Graded: Chevrolet Corvette C4

Welcome to Graded. Here we discuss legendary marques, models, or trim packages and affix a letter grade to a selection of vehicles falling under that topic. The grades mean nothing and are completely arbitrary. I fully encourage you to tell me what I got wrong and how you would grade them instead. Have some fun with it.

Is there a more famous American car that the Corvette? Maybe the Mustang, but nothing else immediately comes to mind. Hard to believe, but the Corvette is approaching its 70th anniversary. Even harder to believe is that there have only been eight generations during that time. Some stuck around for a long time, like the fourth generation.

Introduced in 1984, the fourth generation Corvette, or C4 for short, started life rather pedestrian but quickly became a performance monster by the end of its lifespan. Below we have collected nine cars from the C4 timeline and graded each one according to our own personal bias and opinions.

1984 Chevrolet Corvette

AutoLobotomy Grade: C-

1984 was the first year for the new C4 Corvette. With an impossible stiff suspension, the Corvette attacked corners better than its predecessors ever could. Sadly, it was saddled with a carry-over 205 hp V8 was less than inspiring.

1986 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Convertible

AutoLobotomy Grade: C

A year after its release, the Corvette received a new V8 that pushed power up to 230 hp. For 1986, the convertible returned to the Corvette lineup. But this car, even with the Pace Car graphics, isn’t all that great and the 4+3 manual transmission was still a burden for manual buyers.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary

AutoLobotomy Grade: B

By 1988 power had once again been bumped up to 240 hp. But it’s the 35th anniversary triple white car that has me smitten. White exterior, white interior and even white wheels. All three would be a massive pain to keep clean, but that is fine with me.

1989 Chevrolet Corvette

AutoLobotomy Grade: B-

For 1989 the big news was the introduction of a proper six-speed manual transmission. Finally gone was the 4+3 manual, given the Corvette a bit of added performance. Engine power was still only at 240 hp for manual transmission cars (245 hp with the automatic)

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

AutoLobotomy Grade: A

For 1990 Chevrolet introduced the awesome ZR-1. With the help of Lotus, the V8 was converted from pushrod to DOHC and power exploded to 375 hp. More than just a powerful engine, the new ZR-1 improved performance everywhere including brakes, suspension, and tires.

1993 Chevrolet Corvette 40th Anniversary Edition

AutoLobotomy Grade: A-

For 1993 a special 40th anniversary package was available that included ruby red paint and red interior. Convertibles also received a red cloth roof. The other big news was the introduction of the fabled LT1 V8 the year before that made a healthy 300 hp in this car.

1993 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

AutoLobotomy Grade: A++

The ultimate C4 Corvette was the 1993 (through 1995) Corvette ZR-1. Continued tweaks had kept improving the model and this year redevelopment of the engine increased power to 405 hp. That was a huge number in 1993. As can be seen from my score, I want one of these badly.

1995 Chevrolet Corvette Indy Pace Car

AutoLobotomy Grade: B+

This car isn’t much different than the 40th Anniversary introduced two years prior, but with outlandish graphic added everywhere. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

1996 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

AutoLobotomy Grade: A+

330 hp LT4. That blue paint with the white stripe and red slashes over the driver side front wheel. The black wheels. God, do I want this car.

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