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B Jake Moran

Making the Case for the C4 Corvette

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I drive a lot for work with plenty of time to think.  I heard about the new Corvette coming out.  I remember the hub bub over the C4 Corvette made from 1984 to 1996.  Years later it is the dog of the Corvette world.  Obviously the C3 Corvette was long in the tooth and the 1976 to 1982 versions are less admired than the 1968 to 1975s, but because of the shape and design, most still agree the 1976 to 1982 Corvettes are fun to own and collect.  The C4's - the shape is considered by many to be lacking, styling is bland and interiors fair.  Build quality during the 1980's was hammered hard and if I recall from working at a Chevy dealership in 2005, deserved. 


I typically buy in the "value" grades of collector cars. I own a Buick Reatta and a Cadillac Allante, for instance.  I am not considering a C4 Corvette, because my garage and lot are full, but why not?   For a period piece of automotive collectability, it seems like a good fit.  And I would hate to see more of them be run down and sent to the crusher.  No, I never see them at the U Pick It Yard, but their prices are not outrageous. 

 

It's still a sports car, and it has cool features like the front flipping hood, wheelsets which were attractive and distinctive, great handling but what about the looks?  Like it or hate it?

 

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640x480

 

Above is a 1991 convertible with the updated rectangular taillights, and this one has less than 50,000 original miles (if the ad can be believed, which is likely) and for sale for $10,500 asking in mid October. 

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You see so many red ones, white ones, and black, I like this one.  Basic body shape unchanged, getting long in the tooth as the C3 did.  Perhaps seeing it over and over again without much change led to ambivalence to it's shape.

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I wouldn't mind a '92 in Polo Green.

I miss the '78 Silver Anniversary I used to own.

Even with the L-82 it felt under powered but the 4 speed and the handling made it a fun car to drive.

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s-l1600.jpg

 

I found very few cars in my search for 1983-1984.  Most offered are from the later years.  Here is a 1983 (1984) with only 39,000 miles offered on ebay for $12,900 or Make Offer.  Question is, would it satisfy your collector car itch, or would you park it at a festival car show and watch as the crowd walked by yawning? 

 

These early wheel sets are considered boring, and Chevy improved the visual cue later on (see above), but personally I like these.  They are a bit bland but this was 1984, and they are evolutionary from what we saw in the 1978 to 1982 Corvettes, while accommodating much wider tires.   I never drove one of these on the street, but I understand they corner like they are on rails. 

 

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Above is an early car base interior on a nice offering.  GM borrowed from the Camaro and pedestrian cars for interior tidbits but this interior represented the space age optimism of the mid 1980's.   I like it, and this one has been well maintained.  You would probably be one of the very few to show up at a car show with a clothe interior Corvette!

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Showing that engine compartment on an early C4, all for $14,500 or best offer on a car with 24,500 original miles -->

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A Bright Aqua Metallic, with 49,000 original miles for $10,900 or offer, if red, black or white bores you -

 

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12 minutes ago, zepher said:

I wouldn't mind a '92 in Polo Green.

I miss the '78 Silver Anniversary I used to own.

Even with the L-82 it felt under powered but the 4 speed and the handling made it a fun car to drive.

 

00X0X_4OhHkon9INW_1200x900.jpg

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But have you priced those tires ? Not buying any more rag tops but a T-top with manual trans and AC wouldn't be bad. Last Corvette I had was in 1974.

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1 hour ago, zepher said:

I wouldn't mind a '92 in Polo Green.

I miss the '78 Silver Anniversary I used to own.

Even with the L-82 it felt under powered but the 4 speed and the handling made it a fun car to drive.

 

Voila! Available right now for $10,900. One owner 1993 6-speed car. Don't stutter.

 

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The ONLY C4 'vette I would seriously consider would be the ZR-1; the first-year1989 model, having the most preference.  It had the squared-off taillights to distinguish it from the 'regular' Corvette line that year.

 

In fact, is it the very first car on the market to come with a 'valet key'?

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)

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The plus is this model comes with your own, personal "mechanics chair".  It's easy to just have a seat and

work in the engine bay.

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2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Voila! Available right now for $10,900. One owner 1993 6-speed car. Don't stutter.

 

001.jpg049.jpg067.jpg072.jpg

 

3 hours ago, B Jake Moran said:

 

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Normally, I don't care for green cars but that Polo Green just looks so nice with that body style.

I have been in the market for a slightly older BMW as a daily driver toy but with the price Matt listed I may have to rethink my options.

 

 

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I noticed a few months ago in the local ads, you can buy one for the same price as a Camaro or Firebird of the same age, maybe less. It looks like a hell of a bargain to me. If you want one now is the time to buy one even if just for laughs.

