By on June 19, 2014
O.K. Steve
Why are old Corvettes so cheap ? .
Just Monday I saw yet another 1984 ‘Vette for sale in a used car lot for $2,500, are some years simply so bad they’re worthless?
I have never owned one and only driven a few . Mostly my buddy’s ’68 350 W/ 4 speed back in the very early 1970’s when it was a neat car.
He built it from various junked and wrecked ‘Vettes at a specialized Corvette junkyard . We rode it very hard and it was a good , fun car that took quite a beating right until he drank himself to death .
I see the 1990’s (I think) four valve versions undamaged in Pick-A-Part Junkyards all over California. They are low mileage (under 150,000), zero damage, nice paint etc. ~ how is this possible ? .
I’d think they want to sell them whole and not part them out. But no one wants them?
Steve Says:
If only it were so.
I would be more than happy to drive a late model Corvette through the winding roads of North Georgia. Unfortunately, I have found them to be among the worst types of vehicles for my travels.
They are flashy, easy to drive too fast, and cops seem to enjoy hanging around them on highway jaunts.
That 84′ Corvette you were looking at may very well be the worst Corvette of the last 30 years. The quality was downright abysmal for what was, way back then, the first year of the C4 launch. The 1984 model was built in the thick of the Roger Smith era. There were very few good GM vehicles made during that time, with the most expensive models often getting shot and neutered quality wise well before they left the factory floor.
I’m willing to bet that Corvette at the used car lot was worth more dead than alive. By the time you see these vehicles at the auctions and the car lots,  they have suffered years of neglect.
It’s sad because, at least to me, that generation of the Corvette may truly be one of the most beautiful vehicles of that time period. They were gorgeous. But I never would want to keep one, or recommend it to someone who wants a sports car worth keeping.
The flip side of the coin is that the newer C6 Corvettes tend to be pretty reliable. I mentioned this in a recent Yahoo! Autos article, and if I were in the market for a used sports car, a C6 Corvette would definitely be a  top pick.
Old sports cars that had quality issues are now, just old crappy cars. A lot of 10 year old family cars will go faster than that 1984 Corvette without the quality control issues issues that come with a Reagan era ride.  Speed is often times a given in this day and age, and with America’s aging population, sporty two door cars are just not as in demand as they were back when the C4 was first released.
There is one big plus to the used Corvette marketplace that is shared with other niche vehicles such as the Mazda MX-5 and the Jeep Wrangler. 
They are usually not daily drivers. Most of these vehicles spend their time inside a garage and are used during weekends or whenever the owner gets that longing to enjoy their ride.  Corvettes tend to be lower mileage garage queens, and the powertrains are rarely stressed.
In the used car market, there is almost always a lot of them out there. Not because they aren’t worthy of ownership. It’s just that the demographics and long-term reliability of Corvettes have changed dramatically since the days of that 1984 Corvette. Today’s Corvettes are the sports car version of a cockroach. They can outlast their owners, along with most modern day bugs of the German variety.
Oh, and as for the C4 you saw, do yourself a big favor and don’t look back. I have yet to see one from the 80’s that didn’t drive like a bucket of bolts.


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130 Comments on “New or Used? : Why Are Old Corvettes So Cheap?...”

  • avatar

    A dealer I used to work for had an unnatural obsession with Corvettes so I dealt with all generations of the fiberglass beast and – not for nothing – most C4s offer a LOT of car for the money. Most common problems were electrical (duh) and related to powertrain modules or digital dash blowouts and also targa top seals. Otherwise, shockingly solid cars for the money.

    I remember retailing a 5-speed VUE for a sheriff deputy’s daughter and taking in trade an ’88 C4 w/~95k miles. Auto w. custom wheels, some cheesy aftermarket exhaust, and a crazed top, but otherwise nice. We were in the car for $2900. Could’ve cashed out and kept it; probably should’ve.

    If you’re looking for bang-for-the-buck, a late-run C4 Corvette cannot be beat, especially if you’re even thinking about the German competition, which is twice as expensive and seven times as ugly to keep running.

    Corvette buyers are also very generational and love their generation above all else. The Corvette community is also VERY segregated in and of itself. C4 coupe buyers are younger and more forgiving of flaws compared to C4 ragtop buyers who are older and buying for collectible value.

    Echoing what Steve said, Corvettes, Miatas, and Wranglers have another thing in common – dead easy to retail. Regardless of condition, there is an ass for ANY of these seats…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with flybrian on this one, C4 ‘Vettes are a bargain sports car. No, don’t compare them to a sports car of the 2000’s or newer, but compared to other sports cars of the 80’s at similar prices makes them fairly attractive. They handle well and go fast stuff is reasonably cheap for them. I’ve kinda always wanted to set up a cheap C4 as a track car.

      The later C4s with the LT engines, especially the LT5 powered ZR-1s, were actually pretty phenomenal cars and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a nice example for the right price.

      As to why they’re so cheap? Supply and demand. They built quite a few of them, so the demand for 20+ year old sports cars with an 80’s stigma that isn’t JDM hasn’t really aligned with the supply yet.

      • 0 avatar

        I would actually take your statement and stretch it further. All 1980’s sportscars are fantastic sports cars for a low price. I really think they are underrated by the market.

        They aren’t as fast as more recent cars, but they are a world of fun. With an ’80s sports car adjusting carburetors and points was a thing of the past, and with microcomputers came fuel injection that actually worked. But the “nanny computer” era hadn’t taken hold yet. I think that the whole era was a real Goldilocks time. Plus, I don’t think we will ever see cars be as light as they were in the 80’s again.

        Of course, my personal poison is a 1986 RX-7 GXL. Yes, I strongly prefer Japanese cars. I mean no offense to American cars, they are great. I just don’t like them personally.

        • 0 avatar

          I have to agree with you guys. What surprises me is that these C4s are going for less money then V6- g-bodies and Camaros of the same vintage. If I wanted a RWD GM project, I would certainly pick the C4.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s a strange truth. I always thought Camaros and Firebirds were the cheap way for a teenager to go fast.

            Factor in insurance, though, and…

    • 0 avatar

      The hardest part of finding a nice C4 is finding one for sale that doesn’t have an automatic transmission. I’ve been looking for three years, and picked up my Solstice as an interim toy until I find one.

      I’m convinced that the true hard-core Corvette lovers drive manuals, and keep their cars forever. Meanwhile the automatics are owned by people who want a nice toy until the novelty wears off, and then its sold to the next owner.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, this. The manual transmission demographic in the used Corvette market is definitely much much larger than it is when they are new. The general unwantedness of the automatics on the used market pushes the value down big time.

  • avatar

    The cheapness of “rubber bumper” C3 Vettes is a great thing. You can get a nice one around here for like 6 grand, and any C3 can hold a big block so you can easy swap a wheezy smogger 350 for a 454 and put some muscle back in your Vette.

