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C4 The Forth Generation

National Corvette Museum is a not-for-profit foundation with a mission of celebrating the invention of the Corvette; preserving its past, present and future; and educating the public about Corvette.
The Corvette's dominance of Showroom Stock competition spawned a marque-specific race series

Although GM never offered a 1983 model to the public, the factory still produced a very limited number. The total of which was 43. Because these cars had so much new technology to be built into them there were so many quality problems with them it was decided to halt production until they could be corrected. By the time all of 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. There is only one 1983 Corvette still known to exist, and it is on display in the National Corvette Museum.

This new Corvette was a complete new car, unlike the C3 that used the C2 chassis. The wheel base was 96.2 inches down from the 98 inches of the C2 & C3. All of the suspension components were constructed of cast aluminum. The interior was enlarged and the instrument panel was a digital display that gave the driver the feeling of being in a spaceship.

The T-Tops of the past were gone and the one piece removal roof panel was introduced. The hood was now a large clam shell style hood that still opened back to front but it exposed not only the engine bay, but also the complete front suspension. The headlights were still the flip up style, but they were no longer the conventional round light but were a single square unit.

The suspension on the new Corvette was much better than anything prior. The suspension now used a transverse composite leaf spring both in the front and back. Rack-and-pinion handled the steering and the car road on new over sized brakes discs. The all new frame was made of aluminum and featured a C section beam that stiffened up the structure. Goodyear designed a new tire called the "Gatorbacks" that was unidirectional and it was on a 16" wheel. Probably the one bad feature (in my opinion) in the C4 was that they carried over the old C3 engine. It was the small block 350 V8 with the Crossfire Injection rated at 205 hp.

Not only was the suspension new and improved, but the dashboard was a totally new concept. No longer did you have the standard analog gauges, but now when you sat down in the drivers seat the dashboard was nothing but a blank instrument panel, that is until you turned the key. You then thought you were in the cockpit of a jet fighter. The new instrument panel as all electronic with a liquid crystal display for the speedometer as well as the tech. All of the other features for engine monitoring were all digital readouts. It was a very colorful display.

The '84 did draw criticism from some that said the ride was to stiff the engine was under powered and they did not like the digital graphics display for the instruments. Also the new C4 generation Corvette proved itself on the race track in the Showroom stock racing. More on the history of Corvette's and racing later. The general public approved of the new Corvette as indicated by the production numbers a total of 53,877 rolled off the assembly line in Bowling Green, which more than doubled that of the 1982.

Although the introduction of the '84 Corvette was well received the boys at GM decided they could improve on what they had for the 1985 model. They Crossfire Injection system was dropped for the all new Tuned Port Injected version of the 350 cubic inch small block which will also become known as the 5.7 liter engine from this point forward. This engine was designated as the L98 and with the new injection system it increased the output to 230 hp with a suspension system that was not as stiff as the '84 which improved the ride considerably. The overdrive button was now located in the shifter knob. Production dropped in 1985 to only 39,729, which was still a good sound number and higher than may previous years but down from the 1984 production numbers.

With the introduction of the 1986 Corvette the convertible returned. This year also marked a return to the Brickyard as a bright yellow Corvette again paced the Indy 500 for the second time in Corvette history. All Corvette convertibles produced in 1986 were Indy Pace Car replicas. They all came with the decal package in the car as a dealer install item if the customer requested it. The new Bosch antilock brakes were used for the first time and also this was the first year for the third brake light to be incorporated into the rear fascia. The new Vehicle Anti theft System (VATS) was introduced and it required a special key for the ignition that had a coded chip on it. The digital display was angled for a better daytime viewing. Even with the introduction of a convertible in 1986 production numbers were down again from the previous year, with a total of 35,109 produced.

Horsepower increase in 1987 from 230 up to 240 thanks to new hydraulic roller lifters. There were two additional options offered and they were a new performance suspension system option Z-52. The overdrive Engaged light was relocated to the center of the tachometer for easier viewing. The Callaway twin-turbo became an option. This was not a factory installed option rather it was ordered trough an authorized Chevrolet dealer and the car would be assembled in Bowling Green and then shipped to Callaway Engineering in Connecticut for the modification. Even thought this option was right at $20,000 there were still 188 orders, bringing the price to $47,994.00 for just the base car. With a few more options added on, it could be pushing $50,000.00. Other then these items the car remained the same as the '86 model. Production fell again this year to just 30,632. Coupes made up 20,007 and convertibles the remaining number of 10,625 of which 27,794 were coupes and 7,315 were convertibles.