For comparison I bought a 1974 Porsche 911 about 10 years ago for $2750 when they were considered the dog of Porsches. Now I could get $25000 with one phone call. I think the same parable applies to older Corvettes. A few years ago the 70s Vettes were dismissed as smogged up dogs. Look at them now. When you can buy a Corvette for the price of a used Toyota Corolla what have you got to lose?

 

Next time someone starts crabbing about how overpriced collector cars have gotten we should refer them to this thread. No you aren't going to buy a Duesenberg for $10000 and drive it home, it's not 1965 anymore but you can still buy a nice old Vette cheap.

 

As for whether the Corvette is a better buy than a used BMW my feeling is the Corvette would be less of a headache to keep in repair although maybe not by much. Would like to hear some expert opinions on this point.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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I know any BMW that is more than 6 years old is going to have constant issues but I also know that late 80's and early 90's Vettes weren't the most reliable cars out there, either.

It would be interesting to hear what people think about the C4's overall reliability.

The C3 I owned was very reliable, never had an issue.

But it was a very low mile, one owner car.

Car went to Australia with 34k miles on it.

 

Now I've got to widen my search for a DD / toy.

 

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Jake,

Having owned around 50 Corvettes over the years I can tell you, they all have their day. Then they become just old enough to be of little interest and the prices drop as newer models come out. This is right where the C4 is now. I have owned several C4's, one was brand new (86 Pace Car) the others were only a year or two old. I can tell you there is a mountain of technology in these cars and they are terrific drivers for the money. The only one to steer absolutely clear of is the 1984. It has the C3 generation Cross Fire Injection and they are plagued with trouble and poor performance and wretched electrical dashboards. The Tuned Port Injection offered from 1985 up, is eons better. The '84's are so bad, here in SoCal they sell for less than $2K in decent condition. Nobody wants an '84.

That being said, it wasn't all that many years ago the C3's were in the same boat. Just old enough to not be collectable and tons of them on the market. Now they have recovered and nice examples are bringing premium money. 

I agree with you, the C4's are a lot of car for the money, great looking, great performance. Get a nice one now, while they're cheap. Drive it, enjoy it and if you keep it long enough, the C4's will eventually rebound like the rest.

Best advice I can give is to buy a convertible if possible and you can find some VERY nice C4's way under $10K. If you pay over $10K in this C4 flooded market, you're simply paying too much.

Don't know where you're located but consider a car from Southern California. There are tons of them here and they are cheap.

Good luck with your search.

Greg

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)
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I've owned several C4's. Getting in and out of them is a pain, styling is very bland, but still fun to drive for very little money. I'd suggest buying 91 and newer for the better dash, bumper covers and wheel options. I like the last of the L89 engines in the 91 models over the LT-1, but not a deal breaker.

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Might mention that none of the GM "exotics" from 1984 to 1993 get any respect even though over 25 now.

Fiero, Reatta, Allante (last year of each was the best), even a turbo GP or a GTP with DOHC-6 both were available with a five speed Getrag & all are all under $10k

 

So is not just the C4.

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Problem with the C4 is it competes with the C5. The money/value of a quality C4, buys you a nice/equal C5. Just boils down to you want a C4.  

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I've always liked the C-4 Corvette, but not the "Wontfire" induction system that was fitted in the 1984 cars.

  • Haha 1

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I had to use a quarter to get a TBI on a Fiero to idle down.

  • Haha 1

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12 hours ago, padgett said:

Might mention that none of the GM "exotics" from 1984 to 1993 get any respect even though over 25 now.

Fiero, Reatta, Allante (last year of each was the best), even a turbo GP or a GTP with DOHC-6 both were available with a five speed Getrag & all are all under $10k

 

So is not just the C4.

As a former 4 time Allante' 3 Fiero's and 1 time Reatta as well as a minty 90 Toronado owner I wouldn't recommend any of them over a C4. But for the price difference as noted a C5 is a better, more enjoyable car for not a lot more.

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6 minutes ago, 39BuickEight said:

My next car will be a C4 ZR1 in anything but red, black, or white.  

 

I very much want one of the 25 Dark Purple '95s. Or the 13 Bright Aquas. Like you, I want something uncommon.

 

While 405 horsepower doesn't seem all that amazing in today's world of 800 horsepower Dodges, the LT5 is a special engine. I have a lot of miles logged in various ZR1s and there's just nothing else like it. And stroked to a 383... Woo hoo! An exhaust note that sounds like a jet engine spooling up and a torque curve that just goes up and never flattens out? Nothing with push rods can duplicate that feeling.

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Every hobbyist should have a vette at least once.  My 71 was a little ratty but then again so was I back in the day. 🙂  I would cross shop against C3s myself.  If hp is your priority go C4, styling, preference but I think the C3 is more stylish in general.  I think the 73 can be had for same money as 74 - 77 and you get steel bumpers out back.  Still a lot of these cars out there for short money.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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