  • avatar

    I don’t really agree with Steve at all here. For a guy that just yesterday was extolling the virtues of a clapped out P71 and Taurus wagon, I’m a little surprised.

    If you are looking for a sports car that will impress people at Cars and Coffee, win drag races, or take home the trophy at the local “Jimmy Buffett Look-a-Like Car Show presented by Dairy Queen” then just about any ’80-’90 Corvette is not the way to go.

    If you are looking for something that is plentiful, cheap to buy, fun to screw around with, and easy to keep alive then an 80s C4 is aces.

    I mean, non-ZR1 C4s are usually cheaper to buy than a similar condition same year V8 F-body, Stealth, or SN95/Fox body. Heck, I think they might be cheaper than a same year Fiero or Monte Carlo!

    The only real problem with them is that they are Corvettes. This means that when you buy one you technically become a “Corvette Owner” and have to inherit all the stigmas that go along with it.

    • 0 avatar

      A 91-96 Vette with chrome 17-inch “sawblades” in that slightly bluish green color brings back childhood memories…my uncle Mike has always been a big Vette guy (right now he has a customized C6 Grand Sport) and when I was about 5 years old he had a Vette exactly like I described, and I know this because there’s an old family photo of little old me standing with that very car.

      I know I’m really hammering home that I’m a young’un, but man, that car was the most amazing thing ever to a 5 year old.

      (He taught me a neat Vette fact I didn’t know before: The 90-95 ZR-1 Vettes were wider at the rear than a normal C4 Vette.)

    • 0 avatar

      I know two Corvette owners. One is a man in his early 60’s, retired military, and now works for the Centers for Disease Control. The other is a woman in her early 40’s, and is about as fine of an example of American womanhood as you could ever hope to meet. So when you say “Corvette owner”, which one would you be talking about?

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of that is because car guys are afraid that they’ll look like a giant cheeseball stuck in the 1980s if they drive a C4. The car reeks ’80s in both style and presence. It was a stereotype when new. Nothing worse than driving an OLD mid-life crisis car.

      Personally, I love me a good American V-8 but this is one I’d only drive on a very dark night and with tinted windows so no one would see me.

  • avatar

    I think the 70s look better, and they are old enough to be antiques. They are BoF, so I would think resto-mods would be easy but I wouldn’t know personally.

    • 0 avatar

      One good thing about C3 Vettes is that, even though they all came with small blocks from 75-82, they didn’t change any of the dimensions (as far as I know) so a big block still fits.

      • 0 avatar

        I can tell you from experience that you are better off staying with a small block. The 750 lb. + weight of the 454 (as with the earlier 427) makes the car under-steer and plow miserably.

        The 350 crate motor that can be acquired today has a lot more oomph that an earlier 454 (not to mention the original 350) and allows you to maintain much crisper handling and maneuverability.

  • avatar

    The smog choked ’84 had the Crossfire Injection disaster and more than likely an automatic. If you’re gonna tear into the engine, well at least it’s cheap (for a reason). If not, just swap in a set of 4.11 gears in the rear, and go shredding some tires. With a rebuilt limited slip of course. Drive the ballz off of it until the engine blows. Then tear into the engine with the right stuff. Or ditch it, having enjoyed the heck out of it.

  • avatar

    Yeah, the chrome bumper C3 cars are the voluptuous lookers of the lot. Just like women with curves, the later rubber bumper C3 ‘disco era’ versions started putting on too much weight. Then, with the C4, it was like a crash diet and slimmed down to all straight lines.

    Interestingly, the 1968 seems to have about the same dismal quality reputation as the 1984.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny thing is, I think the 78-82 C3s look fantastic. The “fastback” rear glass makes the rubber bumper cars look better and the bigger 80-82 “Aero” bumpers also help the look.

      The only problem is that the end of C3 production cars had that awful CrossFire injection system (which was not nearly as cool as the 90s board game Crossfire) that the first C4s were also saddled with.

      • 0 avatar

        Crossfire the board game was also terrible. It did not transport you into a post apocalyptic universe of fire and lightning where you get to ride on flying game pieces until you are victorious banish your foe forever. It instead was a terrible game that only my rich friends had because it cost approximately $700.

        The awesome Crossfire is the SRV and Double Trouble song from “In Step”.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks now I have the commercial’s song stuck in my head. Crossfire! something something something; Crossfire!

        • 0 avatar

          We had Crossfire, was it actually expensive? Just cardboard and some plastic guns, with a bag o big BB’s.

          We played that game until our fingers were numb and red. So many jams in the gun in the heat of battle! Always go for the triangle piece first. The circular blade one spun around more, and was harder to move across the board.

          • 0 avatar

            I always wanted to play but myself or any of my friends ever got it.

          • 0 avatar

            “We had Crossfire, was it actually expensive?”

            No idea. I probably didn’t have it because my mom always wanted me to have educational board games. Like Sorry! or Monopoly were educational…

            I didn’t get to have anything cool in the 90s except for video games. Oh how I wanted a power wheel, creepy crawler maker, crossfire, and semi automatic nerf weapons. Instead, I always got books and Legos.

          • 0 avatar

            Shooting your opponent and fighting over worthless targets is an AMERICAN education.

          • 0 avatar

            Also, the Internet says Crossfire came out in 1971. Wow! Can’t find it new anymore, shame it got discontinued. It’s expensive to buy used.

            It’s STILL at my parents house, and I’m going to play it next weekend.

          • 0 avatar

            You still talking about the board game or the motor?

  • avatar

    The Corvette is that classic Americana car that just isn’t wanted after you buy it new. The market for them is always small and the newer cars are great, fast as most of their more expensive competition, but the people willing to shell out 30-50K for a slightly used model are more likely to shell out more for the more exotic variants.

    If I was in the market for a fun cruiser that can hang with the faster cars a C5 Corvette seems to be the better option. Going back farther than that into the C4s is far cheaper, but then you’re looking at somewhat anemic cars by comparison.

    But to each their own, I would probably opt for a used 5th generation mustang for cruising with the V6 and opt for at a later date a supercharger or engine swap if I really loved the car long enough to justify the switch.

  • avatar

    i keep looking longingly at the C4 as a LeMons car. should be an easy winner… but only 1 or 2 so far in all of Lemons and they’ve been very unreliable.

    • 0 avatar

      three I can think of so far:

      the red snub tail car
      Spank’s CorVegge

      the red snubtail was a basket case, IIRC….Spank’s car is a damned biodiesel now, and the Poorvette (black car in texas) did pretty well at ECR this spring and I think it won the WRL race at TWS last weekend.

      it might be the ultimate LeMon car, really….

      once you get rid of all the crap that doesn’t work and replace it with stuff you know works.

      • 0 avatar

        Poorvette looked pretty dominant on Sunday at TWS. Saturday I think they lost power steering. at the end of the day sunday they were putting nearly 5 seconds a lap on the second place miata and lapped them as well. They had the fast lap by 1.5 seconds, the next closest being a second gen rx7 with a 5.0.