The 1988 model year marked the 35th Anniversary for Corvette and a special edition done in a two tone paint with the body painted white and the roof bow done in black. This special edition was only available in the coupe. The interior was also done in all white including the steering wheel. A console-mounted anniversary plaque as well as special emblems on the exterior. Engine power remained at 240 hp except for coupes with the 3.07:1 rear axle ratio which gained 5 hp. This was accomplished with the us of a low restriction muffler. It was not available on the convertibles this exhaust system was considered to load for a convertible. New wheels with six slots measuring 16x8.5 with P255/50ZR16 tires were standard with the option RPO Z51 and RPO Z52 you would get 17x9.5 wheels shoed with P 275/40ZR17 tires. This would be the last year for the Doug Nash 4 + 3 transmission.

Also in 1988 GM produced 56 street-legal Corvette's for the SCCA Corvette Challenge series. Although I will cover this more in depth in my racing section I thought this was something that needs to be mentioned in the general history section. I will added this, the reason for this special series was , because the all new C4 was dominating in the SCCA street production class that they were asked to leave so hence the all new Corvette only class. For all of you out there that happen to follow Corvette Racing it reminds me of the GT1 class in the ALMS series not too long ago. But that is for another day. Production number continued to fall with a total of only 22,789 being produced and the coupe accounted for 15,382 and the convertible was at 7,407.

With the demise of the Doug Nash 4+3 manual transmission a new 6-speed transmission was introduced in the 1989 model. This new transmission incorporated a computer aided gear selection (CAGS) and what this did if you were shifting from first gear to second and were below a certain RPM range, the transmission would force you into forth gear. This was done for fuel economy. A few other changes that year was the optional hardtop for the convertible models and the FX3 selective ride control for cars that had the optional Z51 suspension package. The 16x8.5 wheel introduced in the '88 model year was discontinued and the 17x9.5 Z51 and Z52 option of 1988 became the standard wheel in '89. Low pressure sensors for the tires were available for the 1989 model year. The 1989 model year marked an end to the specialty built Corvette Challenge cars. Total production increased slightly over the past year with a total of 26,412 cars built and of these 16,663 were coupes and 9,749 convertibles.

So on to the 1990 model year and the big news for this year was the introduction of the ZR-1 coupe known as the "King-of-the-Hill". This engine was still a 5.7 liter small block, but it was a duel over head cam 32 valve V8. It was designated as the LT5 and was rated at 375 hp. A special feature for this car/engine package was called the valet mode. This allowed the owner with an in dash key to have full power (375 hp) or turn it off and limit the output to 250 hp. You could only get this car with the manual 6-speed transmission. Also the rear fenders were pushed out to allow the special P315/35ZR17 tires to fit. You could always tell if you were approaching a ZR1 because of the wider rear fender plus the rear fascia was new because of the extended fenders and the taillights squared off instead of the round taillights on the standard Corvette. The MSR on this vehicle was $58,995, but you could not buy one for that. Stories back in that time say dealers were getting as much as $20,000 over that price.

Also in 1990 the Corvette received a new dash with both analog and some digital gauges, air bags, a better sound system and better ventilation. For a short time dealers could order Corvette's with the code R9G which was for a new race series called the World Challenge. With this code the cars would not meet the standard built and they received heavy duty springs with FX3. Owners could buy sealed race engines and modifying them became the owner's responsibility, 29 of these Corvette's were built. The base 240 hp engine saw an increase of 5 hp due to an air intake speed density control system an increase in the compression ratio and a revision to the camshaft. Coupes with either the 3.07:1 or the 3.33:1 read axle increased from 245 to 250 with a less restrictive exhaust. There were two Delco-Bose 200 watt systems were available with the top of the line having a compact disc player. Although the Corvette was not the official pace car for the Indy 500, 80 convertibles with special graphics and painted either yellow or turquoise were used as Indy Festival cars. Production numbers were only slightly less this year with a total 23,646 produced and 16,016 were coupes and 7,630 convertibles and of these 3,049 were ordered with the ZR1 option.

The front end was redesigned in 1991 that had wraparound fog-lights, new wheels, the rear fascia was redesigned to look much like the 1990 ZR-1 rear with the squared off taillights. The price for the ZR-1 increased to just over $64,000. Even though the base Corvette was similar to the 1990 ZR1, the '91 ZR-1 received wider body panels to allow for the eleven inch wheels and the third brake light remained on top of the coupe were on the base model it was located in the rear fascia. A power wire was added for 12 volt devices such as a cell phone. The power delay was added that would allow the radio to continue to play as well as supply power to the windows after the ignition was turned off. This power lasted for fifteen minutes or until the driver's door was opened. The "Low Oil" warning was displayed on the driver's information center if the newly added sensor in the oil pan sensed the oil was low. Production totals were 20,639 with 14,967 being coupes and 5,672 convertibles.

