work ethic it’s driver had when he was 14 years old. This transmission would not “mow the yard” today, per se. The tach display climbed, and then crested the hill into the yellow, while digits slowly clicked on the speedometer. “That’s right. It does this.”, Dan remembered after being forced to release the go pedal. An ominous sound came from the rear axle and joined the NVH nightmare. Danny employed the aftermarket CD player to drown out the clatter, and premium paper cone speakers were oscillated to death.

    Dan parked the Vette next to his co-worker in a highly customized Civic behind the Best Buy. Steve sucked the last remains of his pre-shift cigarette, and exhaled “I didn’t know you had a Vette.”, in the smoke. “Yeah.”, replied Dan, “It kinda sucks.” He drew out the tail end of his words in a crafted accent, to enforce the shittyness of the subject automobile upon the listener. “Really?”, giggled a surprised Steve, flicking his spent cigarette. The two entered the store to begin another workday of pitching home theater equipment to the hordes of consumers.

    With their shift over, the employees milled about in the parking lot. Dan was impressed by the looks of the timeless red wedge. It almost made him feel worse about it. It was beautiful, but then there was the….everything else about it. He brought the small block Chevy to an idle, and waited. Waited till the time was right to hit the light switch. The group chatted and blew off steam around the running Vette. Steve yelled an insulting joke from his Civic, and it drew the group’s attention near the red Chevy. “Now.”, Dan thought subconsciously, hitting the light switch. The headlight assemblies began their synchronized backflip and light show. Everyone was rendered speechless for at least two seconds. Time to go home.

    Dan gingerly accelerated to speed for the short trip down the lamp-lit highway. The strange noise from the rear end returned. “What the hell IS that?”, he wondered. Dan cranked the volume once more to put it out of mind. He admired the Vette’s prowess on the highway, a comfortable cruiser. Comfortable, just as long as you didn’t mind the rattles, and the stale smell, and-”What the hell is shaking back there?”. He keyed the “ATT” button on the stereo. The noise was louder, much louder. Additionally, something was loose. As soon as he released the accelerator in response, he found out what it was. His vision was blurred from the force of the Corvette’s back end suddenly becoming airborne. “Did I just get hit?!”, he wondered. He checked his passenger side mirror, and saw it. The black Comp T/A steamroller tire was flying through the air. A jagged piece of red fiberglass tumbled next to it like a falling maple leaf. Suspension and braking components ground concrete, and the car rocked to the right. Dan wrestled with the cumbersome machine, and managed to keep it from slamming into the guardrail. The loose wheel passed him as the car ground to a halt. It followed the guardrail to it’s end, and then took off down the embankment into the woods. “Oh my god.”

    The bodywork was wrecked. The brake rotor, destroyed. Dan considered retrieving the wheel and putting it back on. He flipped open his cell phone to illuminate the void in the dark wheel well. A single wheel stud remained. He knew what had happened. “Arrrgh! F&^k you Monkey Wards!” He could hardly remember getting the right rear tire leak repaired at the Montgomery Wards Auto Express. It had been quite some time ago, but he had barely driven the car since. They were to blame for all of this. He was going to give them an ear full. They would pay. Then he remembered that the retailer died earlier that year. He shook with rage.

    Dan used 311 and gave a towing company his position. He used the right turn signal to cast some white light into the woods, and went hunting for his wheel. Dan emerged 10 minutes later with the wheel and tire, slacks ruined in the thicket, and blue shirt soiled in brake dust.
    The Vette was retrieved, then arduously slid off the flatbed into the apartment lot. Dan set the wheel loosely in the shattered wheelhouse so it would appear functional, and not get impounded. He pondered what to do with it. He sure as hell wasn’t going to fix it. There were no longer any merits left to warrant the effort and expense. The solution turned out to be Ebay. Dan hawked it for $2200 to a local, and was pleased.

    A flatbed arrived to pick up the remains. An older gentleman and his teenage son surveyed their recent purchase. The boy cringed at trouble spots while his father reassured him on the ease of repair.
    “Yeah. This is gonna be our little Father/Son project.”, he beamed.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I do love the C4, I think it is a bit undervalued now.

    Though it does not keep up HP wise, I think the handling does stand up even today. IMO the C3 has none of the handling the C4 and subsequent ‘Vettes have, don’t understand the love for it, but I am a child of the 80s, and the Vette was a big deal just due to its clean styling and performance creds. The 70s Vette is the one the guy with the gold chains drives ha.