      • 0 avatar

        I also think fuel economy has been a limiting factor for a C4 in Lemons. Long stints behind the wheel are important to a winning strategy, even more so than fastest-lap-of-the-day. Now that the rules allow custom fuel cells, you can get probably a Vette’s time between fuelups equivalent to the E30s etc. Good drivers could manage the change in weight balance from full tank to empty – it would be significant for a tank that large.

        So maybe this is the next big advance in Lemons! I’d have to think that it would be a fun car to race if set up right.

  • avatar

    ’84 was no speed demon, it was designed to be a well-handling boulevard cruiser with room for golf clubs.
    How many other cars of that vintage could pull 1G ?
    How about while carrying two golf bags and a pair of plaid pants in back? ;)

    The Crossfire system was really just two GM throttle body injectors, with a rudimentary PCM and o2 sensor, No black magic there. About as innovative as you’d find on an S10 pickup.
    30 years later many need little more than cross shaft bearings and a good cleaning. The intake was the choke point and a big one at that.

    We ran ours up over 150K with just a digital dash repair, the current owner still claims it’s reliable enough to drive anywhere, any time. It still squeaks over every little bump.

    Why are they cheap? Because with Corvettes there is a market for the new or the old. The middlings like the C4’s are a lost generation.

  • avatar

    Cheap!? Compared to what, Steve?

    I have too take issue with a number of assertions in your post.

    I also have to establish my perspective on Corvettes as whole.

    I’m part of the generation that grew up with the Corvette from its first days. In 1953 I was fascinated by this new American sports car with its Euro looks.

    My Dad and uncle took me along to the big city just to see one. I got to sit in a new 53′ Corvette and was enthralled, though, at the time I preferred the XK120 and still do, but the new Corvette was a neat car and would only get better. It had to, it had some serious competition during the golden age of post-war sports cars. T-Birds, Merc’ SL’s, Porsche’s, Alfa’s, Ferrari’s, Maserati’s, Facel Vega’s, Jags/XKE’s, Aston’s, Lamborghini’s, BMW ‘503’/’507’s, and Cobra’s to name a few.

    Among my generation, Corvettes were the top dog of American cars. Even if you were a Ford, Chrysler, AMC, Studebaker/Packard guy/gal, you had a respect, albeit sometimes a grudging respect for the Corvette.

    We lost a bit of our ardor for the Corvette during the post Muscle car era of the seventies and it wasn’t all due to the anemic engines of the era. After the earth shaking beauty of the original Sting Ray, a lot of us didn’t get on board with the Mako Shark styling, nor did we like T-tops, then we lost the chrome bumpers, first the back, then the front bumper. Despite these perversions to our idealized notions of a proper Corvette, the C3 sold well. There are a lot of them still out there, which affects the their price.

    Today, I would love to have a nice 81’/82′ in my collection, as I liked them when new, and compared to what is out there today for styling, they are a real standout in this world of appliance white four doors.

    As for the next generation, the C4’s, they were a revelation after the nearly twenty year run of the long in the tooth chassis of the C2/C3 iterations.

    I got a 3 hour preview of the new C4 the day before it was put on the showroom floor. It was a good preview with a run up along the twisty Clackamas River to Austin Hot Springs, then back to Sandy, Oregon, where we took lunch and watched as the curious checked out the new C4 in the parking lot.

    It was hard to walk away from that experience, but I had another type of vehicle(944/SVO) in mind and didn’t pull the trigger on a new Corvette. While the new C4 was good, very good, the 944 was exquisite, and the SVO was a new type of bloom on an iconic American Pony car promising something that would take another thirty years to fruit….maybe?

    The C4’s popularity, for many good reasons, are part of its resale problem today, there are a lot of them out there. Another problem, is that the typical buyers for these cars have moved on to more economical sporty saloons, ones they can get monthly insurance premium on that is less then the payment on the car.

    But despite the issues surrounding the mid to late C3’s and C4’s, they are beginning to climb out of their depreciated hole.

    For a C3, look for a 81′-82′ with the improved suspension unless your partial to the flying buttress roofed C3’s with the molded enduro bumpers.

    For a C4, any will do, but a TPI engine is a good starting point, my favorite of the generation, is the 92′ and later with their LT-1 engine and new instrument cluster and attractive interior and exterior body treatments from 91′.

    Or.. Pick up any year C4 and put an LS-376 engine in with your choice of tranny. The chassis _suspension/brakes_ is easily upgradeable to handle the 530Hp of the LS376. With that combo, you have in an early C4, a bargain Super Car for as little as $12,000, one that could easily break the 200mph barrier.

    Restoration parts are out there for the C3’s and C4’s, and more are in the works.

    Like the Gen-3 ‘F’ bodies, prices are beginning to climb for the C3’s & C4’s, get one now.

    Want to go racing, on the cheap, but with a V-8, grab a C4 with the TPI.

    There should be a spec class for the C4’s, but so far not yet, but there are SCCA/NASA classes for the cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I think one’s opinion of the Corvette greatly depends on which generation was being sold when you first became car aware. For me, that was the early 70’s and the Corvette du jour was the C3. To me, it always seemed like a boulevardier type car rather than a sports car. Rather large, mostly eqipped with automatic transmissions, and biased more towards comfort than performance. It didn’t help at all that I was just becoming interested in racing at the time, and watching John Greenwood’s big block Corvette getting spanked by Peter Gregg’s 2.7 liter Porsche just reinforced the no-go perception I had developed. It took many years of Le Mans series wins before I warmed up to the ‘Vette. I now think of it as a genuine sports car, but I still don’t want one.

  • avatar

    Old ‘Vettes are cheap because the used car market values practicality at an even higher rate than the new ca market. Weekend toys will never have high resale.

    Personally I love the C4 and really want a 6-speed manual model from near the end of the production run,

    • 0 avatar

      So that means I can get a Porsche for the price of a Vette?

      • 0 avatar

        VanillaDude, no, you can get a Porsche for less than the price of a Vette. When I was looking for a convertible sports car from the early 2000s last year, I considered the Corvette but ended up buying a Porsche Boxster because the price was considerably less. One year later and I’m still happy.

    • 0 avatar

      “Weekend toys will never have high resale.”

      Not sure I agree. There are plenty of examples of two-seat sports cars, some convertibles, that have good residual value. Just the other day we saw the S2000 article – those have shown to have strong resale value. The used (sports) car market values quality over practicality.

      The problem with old, especially C4, Corvettes is that they haven’t aged well at all and they were relatively plentiful. Compare to how that 14 year-old S2000 looked and drove in that reader ride review, to how tired an ’84 Vette must seemed in 1998. It’s night and day. One of those can still put on clinics at the track, the other was already a worn out and outclassed relic.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe this is true with the C4, but I’m not sure it applies to all toys. CJs and Wranglers seem to hold value pretty well, and they’re nearly as impractical as a Vette, albeit for different reasons.

