While the C8 Corvette will undoubtedly be the biggest piece of news you hear about today, the news that will actually have you reaching for your wallet is the fact that the used Corvette market is thriving with plenty of Corvettes that could had for the price of a very used car.
Let' address something immediately, a Corvette will always be cool. While there is plenty of infighting among the Corvette community about which Corvette is the best, from the outside, it feels like a pissing match. If you ask me, it's more important to get in the door of the Corvette community rather than worry about what tier you end up in. That's where the fun starts, because there are thousands of Corvettes for sale in all sorts of conditions, from $4,000 for a bare-bones C4 Corvette to $165,000 for a barely used 2019 C7 ZR1.
This post is obviously about the C4, so get all of that 755-horsepower nonsense out of here, put on leg warmers, and get ready to get groovy.
The C4 Corvette was unveiled for the 1984 model year, after skipping the 1983 model year because of complications and setbacks. The 1984 Corvette featured GM's L83 small-block V8 with throttle-body fuel injection. The result was 205 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. There were other interesting upgrades to the C4 to make it handle better than its previous generations, such as the transverse leaf spring that improved ride comfort, while the C4 introduced a structure which GM dubbed the "Uniframe" which also improved handling significantly.
In 1985, the L98 small-block replaced the L83 small-block, and switched from throttle body fuel injection to tuned-port fuel injection, which, along with other upgrades, increased horsepower to 230. The L98 would increase in power throughout the C4's life, until the L98 was replaced by the LT1 in 1992. The LT1 developed 300 horsepower and 330 lb-ft.
Any of these Corvettes could be had for anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000. It all depends on what you want. Some of these cars have been garage-kept and barely driven, while others are high-mileage cars with plenty of stories to tell. If you ask me something like this 1990 Corvette Convertible would turn heads everywhere it went, and it would only set you back about ten grand, that's an incredible steal.
What if you wanted the crown jewels of the C4 lineup? The 1996 Grand Sport or any of the ZR-1's? Well, those are also reasonably priced considering their importance in the Corvette timeline.
The ZR-1 was introduced in 1990, and had myriad upgrades thanks to GM's acquisition of Lotus in 1986. Lotus helped develop several parts for the C4 ZR-1 including the engine, which was engineered by the English company before being built by Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This double-overhead cam V8 was good for 375 horsepower and 370 lb-ft in 1990, and in 1993, power increased to 405 horsepower and 385 lb-ft. This power increase, while logical, is most likely because of the Dodge Viper's 400 horsepower figure.
The ZR-1 is a 90's car, even though it's rocking 80's styling, and that makes it downright cool. ZR-1's can be found in the $25,000-$35,000 in immaculate condition. This 1990 example is for sale at CNC Motors, the ultimate used car dealership, at least according to Doug DeMuro.
The 1996 Corvette Grand Sport was one of the last special editions of the C4, the final edition being a Collector's Edition, except they all came in silver, which is kind of a letdown if you ask me. This special production run was limited to 1,000 examples. All of them came with the LT4 V8 which produced 330 horsepower and 340 lb-ft. They all came in Admiral Blue and featured two red hash marks above the front fenders as well as a white stripe down the center of the car. Convertible Grand Sports all had white soft-tops. These red, white and blue beauts can be had for anywhere between $30,000 and $45,000 and while there aren't a lot of them, there are enough of them if you wanted to own one of the first Grand Sport Corvettes.
There's a bunch of Corvettes that I didn't mention because I personally like the C4 because if I wanted to, I could save my disposable income for a year and buy myself a Corvette and I think that's awesome. The other important thing to note is the the C4 Corvette is currently the cheapest, so if you buy in below $10,000 they'll probably only go up in value, especially as they age, like a fine wine. So, I'd go as far to say that it's an investment, especially if you pick up a ZR-1 or a Grand Sport.
What do you think of the C4 Corvette? Is it a budget beauty? Or is it just the black sheep of the Corvette family? Comment Below!