    More HP is great and the LT1 brought that, but if you ever have the chance to drive an L98 Vette with a stick do it! Especially with the 6 speed. That motor has such a narrow power band, it comes on so strong about 3000RPM it is a lot of fun. So many fond memories of driving my Aunts 90 Z51 what a car that was.

  • avatar
    autojim

    Holy FSM, that’s a lot of condenser for a smallish 2-seater car running R12…

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      That AC will _freeze_ you in 90 degree heat – even with the clear plexiglass top. Nothing wrong with that GM HVAC, even approaching 29 years old …

    • 0 avatar

      Time was when GM HVAC systems were the ones to beat. Then came R-134 and GM took a bit to figure out how to make them cool well, Ford figured it out faster, as my 95 Explorer (r-134) can run with my ’77 Chevelle’s R-12 system about keeping the car meat-locker cold in 100 degree weather.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    You have me beat, but only by a couple of years. I can barely remember standing on the front seat of our 52 Pontiac seeing the lighted Indian head ornament as my dad pulled into the garage at night. A child standing up was ok then. My mom could always throw her arm in front of me if dad stopped quick :)

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I remember when the C-4 first went on sale. It was a really big deal when Chevy finally replaced the C-3 which had become a relic by the 1980′s. At the time the C-3 looked so old and the C-4 looked so modern in comparison. I still have a photo I made of a row of brand new 1984 Corvettes at the Chevy dealer in my hometown. In the background you can see the signs at the AMC dealer across the street.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    CobraJet my first automotive memories also revolve around that lit- up Indian head ornament of the old man’s 1951 IIRC Pontiac Streamliner coupe . Unbelievable I can recall it so well as it would have been traded in on a 1956 Chieftain 2-door wagon when I was only three . As a kid I was always disappointed in both of these dull to my eyes cars- both of them Mom’s cars , Daddy in those years had company cars , always stripper Ford Mainline sedans in ugly beige colors. The next door neighbor drove a 1951 Studebaker Starlight coupe , with the bullet-nose and the wraparound back window . To my young eyes it was like a rocketship way cooler than our cars . To add to my disappointment the new 1956 wagon was in the blandest of two- tones , green and white . Makes me feel pretty old listening to you 35- year old guys saying how old you feel .

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I think you have to be a child of the 80′s to appreciate the C4 (that’s me) it looked like a fighter jet at the time. The later ones still look good in my opinion.

    I looked at purchasing one not too long ago, and you can get them for a song. The problem is, the performance nowadays really isn’t anything to write home about. It still would be a fun 2nd car, but my wife thinks they’re the ultimate cheeseball car.

    I’m honestly surprised GM was able to even sell cars like the Corvette once the Feds got into the car business during the dark ages of 73-8?.
    190hp in a Corvette, why wouldn’t people just buy a classic one for a lot less and actually have a car that could move?

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Yup–age 43. First actual ’84 ‘Vette sighting was a gold car, with a hot blonde behind the wheel, in a grocery store parking lot while my Mom was making a quick stop. Of course she got a looky-look from me, but then after she walked away, I got out of my Mom’s car to investigate the ‘Vette. Even to my then fourteen year-old car fanatic’s mind, it was a step up. (I may still have the Motor Trend with the C4 introduction in it, and I know I have a red Revell Snap-Tite scale-model stashed away someplace.)

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Perhaps because the C3 had been around so long and its power had declined so much the automotive press treated the launch of the C4 as something akin to the second coming of Christ . Much was made of the 4 + 3 trans and whatever real or imagined increases in horsepower there were and I recall reading about speculation that C3 and even C2 values would plummet because every ‘Vette owner would just have to buy one , after the near-generation that the C3 had been on sale . I doubt this ever really happened tho but at the time I personally thought the new model was much more attractive than the C3 . Also recall from the beginning reading complaints about the C4 ‘s disappointing interior .