      • 0 avatar

        OK then lets go back to the respect angle. The Corvette for many years has been a screaming deal (even new) compared to the other cars that had similar performance in a given model year.

        Went to the “14th Annual Indian Capital Car Show” on June 7. Lots of different classes and they basically let you pick the class you wanted to be in. I was in the “Muscle Car” class with my 1967 Mustang Convertible. The rest of the entrants were all most all Corvettes, 4 Corvettes to one Camaro (1968), one Mustang (mine), and one 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado that the owner had elected to place in the Muscle Car class.

        I won third place with the Camaro finishing first and a C3 Vette coming in 2nd. There was one vote between me and 2nd place.

        My point? Corvettes seldom get full respect for whatever reason. The lone Toyota Supra that was there pulled a bigger crowd than any of the Vettes but personally I’d sure rather have a Corvette of any year.

      • 0 avatar

        I see plenty of people using Wranglers as daily drivers, though, which probably keeps the price up. Plus Wranglers have a pretty broad appeal, especially among younger buyers who are more likely to buy used, while ‘vettes are more niche.

    • 0 avatar

      Somebody was probing how much I was going to ask for my 10th Anniversary RX-7 and when he said $7000, the word “Sold” almost flew out of my mouth!


  • avatar

    A couple of years ago, while looking (unsuccessfully) for a different type of used European sports car I stumbled upon a Craigslist ad for a 1994 Corvette. It seemed too cheap… A 300 hp, LT-1, 6-speed manual coupe with only 50k miles and a thick folder of maintenance records kept by the car’s single owner… For $8k.

    I ended up buying it… Heck, one would have a hard time getting a really nice rubber-bumper MGB for that these days… And still would have less than a third of the power and only a fantasy of ice-cold AC in the summer.

    It was white with gray leather, relatively understated for a ‘Vette. My observations:

    Upsides: very reliable cars, parts and performance enhancements are plentiful and cheap (though I chose to keep mine stock). New tires were over $1000, not a huge amount relative to some but on an $8000 car a large % of purchase price if you need them. The performance was great… Handling and acceleration were phenomenal… Oh and the sound… Even with the original stock mufflers. Nice. The Bose stereo still sounded good, the A/C was really cold, and the interior was comfortable.

    Downsides: these do had a few weak spots but they are easily fixed these days. For example, the pop-up headlight plastic motor gears all strip on these. Fortunately the aftermarket provides new upgraded gears as separate parts and even I was able to R&R the headlights and replace them myself. About $30 and 90 minutes per side.

    The C4s are hard to get into and out of… I didn’t care. The C4 coupes are fairly rigid with the targa in place. There are reasons they are attached with four hefty bolts… It is a structural piece. As fun as it was to drive with the top open the whole car felt like a wet twisty noodle with that piece unbolted… Seriously under-engineered. I left it on after the first experience.

    The second week I had it I got a speeding ticket… Not because I was doing anything crazy but because in a sea of SUVs and minivans on the freeway all doing 75 in a straight line. I was the apparent felon in the Corvette. These are fun but not great long-distance travelers if only because of the noise. I am not referring to the glorious engine note but rather the booming, rattling, and grinding noises the rest of the car makes. Just downright noisy and unrefined. There are reasons why there are so many low mileage C4s out there. For typical owners with multiple cars these just weren’t the cars of choice for the long trips. And this is coming from a guy who did two cross-country drives in a 1991 Miata.

    I ended up selling it a few months later and about broke even on the purchase and repairs I had made. I mostly just didn’t have that much fun driving it. Around town it was cumbersome and boring unless I drove like an maniac, which in this car would have me multiplying the speed limit.

    That said, I just saw another CL posting yesterday for a 1976 Corvette with a 4-speed and 40k original miles for $12k and I am tempted. Maybe the older one won’t prompt me to want to drive so quickly?

    • 0 avatar

      “I mostly just didn’t have that much fun driving it. Around town it was cumbersome and boring unless I drove like an maniac, which in this car would have me multiplying the speed limit.”

      I sold my ’77 Camaro LT ZZ4/4spd for the same reason. The ergonomics made it a lousy cruiser, but it was sure fun to hoon.

      You’ll probably draw the same conclusion with the C3. Not very comfy or ergonomical to cruise, but they look great and are fun to drive hard.

    • 0 avatar

      I gotta admit these and the 1990s Firebirds are pretty tempting. Not a lot of disposable income right now, but someday they’d be a fun weekend car.

  • avatar

    I still have about half of my hair left, so waiting another 5 years before I buy a ‘Vette.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen a few Vettes like this. They’ve slid from first owner to second to fifth or sixth.

    Along the way, they pick up unfortunate aftermarket wheels. The driver’s seat is always torn, and the better ones have same color duct tape repairs.

    After the fourth owner, they are “under a tarp”…getting to fix it….”honey, can you get that car out of the driveway”…at which point the car, with primer spots, is on sale again.

    My limited driving of C2, C3 and C4 reveals a broadaxe…lots of good ole V8 Torque, with limited feedback through the wheels and brakes. Fun at 95% in the right places, but kinda dull around town. I recall that Road and Track, back in the day, would describe something as “tossable” if it was fun to drive….vettes, for all the ability to “make the numbers”, aren’t tossable, at least in this iteration.

    The simple fact is, like a convertible, no one ever throws a Corvette away.

    • 0 avatar

      Tossability! The tossability of a car is mostly due to wheelbase, anything with a wheelbase longer then the classic ideal for a sports car, around 96″, is going to be less tossable.

      The longer wheelbase vehicles are linearly disposed. This helps with high speed handling and controlling very high torque/Hp. Vehicle engineers know that their vehicles designed with a longer wheelbase, will spend less time in the ditch.

      Shorter coupled cars like a Miata at 89″-92″, are less linear and very tossable even at high speeds. If you can’t induce a controllable 4-wheel drift at high speed in a Miata, you need more track time or a set of cojones.

      And a human’s physiological awareness of physical dynamics and being able to react to a change of direction due to induced rotational inertia, centers around the polar of 96″. Humans can over come their limited sense of rotational inertia, by learning to handle really short wheelbase vehicles like race carts. That is why we see all of the top race car drivers starting in carts.

      Corvettes started out with longer then usual wheelbase for a sports car, and it only got longer over the many generations and now stands at nearly 107″ or about the same as a Lamborghini Aventador or any other high speed vehicle.

      Like all sports cars with longer then normal wheelbases, wide tracks, and big cross sectional tires with large diameters, they are not going to be that much fun to drive slow, and few owners are capable of competently driving them fast in the twisties so they become on-ramp and freeway warriors.

      Add AWD to mix with a long wheelbase and they become even less fun to drive slow(GT-R) or below the 90th percentile. And I would say, less fun all around, again, the GT-R.

