Gone in 1983?
The 4th Corvette generation actually began in 1983, but only 43 preproduction units were made and only one survived until today. It is interesting that 1984 Corvette was started to sell in 1983 and the design was dramatically different. The new car was based on 96,2 inch wheelbase, had improved aluminum suspension, had bigger interior that was equipped with fully digital panel. T-top was changed into single fiberglass unit. Even though design changes seemed to be major, it was actually continuation of C3 styling: hiding headlights became square and were mounted on single-piece front, long nose, 4 tail light units.
Mechanical part was also improved and was a lot better than C3 Vettes. New suspension, first used rack-and-pinion steering, oversized brakes, stiffer body structure, tires on 16-inch wheels, etc. However, the engine remained the same 350 cubic small block V8 with Cross-Fire fuel injection and, of course, 205 HP [5,7 liter]. 4-speed automatic transmission was soon enriched with “4+3” Doug Nash manual transmission. the 1984 was quite a stiff ride, especially when equipped with “Z51” performance package. All in all, the public gave quite a warm over 53.000 purchases welcome.
Getting some HP back
1985 model got new Tuned Port Injection system that tuned the engine by 25 HP [up to 230 HP]. The suspension was also remade and gave a better performance than 1984 Corvette. Convertible body returned in 1986 with over 7000 units sold. The next year this amazing muscle car got power injection again – valve train was fitted by hydraulic roller lifters and gave extra 10 HP. “Z52” comfort-killing suspension package was offered as an option.
New aluminum cylinder heads made the engine more powerful in 1988 – it had 245 horse power and better torque. Luckily, the awful 4+3 transmission was called-off and Corvette met its 35th white-on-white anniversary smoothly. The ZF 6-speed manual transmission, FX3 ride control system and new optional fiberglass hardtop for convertibles were introduced in 1989.
King of the Hill – the ZR1
Horse power enthusiasts could make their wallet lighter with the 1990 ZR-1 coupe: Lotus-designed, Mercury Marine-built all aluminum 5,7 liter DOHC V8 with 32 valves made outstanding 375 HP and was available only with ZF 6-speed manual transmission. It was nearly twice as pricy as regular Corvette. The ZR-1 that was also called “King of the Hill” had very interesting power reducing feature – the “Valet” mode – it could be limited down to 250 HP. All 1990-made Corvettes got new interior and dashboard.
Million Vettes on roads
After some restyling in 1991, Corvette got new small block V8 “LT1” engine with 300 HP and traction control that could be turned off. On 02-07-1992 the millionth Corvette was built in a white 1992 convertible – none of sports car has ever came close to this figure. During the 1994-1995 an airbag was added to passenger, LT1 got sequential fuel injection that made better drive, paced the Indy 500 for the third time, got new side gills, improved brakes and springs, got a fan that made engine more quite and made 1995 the last year for the ZR-1 production. The 4th generation ended up in 1996 with two unique editions: Collector’s Edition [silver paint, five-spoke wheels and special emblems mostly] and “Grand Sport” with small block “LT4” engine [330 HP].
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