  • avatar
    ex-x-fire

    You guys need to check out the video of Hot Rod magazine cutting one of these up to improve lap times, I wish they did 1/4 mile instead of a road course.
    These are a great value, just beware they’ll need stuff just like any 30 year old car. All the alloy stuff that’s common today was first used in the C4. The small block chevy is a tough engine, the th700 was improved every year, as were other things.
    While they don’t seem fast today, they were in the 80s. An C/D article complained that the 85 had too much throttle response. Hell, the 150mph top speed is still pretty good.
    The 84s had an intake that was so restrictive that performance suffered, heavily porting the intake & increasing the fuel pressure a little can make the 84s faster then the tpi versions.
    These are great to take on trips, they hold a fair amount of luggage & they can get high 20s mpg.
    One weak spot is chassis flex with the top off, they should have designed it with a steel floor pan with frame rails.

  • avatar
    CougarXR7

    I’m 43 years old, so I was a car-crazy teen when these came out. We even had a low-mileage factory demonstrator that had been generously donated by GM to the vocational training center that I was attending at the time.

    Performance-wise the 84s with their “cease fire” injection were an epic fail. The Tuned Port Injection models of ’85 were a vast improvement. The fastest incarnation of the old pushrod C4 were the LT1 models 0f 1990-1996.

    I first sat in a C4 at the ’84 L.A. Auto Show. I loved the car’s looks, but was thoroughly unimpressed with its crappy interior.

  • avatar
    MBella

    How cheap C4s are today is amazing to me. You can buy these cheaper than just about any other GM rwd product. Why would you start with an ’86 Monte Carlo when you can start with a C4 for less? Swap an LS engine into one of these and I’m sure it would be a crazy beast. It’s like all the hot rodders don’t even consider that a Corvette could be in their budget and don’t even look into them.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I really like these. And I agree with PrincipalDan on 2 of his comments: the “forgotten Vette” and the age related ones. I don’t feel old for having read during the 80′s the Popular Mechanics magazine when they were launched.

    Lack of power can be solved in may different ways. The aftermarket for the SBC goes as far as your imagination. Otherwise. I’m pretty sure there are solutions for improving braking and cornering out there.

    Here they go for some serious coin and 90′s ones have to be converted to RHD if I read the government site correctly.

    My son has a nice Hot Wheels Corvette collection: 63, C2 GS, L88, C4, Stingray concept and a current ZR1. I missed the Greenwood race car when I saw it in the supermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I also like the C4 because it is the last Corvette with the engine and trans located in the conventional manner making engine swaps (like you mention) fairly easy.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Ah, the C4, the Rodney Dangerfield of the Corvette world (particularly the original 1984 version). The most visible giveaway (of an original, first year one, anyway) are the lack of a CHMSL and turned down tailpipes. 1985 got Tuned-Port Injection with straight tailpipes and 1986 got the brake light. By 1989, the much better CAGS 6-speed replaced the problematic 4+3.

    And, man, can those first C4 cars with the last Crossfire fuel injection be had for a song. OTOH, there are very good reasons for the low price. You not only had to deal with the 4+3 transmission (if you wanted a manual) but you got some of the worst, most atrocious GM build quality in the introductory C4 Corvette.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I always liked this model of Corvette, especially after the bloated model before this (1968-83) which was much too big. Most would like to forget anything from the “Malaise Era” but like any era not everything was bad. I don’t miss harvest gold, avocado green,and burnt orange appliances or shag carpets but some of these things have come back. The lines of this Corvette are much cleaner than the previous generation.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I’m surprised at the comments ripping on the ’83 Vettes. Probably my favorite body style. Of course, I look at every car in the sense of what it COULD be with some work. The voluptuous lines are automotive soft-core. I would love one in the two-tone silver or all black with the slot wheels, and spoiler. A swap to a recent LSx drivetrain would be like a weekend task for me. Then I would just need some Kavinsky on the stereo.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I’m guessing by ’83 you mean either C3 or ’84, because it’s well known that there was no 1983 Corvette.

      I made a comment further up about my desire to build a “pro touring” C3 that could be both a lot of fun on the road and a good performer on a track day.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Scarecrow and Mrs. King (silver, not red paint).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So did the dealer junk it and just not care to remove the “$2499″ sticker on the windshield? I’ve seldom seen a dealer junk *anything* as they could always find a retail buyer even at $795 as-is, unless this thing was so jacked up it couldn’t pass a safety inspection. Not going to get much for scrap on a fiberglass car and a running L98 350 you’d think would be worth a few hundred dollars to somebody.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      That price was probably put there by the junkyard, when it was out front in the “fixer-uppers”. They got too greedy maybe. I can’t imagine it would be here if they had just lowered their price to the usual $1300.