      C3, C4, and later Corvettes are competent cars that are very forgiving of mistakes at the limits, unlike most of the earlier iterations of its nemesis, the 911.

      Really fun handling, cheap, is mostly owned by Mazda, followed by front and rear, mid-engine Porsche’s.

      • 0 avatar

        C4 wheelbase is 96.2″

        • 0 avatar

          Reg; “C4 wheelbase is 96.2″

          Yes, it is, the shortest of all Corvettes. If your comment ‘Power6’, is in reference to my above comment, I should have said… ‘and generations of late, have only gotten longer. Thanks for the catch Power6.

          The C4 had the shortest wheelbase of all Corvettes. The C2 was 98”. The C1 was essentially built on a modified the 52/53’ Chevy sedan chassis which accounts for its long wheelbase.

          I am quite familiar with the C4 suspension, I use the the C4 front suspension components for one off builds like the Sevenesque type cars, and have recently designed and built a new front sub-frame for Gen-3 ‘F’ bodies utilizing the C4 front suspension componentry, except for the transverse spring, utilizing coil overs for suspension, instead.

          Will probably finish developing a similar set-up for the C4 rear suspension and differential for the ‘F’ body. We have installed C4 rear set-ups in Gen-3 ‘F’ bodies, but haven’t as yet developed a dedicated off the shelf cradle.

          I will also be using those C4 front suspension components and complete C5 rear suspension components, cradle, and driveline/transaxle for a proposed Panoz LMP-1 replica chassis which is on the boards now. The body is currently getting full scale 3-D computer modeling from a scanned 1/32nd model. The body will be replicated in Carbon fiber and aluminum. The chassis fabricated out of square section aluminum tube with torsion panels and boxes.

          Corvette Wheelbases through the generations.

          C1 _ 102″
          C2 _ 98″
          C3 _ 98″
          C4 _ 96.2″
          C5 _ 104.5″
          C6 _ 105.7
          C7 _ 106.7″

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I was just pointing out as you mentioned 96 was something of an ideal but talked a lot about the long wheelbase Vettes!

            Very interesting how much longer the C5 got than the C4 not something I ever thought about much.

            I’m sure you know this using C4 suspension components but it seems to be a good design. Your typical sport compact or hot sedan has to make due with whatever struts and stamped arms are cheap. The C4 is a true sports car chassis being built with aluminum A-arms all around where anyone might start to build a proper sports car.

          • 0 avatar

            @ Power6> “I’m sure you know this using C4 suspension components but it seems to be a good design. ”

            Yes, the C4 is a significant design, chassis and suspension wise, even by today’s high standards. I use it because of that design and those readily available and inexpensive new and used OEM and after market suspension parts.

            The lateral and longitudinal roll centers of the C4 coupled by the wheelbase and track, and front and rear IRS, and the ability to effectively use wider wheels with a suspension design that allows positive offsets and large cross section tires(with added adjustments), make for an excellent basis for a sports/track chassis that has very high capabilities, especially when overall weight and CG’s are significantly reduced in a sports racer chassis/build.

            A 1,700 pd. Sevenesque style vehicle based on a the C4 suspension design and layout, components, and IRS coupled with an LS-376 engine, is a vehicle that will make short work of or hang with any high performance road vehicle produced today or yesterday.

            Its performance limitations are only limited by its aerodynamics. Like an F1 or Indy car, it goes through the air like a dirty brick. Cover that chassis and suspension and drivetrain with an LMP type body, and very high speed performance limits are available despite aero and ground force aids. Those aids, while negatively impacting Cd, will also elevate corner speeds to a point where the induced g-loads are physically hard on a normal human body. Even with out those aids a Sevenesque style car is just a big powerful go-cart. You better have a darn good race seat, be well strapped in and be in good physical shape if you need to sustain those loads for a track day or race.

          • 0 avatar

            Reg; “The C4 is a true sports car chassis being built with aluminum A-arms all around where anyone might start to build a proper sports car.”

            Never has a car so capable, with so much potential, been so generally dismissed. For those who have a clue and the inclination to build an extremely capable high performance track or road warrior for very little money, considering, a C4 build would be a rewarding effort. So would restoring one with a few upgrades.

            There are plenty of after market parts that address the aged parts issues and elevated performance needs. OEM parts are very inexpensive.

            Just want a refresh ro bring back that original ride and handling while improving handling. Replace all of the rubber bushings with polyurethane parts. If NVH is and issue for you, then just use stock replacement parts.

            Replace ball joints and wheel bearings.

            Upgrade the 84′-87′ brakes to at least the 88′ OEM brake upgrade with the two piston calipers. Cheap and effective.

            Rear ‘Toe’ control. The original rubber mounted rear toe-control rods are probably wore out, replace with stock or upgrade to aftermarket adjustable parts. Makes a world of difference in and old C4.

            Now if you want to build that ultimate machine or a track day/autocross or racer, there is much more that can be done.

            2,4, and 6-Piston calipers_ Baer Racing two piece EradiSpeed rotors
   And Brembo has C4 brake upgrades.

            Z51 springs, or Coil-over replacements.

            24MM rear Sway Bar with adjustable ‘Heim’ joint linkage connections.

            Wheels & Tires_ Go 18″X 9″-10″ in the front and 18X 11″-12″ in the rear. Tire sizes up to 295mm in front and 315mm in the rear.

            Engine transplant that is still legal emission wise, is as close as you nearest wrecking yard or online source. Any LT or LS from a later Corvette or ‘F’ body, or a new GM crate engine. My recommendation would be the LS376, though, there are others with less or more Hp available as crate engines, though, they may not meet emissions. If buying used, make sure you get the ECM and harness and headers with O2 sensor.

            Grab a new transmission compatible with the crate engine.

            An LS376/530Hp, installation pkg, and 6-speed transmission should run less then $10,000 and is essentially a bolt-in weekend install. Used engines/transmissions/harness-ECM, and parts are quite cheap figure$1,500 _ $3,500.

            Grab a nice C4 get busy and have some fun.

          • 0 avatar

            Some C3 jewelry for a performance upgrade.


  • avatar

    An ugly secret I discovered twenty years ago after spending a summer with a brand new red Corvette convertible – they are fun in a straight line with the top on. That’s it. I wanted so badly to have the summer of my life. I was only 22 and you have no idea how hard I was imagining having every single summer day with that red hot baby. I lived in it and put thousands of miles on it. I was spending the summer in Maui. I don’t think I spent much time actually working and earning the right to even have that car, but my cougar boss loved me and it was sweet karma all the way.

    Or so I thought.

    The reality was that they squeak, they rattle, they had the build quality of an 1987 Hyundai Excel, they were completely impractical as a daily driver, they sucked in traffic, and you have to have fantastic tires on them in order to have any fun on winding roads. With the top down, the damn glove box would flop open from all the twisting and flexing. My big size 13 feet couldn’t fit between the seat and the door opening, so I had to twist my way into the car getting in or out of it.