The exterior of the 1992 remained much the same as the 1991. The ZR-1 had ZR-1 emblem added to the front fenders. The L98 was dropped in 1992 for the new LT1 that was rated at 300 hp. Reverse flow cooling was used for the first time by Chevrolet and synthetic oil was installed at the factory with a recommendation for the owners to continue to use it. Traction control was added to the 1992 Corvette as standard equipment. The power delay feature now also was controlled by the passenger's door also. A milestone was reached on July 2, 1992 was the day that the 1-millionth Corvette was produced. It was a convertible painted white with red interior and a black top, just like the first Corvette produced. The Corvette is the only true sports car that has reached that mark. Production numbers remained consistent with the previous year with a total of 20,479 Corvette's produced in 1992 and of those 14,604 were coupes and 5,875 were convertibles.

Time for another Special Edition and this one is the 40th Anniversary for 1993. The anniversary edition was painted Ruby Red and had special badges. This option was available on both models, the LT1 as well as the ZR1. The exterior remained unchanged on the standard coupe and convertible. The ZR-1 engine received a boost in horsepower from 375 up to 405. This was accomplished by modification to the cylinder heads and the valve train. All leather seats had the 40th anniversary on the headrests. The 1993 Corvette was the first car sold by GM to have the passive keyless entry. Production number totaled 21,590 with 15,898 being coupes and 5,692 convertibles.

Not much happened in '94 to the car, with the exception of a passenger's side air bag a some refinements to the interior and the steering wheel. The LT1 received sequential fuel injection but the horsepower was unchanged. New wheels for the ZR1 were a five spoke non-direction design. The four-speed automatic transmission had a safety interlock feature added that required the brake pedal to be pressed before it would shift out of park. Leather seats became a standard feature as the cloth seat were done away with. The rear glass in convertibles was now glass instead of plastic. The biggest news was the grand opening of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky on September 2, 1994. A total of 23,300 Corvette's were produced in 1993 and 17,984 were coupes and 5,346 were convertibles.

The 1995 Corvette received new side grills. There were some minimal changes to the car but nothing major. This was the last year for the LT5 ZR-1. The large brakes that were previously included on the Z07 and the ZR-1 performance options were now standard on all 1995 models. Corvette would be the Pace Car for the Indy 500 for the third time and for this occasion Chevrolet painted them dark purple and white. A total of 522 of these cars would be produced with 87 being used at the Indianapolis festival. The remaining 435 would have 20 going to Canada and 415 to the top dealers in the US. Total production was 20,742 with 15,771 being coupes and 4,971 convertibles.

The C4 generation was coming to an end with 1996 being the last year. With the ZR-1 no longer available Corvette offer a new engine the LT4. The LT4 produced 330 hp 30 more than the LT1. The LT1 came with the automatic transmission only in '96. Chevrolet also offer two special edition for the last year of the C4. The first on was the "Collector Edition" it came in Sebring Silver paint with ZR-1 style 5- spoke wheels painted silver. The other special edition was the Grand Sport available in coupe or convertible. The GS came with the LT4 engine package and was painted in Admiral Blue with a white center stripe and two red fender hash marks on the driver's side. The production number for the final C4 year was 21,536 with 17,167 coupes and 4,369 convertibles.

C4 Paint Codes

Listed here are the paint codes for the C4 generation. Although I have listed the paint code along with the numbers of each unit painted that specific color, the actual total will not always match that of the actual production numbers. This is due mainly to record keeping.


10 - White - 6,416
16 - Bright Silver Metallic - 3,109
18 - Medium Gray Metallic - 3,147
19 - Black - 7,906
20 - Light Blue Metallic - 1,196
23 - Medium Blue Metallic - 1,822
35 - Yellow - 1
53 - Gold Metallic - 2,430
63 - Light Bronze Metallic - 2,452
66 - Dark Bronze Metallic - 1,371
72 - Bright Red - 12,942
16/18 - Silver/Medium Gray - 3,629
20/23 - Light Blue/Medium Blue - 1,433
63/66 - Light Bronze/Dark Bronze - 3,693


13 - Silver Metallic - 1,752
18 - Medium Gray Metallic 2,519
20 - Light Blue Metallic -1,021
23 - Medium Blue Metallic - 2,041
40 - White - 4,455
41 - Black - 7,603
53 - Gold Metallic - 1,411
63 - Light Bronze Metallic - 1,440
81 - Bright Red - 10,424
13/18 - Silver/Gray - 2,170
20/23 - Light Blue/Medium Blue - 1,470
63/66 - Light Bronze/Dark Bronze - 2,393