      Now they are going to get less in scrap than a Geo Metro. Although, I suppose it will be stripped clean, and they will make a much better profit this way.

      This has me wondering if there is some junkyard price list out there for each car’s scrap value, and theorized parts desirability.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “[1983] automotive press treated the launch of the C4 as something akin to the second coming…”

    C&D was ecstatic, they called the C3 a ‘d**kmobile’. But most of the euphoria was that the Vette was threatened with extinction during the Oil Shocks. Magazines were just glad to see any new Corvette. Also, no one could have known the ‘auto future’ we see today, where 300 net hp is on rental FWD Impalas.

  • avatar
    GST

    Checking in at 70&1/2 and still loving driving. Two years ago did the outside of the US in my 2001 Audi TT Roadster. Great touring road car. Probably have driven around 700,000 + miles.

    Did Seattle/ San Franciso two months ago. Even I-5 was a great drive especially between Eugene and Red Bluff.

    Brother has a C-4. It is junk and he cannot keep up with repairs. But he loves to drive it. No accounting.

  • avatar
    ReSa

    With these prices, seems like it’s easy enough to do fun stuff like this:

    http://tech.corvettecentral.com/2011/08/c4-corvette-cutaway-car-parts-gallery/

  • avatar
    noxioux

    I guess I’ll have to be the one to point out that when it came out, the C4 dominated SCCA Showroom Stock, causing them to be broken out into their own class.

    These were serious cars for the times, and in terms of performance they were easily equal to the overpriced euro trash of the day. Just like they are today.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Noxious, this site pulls no punches to savage anything and everything produced by GM. Hilariously, the Porsche racers had this car banned from SCCA, so thoroughly did it dominate Porsches costing 3 and 4 times as much.

    A real affordable supercar for the blue-collar everyman, which is the real reason why it is so scorned. Anti-European in philosophy and design, in other words.

    Here, TTAC has ran three gushing articles in the last couple of weeks about the Alfa 4C @ 237 horsepower and 2,650 pounds, that is, if you can believe even the latest sharply increased estimates of its weight and downward departure on horsepower estimates. Almost 30 years ago, the Corvette C4 achieved a weight of 3,200 pounds and eventually achieved 240 horses with the TPI L-98 in 1986. Not bad numbers for the time, ,and apparently not even bad numbers for 2013 if you are one of TTAC’s non-GM annointed ones.

    And an honest non-eurocentric article about the C4 would certainly discuss the insanely, ridiculously cheap upgrades for the car. With a properly built 450 horse 383 stroker (around $5,000), modern gas adjustable shocks and modern non-run flat tires, these things can easily run with many of the brand new supercars, at a sub-$20,000 total price, and that includes purchase both purchase price and upgrades.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Here in Southern California you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of used car lot to Pick-A-part cars , all have the old window stickers announcing the fabulous low price you missed it at , no damage just low value old cars .

    I see lots of these C4s unwrecked in the P-A-P yards , as mentioned the engines and other resale parts go in a day or two .

    I’m a GM Fanboi yes but never was much on Corvettes .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    “In 1988, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) outlawed all Showroom Stock Corvettes from its racing events. The reason? The Vettes had not been beaten in three years of racing against the world’s best sports cars, and their competitors complained so loudly that the sanctioning body finally had to act.”

    …….

    “In 1985, the SCCA expanded Showroom Stock into a full-season racing series.The C4s were undefeated from 1985 through the end of the 1987 season and usually filled the top eight to ten finishing positions. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the SCCA would outlaw the plastic wonders and approach Chevrolet about creating a Corvette-only series.”

    (Note to Porsche: Must issue press release alternatively blaming owners for this very public humiliation, and/or pointing out the lack of interior gaps and the much more beautiful interior compared to the junky Vette interior. TTAC will reprint said press release word for word)
    …….

    “Until 1999, the Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette (bought by ticking a few boxes on the order sheet) held the World production car speed record of 254.76 mph (410.00 km/h). It is an emissions compliant, street legal vehicle, with all the creature comforts like Air Conditioning, Radio, etc that you would find in any production street Corvette. Built using production chassis 1988-051, it achieved its World Record Title in November 1988 at the Ohio Transportation Research Center (TRC).”

    But this is TTAC. Omygawd…….the awful gaps in the interior panels! Mullet-wearing trailer park types! It’s not European! Squeaks and Rattles!”


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