    There are so many drawbacks to having an old Corvette, I wouldn’t want one if it was free. The insurance costs, the fuel costs, and the utter disappointment of how far short the car falls from expectations is a real killer.

    I think the new Corvettes are so fantastic looking. I hear they are simply outstanding in every way. I would so love to get my hands on a new Corvette and spend a summer with it, as I had all those years ago.

    But not an old Corvette. They absolutely suck.

    When I turned 23, she got me a red Mazda RX-7 convertible. THAT was heaven!

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    You haven’t seen the prices down here ;)

  • avatar

    Sonofagun ~

    I didn’t really imagine Steve would use my question ! .

    I like ‘ tossable ‘ Sports Cars so I don’t think I’ll ever buy a ‘Vette (maybe should have bought that $1,000 ’59 Coupe when I was in High School but it burned -so- much oil) .

    Agreed , the few I drove were heavy and ponderous , most of my little Foreign jobs will easily outrun an old ‘Vette in the Angeles Crest Highway but , I am a Bowtie Guy even of I only have a Chevy Shop Truck and all my others are Foreign .

    Still and all , the Corvette is the quintessential American Sports Car to me so I was flummoxed as to how that can possibly be so dang CHEAP ~ here in So. Cal. old ‘Vettes are $3,000 +/- in decent condition everywhere .

    They’re Chevies so I know the engines & trannies are sturdy and easy/cheap to maintain etc.

    Plus , they just look cool to my admittedly old eyes .

    I appreciate the comments , now I know .

    Back to my newest oldie , 1961 Morris Minor Sedan , no Sports Car but *very* fun to drive with it’s up dated 1275 C.C. engine and better 3.90 ratio final drive .


    • 0 avatar

      I knew that was your question, I could tell by the format!

    • 0 avatar

      Like you Nate, I like the old ones. Mine predated common use of the C-1-2-3-4 designator I think. It was a 75 ragtop with a 350 stick. Loved it until my son (who is now 35) couldn’t be stuffed (belted in carseat) behind the seats. Thought about keeping the car and trading him in but glad I didn’t. Grandkids are neat and wouldn’t have them without him

    • 0 avatar

      I’m totally biased here but I think you underestimate the C4. Now my experience is with the 1990 Z51 which was the most extreme suspended version made to win races (Chevy progressively softened the car to marshmallow Cadillac level in all versions by 96)

      Big 275 tires all around, Bilsteins topping forged aluminum double a-arms all around, decent size PBR brakes, quick steering, low center of gravity, weight on these cars is not bad 3300# or so. Not just any runabout is going to show up an old C4. These things still show well at the auto-x.

      I guess it shows you have to tick the options boxes right, a late C4 slushbox is going to be a ponderous luxury coupe compared to a showroom stock ready Z51. The former sold many more units than the latter.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned two C4s, an 84 and a 92. I prefer the earlier looks but the 92 (LT1) is a far better car. The newer interior is better made and rattles less (still a fair bit though). The 300 horse LT1 still gives it decent performance. The 84 was just not a fast car by today’s standards.
    If you’re shopping for one, I recommend getting a 94 or later with the newer, better (aluminium housing) ECMs, improved optispark and electronic transmission. If you’re going to build up the engine a Crossfire or TPI base is probably the best choice.

    Enjoyed the C4s for a while but despite spending several hundred dollars on weatherstripping, I could never get either one to stop leaking when it rained, and it was cramped and a pain to get in and out of. It ended up sitting in the garage for weeks at a time.

    Traded it for an LS1 Camaro (with cash thrown in from the dealer side). It’s faster, roomier, easier to get out of and watertight. Doesn’t handle as well but I was never one for high speed cornering anyway. Most importantly, I actually drive the thing regularly so I enjoy it a lot more.

    People that think they want a sports car, really want a pony car. I learned that the hard way.

    • 0 avatar

      You people are ruining my fantasy of a luxury automatic 90s Corvette with your rattling mentions. Is there no way to stop all the rattles and make it quiet?

      • 0 avatar

        Butyl/foam tape and patience.

        • 0 avatar

          By contrast, does a similar SL rattle? Surely a similar Mark VI would rattle.

          • 0 avatar

            Mark VI? No rattle. Broken down and on fire, but no rattle.

          • 0 avatar

            I assume they were similarly priced, the Lincoln and Vette, with the SL being exponentially higher.

          • 0 avatar

            Ah, pricing when new. From this perspective I would imagine C4 was the most expensive rattletrap money could buy at the time.

          • 0 avatar

            My father had an ’83 SL, it did not rattle. It did not go fast, either.

          • 0 avatar

            @ Rattles :

            IMO , any true Sports Car is going to rattle because you’re going to be running it hard and flexing the beegeebers out of the body tub .

            FWIW , I had a European Spec. 1975 Mercedes 350SLC ~ that’s the Coupe version , it had a four speed manual gearbox and was a heavy sonofab*tch but it certainly did giddyap and -GO- if you wanted to push it ~ I used to rally it on those Central Ca. Farm to Market back roads , mucho fun and I outran the Porches and Jags but as I said it was _heavy_ and once or thrice it got loose on me and I thought it was end time , looming precipice and no guardrail.

            It never rattled , not once and I was amazed because it was a thrasher and shot through with rust holes as only a Grey Market junker from Europe can be .

            Squeaks , the tape and butyl works O.K. , I prefer to lubricate the plastic bits instead as they’re going to be moving no matter what you do so make ’em move silently .


      • 0 avatar

        Some of the Corvette specialists sell a bag with every single interior screw in it, helps to have all of them in place and tight.
        The 92 was tolerable most of the time, not significantly worse than other (but cheaper) GM products of the 90s that I’ve owned (B-,A- and W-bodies).

        The rain water leaks was the most annoying issue I had since I never wanted to drive it if there was any chance of rain that day (which is often in western Europe). Also the wipers are useless and lift off at 65 MPH.

  • avatar

    Be careful making blanket statements about C4 Vettes. The later model were substantially refined and updated, and they can be both reliable and an absolute blast to drive on road or track.

    I’ll never part with my childhood dream car, the only DOHC Vette ever, the mighty 90 ZR-1.

  • avatar

    I’ve got to agree with Vanilla Dude. The best place for a C4 is in an old clapboard barn, covered by a threadbare tarp. It makes a wonderful home for field mice and other assorted woodland creatures.

    The C4 moaned and creaked under normal driving and to me wasn’t really a nice place to be. I feel the same way about the earlier C5s. The C6, especially the wide bodies, is where I’d go if I didn’t want to outlay the cash for the C7. I’d expect the Z06 to start coming down once the new one goes into production.

    –> Steve said: “They are usually not daily drivers. Most of these vehicles spend their time inside a garage and are used during weekends or whenever the owner gets that longing to enjoy their ride.”

