The fourth generation Chevrolet Corvette was introduced at the close of 1982 production as a 1984 model and ended in 1996, meaning that there's no such thing as a "1983 Corvette". Although, while never offered to the public, a total of 43 - 1983 model Corvettes were built. There were so many quality problems with them it was decided to halt production until they could be corrected. By the time the problems were corrected, it was so late into the model year that the car was brought out as a 1984 model and was run for a year and a half. The only verifiable 1983 Corvette still known to exist (#0023) is on display in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The C4 Corvette is known for its sleek look. Instead of fiberglass, it was made from reaction injected molding plastics, a sheet molding compound. The C4 coupe also is the first Corvette to have a glass hatchback (except for the 1982 Collector's Edition) for better storage access. It also had all new brakes with aluminum calipers. The Corvette C4 came standard with an electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for speed and RPM. The C4 was a complete redesign of the previous generation, and the emphasis was on handling. The C4 Corvette was proclaimed the best handling car ever when it was released. This handling came with the benefit of a solid, uncompromising ride. The unit-body frame used in the C4 was prone to rattles and squeaks due to minimal sound deadening. Also due to the external unit-body frame, the door sills were quite deep and entry and exit have been likened to a "fall in and climb out" experience. The emergency brake was relocated in 1988 for easier entry and exit.
From 1984 through 1988, the Corvette was available with a Doug Nash "4+3" transmission - a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. This unusual transmission was a synergy that allowed corvette to keep a stout 4 speed, but add an overdrive. As technology progressed, it was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual. However, the C4 performance was hampered by its L98 250 hp engine until 1992, when the second-generation LT1 was installed, markedly improving the C4s performance. 1996 was a high point of small block Chevrolet development and the 330 hp LT4 was installed in all manual transmission cars.
- The 1984 Corvette had the steepest windshield rake angle of any previous American production automobile at 64 degrees.
- A single transverse plastic front and rear spring first made it's appearance on the 1984 Corvette.
- The L98 engine made its debut in 1985 offering a horsepower increase from 205 to 230 plus a gain in fuel
economy due in part to new Bosch fuel injection with tuned runners.
- With the CB craze dwindling, the last year a CB radio was offered as a Corvette option was 1985. Only 16 Corvettes were so equipped.
- All 1986 convertibles were Indianapolis Pace Car replicas and came with a pace car decal package (to be installed at the buyer's option), but none had special paint or options. The actual Indy Pace Car used at the 1986 race was yellow in color.
- Twenty 1986 Corvettes were sent to Lotus in England to be converted into LT5 powered prototypes for the ZR1 project.
- In 1986, Corvette offered the "Malcolm Konner Commemorative Edition" with two transmissions. A manual 4-speed and an automatic. Only 20 4-speed manual transmissions were installed at the factory.
- In 1987 you could buy a Corvette without an engine installed by the factory.
- RPO B2K made it's first appearance on the option list in 1987, affording the opportunity for 184 lucky buyers to place orders for a Callaway Twin-Turbo Corvette through participating Chevrolet dealers at $19,995 each (plus $20,007 for the Coupe base price).
- A total of 16 exterior colors were available for both 1982 and 1987 Corvettes, the highest number of exterior color choices offered in Corvette history.
- To mark its 35th anniversary, a 1988 special anniversary edition was available with white paint, wheels, leather interior and special emblems. All 2,050 35th Anniversary Editions were built as coupes.
- A total of 56 street-legal but race prepared 1988 Corvettes were built for the SCCA Corvette Challenge Series.
- In 1988, Corvette started using a unidirectional 17" wheel.
- Approximately 80 ZR-1 cars were built in 1989, but none were sold to the public. The last of these ZR1s were shipped out of the factory on Dec. 22, 1988
- The FX3 adjustable suspension option, permitting shock valving changes via a rotary dial mounted on the interior console between the seats, was first introduced in 1989.
- The long awaited, high performance ZR-1 option package was finally publicly available in 1990. It included special rear body panels and an all aluminum small block designated the LT5, producing 375 hp.
- All LT-5 engines for the production ZR-1 option were built by Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
- The last year for the Callaway twin turbo option was 1991, selling 62 units at $33,000 each. In comparison, the ZR-1 option was a bargain at "only" $31,683.
- 1991 was the 10th anniversary of Corvette production at the Bowling Green, KY plant.
- July 2nd, 1992 marks the day when the one millionth Corvette, a white convertible, rolled off the assembly line.
- 1992 saw the rebirth of the legendary LT1 small block engine as a 300 hp motor with reverse flow cooling and two valves per cylinder.
- A special 40th anniversary model was released for 1993 with one year only Ruby Red exterior and interior colors.
- The ZR-1 horsepower rating rose to 405 hp for 1993, but the option cost was held to 1992's $31,683.
- The end of the 4th generation Corvette was marked with two special editions... a "Collector Edition" in Sebring Silver trim and a "Grand Sport" in Admiral Blue with Actic White racing stripe. A total of 1,000 Grand Sports were built and of these, only 190 were convertibles. Collector Editions comprised 25% of total production with 5,412 units built.
- For 1996, LT1 engines required automatic transmissions. The ZF 6-speed was mandatory with the 330 HP LT4 engine option.
- The 1996 LT4 exhaust system differs from the LT1 system in that it incorporates a balance tube designed to reduce vibration and noise levels.
- In early production 1996 Grand Sports models, there is a small area behind the hatch roof and in front of the panel that attaches to the rear window that is taped, not painted. The tape is 1 inch long and about 18 inches wide whose purpose was to eliminate a problem area in the paint booth during manufacturing.
- Besides the 1990-1995 ZR-1, the 1996 Grand Sport was the only Corvette ever built with a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) sequence, separate from all other regular production Corvettes of that year.
- The 1996 Grand Sport is readily identified by it's striking Admiral Blue and Arctic White stripe paint scheme. What many do not know, however, is that the pinstriping on either side of the large white center stripe, is actually a two-color decal, both blue and white. This was done to ensure a perfectly straight line.
- Only 53 1996 Grand Sport Convertibles were built with the Red/Black interior option.
||C4 hatchback body is popular; digital instrumentation is controversial; L83 engine continued from 1982
||New L98 engine is much more powerful and is standard through 1992
||First convertible since 1975; CHMSL, antilock brakes, and key-code anti-theft system are new
||Callaway twin-turbo offered through dealers for 345 hp
||New wheel design; 35th Anniversary model
||6-speed manual replaces old 4+3; air bags are standard
||ZR-1 is introduced with a DOHC LT5 engine
||New second-generation LT1 engine replaces the L98; ASR is standard
||LT5 power is bumped up to 405 hp; passive keyless entry is standard; 40th Anniversary Edition
||New instrument panel with passenger airbag
||Last year of the ZR-1
||LT4 engine is optional; Collectors Edition and Grand Sport
|5.7L L83 V8
|5.7L L98 V8
|5.7L LT5 V8
|5.7L LT1 V8
|5.7L LT4 V8