13 - Silver Metallic - 1,209
18 - Medium Gray Metallic - 1,603
20 - Light Blue Metallic - 128
35 - Yellow - 1,464
40 - White - 4,176
41 - Black - 5,464
53 - Gold Metallic - 777
59 - Silver Beige Metallic - 1,383
66 - Copper Metallic - 4
69 - Medium Brown Metallic - 488
74 - Dark Red Metallic - 5,002
81 - Bright Red - 9,466
13/18 - Silver/Gray - 1,049
18/41 - Gray/Black - 1,198
40/13 - White/Silver - 693
59/69 - Silver Beige/ Medium Brown - 1,014
spec. - Silver Beige/Black* - 50
* spec indicates a special paint for 50 cars for the Malcolm Konner Edition


13 - Silver Metallic - 767
18 - Medium Gray Metallic - 1,035
20 - Light Blue Metallic - 2,677
35 - Yellow - 1,051
40 - White - 3,097
41 - Black - 5,101
53 - Gold Metallic - 397
59 - Silver Beige Metallic - 950
66 - Copper Metallic - 87
69 - Medium Brown Metallic - 245
74 - Dark Red Metallic - 5,578
81 - Bright Red - 8,285
13/18 - Silver/Gray - 403
18/41 - Gray/Black - 316
40/13 - White/Silver - 195
59/69 - Silver Beige/ Medium Brown - 447


13 - Silver Metallic - 385
20 - Light Blue Metallic - 1,148
28 - Dark Blue Metallic - 1,675
35 - Yellow - 578
40 - White - 3,620
41 - Black - 3,420
74 - Dark Red Metallic - 2,878
81 - Bright Red - 5,340
90 - Gray Metallic - 644
96 - Charcoal Metallic - 1,046
40/41 - White/Black - 2,050


10 - White - 5,426
20 - Light Blue Metallic - 1,428
28 - Dark Blue Metallic - 1,931
41 - Black - 4,855
68 - Dark Red Metallic - 3,409
81 - Bright Red - 7,663
90 - Gray Metallic - 225
96 - Charcoal Metallic - 1,440


10 - White - 4,872
25 - Steel Blue Metallic - 813
41 - Black - 4,759
42 - Turquoise Metallic - 589
53 - Competition Yellow - 278
68 - Dark Red Metallic - 2,353
80 - Quasar Blue Metallic - 474
81 - Bright Red - 6,956
91 - Polo Green Metallic - 1,674
96 - Charcoal Metallic - 878


10 - White - 4,305
25 - Steel Blue Metallic - 835
35 - Yellow - 650
41 - Black - 3,909
42 - Turquoise Metallic - 1,621
75 - Dark Red Metallic - 1,311
80 - Quasar Blue Metallic - 1,038
81 - Bright Red - 5,318
91 - Polo Green Metallic - 1,230
96 - Charcoal Metallic - 417


10 - White - 4,101
35 - Yellow - 678
41 - Black - 3,209
43 - Bright Aqua Metallic - 1,953
45 - Polo Green II Metallic - 1,995
73 - Black Rose Metallic - 1,886
75 - Dark Red Metallic - 1,148
80 - Quasar Blue Metallic - 1,043
81 - Bright Red - 4,466


10 - White - 3,031
41 - Black - 2,684
43 - Bright Aqua Metallic - 1,305
45 - Polo Green II Metallic - 2,189
53 - Competition Yellow - 517
68 - Ruby Red - 6,749
70 - Torch Red - 3,172
73 - Black Rose Metallic - 935
75 - Dark Red Metallic - 325
80 - Quasar Blue Metallic - 683


10 - Arctic White - 4,066
28 - Admiral Blue - 1,584
41 - Black - 4,136
43 - Bright Aqua Metallic - 1,209
45 - Polo Green Metallic - 3,534
53 - Competition Yellow - 834
66 - Copper Metallic - 116
70 - Torch Red - 5,073
73 - Black Rose Metallic - 1,267
75 - Dark Red Metallic - 1,511


05 - Dark Purple Metallic - 1,049
05/10 - Dark Metallic/White - 527
10 - Arctic White - 3,381
28 - Admiral Blue - 1,006
41 - Black - 3,959
43 - Bright Aqua Metallic - 909
45 - Polo Green Metallic - 2,940
53 - Competition Yellow - 1,003
70 - Torch Red - 4,531
75 - Dark Red Metallic - 1,437


05 - Dark Purple Metallic - 320
10 - Arctic White - 3,210
13 - Sebring Silver - 5,412
28 - Admiral Blue - 1,000
41 - Black - 3,917
43 - Bright Aqua Metallic - 357
45 - Polo Green Metallic - 2,414
53 - Competition Yellow - 488
70 - Torch Red - 4,418