    True. I grew up in the northern suburbs of NYC. Live in Florida now. If you want a good deal on a jet ski, motorcycle, certain sports cars, get thee to the snow belt. Here in the land of the sun, we can use them year round. Other parts of the country not so much and there’s always people looking to sell because the vehicle isn’t driven that much.

  • avatar

    My first experience with a Corvette was a C3…

    In the original Need for Speed game on PC. It was green, and you could get an interior shot and see all the buttons and the wheel. The Corvette was the only car in the game (IIRC) available with an automatic.

  • avatar

    I took in a 1986 Vette convertible on trade for a used Subaru. Long story but it came with multiple books of “documentation” from the customer because it was a pace car edition. I think they thought it was the one that was actually the pace car for the race (it wasn’t). I believe it turned out to be that all 1986 convertibles came with a pace car sticker kit that any dealer could apply. I think when we researched it we found it is the least valuable Vette pace car edition ever or something like that which would make sense. Someone on here probably knows what I am talking about.

    Anyway-I took it for a couple days as a demo and was very unimpressed. It was just awful-and this was a car that the owner had kept in absolutely immaculate condition. After years of wanting to drive a Corvette I was so let down. I grew up in the 80’s so I had posters of this car in my room, matchbox cars, and Face from the A-Team drove one and I had that toy as well.

    So for me-I’d have to go older or newer if I was to ever consider (have the money) for one. No C4 for me.

  • avatar

    the market is usually right about things, 1984 particularly is a bad year which others already stated had an overly complicated fuel injection system. Not to mention its trashy. I absolutely LOVE the lines, and the rear end, but would I own one? Hell. No.

  • avatar

    Previous 85 owner here. Great car, reliable, tons of fun and cheap.
    They were a little rattly but who cares, they drove great and I felt on top of the world when I was out and about in it. I was in my early 30s and had always wanted one. No mid life crisis thing. I enjoyed it for five or so years and sold it on. I would buy another in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    I don’t know guys, a C3 with a decent stereo and t-tops would be just the thing for cruising around California, cranking some 70s rock music and just getting lost on the vibe of things.

    Cocaine is optional for your “endless summer” daydream cruise.

  • avatar

    Here I am, rock you like a hurricane!

  • avatar

    I grew up working on cars with my father, he got a bonding project when I was in middle school, an 82 corvette. My brother’s first car was a POS 72 stingray. My first car was a POS 85 C4. After a woman ran a red light and totalled it, my second was an 87 in better shape which I still own today. I have made many trips to the corvettes at carlisle show. My father now also owns a C5, and my college roomate a C6. No mechanic has ever touched our cars, so I have been around the block on these as much as anyone. Qualifications aside…..

    There are plenty of unique things to C4s that would drive values down. C4 corvettes have the longest running bodystyle of corvette, with the most units produced, centered on some of the worst years of car production in terms of power, but…..

    There are other things that are just out of context. People notice rattly bodies and think it unique; every corvette has been this way, find an oldster who had a vette and didnt get the fever and they will rant and rave about the rattles and squeaks of a C2 as loud as any C4 critic. The people like that are just mostly dead and gone, and now all the older vettes immune to criticism due to both good care and sheer lack of general experience availability.

    But there is something more relevant in the vette world related to C4 values, it’s what we call the slump. When a model year is about 20 years old in the vette world, it tends to hit rock bottom. Every model has done it, the older ones were just so long ago, everyone but those who bought one for cheap has forgotten. The reason for the slump are obviously complex, but here are a few ones that I have always suspected as prime causes:

    1) Young people generally cannot afford a new corvette. The average first owners are in their 50s. Add 20 years to that, and you are looking at the age where a corvette is no longer feasible if for no other reason than inability to get in and out of it. This is multitudes worse extreme in a C4 admittedly.

    2) 25 years is about the time when deterioration due to age itself starts to claim parts even in garage babies.

    3)The only people who are willing to buy and work on cars by this point in their lifecycle don’t have a lot of money to spend (me in highschool).

    So the 20 year slump is an echo surplus of cars, combined with peak deterioration, with low demand by people with shallow pockets. Give it another 20 years, and the people like me who bought them because they were cheap in highschool will be scooping them up for way too much money to get back some of the nostalgia.

  • avatar

    I worked at Delco Electronics 1984-6 where we made the digital instrument cluster for the C4. They were so sensitive to ESD (static discharge) that a fair amount of them were DOA at Bowling Green in every shipment (they probably addressed this, eventually, in typical GM timeliness).

    I also got to tour the Bowling Green plant in the summer of 1985 when the C4 had just started production. For that era, it was a revolutionary car in comparison to the previous generation, not only in the car’s design but in how it was assembled.

    If I were to buy a C4, I would heed the advice of the poster above who said to get the later version with all of the upgrades and fixes baked in.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting. The only dead ones I have seen have been from sunburn.

      That aside, I will disregard your advice due to absolute and probably unique love for the digital cluster. It is my very favorite thing in the car world. I say this as a millennial who has had a C4 since I was driving (and has replaced 2 clusters due to “sunburn”)

  • avatar

    Whenever I think back on old Corvettes my mind (for some dark, crazy reason) immediately turns to the most infamous… no, not in a good way infamous. I’m speaking of the infamous 1980 C3 California CARB Edition.

    For a brief “shinning” moment in Corvette history here was a model so exclusive, so loathed and despised it’s rarely mentioned by the faithful. If it is, it’s always given to the same reverence as “Jon Snow” in Game of Thrones.

    We’re talking scum sucking, bottom of the barrel stuff here, the Richard Nixon, O.J. Simpson spawn edition of morally reprehensible, unforgivable misgivings… an anathema to all that is Corvette Holy.

    The car voted by Time magazine as one of the “The 50 Worst Cars of All Time.”
    “…where stricter state regs required that the barely adequate 350 cu.-in. smallblock in the 1980 Corvette be replaced with a wholly inadequate 305 V8, putting out 180 hp of pure shame. On top of that, the “California” Corvette sucked its pitiful rivulet of horsepower through the straw of a torque-sapping three-speed automatic transmission.”

    Some cars are so misbegotten, so miserable, so objectionable they seem to transcend logic and rational thinking and go on to become objects of desire just through sheer uniqueness and depravity despite their massively glaring shortcomings… is this car one of those?

    • 0 avatar

      Honestly I think the 305 Corvette gets a bit of a bad rap. 1980 was an even worse year for performance than 1974-75. The 305 was only giving up 10 horsepower to the base 350 and it was still faster than most of the rest of its competitive set.

      We should just be thankful that a Buick 4.1L powered Corvette wasn’t on offer that year.

      • 0 avatar

        @ajla, or a diesel 350 Corvette.

        • 0 avatar

          Nope, the 4.1 would have been worse.

          If I were buying a Cadillac in the early 80s and had the choice between a 4.1 credit option and a 350 diesel, the diesel would be my choice because hey, you could turn it into a gas engine again and it would be better than the 4.1 V6.

