CORVETTE The Fourth Generation

The fourth-generation Corvette was introduced in March 1983. Due to production issues, the 1983 model year was skipped, but 44 prototypes were built. Except for the 23rd prototype, which is on exhibit at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, all 44 1983 prototypes were crushed. The C4 manufacturing ran from 1984 until 1996. 

The C4’s initial year model used the L83 engine from the previous generation. The L83 engine had a dual-throttle-body injection system called “Crossfire”. The C4 was hailed for its elegant design and innovative aerodynamics. coupe featured a rear glass hatch for better cargo access, new brakes with aluminum calipers, an aluminum frame and suspension for weight savings and rigidity, and the first one-piece targa top with no center reinforcement. The C4 comes equipped with an electronic dashboard with a digital speedometer and tachometer. The 1984 C4 was completely redesigned, except for the engine, and included a front transverse composite leaf spring. This handling focus comes at the cost of a rough ride. 

The third brake light was mandated by federal law beginning in 1986. From 1984 to 1988, the Corvette had a 4-speed manual with automatic overdrive on the top three gears. In order to meet US fuel economy criteria, it was designed. The transmission proved problematic and was replaced in 1989 by a ZF 6-speed manual gearbox. For the first time, a solenoid was utilized to lockout 2nd gear in particular driving conditions. This allowed Corvette to dodge the “gas guzzler” tax. The L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection replaced the throttle body fuel-injected engine in most Corvettes starting in 1985. 

In 1986, a convertible Indy Pace Car was introduced. The pace car was offered in numerous colors but not as a coupe. It was also the first Indy Pace vehicle that wasn’t modified. It was released in 1988. Each car has an ID number on a distinctive emblem adjacent to the gear selector. These Corvettes were easily recognizable by their white wheels, T-tops, and external ornamentation. White seats, carpets, gearshift, and steering wheel. 

The LT1 engine was launched in 1992, greatly improving the performance of the standard C4 vehicles. ASR used the Corvette’s brakes, spark retard, and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control system can be disabled. The Corvette turned 40 in 1993. The C4 was available in any body style and option level, with a commemorative Ruby Red color, emblems, and embroidered seatbacks. A Passive Keyless Entry System is also introduced in the 1993 Corvette. A few customized Corvettes and extras were available in 1996. The Grand Sport, Collector Edition, OBD II, and the LT-4 engine. All manual transmission Corvettes had the LT1 V-8. All 1996 Corvettes with automatics used the LT1. 

During the 1980s and 1990s, the C4’s handling and cornering abilities allowed it to dominate SCCA competitions. To name a few innovations, the C4 featured EFI, an aluminum frame suspension and engine with overhead quad-cams, and a 6-speed transmission. Corvette with a central gasoline filler, opposing windshield wipers, a cast-iron engine block, 4 round taillights, and distributor ignition. 

For the first time in Chevrolet’s history, a specialist manufacturer was trusted with a technically advanced high-performance RPO. After a brief coexistence in 1990-1991, the B2K option was superseded by the ZR1. Early B2Ks produced torque. Later B2Ks generated torque. 

In 1986, the Corvette team approached Lotus, then a GM subsidiary, about building a high-performance C4 Corvette. Lotus designed a new engine to replace the regular C4’s pushrod Chevrolet V-8. The result was the LT5, a 32-valve aluminum-block V-8 with the same bore centers as the L98. The engine’s air management system shuts down 8 of the 16 intake runners and fuel injectors at part-throttle but keeps the ZR-1’s 375 hp at full-throttle. Lotus also worked on the ZR-1’s standard “FX3” active suspension. 

A 1990 ZR-1 established a 24-hour speed endurance record at the Firestone test track in Fort Stockton, Texas, using an LT5 engine with catalytic converters removed. Including refueling and driver changes, the Tommy Morrison racing team averaged 175 MPH. 

1991 saw all Corvettes get new bodywork, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that distinguished the 1990 ZR-1 from the base model was now standard on L98 Corvettes, blending the ZR-1’s design with the base cars. The CHMSL was integrated into the new rear fascia utilized on the base model but remained at the top of the rear hatch on the ZR-1. 

In 1992, ZR-1 emblems were added to both front fenders, and traction control became standard. Lotus modified the LT5’s cylinder heads and valvetrain in 1993, increasing horsepower from 375 to 405. A new exhaust gas recirculation system also helped minimize pollution. The ZR-1 was produced for 6,939 automobiles until 1995. 

Chevrolet introduced the Grand Sport version of the C4 Corvette in 1996. The name “Grand Sport” referred to the 1963 Grand Sport vehicle. 1000 Grand Sports were made. The 810 coupes and 190 convertibles have a unique VIN sequence that set them apart from the other 1996 C4 variants. The 1996 Grand Sport had an LT1 engine with torque. The LT4 engine’s throttle body had a Grand Sport nameplate on it. In addition to the black five-spoke wheels, the Grand Sport had two red hash markings on the hood above the left front wheel. The interiors were only black and crimson. No hardtop option for Grand Sport convertibles. They also extended the rear wheel arch on the body because the Grand Sport had ZR-1 rear wheels. 

Chevrolet reintroduced a Collector Edition for the C4’s final year. Sebring Silver, a color reminiscent of the 1963 Sting Ray and eventually maintained for the C-5 color selection. It had the 5 spoke “A mold” wheels in matching silver, larger ZR-1 brakes, and a slew of standard equipment. The LT-4 used the same ZF 6-speed transmission as the rest of the 1996 Corvettes. Automatics retained the LT-1. The CE convertible came in three colors: red, silver, and black. “Collector Edition” flags were embroidered on the seatbacks and placed on all four sides of the car.