  • avatar

    A buddy had an 84′ in High School, with the TPI and manual trans. He let me drive it a few times and I had a lot of fun. It was the first “fast” car I ever drove, even though it wasn’t really that fast. However, compared to the Subaru GL I was driving it was an absolute rocket. I do recall the handling to be excellent, and yes it did rattle like crazy. I also remember I could not get the thing to do a burnout on a dry road.

  • avatar

    Why are used Corvettes so cheap?
    Drive a typical used C4 – and you will quickly find out!

  • avatar

    You guys are focusing on C4s. C5s, especially Z06s, have been holding value pretty well. This will get better and better as the cars have been getting better and better. Also, lots of Corvettes are built–many more each year, for example, than a Honda S2000. Supply and demand do play into this.

    As to the guy who said the Corvette wasn’t much fun unless being flogged, he is probably right, at least on C5s. C5Zs, in particular, beg to be driven on the racetrack, really–their perf envelope is just too large for the street and they aren’t much fun to put around in.

  • avatar

    I have a soft spot for Corvettes, but if you want to make a woman run in the other direction, drive an 80’s-90’s vette. They really have a cheeseball image, and the stereotypes are usually spot on. My wife would be horrified if I brought one home.

    Combine that with a car that’s going to have all sorts of gremlins and for about 2 decades had anemic performance, you can understand why they’re giving them away these days.

  • avatar

    Here’s a C4 with more miles than 20 ferraris.

  • avatar

    Now that I’m a dealer and can find cars cheap and insure them under the dealership I’d love a convertible for the summer. The problem being of course that I couldn’t sell it come winter.

    I got to drive a C4 Vette in 1988 when I was 17. Compared to the 74 Valiant slant-6 I was driving it was a screamer.

    I would love to have one now to play with, but after 10 years of driving a ’71 Alfa Spider I know it’s more fun to drive slow cars fast, than fast cars slow. And other than taking a Vette to PIR for the day it would mostly be for cruising around town.

    I wouldn’t pick up an ’84 due to first year issues and the too stiff suspension. Maybe a 91 or newer with the LT engines.

    Still, I’m tempted.

  • avatar

    Wow ~

    You guys are _GREAT_ ! .

    All these terrific in depth answers and stories , I love it .

    As I said , I doubt I’ll be buying one but I wanted to know _why_ , now I think I do .

    Onwards ! .


  • avatar

    I know about this topic, but first a few caveats: As far as I’m concerned, the only relevant C4s are 92-96. Those have the LT1 with proper fuel injection. They were high performance for the time and are still usable. They are a clean design without black rubber down the sides. Please forget sharks, the 80s, the ZR-1, and perhaps even Corvette stereotypes. That said, a 92-96 six speed offers 300 “real” horsepower, actual sound and feel, and surprisingly good fuel economy. Entry and exit are a strain if one has any challenges with knees, weight, or strength. Electronics are a PITA. For me, that started and ended with the flaky Bose speaker amplifiers and sticking antenna. The adjustable suspension and seats are next, followed by instrument panel, Optispark ignition and who knows what else. The weatherstripping needs to be replaced. (Who the heck ever has to think about weatherstripping?) Corvette events are like bringing a propeller plane to a jetport, with C5s, C6s and now C7s screaming around. I still think C4s look good though and do see them around NorCal as daily drivers. One could do worse.

  • avatar

    We love our 1985, but early C4s are a _commitment_. They ride hard (especially with the Z51), require lots of care, and large parts of the aftermarket aren’t convinced that anyone would ever want to maintain or restore one. The contrast between our 1985 coupe and our 2003 convertible is _immense_, despite the fact that the base specs (350 ci/A4) are the same.

    The lack of manuals bought new in the early C4s is because the Doug Nash was a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. The 6-speed in the 1989 and above cars solved that problem.

    On the positive side, there’s a huge amount of knowledge out there about these cars.

    All of that said, I have had many moments of joy in my 1985. Last month we drove the car back and forth across the US, taking the Lincoln Highway on the way out. 6,281 miles with only a few problems.

  • avatar

    A quick check of CL shows a few ’98 Vettes in the $10g range.
    I’d rather have a ’98-up Vette over a C4 all day long, and honestly, I’d prefer a nice clean ’98-up ls1 Firebird, make mine a Formula, not a TA (most people don’t know the difference anyway- flip up lights? is that a vette? lol). With the C4 not really close to classic status yet, and, better platforms for the enthusiast available at a reasonable price point, the low value of C4 Vettes is completely understandable.

  • avatar
    Graybeard ZR-1

    For those of you interested in performance cars, I highly recommend the C4 ZR-1 which is the fastest American production car of the twentieth century. Is that enough of a pedigree for you gearheads?
    It still holds more FIA world records for speed and durability than any car ever made.

    I’ve owned one for the last twenty years and enjoy it all the time. Top end 180+mph, Quarter mi.= 12.06, (stock engine plus some bolt-on parts.)

    Old ZR-1’s are at their low ebb on price. You can now find a good one for $15-20K. Don’t believe the BS on limited parts availability.
    It also has one of the best online groups, the ZR-1 Registry for advice on maintenance and mods.

    What’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar

      I can concur on your comments regarding the C4’s and the ZR-1.

      And again, mechanical parts for C4’s are readily available and quite inexpensive for the most part.

      Its the little switches and relays that can sting your wallet, but no more then any other cars similar parts.

      You can buy a set of Continental Extreme Contacts(18″) for around $700.00 and a set Hankook Ventus(18″) for around $500.00

      There are many suppliers besides GM and NAPA for C4 parts

      West coast Corvette

      Corvette Central dot com|utmccn=%28not%20set%29|utmcmd=%28not%20set%29|utmctr=%28not%20provided%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=82736918

      Ecklers Corvette dot com

  • avatar

    Seems as though, the comment software is not publishing all of the content. Parts of comments are clipped.

  • avatar

    Hello all,

    Mind if I throw my two cents in ?

    Like all red blooded american males , I grew up lusting after a Corvette. But I grew up a jock and after school I had practice. In my time you could buy a brand new 63 split window coupe for under $5000.00
    In 1968 it was up to about $5500.00

    These are the years I wanted from 1963 (junior high) to 1972 (college).

    After that in my life, who had time for play cars ? With finding a good job, buying a house ,supporting a wife and kids, kids college bills etc.

    But, now its me time, and I want to see what I missed out on !

    OMG a split window coupe needing work is $70,000.00 !

    So , ok a C2 or a C3 can be had cheaper.

    Just make some adjustments and think it out. I am not so interested it the horsepower chase anymore and a softer ride now is not a bad thing, infact a few things like AC or a power seat is welcomed .

    I popped for a very nice midwestern 1981 Covette that spent its winters in the gargage.

    Its a sweet ride to me….and thats all that counts

    Enjoy the sun but dont forget the sunscreen.

    Peace be the journey…..Cool Runnings.


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